Most writers want to help, inspire, encourage readers in some way. Bloggers are no different! My tips on how to start a self-help blog are inspired by a fellow writer who isn’t quite sure where to start.
“I just saw your biography in the August 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 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 an inspirational 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 seriously stuck and unmotivated – not because of lack of ideas, but because of a general sense of malaise. Boredom, I think. “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 — and I became unstuck! I needed a fresh breeze to blow through the cobwebs of my spirit.
And that’s the first tip on how to start a self-help or inspirational blog: stay connected to God.
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-defunct 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 Self-Help Bloggers
My most recent blog post for inspirational writers is How to Start and Sustain a Popular Christian Blog (which I almost called 10 Tips for Bloggers Who Believe).
I also wrote a few ebooks to help people, such as 75 Ways to Make (More) Money Blogging and 73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire!) the Muse.
1. Mention your blog in the comments you make
My first tip revolves around marketing – which is, ironically, one of my weak points! Maybe that’s why I’m all over it. Bloggers should sprinkle the name of their blogs wherever they can, especially in sincere, heartfelt comments (not 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.
2. Decide if you want to monetize your blog – and choose your domain name wisely
One of my favorite quips about making money blogging is from Steve Pavlina, who said that if your blog provides value, you fully deserve to earn money from it! He also said that 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!
Try to choose a domain name that is neutral yet represents you, so you can switch gears midstream if you want to.
3. Decide what your blog focus is
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.
For more tips on niche versus general blogs, read Can’t Decide on Your Blog’s Focus? Tips for Baffled Bloggers.
4. 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 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 bloggers who steal or “curate” other bloggers’ content.
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 other bloggers’ actions – a self-help blogger I know in real life copied her layout and monetization strategy directly from me.
5. Remember that your blog is a work in progress
I started by writing tips-based articles based on random stuff – topics I found in newspaper articles, books, problems in my life, research studies, etc. Now, I write articles to answer readers’ specific questions and help them solve problems they’re having. Like this post to help bloggers who want to start blogs that inspire and help readers!
Your blog will probably morph and change over time, as you get to know your audience and your own self. Your goals will change, and so will your blog.
6. 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 love Twitter, but it doesn’t do too much for my blog traffic. I rely on search engine optimization because I love to write, and SEO is about writing in a specific way.
For more blogging tips, read How to Know What to Blog About.
What type of self-help blog do you want to start? Feel free to share below!
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