Since starting this blog 3 years ago, my mental health has drastically improved for a few reasons: a) I felt that if I was going to write a blog about mental health, I wanted it to be more positive and helpful rather than just write a journal about how shit things were going, so I’ve worked on my own mental health a lot. b) It’s become a platform for other people with anxiety and depression to come forward and chat to me about their struggles and successes, which is great because we can share ideas and talk about mental health openly. c) Watching my blog grow into something beyond what I ever thought it could be has been a massive achievement and that kind of growth and independence is brilliant for my anxiety, it makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.
I completely recommend writing a mental health blog (you can start your blog with Siteground for as little as £2.95 a month), it’s such a good form of therapy. In fact it can actually turn into a job if done right. I talked about making money from blogging in my previous posts How To Make Money With A Chronic Illness and Working With Social Anxiety and because so many of you emailed me about blogging, I decided to make a more in-depth post.
Today I’m going to tell you how I started my blog, how I get 8,000+ views a month and how I monetise my blog. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration if you’re looking at starting your own mental health blog but this information will generally work for any kind of blog.
Here it goes….
How To Start A Mental Health Blog
Coming up with your blog name & niche
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to sit down and brainstorm your thoughts about what you want to achieve with your blog, so that you can narrow down what kind of audience you want to attract. I fully advise having a niche instead of just being a general blogger, you’ll find it much easier to get the right people to your blog and keep them around if they know what your blog is all about. A mental health blog in itself could be considered your niche but I’d go that one step further and find out how you’re going to make it different.
When I started my blog, I had no idea what I wanted from it because I was really just writing it for the sake of it and it took me a while to take it seriously. So, at first I just wrote about myself and anxiety, mostly in a satirical way and my blog looked a mess because I had no idea what I was doing with my theme, logo, photography, nothing. You’ll probably notice how different my older posts are to how they are now.
In fact, my old blog name used to be Anxiety Bitch (does anyone remember that?) and it was terrible for advertising because it would get censored all the time and my branding was all over the place. Then I decided it was time to actually come up with a good name, branding and what kind of audience I was aiming towards.
That’s how I came up with Anxious Lass – I chose feminine and light colours because my audience were mostly young and female and I wanted my blog to feel uplifting and bright. Really, if you want to attract people who are similar to you and going through the same kinda stuff, it should be easy; Just think about what YOU would want if you were to visit a blog.
Getting your blog set up
First of all, you’ll need somewhere to place your blog on the big world wide web! You can get fairly inexpensive hosting when you’re just starting up with a smaller website. I fully recommend using SiteGround to host your blog, check out their starter web hosting for less than £4 a month, it’s really cheap considering how good they are. The trouble with some cheaper hosts, is that your blog may end up with lots of downtime, resulting in you losing viewers. That’s not the case if you’re using a good host like SiteGround.
When you have your hosting, it’s time to start building the foundation of your blog. To get the most of your blog, you should definitely install WordPress before anything else. I couldn’t imagine running a blog without WordPress now. It’s completely free to download and install and there are so many amazing themes and free plugins you can use with it to make your blog the tits!!
Once you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to get your theme set-up. There are a few good free themes for WordPress you could get started with but if you already have an idea of what you’d like from your blog and what your branding is going to be, this is where I’d recommend investing. It doesn’t have to be much, Creative Market have lots of gorgeous themes for sale, some of them under £50 – just make sure if you’re going to buy a theme that it a) is for wordpress and b) doesn’t need another kind of framework or theme to work.
I wanted something really specific and well built, so I did lots of homework and now use a combination of Genesis Framework by StudioPress with Fun by Pretty Darn Cute Designs. I love how my blog looks now and I get tons of compliments on it. I firmly believe you have to create an overall good experience for people to come back to your blog and design is a massive part of that.
I’d also recommend looking on Creative Market for a good logo, you can get an inexpensive premade logo or template if you’re not so bothered about it being bought by other people. A unique custom made logo can cost hundreds, so I’d go down the premade route if you’re on a budget or you could even have a go at making one yourself if you’re good with graphic design. I made my blog logo myself!
