Are you thinking about starting a blog next year?
You're not alone! Over 60,000 people do a search using "how to start a blog" each month, and 5,400 people want to know how to start a blog for free.
And there are over 600 million blogs on the Internet this year! Does that make you want to just forget about the whole idea?
Don't! Because according to research, if you add a blog to the website you already have, you can increase your traffic by over 400%.
And even if you won't be alone in the blogosphere, no one else can create your blog. It will be entirely unique.
So by all means, start a lifestyle blog. But then, prepare to knock the socks off your readers!
Let's dive into how to create your lifestyle blog in 2021 so you can do just that...
First Things First: The Vision
These questions are good ones to consider whether you want to start a lifestyle blog or grow the one you already have.
Take a moment to get centered and separate yourself from any distractions. Breathe deeply and slowly for a moment, and let go of any tension you may be feeling, so that whatever comes to mind will not be fear-based.
Now, what comes to mind in answer to these questions...
(1) How do you hope having a lifestyle blog will make you feel this coming year? And how does this idea fit in to everything else you want for the year to come?
(2) What are your thoughts and expectations? "If I start a lifestyle blog, then ..." Are they realistic?
(3) If you already have a lifestyle blog, what do you hope will be different or better about your blogging experience next year?
(4) How will you use your lifestyle blog? Do you intend it to support another business you have, or do you want it to become your primary business?
(5) What might a successful year of blogging be like?
Eventually, you will want to establish more specific and measurable goals, but this question is a good way to begin get clearer about the way you will define success once the blog has been created.
Good News about Blogging?
One reason I felt inspired to do some research on this topic is the blog you are reading right now. But guess what I found out. It stopped me in my tracks, I'll admit.
The blog posts that perform the best have 2000 words or more!
Yowza! And longer is better, so that doesn't mean that 2000 words is just right, it means that 2000 words is the (gulp) starting point.
But here's the reward. If the content you offer is longer, more websites will link to it. And your highest quality content can give you a traffic increase of up to 2000%.
I take that to mean that it would be better to write one 2000-2500 word post a week than 5 days of 500-word posts.
By the way, another interesting piece of advice is about blog post headlines. The ideal number of words is 8, but a range of 6-13 words is still acceptable.
Before we look at how to begin or improve your lifestyle blog, let’s summarize the blog goals we have identified, so far, plus a few new ones…
Still with me? If you have made it this far, and you are still interested in starting a lifestyle blog, that’s great!
I admire people who can rise to a challenge.
Well, let’s keep going then.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to stay with me as we explore the process of planning the start (or reinvention) of your lifestyle blog.
By the end of it, you will have a solid plan in place and be ready to get started, and we can celebrate accomplishing the mission.
What to Decide Before Getting Started
To Niche or not to Niche
The consensus seems to be that it would be ideal to focus on only one niche and to then, choose categories that are all related to it. For example, cooking or food could be the niche, and categories might be slow cooker recipes, 15-minute meals, healthy eating on a budget and so on.
But it was suggested in several articles I read, that if you are going to choose more than one niche then you need an umbrella that connects them.
Now, I think I have just made it sound like it doesn’t matter which niche you choose, as long as you don’t have several wildly disparate niches. But actually, some niches may be better than others.
If you are planning to monetize your blog, then you want to choose from among the most profitable niche topics. For example, there are five broad topics that people are likely to pay you to help them with: money or wealth, becoming healthier, love and relationships, happiness and time management.
If you choose a niche that is connected to those five areas, you have a much better chance of making money with your blog.
So now, you just need to explore some of the possibilities hiding within each of those broad categories and see which ones call to you. Let’s take a look…
Money or Wealth - working from home, saving for the kids’ college, or saving for retirement, getting out of debt, meal planning on a budget, frugal living.
Health - fitness, healthy recipes, aromatherapy, healing techniques, types of diets: Paleo, whole food, weight loss, and more.
Love and Relationships - online dating, finding love, relationship advice, creating a better marriage, parenting advice, etc.
Happiness - faith, personal growth, hobbies (crafting, scrapbooking, sewing, reading, etc.), interior design, sports, traveling and others.
Time management - productivity, goal setting, homemaking, homeschooling, planners, etc.
Did one of those appeal to you?
Among the ones identified, here is a list of the most popular topics or themes for blogs: lifestyle blogs, and particularly, style or beauty, self help blogs, home decor, mom blogs or parenting, health and wellness, food blogs, personal finance, crafting or hobbies, and relationship blogs.
Let’s look at some of those possibilities in more detail and I will share some successful blogs you can take a peek at to see if those topics are ones you want to pursue. Since we are already looking at lifestyle blogs, I am going to focus on the ones that are most compatible with a lifestyle focus…
Style or Beauty
Mom, Parenting or Family
Crafting or Creative
Food and Recipes
Money and Budgets
Why not just blog about everything? Blogs do best when they are about a very specific topic. Your audience will know what to expect when they visit your site. After a few visits, they come to associate you as being an expert on a certain topic. Think of your blog as a specialized boutique vs a general store.
