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How to Start a Lifestyle & Mental Health Blog (Without Going Broke!)

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There a TON of guides for new bloggers out there. It’s easy to get lost when you’re trying to figure out how to start a mental health blog.

From how to create a website, to how to come up with blog post ideas, everybody has an opinion. I’ve rounded up my favourite blogging tools, sites, bloggers as well as free and inexpensive courses to help you start writing about personal development and lifestyle online.

*Please note that these resources are useful for ANY niche, but as I blog about mental health and personal development, I’m always keen to see more people join my corner 😉

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links within this blog post For my full disclosure please see here

Your blogging journey

Blogging can be overwhelming.

A story for you, new blogger.

Situation number one:

You dip your toes in the water, write a post or two and thoroughly enjoy yourself and could find that only your family is reading… which is cute but ultimately leaves you feeling a bit shit. Defeated, you stop blogging, declaring yourself a “terrible writer”!

Situation number two:

You start writing some posts and throughly enjoy yourself. Buoyed by the confidence of your family reading and enjoying, you search online for “how to start a mental health blog” to find advice on how to get more eyes on your work. You discover free and paid courses, online groups to join, mental health bloggers to follow, mental health blog post ideas to write about… A fire is lit within you!

You decide to stick it out.

I’m hoping that for both of us, you’re going with the second option 😉

Why You Should Self Host Your Blog

You’ll find on any “how to start a blog” guide that people are always recommending you self-host. What does that even mean? And why does it sound so technical and terrifying? You aren’t an IT person!

Don’t

Freak

Out

There’s a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

If your blog is terrylovesyohgurt.wordpress(dot)com then you don’t own your blog.

With a free wordpress (or wix, squarespace, or other) you don’t own the space. Which means your monetisation options are limited. You won’t be able to do things like

  • Install certain plugins
  • You’ll be restricted to WordPress upgrades which can be SUPER pricey
  • You’ll have an ugly URL (oh the horror!)
  • WordPress can display ads they feel like on your site

So what should you do? And who do I recommend if you just want to get up and running?

STEP ONE : GET THEE A DOMAIN NAME !

I recommend buying your domain separately from your hosting company because it’s just good security practice. I could be an affiliate for anyone, I choose Namecheap because they are offer 100% uptime on their websites, free transfers on existing websites as well as loads of promotions.

They are currently at the time of writing offering 38% off of domain transfers.

STEP TWO: NAME YOUR BLOG

Your perfect blog name should:

Describes what your blog is about (eg: campingwithfran – most likely a camping blog and you’re Fran -right?!) or thatuncraftymom tells readers straight away what they’re not getting and niches down.

Is short and succinct – now isn’t the time for flowing prose.

Reads well as a URL and out loud. You may think you’ve got the perfect website name until you realise that as a bujo blogger you’ve chosen My Pen Island. Not a great one written out …lol

Has an appropriate extension. This usually means a dot com or dot org but check up on your different ad networks for full details of what counts as an appropriate website URL to apply. You don’t want to spend all that time and effort building up your lifestyle blog only to have to create a new domain name and possibly start over.

STEP THREE: CHOOSE THE BEST HOSTING COMPANY

Siteground has an amazing support team so you are never alone in the set up process.

create a lifestyle blog

When starting your blog, I recommend starting on the smallest plan (Starter Plan) and scaling up as necessary.

choosing a domain name for a lifestyle blog

It’s here where you’ll enter your (previously purchased) awesome domain name.

creating a lifestyle blog

Due to current circumstances, hosting costs are being offered at a discount. As you can see I’m in Australia, so in USD these amounts will be even less when converted. Check out Siteground for current all-year-round low hosting options.

How to start a personal blog – by gettin’ personal

I’m no stranger to blogging. I’ve been venting online to strangers since the days of “avatars”. Back then though? The kind of writing I did was extremely self-serving. Now the following is totally personal opinion, so take it or leave it, but I’m of the opinion that in order to really heal yourself via writing and blogging- it can’t be just catharsis.

Meaning that I’m not a fan of old school blogs or online diaries just for venting if they are purely for that. Personal blogs are awesome but having a documented online catalogue of your downs? Not so much.

