In 2011, we started a lifestyle blog and an online business. Since then, we’ve learned a lot! Today, we’re sharing what you should know before starting a lifestyle blog!
If you’d prefer to listen to this information, you can also check out our podcast episode: What We Learned by Starting an Online Business — The Kim and Kalee Show: Episode 33.
17 Lessons From Starting a Lifestyle Blog
Before starting a lifestyle blog, we both taught high school math. About 9 months in, we decided we wanted to blog and work with clients full-time.
We didn’t know what we were doing, but we’ve learned every step of the way. Now, we’ve been full-time and making 6-figures for the past few years!
So now, we’re sharing what we wish we had known before starting a lifestyle blog.
Along with these lessons, we also have a How to Start a Blog (That Makes Money) Guide!
1. Have a Business Bank Account
This is a lesson we learned pretty early on from Dave Ramsey’s Entre-leadership book.
It not only helps you stay organized for tax season, but it will also help you see how much you are making and spending in your business.
2. Build a Nest Egg BEFORE You Quit Your Job
We also did this before quitting our teaching jobs, but it’s still worth noting.
While we’ve seen our income triple since teaching, there have been some lean years mixed in.
Our income was volatile in the beginning because we were just learning the ropes.
Then in 2017, one major stream of income dropped significantly, and we were thankful for our savings. It allowed us to pivot our business and continue to grow without stressing (too much).
3. Know How Much You NEED to Make
It can be pretty cool to make $500 for a post on your blog or social media, but it’s important to remember that these opportunities aren’t always rolling in.
So you’ll need to figure out how much you need to make per month to live, and then figure out ways to create that income consistently from your blog or online business.
4. Don’t Rely on One Source of Income
As we mentioned above, in 2017, our income took a major dive because one area of our business took a hit.
Luckily, we had several ways of making money on our blog, and that helped us survive that year and thrive the next.
Check out this post, if you’re looking for ways to make money blogging.
5. Set Goals
We love the freedom we have working for ourselves, but it can also be easy to get off track.
It’s important to set goals for yourself in your business. No one else is going to set them for you, and as you get more successful, you’re going to have too many opportunities to do everything you’d like to do.
By setting goals, we’re able to prioritize what is the most important thing we need to do each day and easily say no to opportunities that don’t align with our vision.
6. Create Business Hours
While some may assume you’ll work less as your own boss, being self employed can actually mean working longer hours.
Setting business hours wasn’t something we did in the beginning, and we really should have! You need time to recharge and be with your family and friends after all!
Nowadays, we typically work 9AM – 4 PM with an hour in there to work out and shower.
We also take meetings and sometimes breaks during the week, and we’ll make up those hours either earlier in the morning or on Saturday. We take Sunday’s off.
One thing that really helped us set business hours was the online course, Insane Productivity.
7. Set Your Boundaries
When we quit teaching, some of our family and friends assumed that meant we had more free time than before.
As we mentioned above, we actually worked longer hours when we first started than when we taught.
So the idea that people thought we had free time and such a “flexible schedule” really drove us a little crazy.
But we learned that people will treat us how we teach them to treat us — so it’s important to set boundaries instead of always saying yes, and then exploding one day from all the pressure. LOL!
One book that really helped us learn when to say no was Henry Cloud’s Boundaries.
8. Use a Planner
We’ve always been pretty organized with our time, but going full-time into blogging took a whole new set of time management skills.
Now, we always schedule things in our calendar as they come up, and once a week we put those dates and tasks that are due into our planner.
9. Have an Accountability Buddy
Luckily, we’ve always had each other to work together and brainstorm with. I don’t know what we would have done without each other.
It’s okay if you’re starting a lifestyle blog on your own though. You can always meet an accountability partner online or in person!
We share our goals and weekly tasks with each other to stay on task.
10. Once You See What’s Working, Do More of That and Less of the Other
Our strengths are working with clients, search engine optimization (SEO), and Pinterest.
We aren’t so great at Instagram.
It took us years to just go – okay, our strength is content creation and Pinterest. Let’s lay off Instagram and do more of what is working.
It’s so tempting to try and “figure out the missing piece” if something isn’t working. But it may not be profitable or even improve as quickly as focusing on your strengths!
It’s okay to not be the best in every single field. There are influencers and bloggers making 6 or 7 figures that aren’t experts everywhere.
11. Delegate Slowly, but Delegate
The first thing people told us to do when we started making money was to hire an assistant and delegate!
It isn’t that easy though!
We’ve had 4 assistants — 2 were good but too busy, 1 was a nightmare, and the other is amazing. (She still works for us!)
If you’re ready to delegate something, we suggest making it something you really hate doing – scheduling social media, creating images, keyword research, etc.
Next, you need to decide how much you can pay for that service.
If you’re delegating something – it needs to cost you less than it would cost to have you personally do it.
So say you make $50,000 a year and work 40 hours a week, your hourly rate is about $24. So whoever you hire should be less than $24 an hour.
Then, interview at least 3 people and try to ask for references/recommendations from others you know in your niche or industry.
