10 Realistic Truths of How to Start a Lifestyle Blog and Make Money
Have you been searching for the ultimate guide for how to start a lifestyle blog? In 2021 we are forced to consume information at a rapid pace, leading us to believe that anything done online should be simple and fast. But the truth of blogging is that is the furthest from the truth. If you want to start a blogging career, I’m excited for you! Profitable blogging is possible in 2021, but first you need to know these 10 truths.
This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission on your purchases.
Should I Start a Blog?
When I started blogging in 2017, blogging was not a new idea. Blogging has been an industry for over a decade, but it has only really been recognized and legitimized as a business in the last 5-7 years. However, I bet if you tell the average Joe that you want to become a blogger they will think you are talking about a hobby.
How do you make money as a blogger? Aren’t bloggers just people who like to keep a journal? Why would you spend time on this when it will only ever be a hobby?
In 2020 the content marketing industry was worth $400 billion with over 500 million blogs worldwide. The majority of Pinterest users don’t even realize that all those beautiful pins, recipes, DIYs, fashion trends and more are actually linked to blogs!
It is one of the fastest growing industries as our world continues to focus on virtual growth.
But, blogging is not for everyone.
This introductory post may be a reality check to some, but my hope is that it will help you form realistic expectations as you head into blogging as a career! After reading through these 10 truths about blogging, I hope it will help you answer the question, “Should I start a blog?”
Reasons to Start a Blog
There are many reasons to start a blog. I have found it to be such a rewarding career. It has many benefits including:
- Freedom to follow your passion
- Flexibility with your time
- Be your own boss
- Limitless income potential
- Selectivity on where/when/how/why you work
In addition to these appealing reasons, you are also the “master of your fate” in a sense. This can be a very good thing, or a very intimidating thing.
Like any traditional career, the pros and cons of blogging are subjective and personalized. What one blogger sees as a pro, I might view as a con, and vice versa.
So let’s take a look at 10 truths about how to become a lifestyle blogger and I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not this fits your ideal for a career!
How to become a lifestyle blogger
I’m going to key in specifically on how to become a lifestyle blogger because this is the niche I know! There are many other blog niches to choose from, including, but not limited to:
- Blogging (Ironically, the “how to” blogging niche is a huge industry.)
- Web building
- Social Media
- Home Design
- Fashion & Beauty
- Lesson Planning
- Gluten Free/Vegan…etc
- All natural/organic/clean living
Some of the truths I’ll discuss next apply to all niches, but some are specific to how to start a lifestyle blog.
10 Truths of Blogging and How to Make Money Blogging
Truth 1: What you put into your business is what you will get out of it
Blogging as a career is a small business. There are no two ways around it.
If you take it seriously, you must treat it as a small start up business. You may have noticed that I’ve referred to blogging as a career, business, and industry. A successful blogger MUST have this mindset.
So before you choose a name and take all the steps to start a blog, you must decide if you want to build a business or start a hobby.
If you want to start a hobby, then please do! But recognize that if you treat a blog like a hobby then it will only ever be an online journal. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but if you’re reading this then I’m guessing you want more.
If you’re committed to taking the time to invest in your business, then it will have a much better chance at success. However, if the thought of a long term commitment to this full time job is not what you were thinking, it’s best to re-evaluate your goals now.
Can you build a successful blog on part time hours? It’s possible, but remember, what you put into your business is what you will get out of it. I started my blog as a part time blogger, but once I put in full time effort, it truly become a career.
Please don’t take this as a negative or discouragement! I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met with who weren’t willing to put in the effort to create a successful blog.
In the end, they feel they’ve wasted time and money on something they shouldn’t have started in the first place. That is what I want you to avoid.
But, if you’re COMMITTED and EXCITED, then you CAN do it!
Truth 2: You’ve Got to Get Technical
You can’t have a blog without actually building a website. You also can’t have a blog without being able to maintain a website!
It takes some time to learn how to do the back-end work on a blog. Website development is a skill! It isn’t something that you will be able to learn overnight. For many new bloggers, actually setting up their website is the biggest road block to launching a blog.
Domains, content management systems, hosts, themes, plug ins, widgets, frameworks, site structure, categories, tags, SEO, and on and on the technical jargon goes!
