Blogging & Writing Tips

Blogging & writing tips from Mental Health @ Home

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.

A New Blogger's Guide to WordPress from Mental Health @ Home

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 Tips

New posts on this topic 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

Monetization

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’re thinking about upgrading to the WP business plan, get a free Inside Look at the WordPress.com Business Plan.  You can also read my Reflections on Upgrading.

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.

Promotion

The post Do You Promote Your Blog on Social Media? looks at my own experience on multiple social platform. There’s also a post on Using Pinterest to promote your blog.

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.


Images

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 Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, and Wikimedia Commons (which has all the images used on Wikipedia).

Other useful tools include:

  • Canva for creating your own graphics by combining various elements
  • Image Color Picker lets you identify the hex code (6-character alphanumeric code preceded by a #) of a colour that’s used in an image; with this, you use that colour for other things
  • Remove.bg lets you remove the background portion of an image
  • TinyPNG to compress image files, which saves you storage space on your WP account and helps your site load faster

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

Comments

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.

Following

  • 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

  • The Useful Tools for Bloggers post suggests a number of tools that can make things easier for bloggers, including:
    • Grammarly: available as a Google Chrome extension, it checks spelling and grammar as you type
    • Hubspot: has a blog ideas generator
    • SEOPressor and Sumo.com: headline (title) generators

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.

A few basic tips:

  • Image alt text: this lets both search engines and visually impaired readers know what your images are about
  • Slug this is what will show up in your post’s URL once it’s published. You can change it under the permalinks section in your document settings. These should be short, sweet, and to-the-point (with each word separated by a hyphen). If I have a post mentalhealthathome.org/[date]/the-top-things-ive-learned-about-taking-care-of-guinea-pigs-during-lockdown/, Google won’t be impressed.
  • Use headings: not only do these make it easier for search engines to understand what your post is about, headings make posts easier to read

Keywords

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.

SEO tools

  • 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
  • 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

WordPress

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.com blog explains them. For tips on using the block editor, check out A New Blogger’s Guide to WordPress.

Wordpress logo surrounded by rainbow colours

Writing Tips

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.


Self-publishing

A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing from Mental Health @ Home

The Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing mini e-book contains all the knowledge and tricks that I’ve picked up from self-publishing two books.  It’s available on the MH@H Store.