I started Mental Health @ Home in October 2017. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I’ve learned a lot since then, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that there’s always more to find out, and new ways to making your blogging experience more productive and satisfying. I think knowledge is best when it’s shared in the community, so that people can make choices about what’s best for them and their blog. These blogging & writing tips are drawn from what I’ve come up with in my own research and trial and error.
Are you new to blogging on WordPress? Check out A New Blogger’s Guide to WordPress.
This page includes links to the posts that I’ve done relating to blogging and writing. My approach is very pragmatic and I have no real interest in what you’re “supposed to” do. I hope some of these tips will be useful in your blogging journey.
Blogging & Writing Tips – Sections
New posts about blogging are published every Sunday on Mental Health @ Home.
Attitudes around blogging
Some people say Blogging Is Not Dying. I say not a chance.
Blogger burnout is a thing; expectations get to be more than the blogger can keep up with. To prevent this, it’s important to regularly reevaluate your expectations and how realistic they are for you at that point in time. The posts Blogging Sustainably and Feeling Disconnected from Blogging talk more about how to manage your mindset.
Stats can be a huge source of stress, especially when you start comparing yourself to other bloggers. This is pretty much inevitable, but there are ways to help manage it when it does flare up. Crazy-making comparisons goes into more detail about that. A blogging report card talks about a healthier way to reflect on where your blog is going and whether or not you’re sticking with your purpose.
As a mental health blogger, my blogging experience is very much affected by my illness. The post Blogging During Mental Illness Flares talks about adjusting blogging patterns to cope with fluctuations in mental illness
Growing & Monetizing a Blog
- Blog growth should not be at others’ expense – helping others grow is the healthiest way for you to grow your blog too
- It’s Okay to Want to Grow (and Monetize) Your Blog – Sometimes other bloggers react negatively if you’re trying to grow/monetize your blog. Quick tip: ignore them.
- “Should” you have an email list? – Plenty of big-name people will tell you that for your blog to succeed you need to build an email list, but is that true?
- Your blogging brand – you don’t have to be selling anything to have a brand; in a blogging context, it’s about having a consistent look, feel, and style of messaging that you convey to the world both on your blog and on social media
If you’re wondering How Easy Is it to Monetize a Blog?, the short answer is, it’s not. Anyone who tells you that it is probably isn’t being very honest. This post covers some of the Options for Monetization. As a quick tip, though, you won’t make money off of ads unless you get massive amounts of traffic.v
If you are making money from blog-related activities, you’ll have to report that come tax time. The post Accounting Considerations for Bloggers suggests some things to think about.
Finding New Viewers talks about genuine, non-spammy strategies for attracting new people to your blog, while Where’s the Line Between Blog Promotion and Being Spammy? considers what it might look like to go too far with promotion.
Using images on your posts can give readers a better experience, but it’s important that you use images in a way that doesn’t violate someone else’s copyright. The post Images and Copyright goes into more detail.
A common mistake is around Google Images. Unlike the free image sites, Google Images is a search engine, not a source of images. If you upload a photo to your site, Google Images may display that as part of its search results, but that doesn’t give anyone permission to use your picture.
The post Where to Find Images for Your Blog Posts identifies a number of options for freely usable images, including:
If you want to create your own graphics by combining various elements, Canva is a great tool.
Don’t forget to add alt text to your images when you upload them to WordPress. This will help your visually impaired readers, and it’s also looked on favourably by search engines. There’s more on this in Using Images in Blog Posts.
Interacting with Other Bloggers
- Blogging & Relationships – What kind of connections do you form with other bloggers?
- Do You Do Blog Awards? – There are a variety of awards circulating in the blogosphere. Some people “do” them, while others don’t. So what are they and how should you approach them?
- Do you reblog? – How do you decide whether or not to reblog others’ content on your own blog?
- Weird Blog Contact Form Messages – some strange messages come through that contact form sometimes
- Comment management and censorship – Sometimes commenters will argue that it’s censorship if you remove their comments… except it’s your blog.
- Does Your Blog Get Comments? – a look at how you can try to encourage comments on your posts
- How do we comment? – how do you approach commenting on other people’s blogs?
- Managing Blog Spam talks about how to handle the inevitable comment spam you’ll get in WordPress
Having problems with being unable to like/comment on blogs? How to fix problems liking/commenting on blogs covers how to addresser a web browser cookies setting issue that could be preventing you from liking or commenting on other people’s blogs.
- How do you follow? has the results from a survey of fellow bloggers on whether people follow via WordPress Reader, email, or other methods
- What makes you unfollow? – some of the reasons you may want to unfollow a blog
Maintaining Your Blog
- Blog housekeeping – regular maintenance helps to keep your blog in good shape
- Could Your Blog Use a Bit of a Trim? – are there old posts that are no longer doing much for you?
