How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle Blog

It might seem kind of odd to find a “How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle Blog” page on Organize Yourself Skinny. Most of you come to my blog to learn about meal prep, meal planning, exercise, and a whole host of other healthy weight loss habits. However, the most common 2 questions I get after “How did you lose weight?” is “how do I start my own blog?” followed by “how do you make money from your blog?”. So instead of sending you all over the internet trying to point you in the right direction I decided to put together a page dedicated to helping my readers start their own blog.

Plus, I think it’s important to pay it forward. I’ve been blogging since March 2011 and in August 2014 I  turned blogging into my full-time career. Over the years I learned a lot from other bloggers so now I feel it’s my turn to turn around and help others up the latter. Starting in 2018 I’m starting a new blog called Big Boss Moves where I talk more in-depth about my blogging experiences. Until then I hope you find this information helpful.

 

How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle Blog

I think it’s safe to say that blogging has completely changed my life. I started my blog to document my weight loss journey. I shared my experiences with meal prep, make-ahead healthy recipes, along with creating different habits to keep me out of the “hot zones”. I also love to share posts that inspire people to change. My favorite inspirational post is this one on the 4 pieces of advice I’d give my 40lb heavier self.

Blogging allows me to reflect and also keeps me accountable. For example, I make sure to post my meal plan and weigh in every week because I know readers are looking for it. Honestly, there are many times I feel like blogging has saved me. I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I think we all get to a point as adults where we feel like we are just surviving the hamster wheel of life. Our light starts to burn out. Well, blogging gave me, and continues to give me, purpose. I absolutely love receiving emails or messages from readers telling me that I’ve made a difference in their life. That keeps me going!

Another benefit to writing this blog is the opportunity to bring in an extra income. Actually, blogging can bring in A LOT of extra income.  In August 2014 I quit my full-time cushy state job to pursue my new career as a FULL – TIME PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER. Read all about that here. It takes a ton of work but it can be done. Dreams do come true if you are willing to work hard for them!

I don’t share many income reports because I don’t feel comfortable putting my income out there for the world to see. However, a couple years ago I did write 3 of them to show the amount of traffic my blog receives along with the income I made that month. That will give you an idea of the amount of money my blog makes monthly.

You can read my blog income reports here:

My first 18 months as a Professional Blogger: My Income and Traffic Report

Blogging Income and Traffic Report: February 2016

Blogging Income and Traffic Report: March 2016

Blogging Income and Traffic Report: April 2016

I encourage everyone to start a blog even if you are not interested in making money from it – although it is good to know that as your blog grows making extra cash is an option. Starting a blog is a great way to hold yourself accountable, build your knowledge, and document your progress. I love blogging and I know you will too!

How to Start a Blog

A lot of people drag their feet starting a blog because the technical aspect makes them nervous. I understand it can get a little nerve-racking if you’re not sure what to do. Let me try and demystify it for you with 4 easy steps.

Organize Yourself Skinny is a healthy lifestyle and food blog. Regardless of the topic (food, weight loss, DIY, or your pet turtle) you want to write about there are basic steps all bloggers take when starting their blog. Also, please keep in mind there are many products and services out there but the ones I mention below are what I have the most experience with.

Okay let’s get you bloggin…

Starting a blog takes 4 steps.

  1. Domain {address of your blog}
  2. Hosting {your home or space on the internet}
  3. Installing WordPress {blogging software and content management)
  4. Theme {the look and design of your blog}

1. Domain name

Your domain name is kind of like your address on the web. It is what people type in to get to your blog. For example my domain name is www.organizeyourselfskinny.com.

Picking out your domain name is fun but can get a little stressful. Take some time to think about your domain name because once it is purchased and you start writing on your blog it will be difficult to change. People will start to know you as your blog name so you don’t want to switch it up and confuse everyone. On the flip side don’t spend a ton of time thinking of the perfect name because really it comes down to the information you share.

Here are some of my suggestions to help you with the domain name process:

  • Keep it relatively short and easy to remember
  • Try to get a .com
  • Don’t use dashes or other symbols
  • Don’t dwell on the perfect name because at the end of the day your content, along with your voice, is what will bring people back.
  • My own personal suggestion – don’t put mom or mommy in the domain name. I started this blog as “skinny mom’s kitchen” and had to switch for reasons beyond my control. Anyway, soon after I switch it to www.organizeyourselfskinny.com is when my traffic significantly increased. This name was easier to market and didn’t exclude people who weren’t mom’s or parents. Organize Yourself Skinny says more what this blog is about. Now this is just a suggestion and based on my experience. You can call your blog whatever you want.

