This is an introductory guide on how to start a lifestyle blog and website like Vinjabond – from concept to design to the technical.
*These were the actual steps, methods and resources I utilized for the development of this very site.
Lifestyle blogs differ from most other blogs in that they are self representations of oneself, not the self interpretations of something else than the self.
This makes them uniquely personal while being a venture anyone with a certain way of life can do.
One of the internet’s greatest gifts to modern civilization is that it gives us a way to connect with others that share similar interests (no matter how specific, bizarre, devious or rare) from across the globe.
The point is that whoever you are, whatever it is you do and however you live, there will be others like you, interested in you or be inspired by you.
After all, I’m a just a former operative that travels the world like a high-functioning homeless person.
How to Start a Lifestyle Blog //
I started vagabonding on the first day of August 2012 of which I’ve documented every single of those days since for personal use. A couple of years later I was sick in bed at my Airbnb apartment in Taipei going through all that and realized how much I’ve learned, seen and felt.
And so I wanted a way to showcase and share my experiences. Back then I envisioned Vinjabond to be just a travel blog and certainly not what it’s become today. But it’s that initial spirit of adventure and nomadism that made it develop into a lifestyle blog.
What are you an expert in, what skills have you mastered and most of all, what are your obsessions? Use these preexisting experiences and knowledge bases to vision your own lifestyle blog.
That’s how you start.
Once you have an idea of what your blog will be about, it’s time to choose a domain. For $15 a year, you entirely own “yourdomainname.com” the same way you’d own land in real life.
Your domain should be short, memorable and meaningful.
In case you were wondering where my domain name, “Vinjabond” comes from…
It’s just a word I invented because “vagabond.com” was already taken, which was my first choice. But looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t available because “VINJABOND” is my own where “vagabond” is just a word.
You should do the same.
If the domain address is property, then hosting is utilities. You can own a domain but you need hosting to actually use it.
Domain registration is yearly while hosting is usually monthly, they are separate entities and services but is required to operate a self-hosted blog of any sort. You can go free but then the website URL would be something like “vinjabond.blahpoohmeh.com”.
I recommend MediaTemple. There are countless cheaper alternatives but probably none better. I’ve been with them for years and they’ve been extremely reliable, especially with 24 hour live customer service.
Whatever you do, don’t use GoDaddy.
Now that you’ve got the foundations for a lifestyle blog, you need to choose a content management system. There are many services available like Tumblr and Squarespace, but neither of them are able to support a complex website like Vinjabond.
So I use WordPress, the most reliable, sophisticated and feature packed blogging platform there is.
WordPress is easy to start with and you can have one running in minutes. But it takes time to master because there’s just so much it can do.
I’m not talking about the topic of your lifestyle blog but the visual construct of your website design. If the blog platform (WordPress) is the engine of a car, then the theme is the body. Luckily, there are countless free and premium themes available that anyone can implement to their own blog.
Each theme is also customizable with almost no limit. Even Vinjabond is based off a commercially available theme, however I’ve made considerable changes within the code to make it a truly unique one. But if you’re interested in which theme it is…
It’s called “Border” for WordPress.
And no, I wouldn’t mind if you modeled your blog after mine, I’d be genuinely flattered.
You really have 2 options; keep your lifestyle blog private and share it with just friends and family or share it with the world. I, like most bloggers, have a social media account with just about all of them but I only really use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Anymore and it would be too much to deal with.
It really comes down to quality over quantity because maintaining a single social media profile is consuming enough.
It’s best to open separate accounts specifically for your blog. Your personal profiles should stay just that, besides it will help with brand recognition.
If you’re running a movie or video game review blog than it’s perfectly fine to use media from commercial sources but not with lifestyle blogs. Because it is about yourself, not other things or other people.
But that doesn’t mean you need expensive cameras or special equipment. All my photos you see on here and elsewhere on the web are shot with an Xperia Z5 or a Hitcase equipped iPhone. Chances are you have the same or similar phone as I do, you just have to go shoot.
You should also always edit your photos to make them the best they can be before posting. I consistently use the following apps:
Photoshop CS6, Snapseed, AntiCrop, Enlight, Color Splash, Facetune and Mextures.
To you experienced bloggers, it may see odd placing this at the end but it was intentional, to place its importance. Without good and unique content, a blog is just a mess of code. Even with beautiful photos and design, a blog, more than any other online element, is only as good as its (written) content.
The thoughts, opinions, experiences and ideas of the individual transcribed into digital text. The kind of data that can only be produced by you. A picture may be worth a thousands words but most people (including search engines – more on that in part 2) prefer just a few actual words to go along with that picture.
You see, the beauty of a lifestyle blog is that there is no wrong way to write about it, although ironically there is only one right way to do it, YOUR own way.
How to Start a Lifestyle Blog: Part 1 ///