Hey everyone! So, I decided to start a new vertical on my site called Better Blogging which focuses on starting, growing, and maintaining a successful blog. I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now and I wanted to share a bit of my experience and the things I’ve learned along the years. The first post I’ll be discussing today from the Better Blogging series is “How to Start a Lifestyle Blog” and I’ll be releasing amazing content from this new vertical each week. Alright then, let’s get started!
If you’ve ever wanted to start a fashion, food, travel, lifestyle, or any kind of blog, but don’t know how to go about it, this post is for you! If you already have a blog, but use a free platform like Blogger or WordPress.com, this post is for you (and I’ll share why later)!
So get ready because today is the day you’ll learn how to start a lifestyle blog and make it successful!
Starting a lifestyle blog can be a fun new hobby, a way to build your portfolio or expand your online business presence. Maybe you’re a fashion aficionado, interested in sharing your knowledge with likeminded persons around the world? Or maybe a makeup artist that wants to build a portfolio of your work? Blogging is a great way to become a better writer and creator, connect with a lot of great like-minded individuals and open up more opportunities for yourself.
For the next 15 minutes, I’m going to show you how to start a blog in three easy steps. In addition to that, I included two bonus sections that will help you configure your new blog the right way before you officially launch it.
You can also enroll in my 5-Day Start a Blog Email Series too. Plus you’ll get exclusive access to my free library of blogging resources.
You’ll be up and running, blogging about beautiful outfits, makeup and hair tutorials, and sharing all those awesome travel pics in no time!
How to Start a Blog: 3 Easy Steps
1). Domain Name and Hosting
This is, perhaps, the toughest and most important step of creating a popular blog. A great blog name should be relevant to your content and should not give a wrong impression to the readers. Since you have already chosen a specific branch of the fashion industry (or whatever industry you intend to write on), decide your target audience and the tone of your blog. Choose a name that relates to the topic and catches the eye of the viewer. If necessary, take inspiration from popular lifestyle blogs but do not copy them. Think about and note down several interesting names. If necessary, use a thesaurus to find alternative terms for specific words and use them to replace words you have jotted down.
You also want to pick a blog name that is easy to remember. For example, don’t choose a nonsense name or long name full of dashes. Something like “www.the-best-fashions-around-the-globe.com” definitely won’t stick in some person’s head, but “www.thefashionteacher.com” is much harder to forget. Lastly, you want your domain name to look trustworthy, which is why I highly recommend going with a “.com” domain extension. Not only is it more trusted, it’s a domain extension people think of first.
Once you have thought of some possible names, head to Bluehost to see if your preferred name is available by typing it into the box that looks like this:
Next, choose an account plan. I recommend the basic plan and right now you can get Bluehost’s special price starting at $3.49 per month. To get it at this low price, you pay one lump sum instead of monthly, but you’ll save quite a bit of money in the end.
Next, you’ll be asked to pick a hosting plan. If you’re unfamiliar with the word “hosting,” let me break it down for you. So, think of it as renting space on the web to show your blog to the public. Bluehost rates are pretty spectacular and if you decide to host with them, you’ll get a free domain name.
Once you’ve selected a plan, follow Bluehost’s instructions. You can uncheck all the other add-ons (Backup Pro, SiteLock, etc), but the super important one is Domain Whois Privacy. Leave that checked so you can shield your personal information, like your address and phone number, from being displayed to the public.
Below is a screenshot of how the Package Information section should look:
2). Install WordPress
Once you’ve registered your domain name and hosting, choose a blogging platform. You have several options to choose from including, but not limited to Tumblr and Blogger. However, they are not suitable for a professional blog, since they have many restrictions and do not give you the freedom to configure your blog. This is where the power of WordPress makes its presence felt. It is the numero uno choice for fashion bloggers worldwide because it is user friendly, SEO friendly, boasts of an excellent support staff available round the clock, and supports a wide range of customizable themes and plugins, including those created by third parties. This site uses WordPress and it truly is the best! Instead of selecting the free blogging platform offered by wordpress.com, opt for wordpress.org since the former has several restrictions, and does not allow you to modify the PHP source code or upload third party plugins.
Again, WordPress is super easy to use and also super easy to install through Bluehost.
Log back into Bluehost (if you logged out) and navigate to the hosting tab and click on your “cPanel.” Find the Website Builders section and click on the WordPress logo.
On the next page, you should click the green “Start a brand new install” button.
Select the domain you would like to install it on and click the “Check Domain” button (leave the directory part blank).