Getting your blog off the ground
The most important aspect of your blog is to write great content, content is key. You don’t necessarily need to be the balls at writing and have perfect grammar but giving your readers something they want is mega important. You aren’t going to attract as much of an audience and certainly not enough to keep them around if you’re just talking about yourself, you need to offer them something too. I still think it’s a good idea to talk about yourself a little, it helps inject personality into your blog and it helps people to feel like they know you but the kind of posts that are going to drive the most traffic will generally be posts that help your readers with a problem they’re having or teach them how to do something.
I try to have a mix of posts; Personal stories like A Letter To My Younger Self, posts that relate to other people with the same problems I’m having like 10 Reasons Why Eating Out With Social Anxiety Is Awful and posts that offer help to the reader like How To Explain Social Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It
The third kind of post, the helpful kind, that’s my hands-down most sharable, viewed type of content.
I’d suggest writing a good selection of posts and put them on your blog before really launching it, that way when you do launch, your readers have several things to look at and can see what type of content they can expect from you.
Include a way to sign up
Your biggest asset when your write a blog, is your email list. Trust me, you’ll want to start getting email sign ups straight away, don’t miss out like I did for the first two years. Even if you’re never going to create a product or launch a course, your email list will still hold lots of value.
I use MailerLite to get sign ups to my blog now, you may have noticed that I have sign up forms and an opt-in incentive (my free anxiety guide) in quite a few places around my blog, including the very top of each page, my sidebar, the bottom of each post and a pop-up that’s timed to when you scroll half way down the page.
You can also get really nice landing pages for your opt-in when you use MailerLite, that’s why I chose them over other platforms, as well as the fact it’s free up to 1,000 subscribers including automation, which is something you’d have to pay for on other platforms.
To encourage sign ups, you may want to try an incentive, like a freebie as an opt-in. You could create a free mini e-book, a free email course, swipefile, checklist, worksheet etc. Anything that has value to your target reader will get sign ups.
Getting traffic to your blog
There are several ways of getting traffic to your blog including social media, search engines, guest posting and more. Here’s a list of my favourite ways to get traffic and where most of my blog views come from:
- Pinterest: This is my biggest referer. It’s by far the best platform for getting traffic if you’re a blogger in my opinion. I make the most out of Pinterest by using Tailwind Plus to schedule pins 60-80 times a day, posting my own pins to group boards and Tailwind Tribes. My pins are all scheduled ahead of time and Tailwind creates the schedule for me, making sure they’re posted at the right times of day. Since using Tailwind, my traffic went from 2,000 views a month to around 8,000 a month. About 70% of my pins are to group boards so I’m not spamming my followers with my own pins all day. You can join group boards by finding them through Pin Groupie and contacting the owner of the board for an invite. I have my own group board too called Mental Health Tribe for mental health bloggers if you’d like to join.
- Facebook: This is my next best referer. I’ve got over 1,800 ‘likes’ on my facebook page now but it’s the engagement that counts. I like to post most days, I know I could be doing better with this but generally my posts get quite a few shares. I’ve also sponsored a couple of posts and run a couple of adverts to get seen by new people and that has worked incredibly well. Running an ad or sponsored post on Facebook generates much more traffic if you target the post to your specific audience. I usually choose an audience of 14-35 year old females living in the UK. USA, Canada and Australia whose interests include Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Mental Health etc. It’s better to target your ad or post so that it’s been seen by people who are more likely to read your blog. It’s no good spending money on a sponsored post for pregnant women, if it’s getting seen by lots of 60 year old blokes for example. It also helps to join Facebook groups for bloggers, as they often run promo days so you can share your blog post, as well as providing lots of helpful advice.
- Search Engine Optimisation: Want your blog to be seen on google? You need to at least learn the basics of SEO or have a good SEO plugin for WordPress like Yoast. Make sure all your posts are optimised for search engines and you’ll have a better chance of being found.
