*This post was originally published on KristaAoki.com!
Do you want to start a lifestyle blog, yet feel overwhelmed with where to start?
When I first started a lifestyle blog in February 2017, I felt the same way. Since then, I’ve rebranded what feels like one million times until settling on writing about working while traveling.
But one of the most important parts about my journey is that I just started.
Finally starting my blog helped me:
- Earn my first $0.44 commission on Amazon Affiliates.
- Make over $9,100 from blogging in my first year.
- Grow a Facebook community of over 250 goal getters passionate about storytelling and writing.
A big decision I made when I first started my lifestyle blog was deciding whether or not to pay money upfront. I’m a penny-pincher by nature, so I felt scared about taking a leap and investing in my blog.
Given that I’ve just experienced the best year of my life (so far!)… I don’t regret a second of it.
SO many of you pop into my Instagram DMs asking me about how to start a blog of your own. Well… here’s the answer to all of your questions!
This post contains affiliate links to keep our blog up and running!
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Why start a blog?
Starting a blog enables passionate goal-getters to:
- Create a space where you can share everything you’re passionate about;
- Start writing amazing, influential content;
- Connect with the supportive blogging community;
- Empower you and give yourself confidence;
- Inspire others through your content;
- Grow your skillset, including social media management;
- Open opportunities to collaborate with other businesses.
The list of why you should start a blog goes on and on. A blog can be a creative outlet, a marketable skill-builder, a living resumé…like all things, it will be what you make it.
Why shouldn’t you start a blog?
I can think about a few reasons you shouldn’t start a blog.
- You don’t feel passionate about the subject(s) you want to write about;
- You don’t REALLY like writing;
- The only thing that’s exciting to you is the money, and nothing else.
Granted, the reasons are different for everyone. But if you don’t enjoy writing, you don’t feel passionate enough about your subject, or you’re only fueled by the potential of profit… maybe you shouldn’t start a blog.
Like all things in life, the pursuit of a profitable blog can have its days of excitement and days of low self-worth.
What you need to know about starting a lifestyle blog
Starting a lifestyle blog is one of the easiest ways to start blogging because you are literally starting a blog based on your life.
That also means that you have to make the extra effort to stand out beside everyone else in that niche.
- Narrow down your audience. What kind of lifestyle content do you want to write? Who do you want to write for? Millennials? Women? People with wanderlust?
- Write down what brought you to where you are. One of the most powerful ways to stand out apart from the rest is through your STORY. So, what lifestyle transformations helped you get to where you are today?
- Take time to design your aesthetic. Choose a blog theme that represents you. Likewise, choose fonts and colors that really give off the vibe you want others to feel about your brand. Are you edgy? Feminine? Rebellious? Professional? Choose photos, colors, and fonts that communicate that.
- Connect with other lifestyle bloggers. Once you know what type of lifestyle content you want to write, connect with bloggers who would have audiences similar to yours! It’s easy to talk to someone when you have the same interests. And it also opens potential opportunities for collaboration in the future.
Still interested? Let’s start building your lifestyle blog.
What’s the difference: free vs. self-hosted?
When you have choice between a free host (like WordPress.com or Blogger) and a paid host (like Siteground or Bluehost) is in front of you, the choice seems obvious. Who doesn’t like the word “free”?
Actually, free hosting isn’t all it’s cut out to be.
- Your host can shut your site down at any time.
- Your host may have restrictions when you start monetizing your blog.
It might be confusing, but yes. WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog are different. WordPress.com starts as a free hosting service. Self-hosted WordPress blogs (or WordPress.org software) can be installed to your very own WordPress website. With a self-hosted WordPress blog:
- You can have a personalized and professional e-mail address (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Your website will perform better on search engine searches (thus increasing traffic and money to your blog).
- You have far more control over the customization of your blog.
If you are serious about blogging, the small investment to start your own self-hosted blog will be the best decision in the long run. It will be a time-consuming pain to transfer your content from a free service to your own.
Plus, if you own your content from the get-go, you can start earning the most money possible from your blog immediately. I am going to guide you through the process of purchasing your very own self-hosted blog from Siteground, and installing WordPress on your blog (don’t worry, it’s easier than you think!).
Get a domain and hosting
Starting your self-hosted blog requires two things: a domain, and hosting for that domain. I recommend Siteground if you are looking for a host with incredible uptime, fantastic customer service.
- Siteground offers superior, fast 24/7 customer service
- They install WordPress for you for free
- If you already have a website, they offer free website setup and transfer
- Industry leading in terms of uptime
Siteground offers three options for hosting plans. You can use this link to sign up and get 60% off your first hosting plan! The discount only applies to the number of months you pay for upfront, so I recommend paying for as many months in advance as possible.
(I purchased two years upfront and it only took me less than two months to earn my money back for my domain and hosting, but it’s different for everyone).
You receive 60% off the hosting plan of your choice with Siteground.
I made the mistake of purchasing the StartUp plan when I first started blogging. Although you get access to a website with essential features including phenomenal customer support, you are limited to only hosting one website. As it turns out, I’m totally addicted to creating websites. So a few months later I upgraded to GrowBig, paying the full price for that plan.
