The following is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Running a successful lifestyle blog. Is it still possible? The fierce competition in the blogging world has made it harder to rock the lifestyle blog, yes, but not impossible. You just need to be smart about it. That means no more writing diaries about your life, but instead inspiring your readers with your unique way of living and teaching them tips & tricks to achieve the same lifestyle.
1. PICK YOUR NICHE
Step one in blogging is always, always, choosing a niche. A lifestyle blog is no different. This one is not debatable! There’s simply too much competition, making it pretty much impossible to stand out if you talk about all kinds of topics at the same time without a clear purpose.
These days you have to give people a really good reason to choose to read your blog over the thousands of others out there. Unfortunately, showcasing your blog as “a peek into my lifestyle” is not doing the trick anymore. An example that is doing well is “Solo female travel & lifestyle” (from The Blonde Abroad) because it takes a unique stand and draws people in. The “Solo” and the “Female”, and especially the combination, is something you don’t see in every blog. Having a clear focus will help you pop out from the crowd and make people remember you.
Without that focus, and with many different topics, readers will get confused. Imagine some readers visit your blog because they saw a cool vegan recipe on your social media. They think you’re a vegan pro with lots of tips and recipes and get excited, only to find lots of DIY projects and yoga exercises. They’re bummed out and confused so they leave your blog. And they probably won’t try out your recipe because you’re not a vegan expert (you can only be an expert in one or two topics at the same time right?).
I wrote another post all about how to identify the perfect niche (including workbook!) so I suggest you head over there and start brainstorming!
2. DECIDE ON YOUR DOMAIN NAME
Before you can think about the fun stuff, you have to get through buying your domain name & signing up for hosting. Let’s start with the first, buying the domain. Having a custom domain name is extremely important if you want to come across as a pro blogger. “yourblogname.com” looks a lot better than “yourblogname.host.com”, doesn’t it? The more professional, the higher the probability of brands and other bloggers wanting to work with you. There are a lot of sites you can find your domain, I like to use Godaddy to get mine.
As for which domain name to purchase, always try to get the domain with the same name as your blog, to avoid any confusion. Haven’t decided on your blog’s name yet? Well, there are three main options that you could go with. The first option is simply to use your full name. It’s highly unlikely that that domain will be taken, so you’ll be good to go. If you prefer something a little more fun and creative, you can go with a variant of your name that shows what your blog is all about, like “Finance Fred”.
If you want to be very creative and/or you will bring in more contributors to your blog, you’d likely want a completely different name. Then it’s time for a big brainstorming session! Write down every single name you can think of, find some inspiration online, and then start checking the availability of domain names. In case you’ve found an amazing name for your blog but the “.com” extension is taken, you can always go with the “.co”.
3. GET HOSTING
There are a lot of platforms to choose from to launch your website, but right now the most popular ones are WordPress.org (self-hosted) and Squarespace. WordPress is the best choice for flexibility and Squarespace is the easiest to use. As a blogger, your website is the core of all your activities and revenue streams. It’s a representation of who you are; your personality and your unique value. It’s very important that you’re able to personalize your site make it your own.
That’s why I usually recommend WordPress for bloggers. Choosing a WordPress blog, however, requires you to get hosting.
You can’t set up a self-hosted WordPress blog without getting hosting. Your site needs to be hosted on a server to be able to be shown to people. With platforms like Squarespace or WordPress.com, this is built in, but for WordPress.org it isn’t. Siteground is one of the best options for hosting if you want to find a relatively cheap package but still get lots of support (and daily backups!).
4. CHOOSE A THEME
Ah, finally! This part is a lot more fun: choosing the look-and-feel of your blog. Once you’ve chosen your domain, gotten hosting and set up your WordPress site, you can choose the theme of your site. This will determine what your website will look like. Choosing a theme is a big decision. In the 5 blogs I’ve run I’ve tried out 8 themes now, and I can tell you they’re not all equal in terms of design, support, performance and ease of use.
It’s even more important for a lifestyle blog than for any other blog. Why? Because lifestyle bloggers mainly monetize through ads, affiliate marketing and sponsored posts instead of through products and services. Monetizing your blog through those three methods means you have to place a huge focus on growing your traffic. Your theme needs to be optimized for traffic.
Choosing a great theme will make visitors stay on your website longer and click on several more posts instead of leaving after reading only one.
The best type of theme you can choose for a lifestyle blog is a magazine-style theme, structured in a user-friendly way.
Not an easy task, I’ll say! There are a lot of magazine-style themes available, but a big part is focused on actual magazines or newspapers, with several authors, and is not directed to the one-person lifestyle blogger.
However, I recently discovered a company called Pixelgrade that focuses solely on those magazine-style blogger themes! Bam! Imagine that. I used to be a lifestyle blogger with extreme theme frustrations so these themes are music to my ears.
Know that I wouldn’t be telling you about them if I hadn’t tried them out. I got a free trial (14 days) and could try any theme they offer (they have 6 different gorgeous themes for now, and more are on the way). They’re easy to use and no surprises after installing (that’s a big one!) so you’re safe to try them out.
Since we all know that the theme’s design is everything -and it will make or break your choice- let’s skip to that part. With these themes it happens to be the best part too, because they’re are all about the design. Every single theme has a unique style and tells a different story.
I showed three of their coolest themes below. “Patch” could be the theme for a no-nonsense blogger that is entertaining and strikingly honest at the same time. “Gema” could be a cute theme for the minimalistic DIY lifestyle blogger. “Silk” on the other hand is perfect for the stylish & sophisticated blogger that’s torn between being a fashion and a lifestyle blogger.
Or you can so something totally different! Every theme has an adaptable layout, so you can have some fun with it and make it totally you.
In case you were wondering: they’re all fully responsive on any device. Yay!
Now let’s talk about another kind of responsive. At Pixelgrade they’re extremely supportive & responsive. Let them know about any of your struggles and you’ll get a personalized answer fast. Signing up for their themes means becoming part of a larger blogger community with all the support you need to become a great blogger. The Pixelgrade Club, as they call it. They’re set on helping bloggers figure out the tech and marketing side of blogging really fast so they can focus on sharing their unique stories, and have fun with it!
3. WRITE VALUE POSTS
Before you go off and get started on your brand new blog, I want to warn you for a pitfall in running a lifestyle blog. As I mentioned before in this post, it’s better to avoid turning your blog into a diary of your life. Journal posts, like a post about what you did last weekend, have a shorter lifespan than value posts, where you give tips & tricks or teach something. That shorter lifespan means that it will not stay relevant over time and will stop generating traffic. And traffic happens to be key in making a lifestyle blog profitable.
Another important aspect of value posts is that they solve a specific question or problem for the reader. That means they are looking for an answer on Google or on Pinterest. Which leads to a lot of traffic! And if you are able to blow their minds by providing the exact solution they’ve been looking for, they’ll be more inclined to share your post!
So whenever you’re writing a blog post, try to focus on creating something that solves the readers problem and is not related to a specific time period. That way you help your reader, they share your posts and keep coming back, and you keep reaping the benefits of the same posts over and over again in the future!
Starting a lifestyle blog might be easy, but setting it up for success is something else! If you identify your niche, choose an amazing theme like the ones from Pixelgrade, and create quality posts that add value for your readers, you have the perfect foundation to grow an incredible and profitable lifestyle blog!
Do you have a lifestyle blog? Or are you planning to start one? What are your biggest struggles?