- Twitter: Another extremely useful platform. The best thing about twitter is the community you’re able to build with other bloggers and people in your field of expertise. I’ve met lots of amazing mental health bloggers through being on twitter and that’s also where I was able to find some lovely guest posters for my blog. You want to be sharing your blog post on there a few times a day but don’t just link dump, people will get bored with that pretty fast. It’s best to engage with people and make real connections.
- Guest Posting: Writing guest posts for other blogs and website is a great way to get backlinks to your website, this not only helps you to get seen in front of a new audience but the backlink helps your search engine ranking, especially if the blog you’re guest posting for is ranked highly.
- Bookmarking sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon: These might not get you views every time you blog something and you might have to contribute other stuff more than your own blog but in my experience, it’s worth using them because one of your posts can go suddenly viral on them. I’ve randomly had more than my average monthly views in just one day from a post going crazy on Reddit, so I’d definitely recommend it even if it doesn’t get you regular traffic.
Making Money From Your Blog
Making money from your blog isn’t going to be an overnight thing and like I’ve said in previous posts, don’t just start a blog to make money, start a blog about something you love and because you want to write about it. If you’re not passionate about your blog and you’re putting more ads on it than genuine content, your viewers will get fed up. Your blog has to have value to the people reading it.
I didn’t start my blog for money, in fact I didn’t take it all seriously until 4 months ago. I spent 2 or more years, writing my blog as a hobby, purely because I wanted to say some stuff about anxiety and relate to other people with it. Now I’m doing both, writing about anxiety while relating to people and making money. There’s no point in making a blog your job if you’re not passionate about it because it’s too much hard work for that.
Now, if you’re ready to learn how to make money from your blog, here’s some ways to do it…
Affiliate links are your own special links you use to recommend a product or service on your blog and when someone purchases through that link, you get a commission. There are lots of good affiliate marketing networks online to sign up as an affiliate, but here are my favourites:
ShareASale – You sign up to each program individually and then you can use their links and banners etc. Each company has their own set of terms, like how much commission you get and how many days after they click your link will you get a commission if they purchase. You can search affiliate programs by keyword, making it easy if you have a very specific kind of product or service you want to recommend.
ClickBank – This network is for digital products, making it a fab place to find ebooks and online courses to recommend. You also don’t need to sign up to each program individually, you can start using affiliate links for any product straight away.
Amazon Associates – One of the best affiliate marketing programs ever, especially if you like to recommend physical products. Everyone knows and trusts Amazon, so it’s a great place to have an affiliate account with.
Another good way of making money from your blog is through implementing ads. These are great because they don’t cost your reader anything but I’d advise to keep them to a minimum to not annoy anyone. My preferred ad networks are Google Adsense and Media.net
Obviously the more views you get and the more you blog grows, the more you’ll make money from advertising.
Not something I’ve accepted on my blog just yet, just because I don’t want content on my blog that doesn’t fit what my blog is all about but another way of making money from your blog is by doing sponsored posts.
I’ve paid for these myself on other blogs for my wedding photography business, by paying to run an article or post about my wedding photography on a few wedding blogs. You can have people pay you to write or write something themselves to put on your blog about their product/service. This helps them get exposure for their business and you get paid for it.
Selling Your Own Products
One of the most popular ways of making money from blogging is to create your own digital product or service such as an Ebook or an Ecourse and using your blog as a way to market your product.
For instance, if you were writing a blog about healthy eating, you could create a digital meal plan and sell that, or if you were writing a blog about post-natal depression you could create an online course to help other people through it.
- Make your blog posts look lovely by adding nice photos and don’t forget that you can’t just take images from Google and use them for your blog, you need to have permission to use people’s photos. You can find photographs for your blog by purchasing stock photography or looking on free stock photo websites. I give away some of my stock photos for free on Unsplash and there are lots of amazing free stock photos on there.
- Sometimes you’ll need to create some graphics for your blog, especially if you want some decent Pinnable images for Pinterest. I completely recommend using Canva, I create all my Pins on there for free.
If you want much more in-depth guides to starting a blog and making it profitable, check out my new blog Clicks and Confetti – Photography and Blogging Tips For Beginners