Last updated: January 4th, 2017
Blogging began as a hobby and has transformed into so much more than that for me. That’s the biggest reason that I want to show others how to start a lifestyle blog. It has opened so many doors and presented many opportunities that wouldn’t have been there without this blog of mine. Blogging has allowed me to do what I love and to stay at home with my babies (see: 85 Ways to Make Money Blogging). It has allowed me to create my own schedule and express myself in ways I never knew was possible before.
This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to start your own blog.
How to Start a Lifestyle Blog
Before We Begin: Why start a blog?
There are so many great reasons to start a blog today! Let’s talk about the obvious one first – money. Yes, you can earn money blogging. I just had my first $10,000 month on my blog and it’s only looking better and better!
I’ve been able to live a life I only dreamt about when I was waiting tables at a restaurant 5 years ago.
The best part is that now, I am able to wake up every day and do exactly what I want to do!
The nice thing about blogging is that you don’t have to make money to love it. The connections and sense of community that the blogging world offers is amazing. As a matter of fact, I blogged for many months before making any money at all.
My recommendation is to get into it because it’s something you enjoy doing. Making money is totally fine and is something you should think about from day one, but that shouldn’t be your #1 motivation.
Step 1: Choose Your Blog Topic
What are you interested in?
Blogging about what interests you is very important. If you like the topic, and are interested in what you’re writing about, your readers will pick up on that. You’ll also enjoy doing it more and that is especially important if you’re going to stick with it.
Even if you’re blogging as a business, it should still be fun and something that you enjoy.
What are you good at?
If you have a particular skill that you think should be shared with the world, a blog is the perfect place to do it! Do you excel in the kitchen? Start a food blog! Are your friends always asking you for fashion advice? Perhaps fashion blogging is the way to go.
If you can offer tips and generally help people out, they will flock to your blog.
Step 2: Choose the Proper Platform
WordPress all the way
I won’t even discuss other options because I am so passionate about WordPress as a blogging platform. Here are a few reasons why WordPress is the best platform for blogging:
- Great for beginners
- Tons of free themes available
- Easily customizable, even if you have no coding knowledge
- There are tons of free plugins that make just about everything easier
- WordPress is the most commonly used platform, and therefore there are tons of resources out there providing help, should you get stuck
Why not a free platform?
There are many reasons why you should avoid using a free platform for your blog. Among them are:
- Some free platforms put their own ads on your site
- Most free platforms restrict your ability to put ads on your site or make any money at all
- There is virtually no support available and even something as simple as a design change warrants a cost (thus becoming not free)
- You will have an ugly URL, such as www.yourblog.blogspot.com
- Most importantly, you don’t own your blog when it’s on a free platform – it’s literally like building your house on land that you don’t own
Let me address that last point again. If your blog is on a free platform, you do not own the blog, or the URL. This means (and it has happened before) that your blog could be shut down at the drop of a hat, for any reason they see fit. Some blogs have been shut down because the blogger was working with a company that the platform owners don’t like. You don’t want to put your blog in someone else’s hands just to save five bucks a month.
Step 3: Snag Your URL and Get Hosted
Ok, now that you’ve got your blog topic and are ready to set up your WordPress blog, it’s time to get a domain name. This will be your website’s address, or what goes here: www.YOURSITE.com.
Tips on choosing a domain name:
- Make it as short as you can. The shorter it is, the easier it is for people to remember and type.
- Make sure it conveys your blog’s message. While trying to keep it short, be sure to include something about yourself or your blog’s message in the URL.
- Don’t steal. It’s best not to copy someone else’s idea when it comes to your blog. I also don’t recommend using brand names in your URL.
It’s time to click right here to head over to HostGator to get your domain and hosting.
I am a HostGator affiliate and get a commission when you use my links and my code to save an extra 30% off your plan. I could be an affiliate for any company, but I choose HostGator due to their incredibly low costs and awesome 24/7 customer support. Their one-click WordPress install is perfect for people who are starting new blogs.
Click the “Choose a Plan” button.
Note – I have an exclusive 30% off code for HostGator plans. Normal affiliates get a 25% off code to offer their readers, but I asked for more and you get to reap the benefits!
Choose a plan and you’ll be at this screen:
Here, you’ll enter the domain name aka your blog’s web address. The first couple you might already be taken. Don’t get discouraged! There are still great, unclaimed domain names out there!
Upon entering an available domain, you will see that it is available and it will be automatically added to your cart (as shown above).
You will then be given the option to add the .net and .org versions of your domain. I generally do not do this and only buy the .com domain.
You’ll also see a checkbox for “Domain Privacy Protection”. You want to keep this checked. It’s $10/year, but it prevents your registration information from being public information. This keeps your email address, phone number and even physical address from being public information. Instead, they will see HostGator’s company information.
Confirm your hosting package and billing cycle length and then create an account username and password.
Scroll down and enter your billing info. Their site is 100% secure.
Note: if at any point during this process you get stuck, feel free to contact me (info at the bottom of post) or jump on the phone and call HostGator at 1-866-96-GATOR or clickt he “live chat” button in the top right portion of their page and they’ll be happy to help you out.
Scroll down a bit more for some extra options. You don’t NEED any of these, as they can all be achieved outside of HostGator. For example, there are plugins to back up your blog and to improve security. Basically, I’d take note as to what these add-ons do and look for ways to do them yourself. It’s cheaper and more effective.
The next section will have you enter a coupon code. Enter KATIEDIDWHAT to save 30% on your order! In most cases, they will have already applied a 20% code. Just enter KATIEDIDWHAT and hit validate and you’ll see the extra savings.
