10 tips for new bloggers

So you want to start a lifestyle blog? That’s so exciting! I’m thrilled for you and sincerely wish you luck! But pull up a chair, because we need to talk about some things. I stumbled upon blogger-dom by accident! I started my blogging adventure 2.5 years ago and it’s brought such joy to my life. I did not intend to create a business out of it. It started as an experiment to see what the mysterious world was all about and find out how hard it would be to succeed! Cue evil villain laugh —- wow was I in for a surprise about the work that lie ahead! It’s crazy hard work to have a successful blog, so please don’t think that joy equals a stress free life. However, I enjoy the work.

When I began bluegraygal in October 2016 I had zero idea how to start a lifestyle blog. Nor did I know how to start a profitable blog. I just knew I loved working at it and threw myself into the fire to learn. These are the top ten tips I have for beginner bloggers that I wish I had known when I started out. Recently I did an Instagram Live video talking about the business of blogging to tremendous response. I thought I would write my ten tips for starting a successful blog along with some of my most asked about questions – how much does it cost to start a blog and the $25 million dollar question – how to make money with a blog for beginners. Here we go, gang…

*This blog does contain affiliate links that I use to monetize my blog. See? We’ve already started learning how to start a profitable blog!

#1 how much does it cost to start a blog?

Read this carefully – it will take a lot of time to start making money off your blog! If you plan to make money (eventually) off blogging, you need to treat it like a business. Which means you’re going to need a business budget. If you’re just in it to express yourself then this doesn’t apply. But to create a business out of blogging  seed money is required just like any other company. You will have expenses like photography (whether hiring someone or your own equipment), editing software or apps, analytic software, and web set up costs – just to name a few! I recommend setting a budget for how much you’re willing to invest (and possibly lose – blogging does not equal quick and overnight success!) and see where the road takes you. The cost to start a blog can vary so I can’t answer the question how much does it cost to start a blog. Just like any business, you can boot strap it or start with a big investment.

#2 create a niche/focus

I admit to not having this when I started. I started by just sharing images I took of my home and things I loved. Then again, I stumbled into blogging by chance. I found I loved it so I’ve worked over the last few years to narrow my focus. I continuously do this. But my strong advice when would be to think about what sets you apart. You do you, ha! Don’t emulate. There are a million lifestyle blogs. But the important part of knowing how to start a lifestyle blog is to figure out what is your lifestyle? What is your point of view? So figure out your strong suits and passions and start with that.

#3 software = time saver

Eventually you’ll realize that having a successful blog can be a full time job. There are a lot of things that will help you manage your time and streamline things. My favorite tools I invest in are:

  • Tailwind for autoposting my Instagram images and pins to Pinterest. You can sign up for a 30 day trial here. This used be a “nice to have” for me, it’s now become essential with the auto-posting feature that Tailwind offers.
  • Canva – excellent tool for creating graphics, changing dimensions of photos and creating great pins. I pay extra to store my photos which is a time saver for me, but they do offer a free version.
  • Camera phone editing apps I love – VSCO, A Color Story, SnapSeed and Facetune. I almost never edit my photos on Instagram.
  • I edit the photos I take on Lightroom.
  • Moz.com for SEO research. Sign up for a free 30-day trial here. This was enormously helpful in introducing me to the SEO craziness!
  • Creative Market – great stock photography and templates. I purchased my Media Kit (for another post) format here as well!

#4 photos matter

We live in a visual world. Presentation is everything. Once you determine your focus, make your photos convey this. In my case, my brands intention and phrase is “Celebrating my way through life.” Which means, to me, upbeat, happy and  joyful pictures. Yes, I include real life images but even those will have a silly spin on them. I save the grump part of me and the not so pretty stories for Instastory (because people, let’s be honest I don’t really live this perfectly put together life. Even my daughter said “But Mom, you don’t really look like that on a Saturday!”) But that’s my brand. If yours is real life, then by all means, photograph and share that away! I pay for professional photography now. I don’t hire photographers all of the time, but it’s become necessary for me if I want to be in the photos. Also, it’s become a time saver for me. I can take decent photos and edit them. A lot of my own photos are on this blog, but I’ve spent a lot of time learning and investing in good equipment. And I’m now making money from my blog so I can invest in this.

