Blogging is an easy way to start sharing your story and thoughts about mental health attitudes. It is an exciting way to be part of fighting the stigma and sharing stories of lived experience. You don’t have to be an amazing writer or spend hours crafting long posts. Share as much or as little as you like, keep it simple or go into detail, it's up to you. Just make sure your message is clear.
My advice is just do it at your own pace, share as little or as lot as you want. I started with just a small blog post and now years later they are more detailed.
- Lyla, Time to Change Champion
Why use a blog to share your story?
- Tell your story using a combination of words and images. A blog can be a great way to experiment with different ways of expressing yourself.
- Produce as little or as much as you want. With no character restrictions, you are free to share your thoughts or ideas or experiences without limits.
- Many blog platforms are free and easy to use. You can get started with little technical knowledge.
1. Choose a blog platform
There are loads of free blog platforms. All of them allow you to pick a theme and upload text, photos and videos. Most people won’t need much more than that, so choose the one that feels most comfortable for you. Here's a few to get you started:
- Wordpress is easy to use and the most well-known. If you plan to grow your blog, customise its appearance a lot, or run your own adverts, it’s easy to switch to a paid account with those features later on.
- Blogger is a more limited platform but a little easier to use than Wordpress.
- Tumblr is a very intuitive platform that includes a ‘hashtag’ style sharing feature – a good way to reach new readers.
- Wix is a useful starter platform for blogging
'Premium' vs free blog platforms
There are also premium blog platforms out there that charge a fee for advanced features. It’s probably best to ‘test the waters’ first – start with a free version and see how you get on. You can always move to a fancy paid-for version later if you need to add extra features.
Note that if you decide to buy your own domain name for your blog (eg myblogname.com), Blogger and Tumblr will let you use this on your blog for free, but Wordpress will ask you to pay for this.
2. Set up your blog
Each platform will run you through a set up process when you sign up which usually takes about 5 - 10 minutes. All you need is an email address, a secure password and a blog name to get started.
Some people prefer to set up a new email address for their blog, so any comments or notifications stay separate from their personal inbox. This can be helpful if you need to 'switch off' from your blog at times when you're not feeling well.
Choosing a blog name
- Make it short, snappy and memorable, and relevant to your blog content. Avoiding offensive words is a good idea!
- If you're planning to write about a specific condition, e.g. PTSD, including that in your blog title can help to improve how high you appear in Google and other search engines for that condition - and make it easier for people searching to find your content.
- Take some time to check Google and social media to make sure your name isn't being used by anyone else. This means you'll be able to have social media usernames similar to your blog name, which will help readers to recognise you across the web, and it also avoids any issues with other bloggers. If you want to buy a domain name later on, it's more likely to be available.
- It's possible to change your blog name later on - but it's a bit of a pain to do so! So do your research now and take time to make sure you're happy with it.
3. Choose your design
All of these platforms have pre-made templates for you to choose from. We recommend you choose a layout that’s simple and helps people focus on the writing more than the design. Usually, for most of your content this means black text on a white background, using a clear font at least size 12. If you decide to use different colours, make sure there's a strong contrast between the text and background colours so it's still easy to read. You can be a little more creative with colour and font sizes for your headings and blog title!
Once you've posted a few blogs and got social media set up, add these into your blog design:
- Links to your social media profiles - so readers can follow you and your future blogs.
- Social share buttons - this makes it easy for people to share your posts on their own social media.
- Tags - once you’ve published a few posts, tags will allow your readers to navigate between the different topics and themes that you’ve mentioned.
4. Writing your first blog
Shorter blogs can be a great way to get into blogging for the first time, or can give you the opportunity to focus on one particular subject or core experience. Lots of people are reading blogs on the go or on mobiles. Shorter blogs can be easier to read when out and about.
- Think about the title of your blog - does it reflect what you have written about? Is it something people might search for using Google?
- Is there someone you trust you could show the blog to before posting to get their feedback on it?
- Double check that you are comfortable sharing what you have written and for people to see it before posting.
When you post a blog engage with the content on it and on social media around the time it goes live. People love having the chance to speak to you and respond in real time.
- Hope, Time to Change Champion