Becoming an inspirational blogger has never been easier! It’s the perfect time to start a self-improvement or self-help blog: you have life experiences to share, you want to help others, and blogging platforms are user-friendly and free. There may be thousands of personal development, self-help and inspirational blogs – but your story is unique. And we need to hear it.
My tips for inspirational blogging are inspired by a writer who asked how to start a blog. “I saw your biography in a recent issue of alive magazine and decided to check out your blog. I’m very impressed with your work. I just graduated with my Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology,” says Arianna on Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone. “I recently created a personal development blog to bring awareness to issues around self-esteem, bullying, and sport psychology. I would like to use it as a forum to educate and empower individuals to never give up. I was just wondering how to start a self-help blog. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.”
One of the most important tips for any writer – especially a self-help blogger – is to stay as emotionally and spiritually healthy as possible. A few years ago I felt stuck and unmotivated. I had lots of ideas, but was just bored by blogging. I’ve been working as a self-employed blogger for 12 years; I love blogging, but like any job it does sometimes feel dry. “Coincidentally”, I was asked to join a group of women meeting once a week and studying The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Julia Cameron. Hallelujah! The motivational blogger found the motivation she needed to get motivated to start blogging with heart and soul again 🙂
All I needed was a fresh breeze to blow through the cobwebs. And that’s my first tip on how to start a self-help or inspirational blog: learn what you need to stay motivated to keep writing and posting blog posts that inspire and encourage readers. Now, I don’t need The Artist’s Way because I lean on the Holy Spirit for power and strength. What keeps you motivated to get out of bed in the morning? That’s the same motivation you need to start a self-help blog that inspires others.
How I Started My Inspirational Blogs
Here’s a quick glimpse into how I started my blogs: My undergraduate degrees are in Psychology and Education. I always wanted to write books to inspire and motivate women, such as Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. I had no idea I could actually make money blogging! I thought writers were poor and starving. Sometimes it’s simply awesome to be wrong, isn’t it? 🙂
Shortly after I started writing online for a now obsolete website called Suite101, I realized that if I put full-time effort into writing I’d reap full-time rewards. I earned over $40,000 my first year freelancing, which proves you can earn a good living as a writer.
But I quickly tired of pitching article ideas to magazine editors, so I spent more and more time on my “Quips and Tips” blogs. The more time I spent blogging, learning about SEO (search engine optimization), and helping readers solve problems, the more money I made. I’ve been a full-time blogger for over a decade.
6 Tips for Starting a Self-Help Blog to Inspire and Encourage Others
The newest blog I started is Travel in Faith: Tips and Tools for Travel That Transforms You. I created this blog shortly after returning from my 50th birthday trip to Nepal, Dubai and Hong Kong. Terrible timing for an inspirational travel blog because of the coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic! In fact, I was in Hong Kong in January – right after the coronavirus departed Wuhan, China and started traveling the world.
Even though this is in general the perfect time to start a self-help or personal development blog, it’s not necessarily the perfect time to start just any type of blog. But even if you start a faith-based travel blog like I did, you can still write blog posts knowing that this, too, shall pass. The world will right itself because that’s what she does! We humans will find a new normal…and we’ll need more self-help blogs than ever before.
We need your story. You need to tell your story. What are you waiting for? It’s time! If you’re starting a blog from scratch and you know nothing about blogging, read Read 8 Jots and Tittles for Christians Who Want to Blog; the tips apply to any type of inspirational or self-help blog. The tips in this post are more general ideas for promoting and finding readers for your blog.
1. Decide what the focus of your blog is
Avoid starting a general self-help or personal development blog; it’s too vague and competitive. Instead, narrow your focus into one or two specific areas. My Travel in Faith blog, for example, combines travel and spirituality. Even more specifically, my inspirational travel blog revolves around Christian faith in Jesus Christ. What is your specific niche, focus, specialty, or area of interest? The more specific you get, the more personal your stories, and the more inspirational and encouraging you will be to readers.
Should your blog be niche-oriented (eg, written for a specific audience, or focused on a specific topic) or general (random articles about whatever comes up)? Both niche and general blogs have pros and cons…and I have to admit that I love my general Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals blog better than all my specific blogs put together! I love writing about whatever I want, and not being tied down to a specific topic.
If you’re hoping to make money blogging and you don’t know what your niche is yet, read 10 Types of Blogs That Do – and Do Not – Make Money.
2. Don’t copy other bloggers’ style or layout – and never copy and paste their content!
This tip isn’t specifically for Arianna because I visited her self-help blog (which is no longer active) and I know she’s not blogging to make money. She’s unlikely to resort to content or style theft. This tip is for new bloggers who steal or “curate” other bloggers’ content: don’t do it. Your personal story and experience are valuable. You yourself are the inspiration and encouragement! Your blog posts should reflect what you’ve experienced, who you are, and what your vision for your life is. Your blog will motivate and inspire your readers if you start from your own genuine experience.
Content theft is one mistake new bloggers make. Another type of theft is stealing another blogger’s layout and style. I know there are a finite number of ways to lay out your blog, which means styles will overlap. But instead of directly copying another blogger’s layout or method of monetizing her site, try experimenting with your own style. Again, this tip is based on my experience with a fellow bloggers’ actions. A self-help writer I know in real life (a friend) copied her layout and monetization strategy directly from me. That was several years ago; I was upset then, but have long since stopped caring.
3. Decide if you want to monetize your blog – and choose your domain name wisely
One of my favorite tips about making money blogging is from Steve Pavlina, who said: “If your blog provides value, you fully deserve to earn money from it! Bloggers shouldn’t be shy and tentative about advertising on their blogs. If you’re running ads, put them front and center.”