If you’re still not sure, start blogging. You will come to see what lights you up when you write about it.
But if possible, this is a great decision to make beforehand, and then, it’s on to the next question.
Blogging Wizard points out that one reason to stick to just one topic, is that once you have someone visit your blog because of a topic interest, he or she is much more likely to be interested in everything else you have written on that topic.
Toward that end, if you are having trouble picking just one because you feel like you need more to choose from, to help you recognize the one that’s perfect for you, click this link for the Blogging Wizard article - it offers 100+ profitable niches.
A Difference of Opinion...
While researching this topic, I read a book called Lifestyle Blogging Basics, and this author did not believe it was necessary to restrict yourself to one niche.
It seemed her opinion was that if you chose more than one, you just needed to be consistent with them, and stick to the ones you chose, rather than being all over the place. She described the process where she got clear, after two fairly successful blogs, and now starting a third, what her content plan would be…
I already knew I wanted to include my experiences in Nashville, but I still wanted to express my personal style and my love for food and travel. I decided on my content buckets: Nashville, personal style, recipes and travel. - Laura Lynn, Lifestyle Blogging Basics
I also read and discovered other lifestyle bloggers who had two or more different niches, and seemed to be successful, so that is a choice if you really want more than one topic, as I myself, do.
But, once you have chosen a niche, or niches, you want to be sure you have chosen the right one(s). Ask yourself these questions…
(1) If I write about this topic 50 times or more, will I still want to write another 25 articles about it? And let’s say, I have a great year blogging about it. Will I be able to keep going for another year?
Because at some point, you will feel like you have written everything there is to say. Will you be motivated to stay in the game and come up with more?
Side note: this is where I run into trouble. I make myself promise to commit for a year, thinking if I can do that, I can keep going. But time after time after time, a year goes by and I feel done.
(2) Is it a popular enough topic that people will want to read about it? If you want verification, I suggest keyword research.
You’re going to need to do that, anyway, so you know which terms are the best ones to use as tags or blog post titles, etc.. And when you use those tools, you also can have a look at how many people are searching for that topic, and how easy it is to get attention for it.
For example, when I decided to go back to writing a lifestyle blog that had more than one topic, I looked up hygge lifestyle, to see if it was still as possible as it used to be, and found out that 8100 people search on it every month! Hello!!
So look for keywords that have at least 1000 people looking for them each month, with less than 50 as a difficulty score. The higher the better for the first, and the lower the better for the second.
By the way, I often use Ubersuggest as a keyword tool, but it has begun to really limit the number of free searches you can have each day, so you may want to look for others, as well.
(3) Is it on that list (or some list you trust) of profitable niches? Because ideally, eventually, you will be able to monetize your blog.
If it meets all three of those criteria, you have struck gold.
How did you do? Have you decided on a niche or niches? If so, that’s wonderful.
Going from the world of infinite possibilities to taking a stand for just one or two or even three topics to focus on is sometimes the hardest part about getting started.
But sometimes, this next part can be tricky, too.
Which Problem are You Going to Solve?
The blogs that are most likely to make money are the ones that are perceived to offer solutions to a problem. It should be clear that if your reader has a problem related to your chosen topic, your blog is the one to read, and your offerings are the ones to choose.
Now, you may have more than one topic and solve more than one problem, but if that is true, you have to make sure that that is clear.
For example, that you can give them heart healthy recipes and a workout regimen for weight loss, because you consistently blog about both of those topics. Or, you can help them choose the best style for their body type and show them how to create a glamorous look with makeup.
So once you know which problem(s) you want to help your readers solve, you can then choose the categories to write about that will help you make that obvious to them.
Have you chosen a problem your blog will solve? Take your time with it, because this piece of the puzzle is so important if you want to make it easy for people to hire you.
Once you have settled on a problem to focus on, pat yourself on the back and let’s go on to consider what your main categories will be….
What Will Your Main Categories Be?
Your categories will be the way you subdivide your niche(s) into different topics.
So healthy lifestyle recipes could have the following categories: vegan recipes, gluten-free recipes, sugar-free desserts, etc. or you might have style as a niche and the categories could be style strategies for different body types, style personality types, makeup tutorials and more.
If you have more than one niche, each one will have its own categories. So if your niches are home and crafting, your home categories might be homemaking, homeschooling, and decorating. And you crafting categories could be scrapbooking, decoupage and knitting.
My niches are home and hygge and style, with home categories of cozy decorating, hygge homemaking, morning and afternoon tea, and cozy morning & evening routines. For style, I have color analysis, style personality and style strategies for body types.
Once the categories have been chosen, make sure you name them as categories, so that when you are writing a blog post, you can give it the label that matches its category. That way, a reader can click on that category name and read every post you have written on that topic.
