Want to start an inspirational or self-help blog? These tips are for bloggers who want to inspire and help readers, but aren’t quite sure where to start.
They’re based on a question from a reader…
“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 Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals. “I have recently created a blog to bring awareness about issues (mainly pertaining to 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 you got started in this area. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.”
Thank you, Arianna – you made my day!
One of the most important tips for any writer – especially a self-help blogger – is to stay connected with her authentic self. Last month, I was stuck as a blogger – 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 magically became unstuck!
The Morning Pages are the key to staying connected with your real thoughts and feelings, which will help you help and inspire your readers.
Tips for Bloggers Who Want to Help and Inspire Readers
How I started out…
My degrees are in Psychology and Education; I’ve always wanted to write books to inspire and motivate people. After Bruce and I married (I was old – 35!) and moved to Bowen Island, I decided to find a job that didn’t involve commuting to Vancouver. It was time to start my freelance writing career!
I worked part-time in an office, and freelanced part-time. Less than a year later, 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 editors, so I spent more and more time on my blogs (I started six Quips and Tips websites, but only have time to write for four. The rest, they perish). Again, the more time I spent blogging, the more money I made. Now it’s my full-time job! I happily accept assignments from magazine editors, but I don’t pitch ideas. I also write for BC Women’s Hospital and KnowYourAdvisor.com.
That’s how I started Quips and Tips! O yeah, and I started writing for Suite101, back in 2006. That’s where I learned search engine optimization and web writing skills.
Now, a few tips for bloggers who want to inspire and help readers…
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. If you don’t know how to include a url in a comments section without the ugly code, here’s the template I use: <a href=”http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/how-to-overcome-discouragement-and-rejection-for-writers/“>How to Overcome Discouragement and Rejection for Writers</a>
Simply put your blog url where mine is, and the title of your blog where my text is.
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.
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.
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 – Arianna’s “Random” Thoughts – 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 have been stealing my content – and it’s happening more and more often. Write your own &^*%$#@ articles! You’re making me crazy!!!
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 blogger I actually know in real life copied her layout and monetization strategy directly from me, and it really bothers me.
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.
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. I just created a Quips and Tips Facebook page a few days ago, but hate having to ask people to “Like” it. My Quips and Tips page on Google Plus may be the perfect social media tool for me, especially now that I’m writing articles that solve specific readers’ problems. I’m trying out a “Dear Abby” format for both my Facebook and my G+ pages…we’ll see how it turns out!
For more blogging tips, read Want to Blog, But Don’t Know Where to Start? 5 Tips for Newbies.
If you have any questions or thoughts on these tips for bloggers who want to inspire and help readers, please comment below…