If you have a WordPress.com blog, you can’t advertise. You’ll have to move over to WordPress.org, and purchase a domain name. I chose http://theadventurouswriter.com/ as my domain name, and I regret it because it’s too long, it’s difficult to spell, and it doesn’t represent Quips and Tips. When I bought that name, I intended to blog on the side and freelance write full-time. The opposite happened: I started blogging full-time and gave up freelance writing. Too much work, not enough fun or moola. When you’re choosing a url for your self-help blog, try to pick a domain name that is neutral yet represents you. This way you can pivot if you want to (eg, change the type of blog posts you write, offer different self-help services, focus on personal development products instead of blogging, etc). I chose TheAdventurousWriter.com in 2008; my only regret is “adventurous” is a bit hard to spell. BlossomTips.com is better, so I started that blog a few years ago 🙂
Your inspirational blog might be free to readers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn a living as a blogger! Read 10 Ways to Make Your Blog Profitable.
4. Choose a social media tool or two, and stick with it
You can’t help and inspire readers if you don’t have traffic, right? The “build it and they will come” mentality is lovely, but not practical. You need to promote your blog consistently, using tools (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, SEO, etc) that you enjoy. I found Twitter amusing and time-sucking, but it never did much for my blog traffic. So I quit that addiction. I rely on search engine optimization because I love to write, and SEO is about writing in a specific way.
A related social media tip is to make comments on personal development or self-help blogs related to your niche. Beginning bloggers might start by sharing the name of their blogs wherever they can – especially if it’s a sincere, heartfelt comment (not a spammy “visit my blog” comments). Arianna’s comment is the perfect place to mention and link to her blog because she’s being real, authentic, and honest about who she is.
Truth be told, I detest social media tools. I rarely visit other blogs, not even faith-based or inspirational ones. I don’t have time! Nor do I like being on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest at all, not even for personal reasons. Instead I rely on my writing and search engine optimization skills to attract readers – and I love it. I don’t spend enough time learning the specific details of SEO but I know enough to earn a great living as a blogger. If you don’t want to spend time using social media to attract readers, read How Do Bloggers Use SEO to Attract Traffic?
5. Learn how to edit your blog for clarity and readability (not perfect writing!)
Why do you want to start a self-help blog? To inspire and encourage your readers! You don’t have to be a great writer to be an inspirational blogger. You don’t have to write like Anne Lamott or Max Lucado. You don’t even have to blog like Jeff Goins or Penelope Trunk.
Blog about your personal experience and share your motivational tips. Don’t worry about writing perfectly, but do learn how to edit yourself. Your writing should be clear, easy to read, and simple. This involves editing your own blog posts, which may be the hardest part of writing. Self-editing is a skill; doing it well requires objectivity and non-attachment to your own writing. Not getting attached to your writing can be difficult for bloggers who are telling personal stories to help others, but it is crucial.
These three self-editing tips are from Jason Black, a freelance book editor at PlotToPunctuation.com.
1. Educate yourself. Seriously. Editing anything, whether it’s your own writing or someone else’s, demands a different eye towards the material than writing does. So get some books and get cracking. If you have trouble writing smooth sentences, a book like Claire Kehrwald Cook’s Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing might be just what you need. If you’re working on larger scale issues, try Elizabeth Lyon’s wonderful Manuscript Makeover. There are many books out there on self-editing and revision. Find some that work for you. Don’t let fuzzy writing prevent readers from benefiting from your inspirational message and blog posts.
2. Practice editing other writers and bloggers. Visit websites like WritersCafe.org and read personal self-help blogs like this one. Edit other writer’s articles, stories, blog posts, and even their comments. You might even critique other people’s material, practicing both your own skills as well as the brutal dispassion you’ll need when you do start editing your own manuscripts.
3. Learn “show, don’t tell.” If I could teach my clients anything, it would be this one thing. Show your readers the important subtext of your stories, through actions, dialogue, et cetera. Don’t just tell them about it. This is the absolute most important skill you need as a writer or an editor: the ability to differentiate between show-writing and tell-writing. Every other writing rule I know, whether it’s about dialogue tags, unnecessary adverbs, backstory, or whatever it may be, is always just a specific application of the underlying philosophy of “show, don’t tell.”
That last self-editing tip is different than most of my tips for new inspirational bloggers. That makes it the most important piece of advice you can get! If the other self-help bloggers are all doing something on their blog, you should set yourself apart by doing something different. Learning how to “show, don’t tell” your personal experiences in ways that inspire and encourage readers will keep them coming back for more.
6. Let your blog reflect the truth about personal growth: it’s a work in progress
There are so many reasons not to start blogging today: you’re tired, scared, sick, too busy, or just not motivated. This is ironic, isn’t it? If you can’t motivate yourself to start a self-help blog or become an inspirational blogger, what hope do you have of motivating others to improve their lives?
Here’s what helps me write consistently and daily: I know I am a work in progress. I am growing, learning, and becoming so much wiser every day! My blogs reflect who I am; they, too, are growing, learning, and becoming so much wiser every day. I’m not striving for perfection. Just completion. I do my 90% best on every blog post and then I let it go. I started blogging over a decade ago by writing tips-based articles based on my experiences or random topics I found in newspaper articles, books, research studies, etc. Now, I write blog posts to inspire, encourage and motivate readers. I try to answer specific questions and help readers solve problems.
Start your blog today – or take it a few steps forward. As an inspirational blogger, you know that every step counts! And you know that no problem or mistake is irreversible or unredeemable. Your goals will change, and so will your blog. That’s good because you and your blog are both a work in progress!
What are you waiting for? If you doubt you can start a blog that encourages and inspires people, read How Do You Stop Doubting Yourself as a Writer?