I thought I would do a post for those of you who want to start a blog and are looking for some ideas for starting out. This post will also answer some questions I'm most frequently asked about blogging. I am by no means an expert on blogging! I just do my own thing, so I was quite surprised when my blog and social media took off and I even ended up winning a Mind Media Award for my work. What a surprise that was!
1. Only start blogging if you enjoy writing!
If sounds obvious, but I would suggest only starting a blog if you enjoy writing. If you're not much of a written word person, there are so many other formats aside from blogging that you could use to share your ideas and connect with others. Other options include starting a YouTube channel, making an art journal and sharing your pages on Instagram or Pinterest, creating a community page on Facebook or making a podcast.
2. Share what you enjoy sharing, not what will get you 'likes'
There is no joy in chasing likes, retweets and shares. Maybe there is if your blog is your source of income, not that I would know as haven't made a single penny from my blog!
Likes can be useful for measuring how many people might be seeing your posts, but they don't tell you how much the posts mean to people.
You can only find out how much your blog post meant to someone by the heart-felt comments you receive. Trust me, one email from someone telling you how much your post helped them is worth a thousand likes.
The satisfaction I gain from my blog is the result of expressing what I want and need to say combined with the fact that this is helping others.
3. you don't need to be 'technological'
I run a blog all by myself with no help and I can only just about manage to change the channel on the TV and work the heating. Let me tell you, it was a bit of a shock to win an award called 'Digital Champion'. There are plenty of websites you can use to make a blog without a subscription fee such as Blogger, Wix and Square Space.
There is no need to learn any code as blogs can be built via these sites using pre-made templates and 'drag and drop'. All that dragging and dropping can be time-consuming though. I have put thousands of hours into my blog over the years.
I make my blog using Wix. I have bought my own domain and premium subscription as this allows me to have an email address and inbox attached to my site. I make a lot of my images for the blog and social media using Canva.
4. Keep things short & Clear
I like to keep my posts on the shorter side. I prioritise shorter, simpler words over longer, more complicated ones and aim to keep sentences concise. I tend to break posts into chunks using subheadings, images, numbers and bullet points, as well as separating long pieces of text into paragraphs.
When I'm writing a blog post I ask myself whether it need to be split into two posts or even a series. I also ask myself whether I can include one of my YouTube videos, or make one, to illustrate the post.
5. Follow accessibility guidelines
The accessibility of your blog is of vital importance. I am working on making sure my blog and social media are in line with the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. I have made sure that I use a big enough font size, avoid underlining and italics, use colours in a high enough contrast, avoid flash, add alt text to images and image captions on Instagram and enable assistive technologies.
I know there is a lot more I need to do to make Talking About BPD more accessible. This is something I am currently researching so I can make sure my site is fully accessible.
I know that my major downfall at the moment is the lack of transcription for my video content and I'm not proud of that at all. At the moment, all I have is the auto-generated image captions on YouTube.
6. there is no pressure to stick to a schedule
I've heard a lot of advice about how often you 'should' post, whether that's daily, twice weekly, weekly or less frequently. It is completely up to you how often you post, just as it's up to you how often you do anything. I enjoy having a loose schedule of posting every week, but if I'm too tired or busy with something else, then I don't pressure myself to post.
Also on this point, I know that positive feedback does not directly convert into cash. I have received so much amazing feedback about my blog and have not made a penny. I have a 'Buy Me a Coffee' account for people who love what I do and would like to (and are in a position to) give a small donation towards my running costs. My main running costs are buying my own domain and a premium blog subscription so I can have a personalised inbox and email address.
7. How do i 'come up' with content?
A few people have asked me this on Twitter and it's a good question! To be honest with you, I don't know how I 'come up' with ideas for posts. Because I write from my own experience, I tend to write about something that has made me feel angry, upset, happy, proud or irritated.
Anger is productive for writing posts because I can discuss injustice. If something has made me sad, then writing often brings me self-compassion and comfort.
I also like to write about things that make me happy or proud in order to celebrate then. If I learn a new DBT skill, something interesting happens in therapy, have a conversation that makes me think or experience stigma or discrimination, then I write about it.
I make a note in my phone sometimes, if I think I will forget an idea for a post. However most of the time the idea is tricky to forget because it's not a fact, rather something emotional and personal to me. It is hard for me to forget a comment from a doctor that made me feel ashamed or a skill from therapy that helped me deal with distressing thoughts.
When I did the BBC short film, one of the producers ask me how I research my blog. I told her that I don't really, as I write from personal experience. That's not to say I don't read a lot about mental health and BPD, I do. It's just that I don't write my blog from an academic perspective.
I feel a time will come when I stop blogging about my BPD because I won't have anything new to say about it and it will have faded more into the background of my life. Until that time comes, I am working on writing a book about BPD based on my blog which I hope will bring comfort to people with this diagnosis.
I hope this post gave some food for thought! Good luck if you begin a blog and I hope you enjoy the process.