Blogging about mental illness as someone who isn’t medically certified is sometimes tricky, legally. As I have to cover my butt (and you will have to as well, depending on your circumstances and choice of niche) and make sure readers understand that I am not certified and that they should always consult a Doctor.

Starting a lifestyle blog- why should you?

While I still agree that you blog should be mostly about the audience you serve (if you’re wanting to monetise your content). You have to have soul. Injecting your own lived experience into your posts is the best way to do that. Take your readers on a journey with you, let people know your story, the parts that you’re comfortable sharing. Being in that vulnerable space with others is what creates connection and enhances learning.

Here are some mental health bloggers that do just that:

The Best Self – Jess

mental health blogger Jess from bestself

“My blog, Becoming the Best Self, is exactly what it sounds like! I aim to give everyone tips, strategies, and new knowledge on how to become their best self! I put in extensive time researching in order to give the best information I can on how to grow by prioritizing your mental health through means of self care and self awareness!”

Little Blog Of Positivity – Alison

mental health blogger

Alison is the founder of The Little Blog Of Positivity where she shares all she has learned on the topics of personal growth, self-improvement, health, and well-being. The Little Blog of Positivity is packed with practical tools and tips to help you live a more motivated, positive, inspired, and healthy life. Learn how to find your purpose, worry less, overcome limiting beliefs, increase your confidence and live life to the fullest!

Soothe Thy Soul – Sonia

personal development blogger

Sonia is a bestselling author and mental health blogger whose sole aim is to help people heal through her words. She has known how hard life can get and hence wants to spread the ray of shine through self-love, mindfulness.

Valentina Bostick

personal development blogger

Valentina Bostick blogs about mental health, personal growth, self-care, and college. Having struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, she now teaches others how to overcome mental health difficulties and thrive in life. Personal growth is a journey – make sure you’re well prepared. Val has tons of free resources for you to use!

Blessing Manifesting – Dominee

self love workbook

Dominee makes printable worksheets that are all about mental health and self-care. If you’re looking for some great resources, give her a look! HERE

How to come up with blog post ideas?

When you’re first starting your blog, your creativity is alit. Ideas pour out of you, filling notebooks, Google Docs pages, Post-its. A year or two in? Depending on your posting schedule, you may be wondering what on Earth you could possibly write about next. There’s plenty of ways to find your next post idea. Lets look at some.

Tell YOUR Story

I’ve not been overly shy about my history with an eating disorder or postpartum depression and I make sure that all of my posts are as transparent as possible when it comes to how I was genuinely coping with my illness.

Like I mentioned above, I believe that it’s so important to be connected to your audience, and to do that via telling your personal story is a privilege. Whether that’s through the method of a letter to your younger self, an informative list post, a list of self-care activities that people can do when they have a spare 15 minutes, or even a Youtube channel you start.

Find keywords from Pinterest

If you didn’t know, Pinterest isn’t just for looking at photo’s of fancy kitchens and delicious baked goods. It’s a visual search engine and a highly valuable tool for marketing your content as well as researching current trending topics. Say you want to write about coping skills. Rather than pulling ideas out of thin air, you head over to Pinterest and have a look.

Typing in your idea or “keyword”, the list will then populate with the most highly searched variants containing that main word. (This is basically like Google’s auto-suggest).

From there you could decide to write a post about coping skills for women or create a coping skills worksheet. And you know that people will interested because Pinterest has already suggested it to you!

The Pay-At-Home-Parents 6 Day FREE SEO Boot Camp

I’ll be mentioning the power of SEO and keyword research for blogging traffic later on in this blog. For now though, I’m going to introduce an incredible FREE SEO email course that I took that helped me find keywords and ideas by using my own blog data.

If you’re an established blogger or still beginning, make sure to pin this one for later or sign up now as it is an email course you can take anytime.

The Pay At Home Parent

AnswerThePublic

best beginning blogger tool
best beginning blogger tool

Answer the Public blew my mind when I was first introduced to it. It’s a data-driven site meaning you’re seeing the most relevant answers to your topic. It’s an excellent tool for coming up with content ideas that will help solve problems for your readers. (Plus the “Strange Man” encouraging you to type your keyword in is pretty fun). I use this particular tool when I know I want to cover a particular topic but it’s fairly broad and I want to get a feel for what people are searching for.

