I originally started blogging just as a hobby where I could share some of my different thoughts and ideas with my friends and family.
Surprisingly, along the way I learned quite a bit about blogging and how to actually make money doing it.
I wanted to show you guys how to start a lifestyle blog so that you can hopefully experience the same opportunities that I’m able to enjoy as a full-time blogger.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation from the different companies that I mention in this post. I’ve personally used each product/service/company that I recommend and I would only make a recommendation for something I believe to be the best. All opinions expressed here are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.
This actually isn’t my first blog, I’ve had quite a few over the years and not every single one of them has been successful.
With Chasing Anne I wanted to create something behind my name and go with more of a personal brand approach, rather than focusing on random interests of mine like fashion or travel.
Thanks to blogging I’m able to work from home, without a boss of course, and I can create my own schedule so that I never have to worry about having enough time to spend time with my boyfriend, family, or miss out on anything during the year.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not an easy process to go from not knowing anything at all to actually making money blogging, but starting a lifestyle blog, or any blog for that matter, is one of the first steps that you need to take to turn your dreams and goals into a reality.
Before I dive into my super helpful tutorial on how you can start your own blog today, I want to talk a little bit about why you should start a lifestyle blog and how it can positively impact your life.
However, if you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at the different steps you need to take to get your blog up and running in just a few minutes:
Beginner Blog Starter Kit (Quick Guide)
- Come up with a domain name (the URL of your blog – mine is “ChasingAnne.com”)
- Purchase your blog hosting (I recommend SiteGround)
- Install WordPress onto your domain (why choose WordPress?)
- Pick out a great lifestyle blogging theme (I recommended using Themeforest)
- Take a look at the best blogging tools to make your blog as amazing as it can be!
- Write your first blog post
- Learn more about how to make money blogging
I’m going to go over each of these steps further down in this post, but these quick points cover the basics of what you need to get started with your own blog.
Why You Should Start a Lifestyle Blog Today
I don’t actually remember the main reason why I started blogging a few years ago.
It’s probably because I just wanted somewhere concrete that I could share my different thoughts, ideas, and travel stories with my friends and family.
These days, there are so many different reasons to start a blog and some of them include things like:
- You want to make money blogging so that you can spend more time with your friends and family or quit your job
- You want to share helpful information or engaging stories with people from around the world
- You want to explore new places and spend your days traveling
- You want to connect with a growing community of like-minded individuals
Most people I think fall into two categories where they either want to make money with their blog or they just want to share some helpful information or awesome stories with people.
There’s nothing wrong with starting a blog to make money online, and as we move forward in 2017 and beyond, this is definitely becoming more of a possibility for more people than ever before.
Even if you don’t make any money at all, you’re able to build lasting and impactful relationships with other bloggers, and for me this is one of the best things about blogging.
As for the money part, it’s definitely going to take a while but it’s possible to make money with a blog even in your first month as long as you have a grasp on how to get started and you’re able to implement a few different monetization methods.
One more thing that I want to mention is that you should only start blogging if it’s something that you think you’re going to enjoy.
Unfortunately, it can be a tedious and long road to make a name for yourself in the blogging world, and many people give up along the way.
As long as you’re persistent and you follow some of the many helpful tips on this blog and others on the internet, there’s no reason why you can’t experience your own success.
Well, that’s enough rambling for me, so let’s dive into my starting a blog guide that hopefully helps you get started today!
How to Start a Lifestyle Blog Today
Step One: Choose Your Blogging Topic (Niche)
The first thing you want to do before buying a domain name for your blog or buying your hosting plan is to actually decide what you want to blog about.
You might be thinking that you’re going to be starting a lifestyle blog and that you’ll be covering all things lifestyle-related.
I would actually recommend trying to decide on something a little bit more specific, like a more unique direction that you can start out with before branching out into a wider range of different lifestyle topics.
For example, you can start off writing about everything travel-related and then branch out into other topics like fashion, social media, cooking, etc, as your blog becomes more established and developed.
The problem with writing about so many different things from the beginning is that it’s going to make it harder for you to grow a dedicated and loyal audience, especially if you’re blogging about 25 different topics at a time without any single focus.
You basically need to ask yourself:
What am I interested in and what will I enjoy writing 100 or more blog posts about?
The answer to this question is where you want to start with your topic, or blogging niche!
Step Two: Choose a Blogging Platform
Once you have a better idea of what you’re actually going to blog about, you’re going to want to go ahead and decide on a specific online platform that you’re going to be doing you’re blogging on.
There are tons of different blogging platforms to choose from, including ones like:
- WordPress.com (free)
- WordPress.org (self-hosted)
Even with so many different options to choose from, I would always recommend going with a self-hosted WordPress setup whether you’re just a beginner starting blogging as a hobby or you’re hoping to make them money with your blog in the future.