Here are a few of the additional features the GrowBig and GoGeek plans offer:
- Priority support available on GrowBig and GoGeek: I’ve never waited too long for Siteground’s customer service; they have insanely fast response times. But they do prioritize GrowBig and GoGeek clients with priority, which would definitely be helpful if you’re a beginner with the tech stuff (like I am!).
- SG Optimiser: one of the most important things for every serious blogger is how fast our websites load! Siteground knows this is important for keeping the visitor on your website and for better SEO rankings. Siteground’s WordPress caching solution (the SG Optimiser) is available with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans and it helps speed up a website up to several times.
- Multiple websites: Like I mentioned, Siteground’s StartsUp plan allows only one domain name and website. So, if you’re interested in hosting more than one website in the same hosting account, definitely consider either the GrowBig or GoGeek plan.
After you select your plan and either purchase or transfer your new domain, all you have to do is take a few minutes to fill out your information.
Before you complete your purchase, Siteground gives you the option to select extra services. If you don’t want your own personal information to become publicly available, spend the extra $12/year to purchase domain privacy. They also give you the option of purchasing the SG Site Scanner which checks your website daily and lets you know if your website has been hacked.
Seriously, you can start a website at less than $3.95/mo! It’s one small sacrifice (like skipping the coffee) every month in order to start the profitable blog of your dreams.
How to install WordPress
Immediately after you set up your domain and hosting, you can set up WordPress!
You can either take advantage of Siteground‘s one-click WordPress installation, or ask Siteground to install WordPress for you!
If you want to install WordPress on your own, open the “My Accounts” area. Then, click the red Go to cPanel button.
From there, look for the “Autoinstallers” section. Click the WordPress icon. On that page, you can easily install WordPress at the click of the button!
And, if you ever run into any trouble, Siteground has great, quick 24/7 customer service who are more than prepared to answer any questions you may have (trust me, I’ve taken advantage of this, too!).
Once you install WordPress, you can access your WordPress Dashboard by typing in
How to navigate WordPress
If you’re new to WordPress you might be overwhelmed by its Dashboard. Don’t worry, once you learn all the terms, you’ll realize how simple it can be. Let me walk you through the WordPress dashboard options on the sidebar.
The “Posts” option helps you organize your posts, including your post categories and tags. You can view “All Posts” including drafts and edit your posts from here.
When you add a new post, you can also manage its categories and tags.
Please, please make sure “Uncategorized” is unchecked. Give each post the love and recognition it deserves. Assign it to a category.
Categories are your blog’s overarching concepts. Like, for example, my categories are lifestyle, travel and blogging.
As for tags, you can think of them like subcategories or hashtags. If you link your blog to Bloglovin, your tags will show up whenever you post a new post!
The “Media” section showcases files you upload, including images. You can see what you’ve already opened by clicking Library. To add a new photo, click “Add New”. You can also add to your media library when you are editing a post.
You can title your images, edit their sizes, and update the Alt Text. Make sure you update the Alt Text on every image. This will contribute to your website’s search engine optimization and will help your articles rank higher on search engines.
Different than posts, Pages do not show up on your blog’s feed. You can get creative with the type of pages you make, but essential pages to write are an About Me page and a Contact page.
This section is where you can manage the comments on all your posts. You can approve comments, mark them as spam, and even reply to them!
The appearance section of your Dashboard is where you can select or upload your theme, and customize the look of your blog.
Believe me, I really like the idea of being frugal. So, I tried finding a free theme. But, the customization that paid themes allow is tenfold. You are more likely to find the theme you want if you spend $20-50 on a theme. Themeforest has a huge marketplace for themes and it’s quite easy to navigate their website. While you’re searching for themes, all you have to do is hover over an image and it shows you that theme preview.
Plugins are an additional way you can customize your blog. Think of them like apps that help you make your blog do what you want! Plugins are what make WordPress.org software so much better than free hosted blogs.
And then what?
After you set up your blog, you can start preparing for a successful blog launch. When I prepared for Reroute Lifestyle’s launch, I actually grew our email list to 265 subscribers and social media accounts to 100 combined followers just by following the steps outlined in that article.
It goes to show that while you’re working on building your blog, you can still grow your audience.
- 11 Things to Do Before Blog Launch
- How to Make Money Blogging: How This Blogger Made Her First $1,000 Blogging
- Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: How to Monetize Your Blog with Affiliate Marketing
Yes, blogging has a learning curve.
You’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, and there’s a lot that you’re going to want to change. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. And, believe us, it’s okay to learn as you go.
It’s just as important to never give up. There are days I think this isn’t going to work out… take them as they come, but find ways to get past them. Because: it is going to work out. You just need to be proactive and figure out the “how.”
I love helping beginner bloggers take the first steps in their blogging journeys, and build successful and profitable blogs. Click here to join the Reroute Lifestyle community!
Do you have any questions about creating a blog? What surprises you about blogging?