Starting Up A Lifestyle Blog – Where Do I Start?
A blog writer – the perfect career choice. Work from home, from an Australian beach, from a caravan in the Highlands of Scotland or the Ice Hotel in Sweden (wear gloves as you type). Dictate your next exciting item as you walk the dog or sit on a train to places far and wide. In short, live the exciting life of a successful digital nomad.
Sadly, the majority of blog writers respond to the above paragraph with a hearty ‘ha, ha, ha!’. Even more sadly, many of these shouldn’t have to. Because blog writing, when done well, is an extremely lucrative trade.
Probably the best sector – also the most competitive sector – to aim for is lifestyle. Why? We all have one. Even if you live the most unhealthy lifestyle imaginable, someone will want to know about your experiences and attempts at (or refusal to) change. The following steps should bring you well on your way to blog success.
Step One – My Secret Self
A blog is extremely personal. It tells the world your thoughts, opinions, ideas, achievements and failures. A blog is an open book into your soul – or at least it could be if you wanted it to. Find yourself an empty notebook and jot down what parts of you you don’t want to advertise. You’ll need reminding time and time again when, as your blog grows and you become more aware of the personalities of your followers, you might want to break through those initial boundaries. At which point you will have to reassess your list of private topics. We all have secrets – just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you have to bare all.
Step Two – My Online Self
When we behave like our true selves, there is less chance of seeming fake. Genuine personalities attract interest in the realm of the successful lifestyle blogger. Pretend to be vegan and accidentally publish a photograph of you enjoying a steak meal and you won’t claw your way back. However, to be a successful blogger you also need to accentuate your best (or worst) side.
If you are extroverted, you become embarrassingly outgoing; introverts practice the writing style that depicts them as a shivering wallflower. In your notebook, write down the three most interesting traits (not always the most obvious traits) that make you who you are. Think about how you can translate these onto paper and which one (or two) you can exaggerate to form a unique, attractive, real blog persona.
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Step Three – My Online Style
How do you express your thoughts on paper? For bloggers, becoming familiar with the written word – writing letters to your future followers or putting together a short collection of blogs but not publishing them right away (more on that later) is the first step to writing success. You attract people through your way of explaining things, so finding your written voice is as important as your persona. Think of whether you’ll use isn’t or aint, babes or friends, joie de vivre or happiful. Write two or three sentences in your notebook that will keep your future works within your style boundaries.
Step Four – My Knowledge
They say write about what you know but most of us know a little about a lot. IWe know the sky is blue but most of us aren’t experts on the stratosphere.
You do not need to write about what you are an expert on – over time you will become an expert – and often there is an additional charm to taking your followers on a learning journey. But you will need to write about a topic you enjoy. Perhaps you’re thinking of starting up a house renovation blog but on your own building site of a home you leave all the work to contractors because you can’t stand the dust and ‘don’t know how’. Unless you can produce a hilarious take on all things renovation and focus on finding audiences that aren’t necessarily interested in home renovations, this would be the wrong topic to pick. Blog followers want to encroach a little into your life – they want to see how your expertise runs into your way of life. They want pictures of you covered in plaster and paint. When they see that you are willing to experiment and research into problems and products that they might face or be tempted to use, they become more trusting of your words.
In short, you don’t need vast knowledge but you do need a willingness to stick to a topic that is broad enough to keep up a regular march of content through the years. Yellow nail polish blogs will be pushed to achieve that – hand and nail care will not. It is time to think of your first blog topic. If you have multiple ideas, write these down on the last page of your notebook for future reference and concentrate on one. You can always expand to other blog domains when your first attempt begins to pay dividends. Get the first right and the rest will follow.
Step Five – My Content
Blogs are, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “a regular record of your thoughts, opinions, or experiences that you put on the internet for other people to read”.
That’s simple enough.
There are two things we need to take into account when producing a blog. That word ‘regular’ and another word… ‘length’.
