I get asked a lot about starting a blog, here are my best tips and ideas for what to consider before you jump in the deep end! I LOVE blogging to make money and want this freedom for all my peeps, but honestly it is not for everyone so here are the pitfalls and challenges you might face!
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What Is A Lifestyle Blog?
I have a bunch of blogs, both Business-To-Business (this blog) and also a lifestyle blog where I talk about crafts, essential oils and caregiving.
The way I explain the difference in business blogs versus lifestyle blogs to my peeps is that is a lifestyle blog is for real people who have an interest in something that is their passion. Here are a few of these “lifestyle topics”.
- Arts & Crafts
OF COURSE this is just a tiny list of the topics you could start a lifestyle blog about!
What Is A Niche Blog?
One other thing I hear bandied about is that your lifestyle blog HAS to be a “niche blog”. Meaning that you pick one topic, like “low carb living”, and then you can never write about anything else.
Having been blogging since about 2009 and being in the internet space since 1999, I feel like this is TERRIBLE advice!
For example, my lifestyle blog, Artsy Fartsy Life, is about crafts and caregiving for dementia. Those are arguably TOO DIFFERENT to be successful. BUT I am a prolific writer and marketer so my craft posts get great traffic on Google and my caregiver posts get great traffic from Pinterest.
Additionally, I didn't know I was going to write about Caregiving until my mother in law with dementia moved in, so had I tried to figure that out before starting my blog, I would have lost a lot of traffic.
Now, this isn't license to have a million different topics (I think three is probably the max I would do), so don't get all excited that you can be everything to everyone! You need to know that each “silo” of content will take a lot of work, so probably start with one and move on from there!
10 Truths About Starting A Lifestyle Blog
I have at least one person a week contact me and say they are going to start a blog and these are the things that I tell them to watch out for! I figured I would tell you too so you could go into this with your eyes wide open…
1. Blogging takes time
When I hear someone say that they have been blogging for two whole months and no one is coming to visit, I let out a little sigh.
A blog is a LONG term game that can take months or even years to get going. Here is the progression of my blog (that is getting over 50K hits a month right now).
As you can see, for the first YEAR my blog bumped along on the bottom of Google Analytics, just not doing a whole lot of anything.
That makes sense because I didn't really have a focus and I wasn't trying very hard, it was more of a passion project at that point!
But no matter what you write about you will have a period of time where Google is waiting to see if you are going to stick around and if your content is valuable enough to show in the SERPs (search engine results page).
They will judge this by how many links you get from other sites, how many people click on your link, and a bunch of other criteria, but this “holding period” is something that you can't avoid.
2. You will have to learn a lot of new things
Learning new things is exciting for some people and distressing for others.
I LOVE learning new things (I just bought a course today on SEO – search engine optimization… whoo whoo!)
But if you don't like learning new things you are going to struggle. Here are just a few of the things you will have to get proficient in to succeed at blogging…
- Writing content
- Making graphics
- Site speed
- Social media
Now some of those are optional, I know a guy who does ONLY SEO and no social media and some gals who only do Pinterest and no SEO, but having a well rounded knowledge will help you to avoid problems when things change in the future.
3. Only learn things when you need to
That said, you should only try to learn things when you need them! JIT (just in time learning).
I have talked to people who are thinking about starting a blog who are worried about how to hide pictures in their posts… they don't have any posts yet!
You cannot worry about everything all at once. NO ONE started blogging and knew everything before they started. You have to start to find out what is going to work for you!
Oh, and on that note, DON'T wait until you have 20 posts written to start your blog, start now. Write bad posts for a little bit, everyone does when they start! At the very least this will start the Google timer ticking!
4. You can't be perfect
If you are a perfectionist that can't do anything that is not “perfect”, please don't do blogging.
Blogging is honestly a series of doing everything wrong and fixing later when you learn more.
I can't tell you the number of times I have had to go back and redo categories, add boxes to all of my posts or just fix links that I hadn't formatted the right way 5 years ago and then things changed.
A blogger who wants to know how to be perfect right out of the gate will stall and frustrate the rest of us with questions about things they don't even understand because they haven't actually done anything yet!
If you would like to join a beginner blogging group that I respect, check out the Blogging Like You Mean It Group that my internet friend Carly runs! There are lots of people there asking questions and other who are willing to help “newbies!”
5. Success isn't guaranteed (niche)
Want to know something super depressing? My marketing blog has been stuck at different points at 25K hits, 50K hits and now 70K hits per month.
Unless I did something amazing for it in the next year, my 2 1/2 year old lifestyle blog will pass it easily in the next few months for traffic… sigh. And it is over 10 years old!
Why is the crafts and caregiver blog better than the marketing blog? More people care about which paper cutter to buy in any given day than they care about getting more traffic to their Etsy shop. Simple math.
People's passions like motorcycles, fashion or having the best eyelashes are more important than their businesses.