After that, we suggest hiring them for a trial period or one task to see how it goes.
Only then, can you really know if it may work long-term.
12. Ask Around Before Buying a Course or Tool
Another thing people will suggest when you start making money is to buy a course or membership on XYZ topic (social media, blogging, email, etc).
While we’ve bought courses in the past that have transformed our business, there are a LOT of junk courses out there.
Before you buy a course, we recommend making sure:
- It’s on a topic you don’t already know about.
- It has a money-back guarantee for at least 30 days.
- You have time in your schedule to do the course.
- The teacher has more than just his or her personal success story.
If the course doesn’t hit on ALL 5 of those things, we personally don’t buy it.
The courses we have loved and recommend are:
- Chalene Johnson’s Marketing Impact Academy (Literally the Foundation to Start and Grow Online)
- Matt Molen’s Email on AutoPilot (Building & Creating Content for Your Email List)
- Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy (Create and Sell Online Courses)
- Darren Hardy’s Insane Productivity (Time Management & Goal Setting)
- Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (How to Sell & Launch Your Own Products)
Two other things to note: We’ve been blogging since 2011, and we didn’t buy all of these programs in one or even two years. They are also all on different topics.
13. Know Your Worth & Expertise (Don’t Hire a Larry)
We decided to hire a “SEO Expert” in 2013 or 2014. I honestly forget because it was such a horrible experience.
See — I knew a lot about SEO and didn’t give myself credit for it. We had significant traffic coming to our lifestyle blog, and the majority of it was from Google and Pinterest (which is like a search engine as well).
But I thought — we have to do better. Do more.
A “SEO expert” that we would meet with 1x a month to improve our site. We bought his lunch and paid him $75 an hour (including the lunch appointment) for him to “research” what we should do.
He assured us normal SEO Experts charged $150 an hour so we were getting a steal.
We weren’t. He started creating a new theme for our site — which is a totally different job than SEO, — and about $1000 into the project the theme looked horrible.
Like if you know what a website looked like in 1995…that’s what we had just “bought”.
So we let him go, doubled down on what we knew was working and tripled our traffic the next year.
If you’re good at something, don’t assume someone is always better than you. Own your strengths.
14. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Owning your strengths also means celebrating your accomplishments.
As you start your lifestyle blog, there will always be a new, better, shinier goal to hit – more traffic, more affiliate income, more sponsorship opportunities, etc.
It can be really easily to get sucked into the “more, more, more” mindset or worse – the comparison trap.
Set your goals for each quarter, and then celebrate every time you hit one!
15. Remember to Live and Have Fun
One reason people will want to follow you and your blog is because of your personality and lifestyle.
As you start your lifestyle blog, you’re going to be full of ideas and excitement.
Then, after you get into the nitty gritty of it, you may feel worn out and like you’ll never create all of the content or hit the goals you want to hit.
Talk about a downer and a creativity killer.
You have to schedule time to have fun and recharge so that people want to come back and connect with you!
16. Done is Better Than Perfect
This is pretty self explanatory. Just know, your first anything isn’t going to be great, and the only way you get better is just doing it again and again.
Our first blog post doesn’t look like this one.
We also relaunched our podcast this year, and man – we’ve had to own the “done is better than perfect” with it because it’s something we’re learning.
But every episode of The Kim and Kalee Show continues to get better because we keep showing up!
17. It’s ALWAYS a Long Game
When we launched our blog, people in the industry told us – it’s all about the long game. It’s going to take consistency, and it’s going to be really hard.
Well, aren’t most things “a long game”??
No one and no thing is truly an overnight success.
So don’t let that stop you. Keep showing up, and it will pay off.
How to Become a Better Blogger
While done is better than perfect, we have found a few ways you can become a better blogger pretty quickly.
If there are any shortcuts in starting a lifestyle blog, we’d have to say it’s these 4 things.
1. Know Your Reader
Instead of just creating content and putting it out to the world, go ahead and decide one person you’re writing for.
With billions of people in the world, you’ll not just connect with that one person you have in your head. You’ll connect with a group of similar people on a deeper, more intimate level.
This helps you develop what Pat Flynn calls Super Fans. (His book, Superfans, is also an amazing tool for understanding this concept).
2. Blog About What SHE Cares About (Not What You Want to Blog About)
The next step is to make sure you’re always blogging about something she cares about. Your blog is like a storefront, and she is coming in for something specific.
Just like she would be weirded out to walk in and find bacon on sale at Bath & Body Work, she will be weirded out to see you mixing in a fashion post on a Shih Tzu blog.
It’s not that she doesn’t love bacon and body wash or fashion and Shih Tzus, they just don’t go together.
3. Be Consistent
As with anything, you have to show up consistently. Decide if you’ll blog 1x a month, 1x a week, or more than that, and stick to it!
Sharing what you know and connecting with others at the same point or further in their experience can save you so much time and energy.
Networking allows you to collaborate, brainstorm, and even find best practices and resources while connecting with likeminded people!
It’s a must – even if you’re introverts like we are!
Are you starting a lifestyle blog?
Tell us about it in the comments below!