Once payment is complete, you’ll receive an email within a few minutes confirming your purchase and containing important information. I recommend forwarding this email to another email address that you own so it is in two places just in case.
In the email will be a link to your control panel aka cpanel. You’re going to want to click that. You’ll have to login. The login and password will be in the email as well.
Now that you’re passed that screen, you should get to your cPanel. This is the “back end” of your site and where all of the key technical matters will take place.
You’ll most likely be greeted with a popup. Like this:
Click “no thanks” and I recommend clicking the “don’t show me this again” box, as the info is easier explained on other parts of the web. Additionally, you won’t want to do much here unless you have advanced knowledge in the cpanel area.
In the cpanel, you’ll see a LOT of icons. Ignore them all for now. You don’t want to spend a lot of time here unless you really know what you are doing. What we will do here is install WordPress. With HostGator, it is actually very easy to install WordPress on a domain. In your cPanel, scroll down and look for a “Software/Services” section. It’ll look like this:
Click QuickInstall to move forward.
Next, you’ll be at the WordPress install screen.
Choose WordPress on the left under “Popular Installs” and click “Install WordPress” on the right to move forward.
- The Base Domain for your installation.
- The sub directory you would like the site to load from, if desired. You probably want to leave this blank.
Example: Should you wish your WordPress URL to be mydomain.com/site instead of just mydomain.com. Your site will always display this extension if you enter one.
- For Admin Email, enter an email address where you want the admin password emailed to. Make sure this is a working email address.
- For Blog Title, enter the name of the website. This is what will appear in the header as the name of your site.
- For Admin Username, enter your preferred user name.
- Your first name.
- Your last name.
- Click Install WordPress when you’re ready to proceed
A progress bar at the top of the page will let you know when installation is complete. Once complete, you will be able to start working on your WordPress site. Check your email for your WordPress username and password as well as a link to your WordPress dashboard.
Note: While most blogs will be able to be accessed right away, this process could take up to 48 hours. A very few amount of blogs will have to wait up to 48 hours, due to their location in comparison to the HostGator data servers. Feel free to use the HostGator chat support found right on their site to ask them for updates on this process.
This is what your WordPress dashboard will look like:
Hold your mouse over “Appearance” and click “Themes” to browse the hundreds of free WordPress themes available. When you’re ready to post, hover over the “Posts” option and a new dropdown menu will appear. Click New Post and you’re off and running!
To delete the original post that they put there, click all posts and you’ll see an option to trash that “Hello World” post.
Aaaaaaand that is how to start a lifestyle blog that is self-hosted on WordPress.
Whew! We made it! Was it easy? Do you have questions? Leave a comment below, email me [email protected] or catch me on Twitter @RealZackReyes. I’m happy to walk you through this process!
Optional Step 4: Choosing a Premium WordPress Theme
While there are free WordPress themes available, I recommend jumping right in with a premium theme. Most often, premium themes are more functional, user friendly and SEO friendly. I recommend a Genesis theme because of the functionality, moderate price and ease of use. All of our sites (including katiedidwhat.com) run on Genesis.
***Please note: you will need a Genesis theme, not just the Genesis Framework. When you get to the page linked here, the very first “Theme” you see is the Genesis Framework. Don’t buy that separately. As you browse the themes, you’ll notice that they are all priced to include the framework anyway. Choose one of the 60 themes. My favorites are: Foodie Pro, Glam Pro, Simply Pro and Modern Studio Pro. Any of those themes make for a great blog design right out of the box.
There have been countless times where I’ve made a change here and a tweak there myself as opposed to paying a developer $50 to do it. Genesis makes changes easy for our blogs and that’s important to us.
Depending on how comfortable you are with HTML and CSS code, you will be able to customize your site on your own. If your knowledge is limited, a Genesis theme will look and perform better than any other right out of the box. If you don’t want to touch the design at all, just do a Google search for a “WordPress blog designer” and choose someone who looks legit.
Visit MoreFromYourBlog.com for tips on gaining traffic, increasing your social media following, making money from your blog and much, much more.
Step 5: Tips for Blogging Success
-Write about what you love. What are you passionate about? What makes you excited and really makes you you? If you write about things that you truly love, chances are your writing will be better and others will love reading it!
-Be consistent. Whether you’re blogging once a day or once a week, consistency is key!
-Be ethical. Disclose properly for products and payments received in return for posts, and also don’t plagiarize or steal ideas and images.
-Make your blog beautiful! Spend time (or money) making the small design details of your blog perfect for you!
-Be active on social media. Don’t automate all of your accounts. Rather, be present on each platform that you’re trying to build. People like you for you and your personality should sine through!
-Take pride in the pictures that you put on your blog. This is all yours- own it!
-Steer clear of any blog drama! It is not worth your time. If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all!
-Most importantly: HAVE FUN! If you’re not enjoying what you are doing, you are more likely to give up. Plus, it will come through in your content, and others will be able to tell that you aren’t enjoying it, too.
Step 6: Do You REALLY Want to Get Serious?
If you want to really start with a serious thought about making money, build your email list from day ONE! We use Aweber for a couple of our blogs and love it. You can create an email series that automatically sends emails to new subscribers in time intervals that you set.
A good idea is to set Aweber up to send your new subscribers 6-8 of your best posts on a weekly basis. This is great for traffic and for helping them to get to know your writing. You can also email your entire list when you have new posts/annoucnements/products to promote.
They have a month free trial option, so there’s nothing to lose for trying it out!
Now go on with your blog self! ;)