Soooo, say you pick a topic like “surviving change” – a real life example that a gal told me about. There are not as many people searching as there are searching for the “best cornbread recipe” in a given day.
So if you pick something that is not popular, you won't get as many hits as you would if you pick something that is important to people.
6. Things will break
Remember when I said you have to be a problem solver? Well your blog will break, not often, but sometimes!
A plugin will break it, your hosting will go down, you will post something and it will “break” your site.
You have to get good at Googling it. I have seen someone ask a question on a Facebook group and wait a couple of days to get an answer that they could have found out by Googling the answer.
Yes! There are times when you will need to get actual technical help, but for the most part you can often fix your blog yourself.
For example, if my sidebar “disappears” and I do a search on Google for “why did my sidebar disappear wordpress” you get this answer…
It says there is a missing div tag. Now, you might have to go on to Google “what is a div tag” but you can fix it! (I know this because I use div tags often and when my sidebar disappears I know to check them… little suckers mess me up!)
7. You will need an email list
If I had to pick one thing for you to start as soon as you start your blog it would be to grow an email list!
These are people who have come to your site and then cared enough to give you their email address… they are your fans… whoo whoo!
If you are just beginning, use a program like Convertkit that is free to start with, but that will have the functionality you will need later!
Then send them messages weekly. You can send your blog posts out and get traffic, or send a personal message, or send affiliate links.
This one is non-negotiable and needs to happen first after you do your first blog post!
8. You have to write, a lot
I have a friend who HATES to write. Okay, she doesn't hate to write but it takes her about 8 hours to write a single blog post (not graphics, not promoting, just writing).
I KNOW, there are people who will tell you that you that you can hire writers or that you can blog without writing, but honestly, you have to be able to write blog posts so that Google can index your content.
If you truly hate to write, but love video or social media better, then start a YouTube channel or Facebook page instead of a blog.
Maybe someday Google won't need words, but right now it is vital that you have long blog posts with lots of content.
9. You have to learn about making pictures
Every blog post needs to have a picture with it! And then you have to make wide pictures for Twitter and Facebook and tall pictures for Pinterest.
Oh and it is good to have pictures to break up all your text like this post has (that is also good to extend your page so you get more ads to show!)
But don't freak out! There are tools like Canva and PicMonkey that are free and simple to use. But you do have to have a basic understanding of graphic design to make images that will appeal to people on your posts and social media!
Years ago it you had to take months to learn Photoshop and even then it was super hard, don't fret about this one, just suck it up and learn enough graphic design to get going!
10. Things Will ALWAYS Change After You Have Figured Them Out
I left this one for last because if you got all the way down here and are still sticking out, you might be serious about starting a blog!
But that said, here is the worst news of all… you will figure things out, YAY! And then they will change, BOO!
For real, Pinterest will change their algorithm and you will have to do something new. Or Google will stop indexing your kind of content and you will have to figure it out. Or Facebook will only show your posts if you pay for them, or Instagram will stop letting you have links, or a million other things!
The fun thing about blogging is getting to learn new things… the bad thing is that sometimes you are forced to learn things that you didn't want to learn in the first place!
Starting A Lifestyle Blog FAQs
I KNOW you probably have a lot of questions about starting your blog! Here are a few that I hear all the time…
What Are The Steps To Starting A Successful Blog?
First you have to get hosting (I recommend Agathon, but you could use Godaddy or Siteground too). Then you have to get a theme and that is about it to start technically.
If you are totally clueless I recommend Jennifer Maker's free blog setup walkthrough!
Then you need to start doing SEO research and writing blog posts.
If you need video help, check out my free course 30 Day Blog!
How Do I Pick My Lifestyle Blog Topic?
Okay there are a couple of different schools of thought… you could pick something you are passionate about, or you can pick something popular that will rank well.
I think this depends on what your goals are.
If you are making a niche blog site that has 50 or so posts about a narrow topic, you could pick something popular and then just grind it out, whether you like that topic or not.
If you are starting a blog to have freedom, to write about what interests you AND make money, then I suggest picking a topic you actually find interesting and plan on having hundreds of blog posts to get lots of diverse traffic! (this is what I do!)
Can I Just Use A Free WordPress.com Blog To Get Started?
If you are starting your blog as a money making process then no. You could build up your posts, but when you wanted to start making money, you couldn't transfer that Google traffic over to the new paid site you would make then (it is MUCH more complicated than this, but honestly, the answer is just no).
How To Make Money From A Lifestyle Blog?
Last, but certainly not least, let's talk about how to make money from your blog! Here are a few ways that I make money from my blog and reference links to learn more…
- Mediavine ads – Should you put ads on your website?
- Affiliate marketing – Free affiliate marketing video course
- Selling products – Ultimate guide to selling digital downloads
- Email marketing – 6 Ways To Make Money From Your Email Newsletter List