4 STEPS TO LAUNCH A LIFESTYLE BLOG
The first and most important decision to make is deciding which company to use for your lifestyle blog. I’m going to use a car analogy where your blog is the car. The platform is the program that displays your blog. In other words, your platform is the engine of the car. There are three major options: WordPress (hosted or self-hosted), Blogger, and Typepad.
WordPress.org is the industry standard and even some big companies use wordpress for their websites. It’s free to download and then you simply install it onto your server (instructions are here or via your hosting service). An Important Note: WordPress.org is the industry standard. WordPress.com is a free blogging service created by WordPress which has hosting, platform, and domain wrapped into one service. WordPress.com is free so it’s great for beginners, but they are not as customizable, have many more rules on monetization, and do not offer very much room for growth. If you are serious about blogging, then you want to use wordpress.org if you are serious about blogging. Switching platforms will be a pain-in-the-you-know-what if you decide to switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org If there’s even a chance you want to make money off your blog, just start off with wordpress.org and a hosting company.
I have used Blogger previously. I don’t know too much about Tumbler. WordPress offers the best customization and ownership of your work. With WordPress *you* own your blog. Apparently, Blogger sets the rules the rules that you have to follow. Those rules greatly limit making money on your blog. Plus, Blogger can decide to stop its service, and if that happens you will lose all of your hardwork! Not worth it!! If your goal is to make make money on your blog, then avoid wix or squarespace.
Hosting is the server (computer) where all of the data for your blog is stored or where your blog/car is parked.
Free Hosting: There are free options for hosting, like Blogger.com, or wix, and WordPress.com and good for those who just want to explore the world of blogging. They offer your hosting, domain name, and blogging platform together in a free service. But you get what you paid for, or didn’t pay for in this case. Meaning, if you later decide to expand and want to monetize your blog, it may not be easy or allowable. When it comes to customization, design options, and monetization, your best bet is to start out with a self-hosted blog.
Self Hosting: I suggest going with a self hosted blog. Self hosting means you’ve bought a hosting package and own your own space for your blog. (Yes there is a difference between WordPress.org which is paid and WordPress.com which is free). If you want to customize your blog, and you will want to do this, then go with With WordPress.org. Choose from countless design options and plugins (like a special app) to customize your blog. The goal is to recoup any start-up costs of blogging once your blog brings in a decent amount of traffic and then you can begin to make money through affiliates and sponsored posts and other venues.
Bluehost is a great hosting company for beginners. I actually started my blog with them. They’re reliable, have great tech support, can almost walk you through the process of starting a blog, and have really cheap options for low budgets. When you sign up for hosting with Bluehost, they waive the cost of your domain name.
3) Domain Name
The domain name is your blog’s online address or url (for example, http://www.themessengermom.com). Folks type your custom domain name into the address bar of a browser (like google or bing) to get to your website. Choose a domain name with a .com structure and stick with it from the get-go. Otherwise, changing your mind on the domain later will be time-consuming and costly. Before you buy your own domain name, first research the name availability on the social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). You will be heartbroken if you buy your desired domain name, only to find out later, that that name is already used by someone else on Instragram. Stay away from free blogging services, where your domain name might be included in the service and is a “sub domain” of the main website (“themessengermom.wordpress.com”).
When you buy your hosting through Bluehost, your domain name comes free. Search the domain name registries for availability of your unique domain name. If the domain name that you fancy is already taken, then use a different adjective before or behind the name, then search again. Domain names run about $5-$10 per year. Be sure to purchase a .com domain, as this is the what is most familiar to viewers. And avoid dashes and unnecessary symbols (for example, the-messenger-mom.com).
4) Design Theme
WordPress is the industry standard for bloggers and it comes with a free basic design theme. There are thousands of custom designed wordpress themes available for download, both free and paid. Choose what you can afford right now, you can always upgrade later if you are able. Consider customer support too. Especially if you are not tech saavy and will probably have a lot of questions. You want a customer support team that is able to assist you with tech support or answer your questions easily and timely.
The web is all about catchy beautiful imagery. I adore lovely looking blogs, and the reason why I chose “Pretty Chic” by Pretty Darn Cute Design. It’s feminine, chic, and affordable. If you sign up They have sales from time to time, so check out their newsletter. Choose a theme that you can customize to showcase your blog personality. An industry best practice is to have a responsive design (one that is easily used on cell phones and tablets) like the Genesis + Child theme framework. The following are some theme companies I recommend:
What do I do next?
You have a focal point for your content, a domain name, hosting service, and a cool design theme for your blog. Now, you’re ready to start blogging! Just start typing and create that amazing content folks crave to hear from you. Share your awesome story!
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used all of the products above and recommend them because they have been trustworthy and offer good customer service.