Why WordPress is the Best Blogging Platform
- It’s really easy to use and beginner-friendly
- Tons of options for customization (themes, plugins, widgets)
- You don’t need to have any coding skills to get a beautiful looking blog
- It’s the most popular blogging platform in the world
- You have full control over everything (content, appearance, monetization)
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free Blogging Platform
Simply put, free blogging platforms are only a good idea if you don’t plan on taking blogging seriously.
The problems with a free platform include:
- Most of them look very unprofessional
- Lots of restrictions when it comes to monetization, themes, etc
- Poor customer support
- Serious lack of design options and customization
- Platforms will have their own ads displayed on your blog
- You don’t actually own the blog or any of the content that you post
It really doesn’t cost that much to get started with your own self-hosted WordPress blog, and in the long run it’s definitely worth the small upfront investment.
What’s the Deal with WordPress?
You might have noticed that there are two different types of WordPress available to choose from as a blogging platform, the .com version and the .org version.
Where is basically the digital platform that blogs and most web sites around the world run on – it’s the behind-the-scenes control panel that you use for adding content and making changes to your blog.
This is the free blogging platform that WordPress has released.
Make sure to check out my reasons why you shouldn’t go with a free platform of above to see why you should avoid using the WordPress.com platform.
This is the full blogging platform software that WordPress offers and the gives you the best behind-the-scenes control of your blog.
To start using it, you’re going to need your own URL and hosting, and you actually have to install the WordPress software to start using it (but don’t worry, this is really easy and I’ll walk you through all the steps).
Step Three: It’s Time to Choose a Domain Name
If you’ve never heard of the term before, your domain name is the URL for your website.
For example, my domain name is “ChasingAnne.com”.
As a lifestyle blogger, I would recommend choosing something that includes your name (either your first name or full name) so that you can work on building yourself up as a personal brand and use all of your current social media accounts instead of having to start everything over again.
You could also go with a play on words, kind of like how mine is Chasing Anne, and if you want you can even come up with something completely new depending on your preferences and the topics that you want to blog about.
Step Four: Get Your Hosting
After you have decided on a domain name and you’re on board with using the self-hosted WordPress platform, it’s time to go ahead and sign up for your hosting.
Hosting is where all of your blog files, like the theme, content, images, plugins, and everything else are stored online for internet users to access.
It sounds technical, but it’s really easy to get the hang of and it’s super simple to get your blog up and running even if you barely have any tech experience.
For hosting, there is basically just one company I’d recommend:
- The customer support is absolutely amazing!
- Super quick load-times for your blog
- Very reliable so your blog rarely experiences any downtime
- Just $3.95 per month for your first year of hosting
Personally, I really love SiteGround and I always migrate my sites and blogs to it once they start getting a significant amount of traffic.
While there are plenty of other options for web hosting available, I’d recommend heading over to Siteground to check out the different features and sign up for your hosting.
Step Four: Sign Up For and Set Up Your Web Hosting
Signing up for hosting is a really straightforward process.
It’s now easier than ever to sign up for a hosting plan and install WordPress so that you can start blogging right away without having to worry about all of the different technical aspects that people used to have to deal with.
I noticed that some of the different guides online were little bit out of date, so I’ll try to make sure that this guide is continually updated throughout the year to keep it relevant and recent for people hoping to start a blog now and in the future.
Getting Started with SiteGround
- To get started with SiteGround, you’re going to want to head over to SiteGround.com and click on “Sign Up”.
- The “StartUp” plan is your best bet as a beginner. It’s just $3.95 per month for your first year, you get up to 10,000 monthly visits, and it comes with plenty of awesome features. Click on “Order Now” to continue.
- Now you’re going to need to add your domain. Registering a new domain with SiteGround is going to cost you an extra $14.95 per year, but I think it’s worth it to have everything in one place. Alternatively, you can pick up a cheap domain over at NameCheap.com and just forward it over. When you’re done, click on the “Proceed” button.
- Add in all of your contact and payment information. At the bottom, under “Extra Services”, you can click off the “Domain Privacy” and the “SG Site Scanner” to save some money on your costs. When you’re finished, click on “Pay Now”.
- Follow the payment prompts and finalize your hosting payment and setup.
Once you’re done setting up your hosting with SiteGround you can finally go ahead and install WordPress so you can begin working on your blog.
Scroll down to the next section to see how to install WordPress using Siteground.
Step Five: Installing WordPress
With your hosting paid for and ready to go, it’s time to actually install WordPress so that you can get your blog live online and start blogging for the world to see.
Installing WordPress on SiteGround
- Don’t forget to sign up for your SiteGround hosting here
Head over to your email and get the login details that SiteGround sent you.