Once you have it pick out then check to make sure it is available. This can be done by typing the name into Google domains. If it is available, and you’re ready, then purchase it. There are 1000s of blogs and websites starting everyday so try to purchase the domain name you want as soon as you can because if you wait it could be gone when you want it. Trust me, I know!

2. Hosting

Okay this is where it starts to get confusing for people. Most people just want to start blogging and not worry about all the tech stuff. Unfortunately this is an important step, especially if your goal is to become a full-time professional blogger.

When I first started I signed up with Bluehost. Was I happy with them? Yes and no. In the beginning, they did the trick. I’m pretty tech-savvy so it was easy for me to get everything set up – I’m not sure the average person would find it as simple. But then, a couple years into blogging, my site was hacked. This was an awful experience. Again, I’m tech-savy (and pretty good under pressure) but I wasn’t happy with their customer service. It was very stressful trying to figure what needed to happen for my blog to get fixed and back to normal. Eventually it got fixed but it left me emotionally scarred!

I needed a hosting company that took security seriously and would just fix it.

At that point I moved to Synthesis which is managed wordpress hosting by StudioPress. This was one of the best decisions I ever made for my blog. There customer service is impeccable. They get back to me right away whenever I have questions or there’s an issue (which is rare). But most importantly, I have peace of mind. I can focus on my blog instead of worrying about hackers and problems.

Studiopress managed hosting plan comparison

Synthesis is a more expensive option at $47 a month but they do have cheaper options for bloggers just starting out. They have a Content plan for $27 a month and a Commerce plan for $37 a month. You can view and compare all the Studiopress plans here. 

Studiopress hosting plan comparison

Both of my blogs (Organize Yourself Skinny and Big Boss Moves) are hosted with Synthesis.

Another huge perk to hosting your blog with Studiopress is that each plan includes 24 mobile-optimized ready to go themes. I’ve been using Studiopress themes since the start of my blog and would never use another.  These themes are created by the best in the industry.

Here’s a sneak peak, but definitely go to their websites to view all of them, I’m positive you’ll find one that fits perfectly with your blog niche.


compare studiopress themes

Studiopress managed hosting offers so much and I’d recommend them to anyone starting a blog. Like I said, my blogs are managed by Studiopress. Now, I know these plans are a little pricier compared to other hosting companies but the quality isn’t even comparable. If your goal is to become a full-time professional blogger then I think Studiopress is the best solution for you. I suggest taking some time to read more about Studiopress and see what they can offer you.

If you decide Studiopress is too expensive and want a cheaper solution then take a look at Bluehost.

Bluehost is a very popular hosting company and used by many new bloggers.  You can purchase both your domain and hosting package through them for a relatively inexpensive price. 

How to Start a Lifestyle Blog That Makes Money

The next two steps are for if you go with Blue Host instead of Studiopress. If you sign up with Studiopress Hosting both steps 2 and 3 are included, meaning it’s already installed.

3. Installing WordPress

WordPress is the blogging software or content management system that makes it possible to write on your blog. It is what I use for Organize Yourself Skinny.

If you host your blog with Bluehost then you will need download WordPress. This isn’t that hard. All you need to do is click install WordPress and it should be up and running right away. Now keep in mind with Studiopress it’s all installed for you (wordpress and the themes). I’m not trying to force you in one direction I’m just making you aware.

4. Design

WordPress comes with a bunch of free themes that are easy to download and use. However, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Genesis Framework and a StudioPress Premium Theme. ** FYI these come automatically installed if you go with Studiopress Hosting but will need to purchase separately if going with Bluehost.

Both the Genesis Framework and StudioPress themese are reasonably priced and in my opinion the best!! If you are confused by what the difference is between the framework and theme, don’t be. The Genesis framework is like the vehicle for your blog basically it what keeps it functioning and moving forward. The theme is the paint job for your vehicle — basically it what makes your blog pretty. You can read about both here. Or you can click here to download The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF – 1.4 MB)

You can view all the Studiopress themes for purchase here.

How I Make Money Blogging

Okay now let’s talk about the fun stuff – how do I actually make money blogging? Before I dive into the 4 ways I make an income from my blog I just want to clarify a couple things. 99.9% of the money I make comes from the healthy lifestyle/weight loss content and products I have on Organize Yourself Skinny. Besides this “how to blog” post, and the others linked above, all my content centers around the topics I focus on with Organize Yourself Skinny. By the way Organize Yourself Skinny has over 1300 blog posts!

Organize Yourself Skinny does not make money because I talk about blogging. I say this because I want you to understand that it’s completely possible to make money in other niches besides the “how to blog” niche.