Orbit Media carries out a yearly survey (a rather small one) featuring just over 1,000 bloggers. Seven years of research shows us:
Just over half of bloggers get some results as a marketing strategy
Just under one-quarter of bloggers achieve strong marketing results
Interestingly, that near-25%:
- Writes blog posts of over 3000 words
- Includes at least 7 pictures in each post
- Includes at least 7 headlines in each post
- Spends over 6 hours writing each post
- Publishes content multiple times in the week
And this is where the dreams of lazing on a beach start to fade.
Six hours to write one article? Multiple posts every week? Plus the time needed to find the right pictures, spell check and publish? In reality, one lengthy article would take a full day’s work – about 8 hours – to think up, research, write, illustrate, check and edit, and finally publish.
It is definitely true in the blogging world that practice makes perfect. Also be aware that a 3000 word article might put off some of your potential followers. One way to get the best of both worlds is to post a short and a long version either on the same page or geared to different target groups and on different web pages. This lengthens the writing process.
Daily bloggers get the strongest results (57%) according to the Orbit survey. Weekly blogs get a better than average strong response rate of around 28%. Bloggers who post 2 – 6 posts sit somewhere in the middle. Inconsistent bloggers score worst of all – even worse than monthly bloggers.
Step Six – My Time
It is time to write your first blogs and calculate time used. To speed up the thought process, spend an hour or two every month thinking up titles. In the flush of your pre-publishing plans you’ll be bursting with ideas so make the most of this creativity. Make sure your topics are narrow; rather than ‘Water Buffalo’ split this into bite-sized modules like ‘Best Countries to See Water Buffalo in their Native Habitat” and ‘What Do Water Buffalo Eat?’
These headings (and subheading of these headings) will need to go through an SEO process, too, attracting points on the Google search engine that make it easy for people to find your blog as an answer to their search terms. This article won’t go into the ins and out of search engine optimisation but if you don’t know what it is, it’s time to sign up for a course.
Time every article you write. Time your research. Time your SEO research (you should have learnt the basics by now). Time the first draft. Time the editing stage and spell check (Grammarly is great). Time the search for images (at least 7, remember). Time the publishing process.
Now work out the average time based on these ten articles. You’ll notice that writing and publishing times reduce drastically with a little practice; research, picture search and editing less so. Base your weekly work schedule on the average score. Do not overreach but don’t disappoint your audience with a schedule you can’t keep up with, either.
Step Seven – My Website
Only when you’ve written at least ten blogs you are happy with is it time to publish them on your blog domain. Free website hosting can be found anywhere, but as your catalogue of articles grows you’ll have to make sure that domain can stretch its data allowance.
Add calendars that allow you to schedule publication of your blogs so you don’t have to be around when they go online. In fact, any kind of automation is your friend – from blog templates to automatic file compression, from loading speed enhancers to content editors. Time is precious – don’t waste it.
Advertising a new blog site is far from easy. There are countless free, cheap, mid-range and expensive methods to spread the word but by far the best are social media marketing and SEO. When your blog is tied to your social media accounts and marketplace store, every marketing strategy for each channel has a cumulative effect so never limit yourself to just one or two. All channels must lead to your website as this is your central hub of information – your area of expertise and the place where your authority and personality come through. If you link to your Etsy shop, here’s a top tip – Rank Your Etsy Listing using the pioneers of single-marketplace marketing experts – they’ll even repay your investment if they fail to deliver (a rare occurrence).
Search engine optimization might seem like a cheap way to build up a reputation but some keywords are very popular and you may need to pay for them. While you can’t ignore SEO, it is a slow process. Getting other bloggers who are much more popular than yourself and publish often and at regular intervals may agree to refer to your site but only after you have proven your own staying power. Take time to manage your social media profiles and Buy targeted Website Traffic to bump numbers – by selecting the right niches, you get a cheap influx of real people over the short or long-term. This is one of the lesser-known methods of introducing large numbers to a new site, but also one of the quickest.
In the end, the most essential marketing strategy is keeping the flame of ideas alive and publishing fresh, unique content like clockwork. You gradually become the dependable authority and once there, monetization of your lifestyle website can truly begin. Time to really lay on the beach and write about what you know…with a huge, satisfied grin on your face!