You should be able to login directly to your “cPanel”, which is the SiteGround back-end for installing WordPress and making other changes to the technical area of your blog, from the email that they sent you.
If not, head over to SiteGround.com and sign-in with your details.
- At the top of the homepage, click on “ My Accounts” and then click on the red button for “Go to cPanel”.
- The cPanel dashboard might look pretty confusing at first, but in the second row underneath “AutoInstallers” you should see the little WordPress icon – click on that!
- This is where you install WordPress, and to get started click on the “Install Now” link in the middle of the page.
- This is going to bring you to the “Software Setup” page. Here you need to “Choose Protocol”, and I recommend going with the “http://www.” prefix for your blog
- Then you need to “Choose Domain”, so choose the URL that you signed up for your hosting with.
- Next you need to choose some of your “Site Settings”. These can be changed later so come up with something quickly right now to get started and you can change them later on if you want.
- Finally, you need to choose your “Admin Account” information, and this is the info that you’re going to use to log into your WordPress dashboard. Use a username and password combination that’s easy to remember, and make sure to write it down so that you can refer to it until you’re able to memorize it.
- Underneath “Choose Theme”, you can leave it as “None” and pick a better theme once you have WordPress up and running.
- Click on the “Install” button, follow the prompts, and you’re good to go!
Once the WordPress installation is complete you’re going to be able to actually log in to your WordPress account and an email is going to get sent to you with your login details, just in case you forgot to write them down.
Now you can finally start blogging!
At the moment, your WordPress blog is ready to go so go ahead and log into the WordPress dashboard and familiarize yourself with the layout.
At this point, you might be wondering how to write your first blog post, how to change your theme into something better, and if you’re really thinking into the future you might be wondering how to start making money blogging.
That’s alright, I’ve got you covered!
Step Six: WordPress Primer
WordPress is designed to be really easy to use, and as long as you have some basic computer and internet skills you shouldn’t have any trouble using the platform even as a beginner.
Go ahead and log into your WordPress dashboard with the login information that you received after the installation process was finished.
Spend some time checking out the WordPress home page, also known as the dashboard.
Right now it probably seems like there’s a lot going on, but everything is actually quite basic and it’s really easy to write blog posts, add images, and make changes to the appearance and design of your blog.
All of those different options you see on the left hand side are what you’re going to use for blogging on WordPress, so click through them all just to see what they do and to get a better feel for the platform.
Let’s take a quick look at the WordPress dashboard and what all of the different sidebar items actually mean.
Depending on the theme and host that you’re using, the order of the menu items might be a bit different.
Here’s what mine looks like:
This is your WordPress behind-the-scenes home page, so to speak.
From here you can keep an eye on:
- How many posts and pages you have
- Your current WordPress version and which theme you’re using
- Any recent activity regarding new posts and pages
- Site stats (traffic)
- Quick draft, letting you quickly save a draft for a new post or page
- Relevant widgets for the different plugins you might be using
I typically add a link on my browser toolbar so I can quickly visit the dashboard to check my traffic and keep an eye on everything going on with my blog
Under the Jetpack menu option you can choose to visit the dashboard, settings, or site stats.
This is the menu and controls for the Jetpack plugin, which is a great WordPress plugin for beginners that you’ll want to use when you start blogging.
It comes with a wide variety of different settings you can activate and change, including things to do with your posts, social sharing, comments, traffic, and even your blog security.
Take some time to explore the Jetpack area to get a better idea of all of the different changes you can make and settings you can control.
The “Posts” section is where you can add new content in the form of a blog post, manage all of your current posts, add new categories, and where you’re also able to add and edit your tags.
Adding a new post is really easy, and you just need to either click on the “Add New” button beside the title at the top, or select the “Add New” drop-down menu option.
The categories are the different sections on your blog where you’re going to add your posts.
For example, different categories you could use can include things like:
- Blogging Tips
- Social Media
Under these different categories you can add your specific posts and this makes it a lot easier for your visitors to navigate your blog and find the type of content that they’re looking for.
The media section is where you can add images, video, and audio files to your blog posts with the “Add New” option, and the “Library” is where all of these files are stored and organized for you to access.
After uploading a media file, like an image that you want to use for a blog post, you can change the:
- Size (dimensions)
To help have your images show up in Google image searches and to better optimize your blog posts, I would recommend adding unique titles, alt-text, descriptions, and even filling out the captions for all of your images.
These easy changes are definitely going to help your blog rank higher in the search engine results, and this is going to help get you more traffic in the long run.
The “Pages” section is where you can “Add New” pages to your blog. It’s also where you can keep an eye on all of the different pages that you already have.
