Last year I went to Time To Change’s Story Camp and did a talk about how to create a mental health blog.
I am still amazed that I was asked because I totally feel like I don’t know what I’m doing but people are reading what I write so I must be doing something right! A lot of people said they found it helpful afterwards so I thought I would share some of my top tips with you all.
Firstly, you need to pick a platform for your blog. I use WordPress and I’m really glad I chose it – it seems to be where most bloggers start out so it makes it really easy to connect with other bloggers. However, there are other options including Blogger, Blogspot and Wix.
Read other blog posts sharing their tips. I don’t mean the ones telling you how to make £1000 in your first month, but the ones that give you genuine tips for beginners. I wish I had done this as I spent my first few weeks feeling pretty baffled and have only really been using some of the great ideas I’ve read over the last six months.
Find what you want to talk about but don’t feel pressured to have a strict niche. Although this blog is about mental health, I do talk about other things too. I want people to know me as me and not just my mental illness. Next, you need to pick a name. It needs to be something catchy and easy to spell and remember. My blog used to be called Moods, Meds and Meals; those of you who have been around for a while will probably remember this. I loved that name and I do regret changing it sometimes but I changed it because I felt that I was restricted by it in that I didn’t think it allowed me the freedom to talk about other topics too. Cara’s Corner is flexible and feels personal as it includes my name.
Do I need a schedule? No, you don’t. Some people find it helps them to stay on track, and you may get a more regular readership through doing this, but it’s absolutely not necessary. I used to post as and when. Sometimes life gets in the way and for me it’s just not always practical to stick to a schedule. I do have one currently but it may not stay that way.
Do stats matter? Yes and no! Your stats don’t signify your worth as a blogger and lower stats doesn’t mean that your writing isn’t good. However, if your aim is to help reach more people, which for most of us with mental health blogs is the case, then more readers is better.
How do I gain followers? I haven’t had rocketing followers but I’ve gained a very steady stream over the last couple of years. I don’t have any secrets to share here, for me it’s about being personable, being yourself and engaging with as many people as you can.
What should I write about? Write about whatever you feel happy and comfortable with. Remember that if you put something out into the internet it can be hard to get it back, so only share what you are happy to.
Do I need to spend money? No you don’t. You absolutely can but it’s not essential. If you want your own domain name you will have to pay and you will need to host your website somewhere which also costs money, but don’t feel pressured to do so. If you’re hoping to make money from your blog you may have to invest money into it first.
How to Get Your Message Heard
Engage with others on social media and on blog – reply to comments, read other blogs and leave comments, do blogger tags. Take any opportunities to make genuine connections with people. This also helps with inspiration for posts; I get a lot of my inspiration from the blogging community.
Don’t be afraid of self promotion – be proud of yourself! Running a blog is hard work and you need to be your biggest cheerleader.
Use social media to your advantage. Join twitter chats, use retweet accounts, chat to people, share your posts. Get the word out there. Guest blogging is also a great way to share your writing with others – write for others and have others write for you. That means that you reach the readers of that person and you also get to make more contacts.
Taking Care of Yourself
This is the most important part of mental health blogging. Firstly, don’t pressure yourself to keep up with others. Try not to compare your schedule, writing or followers with others, it is toxic and will only make you feel bad about yourself. For example, I work full time and I’m busy – I can’t post as much as others do and that’s okay. You do you.
Only share what you want to no matter what anyone else is doing. It’s not a competition and your wellbeing comes first. I used to feel bad that I wouldn’t share when things were difficult for me, only afterwards, but actually that was what I needed to do to keep myself well. Don’t make yourself vulnerable for the sake of blog stats.
If you need a break, take a break. Say no to opportunities if you need to, there will always be more.
My Favourite Tools
All social media, especially Twitter and Pinterest. I get most of my meaningful engagement from Twitter but most of my views come from Pinterest.
Tailwind for Pinterest – this schedules your pins for you so you don’t need to manually pin every day.
For all my graphics I use the Canva app. It’s super easy to use, free, and you can make some great logos and banners.
Anywhere to record my thoughts: pen, paper, notes app, laptop, tablet.
1. Social media is invaluable.
2. It’s okay not to know everything!
3. Your story and experiences are yours alone and no one can take that – it’s okay if your experiences are different to other people’s.
4. Put yourself first. This is the most important thing I want you all to take away with you.
Remember that all of your voices matter – there no such thing as saturated market in mental health. We are all on the same side. Support each other!
I hope this might have been helpful for some of you!