How to start a lifestyle blog
On Top Blogs, I have published a number of articles on starting a blog, with inputs from successful bloggers.
I have shared experiences and best practices on starting and maintaining a beauty and fashion blog, food blog, travel blog, product and book review blog and technology blog. The post on how to start a lifestyle blog comes rather late, but here it is:
What is lifestyle blogging
Lifestyle blogging is a niche (= segment) of professional blogging in which we talk about topics that lead people to have a good lifestyle.
Good lifestyle would mean good health, organized family and occupational life, enough money and comforts, style and fashion, overall well-being and happiness.
Lifestyle blogging goes much beyond beauty and fashion blogging though fashion and beauty are often a prominent part of most lifestyle blogs. [This aspect has been discussed in detail at the end of this post.]
Please visit the linked post if you are interested in discussing more on what lifestyle blogging is.
Why start a lifestyle blog
Lifestyle blog suits bloggers who have multi-faceted expertise and experience in lifestyle matters. That also means the blogger must be genuinely interested in these areas and not choose the niche just because it is stated to be a paying niche.
If you are interested and well-experiences in two-three of the main areas, i.e. fashion/ beauty, travel, parenting/ child care, design/ decor, health/ nutrition/ emotional health/ psychology, lifestyle blogging is the right blogging niche for you.
Once you are an established lifestyle blogger, you are not constrained by narrowness of the niche - a problem faced by bloggers of fashion, health, parenting and narrower niches.
You might have already researched that lifestyle blogging is a well paying niche because a large number of people are interested in one or the other lifestyle matter, and there are many brands ready to put advertisements on lifestyle blogs.
Though there are some recommend to consider blogging as pure business and go with any paying niche, whether you have interest in that or not (as shared in the linked post: making money blogging), the majority of experts and high-earning bloggers recommend that blogging without passion is a burden over long term - and I agree with them.
How to start a lifestyle blog
If you have decided to go for blogging and have chosen to start a lifestyle blog with the aim to make money from it, let's talk the nitty-gritty.
These are the bare essentials when you start a professional blog in any niche:
- Choosing a relevant and expressive title for the blog.
- Choosing a memorable domain name for the blog.
- Deciding where to host the blog: selecting a reputed web host and the right web hosting plan that would meet your present requirements and also be expandable in future. You may visit this page to learn more about how to choose the web hosting plan best suited for you. That page also refers to discussions on choosing the right domain name.
- Choosing the right website builder or blog creator. My recommendation is wordpress.org CMS. Don't go for a free blogging platform.
- Choosing the right theme and going by the best web design. Wordpress has many themes - free and paid - suiting lifestyle blogs.
- Deciding the categories within the broad niche (In the case of lifestyle blog, categories will be fashion, cooking, etc).
- Composing static pages. The blog must have an 'about us' page, a 'contact us' page, one giving the blog's ethical/ privacy/ content sharing policies. If you are an expert in some area, tell that in the 'about us' page.
- Composing posts. A blog stands on its content, and all other things are secondary. But creating the right content is also the most difficult and most time-consuming part of blogging. When starting the blog, do not make it public before you have created some posts with great content. Perhaps, 2-3 for each category; the more the better. Do not start with very thin content.
- All bloggers create content, and some create marvelous content. However, even among those who create great content, not many make money from the blog. Part of the reason is that most bloggers create content that informs; it does not solve problems. So, write content that solves problems of your 'target audience', i.e. people who would visit your blog.
- Promotion and SEO. All professional blogs created with the goal of making money need traffic. Traffic consists of visitors who click on ads on the blog, make purchases, share posts with others. For that, the blog should be known to others and should come on top of Google/ Bing search pages. If your blog is made with Wordpress CMS, it has free and paid plugins for SEO. I will recommend that you go for RankMath or Yoast.