I feel this sets my advice apart from others who simply make money from telling others how to blog, even though they never truly blogged about anything but blogging. Wow say that 10 times fast. I’m not trying to be critical of others but I’m simply saying to be cautious when taking advice from someone who isn’t a true blue blogger. Trust me, it’s MUCH easier to make money in the “how to blog” niche and that’s why most new bloggers turn down that road. I’d much rather take advice from someone who spent years building a successful food blog, DIY Blog, Fitness Blog, or any other niche besides “how to blog” blog. They are the true blue bloggers and know what it takes – those are the bloggers that can give you solid advice based on their own experiences.

I’ve been on the blogging front lines since March 2011 and consider myself a true blue blogger. I’ve built my healthy lifestyle blog from scratch and know what it takes to be profitable. Organize Yourself Skinny is my full-time income – it’s how I support my family. I started at ground zero and today my blog makes well over 6-figures a year.

Like I said earlier, I want to share my experiences because I feel it’s important to give back. Plus, as a true blue blogger I feel I can offer a different type of wisdom and perspective than someone who has only blogged for a couple years and only talks about blogging. I’ll provide a snapshot below of my blog income streams but please head over to Big Boss Moves for a much more in-depth look into my personal blogging experience.

Alright, let’s get to it.

Here are 4 ways I make money blogging.

#1. Advertising

If you click on the Organize Yourself Skinny home page (along with other blog posts) you’ll see advertising scattered around my blog. This makes up a large portion of my income – currently, it’s my bread and butter. Advertising is probably the easiest way to make money because it’s basically set it and forget it. However, it’s difficult because you need a lot of traffic to see a decent amount of money. My traffic ranges between 700k – 1 million pageviews a month so that brings in about 8k – 10k a month in advertising income, depending on the RPM (which is the amount you make per 1000 pageviews). RPM can vary depending on your site and the advertising network you’re with. You can make anywhere from $4 (or less) RPM’s all the way up to $20 (or more) RPM’s. Basically, the higher quality the content you create and the amount of traffic you have will determine the amount of money you make from advertising.

If you’re just starting out I reccomend using Sovrn and Google Adsense. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about advertising dollars when you’re first starting out because your income will be small…like pennies a day. You won’t start seeing decent money from advertising until you hit around 25k – 50k pageviews a month. So instead of worrying about making money with advertising I reccomend focusing on creating stellar content and building traffic. I’ll talk more about blog traffic later on.

When your blog traffic gets to 100,ooo pageviews a month I highly (STRONGLY) reccomend applying to Adthrive to manage your ads. Hands down, without a doubt, Adthrive was one of the best things to happen to my blog and can be credited for the huge increase in ad revenue over the last couple years. The team at Adthrive is the best – the absolute best. They only work with high quality blogs so my recommendation, like I said,  is to focus on producing stellar content that people want to search for, read, and share. Once you hit 100k pageviews, and get accepted into Adthrive, the team over there will do the rest.

#2. Affiliate Marketing

In simple terms affiliate marketing is promoting someone else’s product and then receiving a percentage if there’s a purchase made. However, making money through affiliate marketing is easier said than done. I’ve been blogging for almost 7 years and I’ve only just started to make decent money via affiliates in the last 2 years.

This is what I’ve learned about making money with affiliates – remember this is my experience.

  • Choose products that are a natural fit for your blog. You want to offer products that YOUR readers search for.
  • Banners don’t work. Don’t expect to put an affiliate banner on your site and the money will start rolling in. In all my years of blogging that’s NEVER been the case. Save the sidebar space for Adthrive to use for money-making ads 🙂
  • You need to use the product and truly understand it. I find that the affiliates I make the most money from are the ones I use the most in my own life. This helps me talk about it naturally and answer questions.
  • Talking about products naturally in blog posts will make the most money. This goes with what I just said. It’s easier to promote a product you believe in and can talk about naturally.
  • Product reviews show up in google search results and make a decent income. Most people do a quick search before purchasing a product. The key is to make your review extremely helpful. Give full details, answer questions, and even talk about who wouldn’t like that product. I find that my best affiliate reviews are ones where I tell them why they should or shouldn’t purchase it. People want real honest reviews and that’s what I provide.

The most popular affiliate program is the Amazon Affiliate Program. Basically, you can promote any product that Amazon offers.

Other websites where you can find affiliates to promote are:

CJ Affiliate

Share a Sale

Flex Offers

There are others but these are the three I use.

I can go on and on about affiliate marketing but that’s a good base for now. I’ll talk more about this topic on Big Boss Moves.

#3 Sponsored posts

Sponsored posts are when you get paid to write about a brand. It usually requires using a product and then talking about it somehow in a blog post and then sharing it on social media. In my experience, it usually entails creating a recipe using an ingredient from a specific brand. For example, this pasta post from Tuturosso Tomatoes or this smoothie post from Silk.