Pages are different than posts because they are a more static fixture on your blog and aren’t going to be changed as often as blog posts are.
For example, you might consider using a “Page” for your About and Contact pages, rather than using a post for them.
This is where you can easily manage all of the difference comments that your posts are getting.
You can find your new comments here, easily reply to any comments that you’ve already received, and delete or mark as spam any comments that don’t belong on your blog.
Make sure to check this section regularly so that you can interact with your readers and so that you don’t miss any important comments that somebody might have left.
One of the first things I do whenever I start a new blog is head over to this “Appearance” section.
This is where you can make all of the different design changes that you want so that your blog looks amazing.
I spend a lot of time reading other lifestyle and travel blogs, so I get a lot of inspiration for different design and theme changes that I want to make, then I always make my way over to this section to see how I can implement some better changes.
The main menu items under Appearance include:
- Edit CSS
- Install Plugins
For the most part, I really only use the Themes, Customize, Widgets, and Menus section of my blogs appearance.
The “Themes” section is where you can install a brand new theme for your blog or browse the many different free WordPress themes that are available to choose from. I would actually recommend going with a paid theme, I use ThemeForest myself when I’m looking for new themes. Paid themes offer a lot more versatility when it comes to customization and the changes that you can make with the overall appearance of your blog, and most of the free themes are quite limited and don’t look very nice either.
The “Customize” section is where you can change the layout of your blog and customize some of the different fonts and colors that your theme is using. It’s a good idea to spend some time here when you’re first getting started to come up with a blog appearance that you actually like, but don’t spend too much time customizing everything because there are other more important things that you can focus on when you’re hoping to get into the blogging world.
The “Menus” section is where you can add a menu to your blog and change it’s different settings and overall structure. It’s a good idea to include a menu at the top of your blog so that your content is easy to navigate through and so that your readers can quickly access your best pages. I recommend adding a “Contact” and an “About” link to your menu when you first get started.
Plugins are one of the main reasons that sets your own self-hosted WordPress blog apart from all the other platforms.
They’re basically like little upgrades that you can install onto your blog to make changes, customize the appearance of your site, add social sharing buttons, include some email subscription links, and even to help you out with SEO.
There are quite a few different plugins to choose from, and as a beginner I recommend starting out with:
- Yoast (helps with optimizing your blog for search engines)
- W3 Total Cache (makes your site faster)
- Akismet (great for dealing with spam comments)
- Simple Share Buttons Adder (easily add social buttons to your site)
Installing new plug-ins is super easy – just click on the “Add New” option under “Plugins” and follow the prompts!
Step Seven: How to Actually Make Money with Your Blog
Hopefully I haven’t overwhelmed you with this super helpful guide on how to start your own lifestyle blog.
Take a minute to quickly go over everything I mentioned and only come back to this section once your blog is already up and running.
Ready? Let’s take a look at some of the different ways that you can actually make money blogging, even if you’re a total beginner and it’s your first month.
Before you can start to make some serious money, there are a few things that your blog should already have:
- A solid base of informative and helpful content
- A community of people already engaging with your content
- Decent optimization for social media and online searches
While it’s possible to earn a few dollars with just one page, you’re going to be much better off if you have at least 10 blog posts already written.
This is going to provide a lot more value for your readers and will help you to get more website traffic in the long run while you’re growing your audience.
Try to post new content on a regular basis and avoid coming off as spammy – I mean don’t always be promoting something with everything you write.
When it comes to growing your community, participate in all of the online discussions that you can and spend time focusing on social media to get more followers, a larger audience, and to interact with other like-minded bloggers.
After you have a blog with some great posts and you have already started growing your audience, you can then focus on monetizing your content.
How to Make Money Blogging
Here is a quick look at some of the methods of monetization that you can implement on your blog:
- Join affiliate networks and promote different products or services related to your blogging niche/topic. I actually wrote a pretty helpful guide on affiliate marketing, so take a look at that if you want to get started with this method.
- Join websites that offer sponsorships in exchange for online promotion either through your blog or social media accounts.
- Add some display advertisements, like Adsense or Media.net, to your blog
- Create a product or service and promote it on your blog to your audience
So, there you have it! This is my complete guide to starting a lifestyle blog and helping you to begin your blogging journey!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post – it took me a few days of solid writing, editing, researching, and uploading photos to make it so in-depth and helpful for you guys.
I would be super grateful if you would share this post on social media or pin it to Pinterest so that it can help even more people get started!
If you have any questions, comments, or there’s something you’re not clear about – don’t hesitate to contact me.I reply to every email and comment that I get, so don’t be afraid if you need some help!
For those of you that want some serious support, be sure to check out my services page where I can help you setup your hosting, start your blog, and even give you some coaching lessons on traffic and monetization.