#5 decide where you’ll market yourself

You will have to market yourself  (which we’ll discuss further in the next tip.) This means spending a lot of time and effort uploading the same content to multiple platforms. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter all use different text, different types of image sizes, and format changes. So learn them and realize you will need to put your efforts into the ones that pay off the most for you. You may choose to put more effort into some more than others (for example I do not have time for Twitter. So my “flock” is more like a few birds who hang out saying “where the heck is she?”) You can’t do it all, no one can. So pick your poison and work on that!

#6 learn to be pushy

This is a big one. As my Dad has always told me “if you don’t tootheth your own horn, your horn go untootheth.” In other words – nobody cares about you and will be banging down your door to work with you. So get used to putting yourself out there! Write emails introducing yourself, stalk PR companies, email friends, go to any event possible or get someone on the phone to tell them how awesome you are and how you can help them! Bloggers are a dime a dozen now so you will need to bang the doors down and sell yourself! Toot those horns, people! Toot them loudly! This is not the time to be coy and hard to get! I can’t stress this enough! And ya’ll who follow me (and know me personally) know I can tooteth my horn and have come to accept that I’m pretty obnoxiously good at it (what can I say, our strengths our also our weaknesses!)

#7 when will your blog be profitable?

My friend, Amar, gave me this brilliant advice. When you first start ain’t nobody going to be throwing money your way. They want to see what you can do for them first. So start by buying a product you love yourself, giving your own review and showing them how you can and would endorsement it. Then share this post with the company and asked to work together. Chances are you’ll start with product only (free stuff!) to start with. When you deliver content for them (there’s no such thing as a free lunch!) go over and beyond what you promise. Under promise, over deliver. Make them so happy to work with you the first time, and then again and again! This won’t happen for every company (it doesn’t for me) which means we weren’t a good fit for whatever reason. In this case, dust it off and move forward. While setting a goal of learning how to start a profitable blog, understand that you need to be willing to give more before asking for something in return.

#8 competition

Gang, this is not the world for insecurity. Everyone else’s blogs will always look better. The grass will always seem greener. Run your own race. Applaud fellow bloggers for being successful and study them to see what’s working for them that may work for you. Set small goals for yourself and celebrate them as you achieve them. Let competition fuel you, not threaten you. Keep your head down and push forward.

#9 the joy of webinars!

Nerd alert! Learning will be endless with this journey to create a successful blog. It’s actually truly what I love about it the most – it has woken up my brain! When I’m in the car I’m listening to webinars about getting better at Pinterest, or talks about marketing techniques that work for people or how engagement will help. Study, read, use the amazing tool that is YouTube and spend your free time (ha!) emercing yourself fully in this world. The more you learn tips for starting a successful blog, the better off you’ll be. It will overwhelm you at first, but it will make you better!

#10 interact with other bloggers!

Last but not least, you’re in the company of fabulously driven and intelligent people (ahem, hi!) Blogging is creating something from scratch. These are people driven to share, to excite, to inform and create. Get out there and meet them. Find any blogger mixer in your area, or find someone through email you can bounce ideas off of. Find some buddies you don’t compete with, but rather use as ways to expand your insight into the culture and can grow together with. Use the forum of amazing talent to inspire and help you!


I loved writing this post. I have so many more thoughts that I want to write down. Do you get my newsletter? If not, why not? Hope you’ll join my crew. I think the crew is pretty damn awesome. 🙂 And I hope your crew will be just as cool.

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  1. Avatar
    April 22, 2019 / 9:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I’ve just started blogging and these ideas were a big encouragement to me to KEEP GOING. One thing at a time 🙂 So excited for you that you have built a brand and business you love!

  2. Avatar
    June 9, 2019 / 3:27 am

    These are the exact thing is needed. Loved your tips 🙂 I just started my own lifestyle blog to share all the things I love. Wish me luck and you have a great Blog! For my new blog, I would really like some tips or suggestions from experienced bloggers like you 🙂

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