Today I’m continuing my starting a lifestyle blog mini series that includes:
Today’s post is all about HOW to set up your lifestyle blog, once you’ve made the decision that you want to write one. It’s often the bit that scares people the most, taking that plunge into starting up the blog. So I’ve created a simple and handy guide to help you do just that:
Choose the platform
The platform is the “back end” of your blog essentially – it’s the place where you’ll go to write your posts, to change your theme etc.
There are a few different options for platforms to blog on – WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr are probably the most well known ones, but there’s also Squarespace, Weebly and more.
Personally, I’d recommend WordPress. I started on Blogger because it’s what all the fashion/lifestyle bloggers used back then 6 years ago. Many of us have now moved over to WordPress, and I’m so happy here! You have a huge amount more creative freedom with your blog, and it also means that you “own” your blog. If you’re using a free platform like Blogger, they can remove your blog at the drop of the hat if they want to (not to scare you!), and there is a lot less you can do on the HTML and theme side of things. WordPress is the bomb, promise. It’s not got the prettiest back end and occasionally I need to give something a Google, but you’ve got plug ins to do pretty much anything you want.
2. Get a URL and hosting
Back in the “old days” of blogging, people didn’t really get their own URLs unless they were top level, serious, professional bloggers. Nowadays, most of us do. The reason behind this is:
- it’s really not that expensive to get your own URL.
- it looks a lot prettier.
- it opens up so many more opportunities for your blog.
If you have your own domain name, you’re able to start building up your Domain Authority. A lot of companies judge the amount of influence you have on your domain authority, which measures the amount and quality of links going into your blog as well as your content and the age of your domain. If you have your own one right from the beginning, you can start building up your score. You can get your own domain if you’re blogging on a platform like Blogger, and this is called a vanity URL. You still won’t “own” your blog though – just the domain itself and your content. It’s like renting the space on Blogger technically.
So you then want to look at hosting for your blog, meaning that you will own it yourself, yay! With providers like 1&1 it’s really simple to use to find domains and hosting, and they also have some awesome guides to help you out if you need advice.
3. Find a theme you like
So you’ve got your blog, you’ve got your domain – time to make it look pretty! At first, you’ll just have a very basic template in place, so you’ll want to find a theme that fits your style. There are a number of free themes out there, but I recommend having a dig around on places like Etsy and Pipdig – my last couple of themes have come from there and I love them! Decide what sort of style you’re going for first – traditional blog style that scrolls through posts, magazine style layout etc. and see what’s out there. There are so many to choose from and many sites will allow you to customise too.
4. Write your About page and Contact page
I can’t stress enough how important this is for new bloggers, especially if you’re hoping to make money from blogging and to be contacted by companies. My About page is one of the most visited on my blog, by readers and companies, and I can personally vouch for how frustrating it is to find a blog that’s perfect for the campaign you’re working on only to have to spend 20 minutes digging for an email address! I recommend having an email address rather than a contact form – you can always disguise it from bots by having it as an image or using [AT] and [DOT] in place of @ and the full stop, but I know that many PRs will just click off your site if they need to fill in a form to get in touch. You can also set up a separate blog email with your domain name so that you’re not receiving lots of email (unwanted or wanted!) to your personal account if you prefer, but personally I’m still using my Gmail account on my Contact page!
5. Set up your social media
Like I said in a previous post, there is a massive lifestyle blogging community out there, so get involved in it! If you’re wanting to work with companies, they’ll be looking at your social media to see what kind of influence you have, how many followers, so get it set up straight away. It’s a good idea to check out your proposed blog/domain name on social media first too to check that no one else has claimed the best social handles for it. For lifestyle blogging, the best ones to join are probably Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, though I’d also recommend having a presence on Google+ and Pinterest too, the latter mostly because I love it, but also because it can send a lot of traffic your way!
6. Get writing!
And finally, the bit you’ve been looking forward to, get writing! Your blog is ready and raring to go – get some content on it! Introduce yourself to readers and get your thoughts down on paper (or screen). Have fun!