So you want to start a blog? Then let me help you! I started my first ever blog in 2012 as I started university. Just as a way to document my moving to a new city and life as a student. Years on, I’ve worked with some of my favourite brands, been to blogger events and I’m still learning. My blog has had a few name changes since 2012, new cameras and I studied an MSc in Digital Marketing whilst earning part time money as a blogger. I’m still growing my blog and working on it but I’ve learnt a lot already and wanted to share what I know with you!
My first piece of advice is: read up on blogging! There are people out there with far more knowledge than me and theres many great books on the market from industry specialists. Many of these I read during my time at university and have on my ‘To be read’ list! Never stop wanting to learn as this is an evolving, new industry!
Step by step guide to starting your lifestyle blog
- Plan out what your blog is going to be about! Do you know what niche(s) of blog you want to write about? Fashion? Lifestyle? Parent? Local area? Try and choose a blog name that reflects the niche or industry you’re in or use your own name! Try and use something that people are going to search in your niche. For example a fantastic local blog to me is “North East Family Fun” and this is a great example of an SEO ready blog as many people will search Google for content containing these keywords and thus find her blog and social media. As tempting as it may be to write only about trending topics or to “fake it”, it’ll soon become obvious which posts aren’t really your lifestyle or interests or that you don’t know what you’re talking about. However, don’t let that fear stop you from changing blog direction or adding new areas to it. I never used to blog about clothing or fashion or home interiors, but as I’ve gotten older and developed new interests, my blog posts have changed too! Grab a pen and paper (or ipad if you’re cool) and get scribbling down all the things that you want to write about, photograph, the people that inspire you, the blogs that you enjoy reading!
- Decide on your platform and hosting. If it’s just going to be a hobby, you can just use a free blog platform like blogspot, but if you want to develop it into a self-employed business one day, i’d recommend getting your own domain name. It does cost and the costs do vary so make sure to shop around different hosting sites. Your own domain will help you in many ways down the line as many brands won’t work with you unless you own your domain. You will also then need to learn the basics of Google Analytics, keep a track of your analytics and make goals and so much more it needs its own post!
- Decide on your theme. Etsy is a great place to find dynamic themes. Have a look at your favourite blogs (usually in their footers) and you’ll see who designed their layout, go and have a browse and find one you like. I’d recommend using a free one whilst you’re just starting out. I only paid for my theme and my domain once I wanted to start making money from my blog.
- Make your mark! Make your blog stand out with cool graphics and obvious branding. Get yourself onto Canva and get designing! A great way to share your posts is with your own Pinterest pins that will set your blog posts apart from other Pinterest pins. Create social media posts that match to share your posts with. You can even set up ‘business colours’ on Canva, meaning that all your posts are the same colour scheme.
- Make an ‘About Me’ page. This is the easiest way to introduce yourself to your readers. Answer the basic questions: Who you are, where you’re from, what you write about, and where else people can find you on the web. As your blog audience grows this is a great page to edit with your media kit, statistics and FAQs.
- Set out your schedule. Scheduling your time and content is key to success with blogging. You can’t be running around like a headless chicken looking at stuff as and when. Once I got myself organised, I create content for my blog on a set day every week and then schedule it to go up on my blog and social media whilst I’m busy doing other things. Make sure to schedule in a day at the beginning or the end of the month to analyse your blog data and social media analytics. Once you have your few post ideas, get writing! If you want to start off with an SEO friendly blog straight from the beginning, you need to use plug ins like Yoast, ExactMetrics or any other SEO helper. (I wish I’d known about SEO when I started, but you learn as you go!) There’s even free websites where it will give you SEO advice about your blog post. Plan out how often you want to post and the content you’ll be posting. Daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY?! Get it scheduled in, get it written and then worry about the images, links etc.
- Get your camera out! Now with Iphones being unreal cameras in their own right, you don’t need a proper camera. When I first started, I posted photos from my Iphone 4 onto my .blogspot blog. A few name changes and my own domain later, I now use my Canon 750D to take photos as well as my Canon M10, my Iphone 10 and Robs Iphone 11 Pro Max and our DJI drone. For me, getting the text written out is the most important step, then I start thinking about the photos/links/videos I want to include.
- Edit your pictures. I use Lightroom presets to edit many of my pictures. Photoshop is great if you can use it or afford it. Canva is fantastic for editing your pictures into social media posts, and if you pay for the Pro version, it can also remove the image background.
- Make use of ALT- Text when you include photos. Alt-text gives a description to an image, not only letting those with visual impairments hear what the image contains, but it also lets Google and other search engines see what the image is about.
- Monetise your blog. Easily the most exciting part of blogging, but you’ll have to wait awhile for this as you’ll need to register as self-employed to earn money as a blogger. I signed up to ShopStyle early on and there are many blogger networks out there. There are also brand PR people looking for bloggers to work with and other affiliate networks like Awin.
Tips for blogging success
- Be active on your social media! People need to see you to remember you have a blog! Share links to your posts often, comment on other peoples blogs and social media and make sure that people know you’re there. Join Facebook groups and share your blog posts in them (particularly Facebook posts for bloggers!)
- Put the effort in! It is a long hard slog growing a blog, it doesn’t happen overnight, or overweek or even overyear for a lot of people. You can’t turn it into your full time job overnight! So make sure that you’re really trying to stand out by taking quality images, good SEO rich text and it’s personal but also RELATABLE.
- Keep learning! I found Hubspot Resources to be very useful during my degree and I still do! Facebook blueprint, Google Garage and many other marketing websites have helped me!
- Do your best to avoid drama online. This can negatively impact your blog and business for years.
- Make sure your blog posts are attractive, link heavy and helpful! Good images, link to products ( you can later turn these into affiliate links when you get accepted onto affiliate networks) other webpages and your other blog posts (this keeps people on your blog for longer!).
- Be consistent. This is one I’m still learning as it’s only a side job for me. It’s better to only post twice a week consistently, than 5 times for 2 days then not again for a month.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Only some people (many of whom have a team of people behind them!) can manage a growing Youtube channel, instagram, other social medias, Tiktok and a blog! Don’t try and do too much as you’ll get creative burnout and feel like a failure!
- Make an email newsletter. This is great for reaching your audience right in their phones. Many people forget blog urls or find your blog randomly so give them the chance to sign up to a newsletter. It will bring you in traffic all day and night as they check their emails. This way you can share everything to do with your blog, social media and small business with an engaged audience quickly and directly. You can then analyse these analytics to see what’s working and what’s not!