Chances are, if you are new to blogging or website development, you don’t know what any of those words actually mean. And that is ok! You don’t have to be a web developer to build a website.
I built my website myself using a theme I purchased from Etsy. That aesthetics of a blog are actually the easiest part because of the customization that pre-made themes offer from experienced web developers. It is all of the other areas that can seem insurmountable.
Very Basic Technical Elements of Blog
Rather than get into all of the details how how to build a blog in this post, I’ll give a quick summary. This will help you down the road if you decide to go for it to know what to expect. In order to build a blog, you need to:
- Choose a blog name.
- Secure a domain using that name.
- Choose a content management system.
- Choose a host.
- If using WordPress, choose a framework, like Genesis or Generate Press
- Choose a theme (provides website structure and aesthetics)
These are the very very basic, bare-bones, elements of building a lifestyle blog but are helpful terms for you to investigate once you’re ready.
Truth 3: What does it cost to Start a Blog?
This truth is a positive one, in my opinion! Considering the fact that starting a lifestyle blog is essentially the same as starting a small business, blogs are relatively low-cost businesses to begin.
On average, you can start a lifestyle blog for $200-$1,000 in your first year (if you do not need technical help). Now, if you need to hire a web developer to build your website you can plan on up to an additional $500-$2,500.
Additionally, if you need to buy a computer or camera equipment, then you can add those prices to your cost as well.
If you are interested in a full breakdown, you can sign up for my Beginner Blogging Masterclass Course. I’ve detailed in significantly more depth on how to start a blog in my beginner module!
Truth 4: How to Become a Successful Lifestyle Blog?
Do you want to know how to become a successful lifestyle blog? So does everyone else.
The truth is that there is no magic, one-size-fits-all, formula to blogging! However, there are two very large components of blogging that will help you become a successful blogger, no matter the niche you choose.
- Producing Quality Content
- Driving Traffic to Your Blog
Without quality content, you will not garner traffic to your blog. Without traffic to your blog, you will not earn an income. Without an income….you have a hobby blog.
But what does it take to produce quality content AND drive traffic to your blog? Well, let’s just say it takes a lot.
Each one of these elements of lifestyle blogging can easily warrant full time hours on their own:
- content creation
- social media
- graphic design
- video creation
- search engine optimization
- doing physical projects for blog posts
- working with brands
- editorial work
- secretarial work
- employee management
So, the crux of truth number four is that there is much more to blogging than writing blog posts. In my Blogging Masterclass Course, I dive into all of these areas and break them down individually to flush out what it takes to be a successful blogger.
My Beginner Blogging Masterclass Module is now live! Make sure to head to the information page to learn more about how you can build a successful blog.
Truth 5: Content Is King
If you’ve ever done any research on how to blog then you have probably come across the saying, “Content is king.” Lifestyle blog post ideas are bountiful, but choosing your lifestyle blog topics correctly, and writing quality content, is vital and harder than it seems.
The most successful building block to any blog is its content. The content you provide, both written and visual, is what keeps people coming back to your blog over and over.
Without quality content, your audience will not grow organically. This makes it increasingly challenging to earn a full time income because your time will be spent constantly creating new content, with the perpetual loop of promotion and marketing that follows.
This is certainly a case where quality over quantity comes into focus.
I am constantly asked, “How many times a week should I put out a blog post?”
There is no magic number.
Some bloggers put out five blog posts a week and some put out one. However, that one blog post, if well written with purpose and value, can easily bring in more traffic than 5 blog posts that offer no substance.
Write Content that is Searchable
Equally important, the WAY you phrase words is just as important as what you are saying.
It is important that you write content that is searchable. People don’t go to Google and search with fancy words. Many bloggers want to be quippy with how they phrase things. They want to be unique and stand out. However, here is an example of why that will not benefit you with traffic.
Post Topic: Dinosaur Theme Birthday Party
Bad Title: Roar! Let’s Get Jurassic.
Good Title: How to Decorate for a Dinosaur Theme Boy’s Birthday Party
No one is going to go to Google and search for “Roar” if they are looking for ideas for their son’s birthday party. However, they will search for “Dinosaur”. They might also search for “Boy’s birthday party theme”.
You can layer in multiple related keywords to cover a bit more territory.