Take a moment to write down what you have come up with so far, so you can stay clear on where you are in this process. Write down your chosen niche, which problem you will solve for your audience, and the categories you have chosen.
Once you have done that you are ahead of the game when it comes to starting a lifestyle blog. And the next step is to begin to think of topics you can use for your blog posts.
Which Topics Interest You in Your Niche & Categories?
What are some of the topics you want to write about within your niche(s) and your categories? Try to keep an even mix of posts for each topic.
For example, if you have chosen Paleo recipes and Whole30 recipes, ideally, your posts would be about 50% one and 50% for the other category. And if you are going to do getting started posts for Paleo, you would do similar posts for Whole30 as well.
But maybe you aren’t at all interested in writing about either topic as an approach to weight loss, even though you know that is why some people get interested in those eating plans. Don’t push yourself to write about a topic that doesn’t interest you at all.
It just will mean that people interested in weight loss aren’t your target market.
I am interested in several cozy decorating styles: cottage style, farmhouse, country, French country and hygge. I like rustic and primitive, too, but quite a bit less so than the others, and probably will not end up writing about them at all.
And though I will write about afternoon tea as a lifestyle intention and document my experiences, I also am very interested in its history in Britain and the way it shows up in Jane Austen books, so those added pieces are likely to show up in blog posts, too.
I’d like to write more about style personality types than I have in the past, and explore using style as a form of self-expression. But I think my target market is likely to be women who dress primarily for comfort, but have another style personality as a secondary influence, and I may pursue that as an approach to the topic.
These are the kinds of things to think through before getting started, because that will make it easier to develop your content plan. Write down whatever you have come up with, so you don’t forget your topic ideas.
You’re doing great! Let’s keep going and think about how you’re going to monetize your blog.
When & How Will You Monetize Your Blog?
There are a number of ways to monetize your lifestyle blog: write a book about your topic, or create a course.
Join an affiliate program that offers a product related to your topic. Join a direct sales company that does the same.
Work with brands that pay you to advertise on your blog. Or pay you to use or review their products, related to your topic.
Think through which one of those you might want to start with, because of course, you can do more than one, but it’s a good idea to focus on just one as you get started. And then, when that is working well, you could consider adding another income stream.
But when is the best time to monetize your blog?
From what I have read, the answer seems to be, it depends.
If you are going to sell affiliate products, you can do that from the very beginning, by linking to them, and mentioning them in your posts.
But if you are planning to create and sell your own products, I read that you should offer a freebie that helps you build an email list. And a good rule of thumb is to launch your first product once you have at least 1000 people on your list.
If that is true, then that explains where I have gone wrong in the past.
So one strategy might be to start by offering something of value for free on your blog. Then, as your list is growing, you can offer them affiliate products or direct sales products in your email sequence.
The email sequence has to offer valuable information, too, of course.
But, for example, you could offer an instant pot recipe and link to an instant pot they could buy if they need one. Or you could send a series of makeup tutorial videos, and then tell them where they can buy their makeup when they are ready to try what you are teaching them.
You also can ask them what they need, and that might give you ideas for what kind of product or course to create.
Then, once you have 1000 or more subscribers, you can launch it and begin selling your own product.
What do you think? Did you start to get some ideas about how to monetize your blog?
Hopefully, you are feeling more and more like you’ve got this, and it’s going to be great!
Creating a Content Plan and Strategy
Once you make a decision about when and how you will monetize your blog, and you are clear about your niche(s), categories and blog topic ideas, it’s time to create your content plan and strategy.
Consistency is very important - more important, actually, than how often you post. So figure out what you are sure you can stick to pretty consistently and make it your plan to post at least that often.
You may even want to choose the days when you will post. Also, how will you divide up the different topics and when you will post about each one.
Think through how you want to strategize your posts, and then, start writing. It’s a good idea to have several blog posts written before you launch your new blog, so visitors and Google can easily tell what your blog is about and what they can expect to see more of in the future.
But before you open the doors to your new blog, you may want to create one more plan, and that’s your content marketing strategy.
How will you make sure your people find you?
Do you want to offer a freebie right now, or wait a little while? Where does your audience hang out and how often will you show up there to meet them?
Develop at least a tentative plan for social media and choose where and how often you will post. Write down your ideas for at least one social media platform to use to share your new blog and your blog posts as you get started.
Once that plan is in place, you are ready to start your lifestyle blog!
Whoo hoo!! How do you feel now that you have gone through the planning process with me?
Are you excited? I am wishing you the very best with your new lifestyle blog.
Be sure to come back and let us know how to find it, so we can check it out and come say hello.
See you next time!
Hi, I'm Jeanine
Author, hygge lifestyle blogger & connoisseur of delight writing about how to create a hygge lifestyle, with hearthcraft, comfy capsule wardrobe tips and cozy home decorating ideas. More here.