- Monetization. Finally, the blog should be able to make money for the blogger. There are more than a dozen ways to monetize the blog. Putting advertisements is the most common way to earn money from blogging. When the blog is of some maturity and is popular, one can think of affiliation with brands, etc - these pay better than just displaying advertisements.
That was a summary of actions that a blogger must take for professional blogging. All bloggers try to take these actions but just a fraction of bloggers actually make money. So, the next section is going to be on what specific actions to take on the lifestyle and how to monetize the blog:
Making money from a lifestyle blog
No theory here; just the best practices. Some of these actions are universal and MUST be taken, while some work differently in different situations. All of these have been validated with real-life experiences of successful lifestyle bloggers.
- Ask yourself, what is your area of passion and expertise within the broad lifestyle niche. Also find whether you are good at writing or explaining through video; whether you have lots of information but not much experience, or a lot of experience and expertise, or both.
Decide your blogging strategy based on answers that you get from yourself; don't start and maintain the blog randomly. If at the end of this self-analysis, you find that you are an expert on one small area, do not go for a full-fledged lifestyle blog but concentrate on that niche. (More on this in the next section.)
- You need not include all categories that are found on lifestyle blogs. That can indeed become overwhelming, and you may not have expertise on some of them. For example, you may not be a keen traveler or may not have expertise on cooking. However, think of synergistic categories. Heath and nutrition, pregnancy and childcare go together well. Decor, handicraft/ DIY, hobbies gel well. Family matters, emotional health, spirituality, health are closely related.
I know a blogger who is master in stitching and embroidery but felt that she could give a lot of tips on parenting and child care. Her lifestyle blog in English on all and sundry topics did not do well. She analyzed the reasons and then opened a blog in her native language on stitching - and it is doing quite well!
- Also examine who are the people who would visit your blog, refer your blog posts to others and even buy from links on the blog. You will need to focus your content towards them.
Especially think of the age, gender, education level, buying habits, location, expertise in the field, and free time in hand of your potential visitors. Write according to their needs, their liking.
- The web design of the lifestyle blog should be such that it clearly shows the categories (because there will be distinct categories in the blog) and attracts attention to the top content. If on Wordpress, do not choose a theme that is appealing at the cost of clear navigation. Go only for a modern, responsive theme.
- Those searching for tips on lifestyle areas are looking for nice things in life - so the blog should be highly appealing, a bit flowery. Keep the mood positive, full of energy.
- On lifestyle blogs, people come in search for genuine solutions and tips because enormous content is available on life matters, and much of it is either routine or commercial or copy-pasted. So, give genuine tips.
Another small bit of advice here: have a mix of personal experiences and posts written in the third person. That will help you build authority while retaining personal touch.
- On each post, embed photos that enrich the post. There is no scope in a lifestyle blog for generic stock photos and photos of poor quality. You may like to visit this page for tips on putting images on the web.
If you decide to post your own photos and videos, have a smartphone with good camera (No need to buy costly equipment). If you'd do all the photography yourself, it makes sense to buy a small tripod to hold the camera. You do not need a lot of editing of photos or videos if you take care of light and placement of objects in the frame. Mind it, editing takes time.
If you are poor at photography, buy photos from ShutterStock, Pixabay, Pexels, etc but avoid commonly used stock photos.
Videos work well in a number of lifestyle topics, especially when giving tips on exercising or makeup and explaining recipes. It is a good idea to open a YouTube channel and link individual videos to the blog.
Instagram and Pinterest are top media-sharing platforms for lifestyle bloggers. Do not ignore them at all.
- Use the blog to integrate content across all social media platforms- YouTube, Instagram/ Pinterest, Facebook etc.
- While you will be publishing posts on specific topics, think of publishing some big posts that cover a number of areas and are in the form of background information. Don't forget to give link to these pillar posts/ pages on other posts. Have at least 2-3 such webpages in each category.
- Lifestyle blogs start paying well when you graduate from CPC or display advertisements to product reviews and affiliation. These streams pay much better.
