How to Start a Blog That Inspires and Encourages

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

travel writing tips

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. 

How to Start a Blog That Inspires and Encourages
How do I become an inspirational blogger?

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?

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10 thoughts on “How to Start a Blog That Inspires and Encourages”

  1. Hello Laurie,

    So yes I am one of those who doubt myself about blogging I have been going over this area for a few years now. Yes it’s ok to tell me I’m wasting months years of thinking. There are so many spiritual blogs and self helps I feel what can I bring to the table new that somebody already has done. I am a faithful servant of Christ and my desire is to help women, young adults in anyway I can spiritually . Our Church is very small a few women but because the church is so small I feel I can’t or am limited to share what God has shown me as a women of God, and blogging always seems to cross my mind. How do you know it’s part of Gods plan for you to Blog as well as get past the “What if’s” I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years now.

    1. Two things came to my mind:

      1. I think you’re overthinking God’s will for your life. God wants you to use your desires, thoughts and ideas to further His Kingdom! Keep it as simple as that.

      As Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, “When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once He does, you must stop immediately.”

      My favorite line is: “And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit.” The rest of the article is here: https://blossomtips.com/how-to-stop-overthinking-gods-will-blossom-tip-87/.

      Perhaps the Holy Spirit keeps bringing blogging into your mind because it’s the next right step for you. What do you have to lose? What’s holding you back?

      2. I totally agree about not having anything “new” to say. After all, that’s what the author of Ecclesiastes said several thousand years ago! “There is nothing new under the sun.” And that’s why I keep writing: I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before, and I don’t care. I simply LOVE writing and can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I’m 50, and have tried lots of different jobs and career paths…and I keep coming back to blogging because this is what I’m meant to do.

      I also compare it to restaurants, and clothes, and even paintings. Take a beautiful painting of a sunset, for example. What if a painter said, “Oh, I can’t paint a sunset because it’s been painted before.” Or a new recipe! What if a chef said, “I keep feeling called to put pears and arugula on my pizza but I’m sure some other chef has tried the combination before. I know the folks at the homeless shelter would enjoy eating food they don’t usually get in a different format, but what if it’s not God’s will for my life?”

      So, I ask you again. What do you have to lose?

      Don’t let the enemy steal your desire, or plant doubt in your mind. That is EXACTLY what he did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Are you SURE God said that?”

      You’re thinking too much, my friend. Stop thinking, stop fretting, and start leaping in faith. God will bless and honor your work if you trust Him. This isn’t to say it’ll be easy, or you won’t run into problems! You may even write crap. But you will be following your heart and spirit. And when you meet Jesus face-to-face one day, He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

      xo
      Laurie

      PS Post your blog link when you’re comfortable sharing it. I’d love to visit!

      PPS Read “8 Jots and Tittles for Christians Who Want to Blog” https://www.theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/christian-bloggers-how-to-start-a-blog-jesus-christ/
      I have to change that title! It sucks, but it seemed like a good idea at the time 🙂

  2. I am a Christian woman who’s managed to keep my faith through many trials and hardships. I have lived and survived severe abuse, alcoholism, financial hardship, ad I’ve raised two beautiful daughters as a single mom. I am a cancer survivor, yet I’ve now been diagnosed with 4th stage metastatic breast cancer. I’ve been blessed with many miracles in my life. I have so much to share with others. I have experience, education and most of all, hope and inspiration. I just need a platform.

    1. What an amazing journey of faith, you’ve had, Kelly! What a gift from God that you can write and express yourself so clearly. I can tell from the seven sentences you wrote that you have a gift for. And what a blessing that you are alive in this age of digital ease. It’s so easy to blog now; you have a buffet of platforms to choose from.

      If you start an inspirational or self-help blog on your own website, feel free to share your link here! I’d love to see what you’re doing. On 8 Things You Need to Know About Starting a Christian Blog (https://www.theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/christian-bloggers-how-to-start-a-blog-jesus-christ/) Darlene asks questions about starting a blog to inspire believers; I share the link to her blog the article.

      May you find the energy, wisdom, and strength you need to build your own little space on the internet. And may your words bless and inspire other people of faith!

      With His love,
      Laurie

  3. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks again for your help! I have really found my niche. As you say, blogging is a work in progress. Thanks for being so helpful. I’d love for you to check out my new site 🙂 Hope you are doing well. Thanks for always encouraging people to become better.

  4. Hi Laurie,
    Thanks for writing such an informative and inspiring article! I launched by blog http://www.AsanteGeorge.com in October of 2011. I monetized it from the beginning, and I’ve just started making money. It’s inspiring for me to know that you have been able to make blogging a career.
    All the best to you,
    Asante

  5. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for your advice! It’s so true that developing your blog is a work in progress. At first when I created it and then reached out to you, it was really general. I really am excited about it as I have found my voice and presence online. Thanks for encouraging me to persist.

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments, Sydney and Grady, I appreciate them!

    I never found social media sites to help with blog traffic. I love Twitter and tried posting my links every 3rd or 4th tweet, but it didn’t do much at all. I’m trying something different with Google Plus – a Dear Abby thing – but I think my traffic will always be search engine oriented.

    And that’s okay, because a self-help blog is designed to help people who need it, not necessarily to build a strong fan base…or am I wrong? I don’t know.

    Anyway, I’m glad these tips were helpful 🙂

  7. Hi Laurie,

    As you know, I’ve decided to take the plunge with my own blog and this article has provided some great advice on getting started. Thanks for the great suggestions on this and so many other relevant topics. You are an inspiration!

    Sydney
    Hurt.Help.Heal

  8. Thanks for these tips, Laurie!

    One thing I need to work on myself is learning how to use social tools like Google+ and Facebook to generate traffic to my site.

    On another note, one thing I have been thinking of doing is having this one site of mine being the main one where I help people, but having another blog elsewhere that I can use to write on any old topic that comes to mind that would be more of a “general” blog.

    I like the idea of using current events to inspire topics, especially until I can start getting traffic and reader questions of my own.

    Great post!