- Do You Repost Your Own Content? – Do you revamp and publish old posts, or perhaps republish a new post several times to get it to the top of the WP Reader?
- Are you including Evergreen content that stays fresh long after it’s published?
- The Useful Tools for Bloggers post suggests a number of tools that can make things easier for bloggers, including:
Copyright and plagiarism
How to Deal With Plagiarism covers how to report copyright violations to WordPress. There’s also an older post on blogging and copyright, written at a time when the site Tygpress was scraping content en masse from WordPress.
Planning & time management
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to making your site more appealing to search engine, so that you will show up in search results and people will make their way to your blog. Some SEO work requires a plug-in like Yoast, which is only available for self-hosted bloggers or for bloggers on the WordPress.com business or e-commerce plan.
However, there’s still a lot you can do with a blog on the free plan. The post Easy SEO Basics for Bloggers, as well as an older post, the doofus-friendly lowdown on SEO, provide tips on things that you can easily implement.
Keywords are the terms by which you want people to be able to find your post/page. Keyword research is a big thing in the SEO world, and there are ways to optimize your page for a certain keyword. My own opinion is that it’s not useful for the average blogger. Write about what you want and how you want, and don’t worry about keywords.
The one exception I would make to that is using Long-Tail Keywords for some of your post titles. Often, people don’t just plug a term or two into Google; we’ll write whole phrases, or ask questions. If your title matches the kind of long phrase or question someone might plug into a search engine, your post is probably going to show up pretty high in the search results, because the more specific you get, the less competition there is from other pages using those same terms.
Creating links, both within your site and to other relevant sites, is a major component of SEO. You can find more detail in the SEO posts linked to at the beginning of this section. There are three broad types of links:
- internal: link from one post/page on your site to another post/page on your site
- external: links on one of your posts/pages that point to a different website
- backlinks: these are links on other websites that point to your site
Internal links show that your site is well-integrated, and they help readers to find additional related content that they might be interested in.
The internet is all about connection, and using external links helps to establish that your blog isn’t alone in a remote island. You might link to other bloggers’ posts if you’re doing prompts or blog awards. If you’re looking up some background info for a post, include a link to the original source.
Backlinks are harder to get. You can build some yourself through accounts that you have on other web platforms, and also through things like guest posts and blog awards.
One way to see how your site is doing in terms of backlinks is by checking your Domain Authority, which is a metric developed by Moz that’s related to SEO. It’s a logarithmic ranking out of 100, and it’s heavily impacted by how many people are linking to your blog and how much DA cred they have. Brands wanting to work with influencers may be particularly interested in your DA score.
- Ahrefs backlink checker: shows you which sites have links to yours
- Internet Marketing Ninjas has a broken link checker that can tell you if links on your site are pointing to things that no longer exist (which is bad for SEO and makes for a bad user experience)
- Neil Patel’s SEO analyzer: gives you feedback on a number of SEO areas
- PageSpeed Insights (from Google): gives info on how fast your pages load
- Woorank: gives feedback on a number of areas
Search Engine Webmaster Tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools allow you to track how your blog is doing in search results, and what searches are leading people to click through to your site. They will also show you errors that they’ve detected when crawling your site
Do the people who like your blog actually read it? Maybe not. Serial Liking on WordPress discusses that.
Making a Blog Unsearchable in your privacy settings can stop your blog from showing up on search engines and the WordPress reader.
WordPress .com vs self-hosted – the pros and cons of WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress likes to throw out some unexpected curve balls. Getting rid of the WordPress.com editor was one of them. Read more about that on Farewell, WordPress editor. If you want to find out about the currently available options (block, classic block, and classic editor), this post on the WordPress blog explains them.
Writing can be a valuable therapeutic tool in dealing with illness, and it’s an important way of challenging stigma. Here are some of the posts I’ve done about writing; I’ve also done a number of posts on The Writing Cooperative.
- Do Your Posts Say What You Think They Do? – sometimes there’s a mismatch between what the writer thinks they’re saying and the message readers take away
- How to Write Researched Posts – tips on how to write about subjects you’re not very familiar with
- Memoirs – To Write or Not to Write? – things to consider if you’re thinking about writing a memoir
- My anti-rules for writing – there are lots of things people say you “should” do, but I say ignore them!
- Spread your writing wings – share your mental health story
- Where Do You Get Blog Post Ideas From? – potential sources for writing ideas
- Keyword selection & bidding strategies for Amazon Ads (on SheWrites)
- Self-publishing: It gets easier (guest post on Happiness Between Tails)
- Why I’ll continue to choose self-publishing (on SheWrites)