- When reviewing products and recommending a product, be honest to the core. That builds trust with your visitors. Once you achieve a good level of trust and have good traffic on the blog, people click on your recommendations and make purchases through your affiliate ads - resulting in good earning.
Disclose your affiliation with the product, if reviewing and recommending an affiliate product.
- If you have expertise in one or more areas within the lifestyle niche, think of online courses - as they pay well and also keep improving your expertise quotient.
- Think of evolving a community around your blog. People interested in lifestyle matters tend to visit the same resource if its content resonates with them or solves their problems. One great way to build a loyal community is to engage with them on social sites and the second is to let them subscribe to your updates. For email subscriptions, you can start with a free account on MailChimp.
- Learn from competition. On Google, search for top lifestyle blogs, with filters for your location and your interests. Look at the blogs that come on top of result page - for the topics that they cover. Can you cover the same topics and write as good? Does your blog look as good and has as clear navigation as these blogs? Do they use some keywords/ search expressions repeatedly on the blog so that search engines pick them up on top, and should you use the same ones? How are they monetizing- can you think of the same ways of making money? And so on.
When fashion blogging is better than lifestyle blogging
A successful blogger has said, and I shared it earlier, that you need not have all the categories of lifestyle blogging in your blog. The same applies when you know a lot about fashion and love grooming, but are thinking of opening a lifestyle blog just because you learnt that it has a greater money-making potential.
Consider these two points.
First, the statement that lifestyle blogs have a better earning potential than standalone fashion blogs is a generalization that only tells that because lifestyle blogs cover more areas than just fashion, there are more brands and more interested people. Since both can earn well for the blogger, the actual earning depends on a hundred factors including the design, quality and usefulness of content, optimization and monetization.
Second. When you are passionate about fashion and focus on fashion itself, your time and energies will be more focused than trying to laboriously compose posts on other topics. By focusing on your area of interest and expertise, your output will be more, and your expertise quotient will also rise faster.
This post on ITB tells in detail about starting a beauty or fashion blog.
When to move blogging from narrow niche to lifestyle
There are times when moving from a narrow niche to lifestyle blogging makes good sense.
One reason you should think of broadening the niche from fashion or travel or wellness to lifestyle is that you have nearly exhausted your knowledge base or experiences in that narrow niche.
Another situation when you could be considering this is when you have more time on hand or you have decided to become a full-time blogger from doing blogging in spare time, e.g. when your kids are grown up or you decide to leave the 9-to-5 job.
Some bloggers tend to broaden their blogging niche when their are of interest and expertise grow. For example, you had training in make up and grooming and so you were blogging in this niche. But then you got interested in embroidery and stitching - and you took classes and have joined an active group on this. As this is a linked lifestyle area, you can add this also to your lifestyle bundle.
But if you are such a blogger of a narrow niche and are thinking of moving to a broad niche, you must coolly analyze whether this is a quirk or a well-thought-after move. Will you be able to sustain your new-found love for the new niche? Also look whether the niches complement one another. Finally decide whether you will open a new blog or continue with the earlier one.
Remember, on moving to lifestyle blogging from a narrow nich or adding new categories, you will have to modify the 'about us' page, blog description etc - all places on the blog and linked social media accounts - wherever you have talked about what the subject of the blog.
Lifestyle blog topics
Let me suggest subjects that suit a lifestyle blog. Do not have more than 5-6 categories. You can include more than one subject in one category.
- marriage and family matters
- dating and loving
- entertainment: tv, movies, music
- showcasing successful people, interviewing them, inspirational talk
- health and fitness
- emotional health
- self improvement
- social matters, culture
- alternative systems of healing
- diet and nutrition
- party and etiquette tips
- social skills
- event management
- DIY, daily hacks, technology hacks
- sports and hobbies
- creative arts, visual arts
- home design and decor
- home buying
- beauty and make up
- ideas for making and saving money
- home business
- book reviews
- product reviews
- sharing experiences
- services, including courses, through the blog