Next, click “Show advanced options” (Trust me, it’s not that advanced). Here you can type in your blog title name (can change later), and choose your WordPress username and password. Check the boxes about “automatically creating a new database…” and “I have read the terms and conditions..” and then hit the “Install Now” button.
Wait about 2-5 minutes to complete install.
Once your install is complete, click the “View Credentials” button and a new page with your login details will come up. Jot down your Admin URL, username and password. You can change your login info to something more memorable later but, you’ll need them when you’re logging in to your brand new site for the first time.
…and there you have it. Pat yourself on the back because you’ve just installed WordPress! Pretty easy, right?
3). Make it Pretty
You officially have a blog! Woohoo! Welcome to the blogging community, my friend!
Now you know how to start a lifestyle blog, but before you upload your first street style outfit or diy tutorial, we gotta make the site look pretty.
Type your admin URL (www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin/) into your web browser and you should see this login screen (look below). Type in the username and password you copied earlier to log in to your new site. Exciting, isn’t it?
There are a couple of things you can do to make your site more appealing to potential readers, but let’s start with the easiest and most essential one: Picking a blog theme!
WordPress has a ton of free themes to choose from but remember, your theme must reflect your niche. In the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle sector, you can go for a minimal theme or a colorful & fun template. The free themes in WordPress are pretty basic which is why I highly recommend a premium WordPress theme. You can hire a designer to create a custom theme for you or you can find a beautiful theme on the web and install it. I would go with the second option because it’s more budget-friendly plus there are a number of gorgeous themes out there. Check out my recommendations:
- Thesis Theme: The first premium theme I used with Hot Beauty Health. I loved it and I still highly recommend them especially if you want to create a custom site with ease and without the help of a developer.
- The Genesis Framework: This is the current framework Hot Beauty Health is using now. Genesis also has an amazing array of minimalist themes by Studiopress, like this The Modern Studio theme.
- 17th Avenue Designs: Has a great selection of premium WordPress themes built on the Genesis Framework. Each premium WordPress theme comes with the Genesis Framework so you don’t have to buy it separately. Their themes are very chic, minimal, and even has e-commerce integration if you want to set up a shop right on your site. I’m currently using the Uptown theme with this blog.
- Creative Market: They have an array of feminine WordPress themes designed by independent creatives from around the world. You should also take a look at Elegant Themes and Theme Forest for more premium themes.
To install a theme, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload Theme
Yaaay! You’re all set. Now go check out your new blog!
Bonus #1: How to Use Your Blog
So you have WordPress installed and now you’re just about ready to start blogging. In this bonus step, I’ll show you important changes you need to make to get your new WordPress blog up and running.
To start, login to your site by going to http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite.com” with your domain name). Use the same username and password you jotted down earlier or find the email Bluehost sent to you that has this info. Once you login, you will be in the WordPress administrator area.
Change Your Blog Title
The first thing you probably want to do is change your blog title if you didn’t do so earlier. To do this, find “Settings” on the bottom of the left menu, and click it. There you can change the Site Title and add a tagline. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the “Save Changes” button. These saved changes will be immediately live on your site.
How to Write a Blog Post
Here you’ll learn how to write your first blog post. On the left side of the menu, find “Posts” and click on it. Once there, you will see there is already a post called “Hello World.” It’s a default post for every new WordPress blog that you don’t need. To delete it, click “Trash” which you’ll find underneath the post.
To start your first post, click the “Add New” link next to the word “Posts”. You can also find the “Add New” link on the left side of the menu underneath the “Posts” section.
You’re now in the post editor. Next, you’ll type your post title in the top box and begin writing your post in the lower box.
How to Add Media
Including media like photos is a terrific way to add interest and visual context to a blog post. It’s also a necessity in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blogging. To add photos to your post, click on the “Add Media” button, and then click on “Upload Files.”
From there, you can upload photos from the computer by clicking “Select Files.” Make adjustments to the picture size (if necessary) on the next screen and when you’re all set, click the “Insert into Post” button on the bottom right hand side.
Once you have finished your post, click “Preview” to see it one last time before you publish it for the whole world to see.
If you like what you see, find the “Publish” button on the right side of the screen. If you’re not ready to publish, you can save this as a draft by clicking the “Save Draft” button or schedule it for publishing at a later date by clicking “Edit” next to “Publish immediately.”
Choose the day and time then click the “Schedule” button.
How to Add a Page
Adding a page is very similar to adding a post but they are only intended for static content like a “Services,” “About Me,” or “Contact Us” page (not a blog post!).
To add a new permanent page, find the Pages menu in the WordPress Navigation menu on the left hand side and click “Add New.”