Sponsored posts are more than a review. Brands pay bloggers because we have an audience and influence. They want us to talk about and showcase their products in genuine organic ways.

I’ll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with sponsored posts. Yes a blogger can make decent money from them but often I feel like sponsored posts are more of a headache than they’re worth.  Typically, they come with a contract and more rules than I care to follow since working for myself. More often than not you need to submit a draft for approval and that is usually a royal pain. However, some bloggers love working with brands.

This past year I’ve noticed I make more money using my own affiliate link for a product (if they have one) than taking money for a sponsored post. Therefore, I’d rather focus on my other income streams and moving forward I might remove this one completely.

If you’re interested in working with brands I reccomend signing up with Tapinfluence. That’s who I use to connect me with brands. Adthrive started offering sponsored opportunities this year so I receive work from them too.

#4. My Own Products

Creating your own products is a great way to make an income from your blog. I started with creating a 4-week meal plan to sell about 4 years ago and then I wrote an ebook about 2 years ago. Both of those products brought in a decent income – about $1000 – $1500 a month. Then this year I stopped selling my meal plans and ebook and created the Organize Yourself Skinny Ecourse. This ecourse was a beast to put together but in the end it was completely worth it because it brought my income to a whole new level. Not to mention that it was a product that my readers wanted and needed. It truly was a win win for everyone.

I think creating your own products is essential to building and sustaining a professional blogging career. It’s the only income stream you have control over – all the other ones can diminish or disappear at any point.

You might not have a product to create immediately after starting a blog but I reccomend within 6 months jotting down product ideas. Listen to the needs of your readers and build products that meet those needs.

Of course, for any of these income streams to actually make money you need blog traffic. Don’t expect to bring in thousands of dollars every month if you’re only getting 1 – 5k pageviews a month. You need people coming to your blog in order for you to make any money. More importantly you need to build a blog community that your readers believe in and trust.

Here are some tips to bring traffic to your blog.

  1. Create content that teaches something, motivates, and inspires. Think about the reasons most people go to google – to find answers. Give them content they want to read and share.
  2. Start your social media channels and be active – let people get to know you. Trust me, we all start out with our sister and mom as our only followers but I promise if you create amazing content and everyone starts to share it you will get noticed.
  3. Take SEO seriously right from the start. The faster you rank for google searches the faster people will come to your site. Use keywords, headings, and alt-tags in pictures. Of course, write naturally but it doesn’t hurt to make sure you are optimized for google too.
  4. Create Pinterest-friendly images. This is huge. I’m still going back to old posts and updating them with new pinterest-friendly images. This makes a difference so take it seriously if you want traffic.
  5. Join Pinterest group boards and pin your posts (if allowed) to them. These are the FB groups I used to find the Pinterest group boards I use today: Pinterest Boards and Post/Join a Pinterest Group Board.
  6. Write for other bloggers. When I started out I wrote a post for Money Saving Mom and The Organizing Junkie that brought A LOT of people to my site. Most bloggers accept guest posts – send an email with ideas and then send your best work.
  7. Share other bloggers stuff on your FB pages and Pinterest – make sure to tag them. If you got good stuff they will start to share your stuff too.
  8. Be patient. This is very important. You’re not going to burst to a million pageviews in a month. I had only 57,000 pageviews in my entire first year of blogging and my second year I saw 636,000 pageviews for the whole year (FYI I see that in a month now). I didn’t hit around 100k pageviews a month until the end of my second year of blogging. I’m not saying it will take you that long – there’s so much more information out now – but it’s not going to happen overnight. My advice is to give yourself at least 6 months to a year to start seeing any real traffic growth. I should also say that you need to install google analytics right away on your blog. This is how you’ll keep track of your blogging statistics.

How long will it take to make money from blogging?

Now this is the million dollar question, right? Personally, I didn’t make any money until my second year of blogging and I didn’t make a full-time income until my 3rd year of blogging. Once my pageviews averaged between 500k – 1 million a month is when I made a steady full-time monthly income (between 7k – 14k). My advice is to focus on content and building a community for the first 6 months – this could take a little longer. After that, start putting income streams in place. You could put income streams in place sooner but I think it will be more of a distraction. Focus on building your foundation then focus on income.

Of course, so much of this depends on your blog niche and the amount of time you spend working on your blog. If I were to give general advice I would say a person could expect to make money from their blog within a year, possibly sooner.

Starting a blog has been such a wonderful experience for me. I hope you find this information helpful should you decide to start one of your own. If you want to learn more about blogging then check out my new blog Big Boss Moves.

Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You are by no means obligated to use them when making a purchase but if you do then thank you for supporting Organize Yourself Skinny.