People don’t search fancy. They search with straightforward keywords, and usually broken english!
While you can certainly add some pizzazz and quirkiness to the content within the body of your article, you want to keep those main SEO factors straightforward.
SEO Is Vital For How to Start a Lifestyle Blog
Have I mentioned SEO yet? Truths number 2, 4 and 5 all have one vital component in mind: SEO. Search Engine Optimization is extremely important to create a successful blog. The best lifestyle blogs are laden with quality SEO that provides organic traffic to their blogs.
This is extremely important for the long-term life of a blog, and something that can take years to master. Then, once you feel like you’ve mastered it, Google algorithms change and you have to tweak it all and learn new!
SEO is a topic that is much too vast to get into in this post. But stay tuned for more detailed information on that topic to come!
Truth 6: You Are a Brand, Not a Blogger
Women’s lifestyle blogs have really taken off as leaders in building personal brands.
What do you think of when you think of the word “brand”? Nike. Kohls. Loreal. Prada.
Guess what? Grace In My Space is a brand. Insert your blog name ________. You are a brand.
A brand is just a name wherein the audience knows:
- What they stand for.
- What they offer.
- How they will benefit.
- And what’s different or distinct about them.
My brand is: A Michigan based home decor, DIY, lifestyle blog focusing on interior design, home styling and budget friendly projects for the everyday home. My goal is to inspire Haven Makers daily while seeking to inspire women to love themselves and their home with grace.
I help women love themselves and their home. That is my brand.
It doesn’t silo me to only helping them with decorating. I’m also able to help them spiritually and mentally, while empowering them to make changes in their lives for their benefit. And, I’m still within my brand.
Your Brand is You
One of the things that I love about blogging is that your brand is YOU.
Your values, ethics, passions, uniqueness and talents make up your brand. Your audience associates you interchangeably with your blog name. Especially once you’ve built a social audience who see you as more than words on a screen.
Brand identity is important. It can be fluid and grow as you establish your business, but you should have a core set of values and goals already determined from the beginning.
This will shape how you run your business, the voice you use in your content and the relationships you build with your audience. In my intermediate/advanced Masterclass Course module, I dive into all the components of brand identity and how to build a successful brand!
Truth 7: You Probably Don’t Have a Realistic Time Commitment
As you set out to learn how to start a lifestyle blog, I must warn you that it requires time. Not a little time, but a lot of time. As in, it is a full-time job.
Yes, some bloggers can be successful as part-time bloggers. However, if you remember truth number 1, what you put into your blog is what you will get out of it.
The more time you invest, the more money you can make! So where do you spend your time when blogging can realistically be 10 full time jobs?
As a beginner, you must focus your time getting your blog up and running with good quality content.
Once you feel your blog is on solid footing, dive into the world of social media, and so on! It is a never ending cycle of tasks, but each one gets more proficient the more you practice it.
How Long does it Take to Make Money Blogging
Another area where time seems to be unrealistic to beginner bloggers is the length of time required before a lifestyle blog earns an income. Can you make money in your first year as a blogger? Yes!
Will it be a full time income? No!
I’ve been blogging since 2017. In my first year of blogging I worked on the blog very part time and earned almost nothing. In my second year I focused heavily on Instagram and grew my following and worked with 15 brands and made a part time income. In my third year I doubled my blog income and worked with 54 brands.
In 2020, I doubled my income again and was able to be more selective in working with brands (still working with almost 50), increased my ad revenue on the blog by 30% and launched my own products. In years 3-4 I earned a full time income!
But it is important to know that everyone grows at a different speed, earns an income in different ways, and has different earning potential based on how they choose to focus their time. That leads me to truth 8.
Truth 8: How to Make Money with a Blog for Beginners
So, as you research how to start a lifestyle blog, I’m sure your first questions was “How do I make money blogging?” You will most likely earn most of your income as a beginner via affiliate marketing and ad revenue. Though the numbers will be small, everyone starts somewhere!
Now then, how do bloggers get paid an income? In the long term, bloggers make money in quite a few ways!
- Ad revenue within your blog content
- Brand collaborations and sponsored content
- Affiliate promotion
- Selling your own products
The more traffic you get to your blog, the more followers you have on social media and the more email subscribers your blog provides, the higher your income will be.