You’ll find that the Page editor looks identical to the Post editor except for a few different boxes on the right hand side. Add a Title (ex: About Me), add some content, then click Publish when you’re ready. You can also save as a draft to come back to later.
Bonus #2: How to Configure Your Blog
In the second part of the bonus section, I’ll show you some advance changes to make on your blog to personalize it and make it more search engine friendly. It’s pretty fun and easy!
Creating a basic navigation menu is important so readers can find important sections or categories of your content. To create a menu, go to the “Appearance” tab and click on “Menus.” Then click the “Create a new menu” link.
You can call it something as simple as Main Menu. Then click “Create Menu.”
Next you’ll want to start adding important pages that you want visible on the menu. For example, you might want to add a link to your Home page. To do so, click on “Custom Links,” enter your homepage url (http://www.yourdomain.com), and call the link name Home. Once you’ve entered all the details, click “Add to Menu.”
If you want to add a page that’s you’ve previously created like “About Me” or “Contact Us” page, click on the “Pages” section. You’ll be shown a list of pages you’ve created so far. Check the box next to the page(s) you want to add. Then click “Add to Menu.” When you’re done, click “Save Menu” to save the changes.
The menu is done, now it’s time to add the menu to your blog. Go to the “Manage Locations” tab. Use the drop down box to select the menu you just created (Main Menu) as the primary menu. Then click “Save Changes.” You’re done!
Customize Your Blog Design
Earlier, I showed you how to pick a free theme and places to buy a premium theme (If you haven’t, go back to the Make it Pretty section) and you just finished creating a custom menu. Now that you have your blog design and menu setup, it’s now time to customize it to your liking.
Go to Appearance -> Customize
You should be shown a screen with the customization menu on the left and the blog on the right.
Here are some of the customizations you can do from this screen (Note: Customization may vary slightly on different themes).
- Site Title & Tagline– Here you can change your site name and add a subtitle that appears on the top of your blog. We did this part earlier so no need to worry about it unless you want to make a change. You also have the option to remove completely by unchecking “Display Header Text” box. You would only need to do this if you plan to upload a header image in its place.
- Colors– You can change the color of your header and background color.
- Header Image– You can upload an header image instead of using simple text.
- Background Image– You can upload a background image for your blog.
- Navigation– You can pick a navigation menu you want to use here if you created one previously. If not, go back to Create Menu section.
- Widgets– Widgets allows you add content and features on your sidebar. You can move, remove and add widgets from here. To start, go to “Widgets” section and then click “Main Sidebar.” Here, you’ll be shown a list of widgets currently being used in the sidebar. To remove a widget, click the arrow next to the widget name and click “Remove” to delete it. To add a widget, click “Add a Widget” and select the widget you want.
When you’re completely done, click the “Save & Publish” button.
Changing User Details
It’s important to change your user details when you first start your blog so people know who’s writing your blog. This is also the same section where you can change your password. To do this, go to the “Users” section, find yours and click “Edit”. There you should change at least your nickname and email address. The nickname is the public name that will appear on all your post so keep that in mind when selecting one.
After you’ve typed in your nickname, choose that same name in the drop down box next to “Display name publicly as.” Update your email address if you like too. Once you’ve made all the changes, click “Update Profile” and that’s it!
Changing Your URLs
One of the necessary steps to make your blog more search engine friendly is to change your permalinks from an ugly url- http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123 to a better url- http://www.yourdomain.com/how-to-start-a-blog/. See how clean and neat the second url is?
To change your links, go to Settings -> Permalinks and click on “Post Name” setting. Then click “Save Changes.”
Plugins are ways to expand the functionality of your WordPress blog. There are thousands of free plugins available on WordPress as well as premium plugins that can do just about anything on your blog. For example, there are plugins for adding social media buttons, tracking traffic growth, and enhancing your blog’s visibility on the web.
To add a plugin, go to Plugins -> Add New
There are a number of plugins that I highly recommend on your blog which I plan to write up at another time. For now, here are three essential plugins every new blog needs.
- JetPack by WordPress.com– It adds a ton of simple features to Wordpress like site analytics, optimizing images, increased security, contact forms, and tons more! As you can see in the photo above, it’s one of the featured plugins with over 1 million active installs!
- Akismet– This plugin helps manage spam comments (Trust me, you’ll need this).
- Yoast SEO– The plugin for better SEO! It improves your site’s SEO on all needed aspects to increase rankings in search engines plus it helps you write content better. Yoast SEO has a number of other great features like building a XML Sitemap for you with ease (every blog needs this), social media integrations, and more!
So, now you know how to start a lifestyle blog! So start blogging away! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.