However, you can still be a successful lifestyle blogger without huge social media followings! Many successful bloggers don’t have large follower counts on their social channels. It is a bonus, but doesn’t make or brake a blog.
There is obviously an extensive amount of information that goes into the specifics of earning an income with blogging. The Profitability section of my intermediate/advanced Blogging Masterclass Course module covers all four of these revenue streams extensively!
Truth 9: Social Media Is a Beast
That leads me to truth 9. Social media, as a lifestyle blogger, is a beast. Social media includes all social platforms like: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter. YouTube is in its own category.
Each social channel presents a different challenge and time commitment. But more than that, it requires you to take a deep dive into who you are and how you will be able to hand a visible and public life.
The number one goal of social media is to be unique and authentic. People follow people they think they can trust. There is no room for a fake influencer in today’s social world.
For that reason, in my course I break this topic down and encourage my readers to dissect and analyze who they are and how they will be able to navigate the audience criticism, demands and cruelty that often comes from a public-facing business.
With that said, some of my most treasured relationships and interactions have come from my social following!
There are cheerleaders, supporters, and loyal individuals that will spur your creativity and enthusiasm for your passion along the way as well. But it is important to be prepared for both ends of the spectrum.
Truth 10: You Will Burnout
The last truth of how to start a lifestyle blog is that you will most likely reach a point of burnout. It is extremely common for bloggers to fail. It is said that 80-99% of blogs fail each year. Why? Most likely because of unrealistic expectations for how to start a lifestyle blog and keep it going!
That is why I wanted to write this post. I’m hopeful that these 10 truths of realistic blogging will give you a better picture of what it means to become a blogger. You will face challenges, like any start-up business does. But with realistic expectations, lots of hard work, and a passion for your blogging niche, you can be successful!
How to Start a Lifestyle Blog
Now that you have a realistic view of blogging as a career, I hope you’ll visit my blog often as I write a series of posts on how to start a lifestyle blog.
My lifestyle blog focuses on the home niche and it gives me so much joy to help women create a haven in their homes. I do this through home decor tutorials, DIY projects, recipes, outdoor inspiration and more!
Visit my lifestyle blog at Grace In My Space to be inspired in all things Home. And you can learn more about my blogging journey and successes on my About page!
Now, take your next step in your own blogging career and spend time setting goals and expectations for your own blog. The planning stage of starting a blog is very important and will be helpful if you can move forward with a framework for a blogging business plan.
I hope this introductory post on how to start a lifestyle blog has been helpful to you!
I just started my blog today and wrote my first post. Thanks for your insightful advice which I’m happy to know you learned from personal experience.
You’ve definitely given me some hope and at the same time, the harsh reality check that success isn’t a guarantee.
Congrats on your first post!
I have read this how to start a lifestyle blog and make money quiet interesting topic now days because everyone take care on their appearances lifestyle and fashion your whole blog nice to read….
Great post,! I have a blog for some time. Trying to find a nich. This last year I’ve tried to be consistent with posts. I like your suggestions about getting the blog grounded before entering into social media. I’m working on that but the time schedule is hard to manage.
You’ve got this! It just takes time. Keep up the good work.
This is one of the best blogs I’ve read on this topic. I want to start a lifestyle blog under which I want to focus on motivation and productivity, and self care for women who usually are so busy that they forget to take care of themselves. I want to motivate women and girls and inspire them to do better in life, take care of themselves and love themselves. Thank you so much for such an in depth blog., I’ve literally read each and every word of this blog of yours. Love you and keep doing such amazing work❤️
I’m so glad it was helpful! Best of luck on your future blogging career!
fantastic post I’ve had a blog for a while. searching for a niche. I’ve attempted to post consistently throughout the past year. I like your advice to establish the blog first before using social media. Although the time schedule is challenging to handle, I’m working on it.
Excellent and enlightening blog, food for thought
Really enjoyed reading this blog. The burnout is definitely true as I’m currently going through it after 6 months. I have a recipe blog, but would love to transition to more topics (lifestyle). Do you recommend posting 5 or 10 blogs for each category before sharing or does that matter?
You can build up a few blog posts per category but I’d get your site live as soon as possible and just keep adding as you go!