Non-copyrighted photos for your mental health or lifestyle blog

Stock photos are where it’s at for content promotion, Pinterest pins, freebies, blog posts and everything else. You can always take your own photos if you’ve got a knack for that but if you aren’t or don’t have the time….

Creative Market – If you don’t want to pay for a monthly/quarterly/annual membership then you can find tons of stock photos that you can purchase for a one time payment on creative market!

Reshot A beautiful range of photos with people as the focus. Stock photos that don’t look like stock photos.

I couldn’t live without Canva. As much as the app on my phone lags, it really is worth it. I create all of my graphics on canva, from Pinterest pins to logos and printables You can create ANYTHING on Canva. The reason why I use canva business is because it allows me to resize images, have access to tons of stock photos, upload fonts, create a brand kit and so much more.

How to make your blog look pretty

These are themes I have loved and used in the past as well as my favourite place to purchase themes.

Astra Theme (Free OR Paid)- For Beginner bloggers is one of the most SEO friendly, straight out of the box.

Creative Market – If you want a more creative  theme I suggest searching for stunning themes on Creative Market. They have LOADS of graphics and fonts also, perfect for making gorgeous opt-ins and printables (hint hint) 

How to email your readers

For my email list builder I use Mailerlite. I find it extremely user friendly compared to other list builders plus your first 1,000 subscribers doesn’t cost you any money.

Getting Traffic to Your Blog

The first blogger I ever came across while on my journey trying to find how to start a mental health blog was self-development writer Ell Duclos. I’ve written about her Pinterest Course before and how it skyrocketed my views. Being new to blogging as a business, I was very hesitant to spend any money on blogging before I was actually making a solid income.

Best blogging resources on a budget

Suzi Whitfords “The Blog Plan” (a 12 month roadmap) is a great place to start if you’re wanting to determine your why for blogging,what to call your blog, foundational steps and strong beginner tips.

Suzi is the QUEEN of courses. She has an incredibly successful site, making $20,000 a month selling printables and courses, helping mothers and others start their own blogs. Another courses I recommend from Suzi (if you’re looking for her signature course that’s more advanced) is Blog by Number. An incredibly comprehensive by in-depth course that’ll have your blog up and running in 3 HOURS!.

This is where free blogging courses became invaluable to me. Ell’s Boss Girl Blogger’s Traffic Challenge is delivered via teachable and is a full-on course inside the platform. And it’s free. It applies to whatever niche you’re in. Not just bloggers who write about mental health or lifestyle bloggers.

Looking for extra blogging help on a budget? Then join Lucrezia’s free 5 day fast track blogging course “Blogging For New Bloggers“. Taken by over 30,000 bloggers, it’ll help you navigate legal compliancy on your blog while making money.

free blogging course

Lucrezia has a bunch of blogging courses that are regularly updated. As I mentioned above, it’s important to cover yourself legally when blogging. Here’s a FREE legal course I recommend all bloggers take.

If you’re wanting your blog to get read (and I’m assuming that you DO) you need traffic. What I didn’t realise for an embarrassingly long time (and I’m just starting to work on now) is that there are different types of traffic.

(I’m not talking about cars here..)

There’s social traffic, the kind you get from sharing your awesome blog post on Pinterest or Facebook (or Twitter or Reddit – whatever platform has the ability to go “viral”); and then there’s organic traffic or Google traffic, the kind that comes from people typing in keywords to Google to find your post naturally. The second kind (organic, SEO traffic) is much easier to predict month over month once you establish it.

If you’re brand spanking new to blogging and SEO and think that getting a green light on Yoast is all you need to get ranking in Google… grab this Introduction to SEO for Bloggers by Oh She Blogs.

For an in-depth guide to on page SEO optimisation I fully recommend Easy SEO Books by Debbie Gartner. The book Easy on Page SEO was one that I purchased and have read at least 5 times over, receiving SUCH knowledge from it each time. Committing to learn SEO, even optimizing one page a day is something that will pay your future self back over and over again. (Can you tell I’m passionate about SEO?!)

Remember how I said social traffic is different to organic traffic? Organic traffic takes time to build up. As a new blogger trying to get traffic, waiting to hit that magical milestone of X number of pageviews can feel like forever. Which is where Pinterest comes in..

Pinterest has the ability to provide bloggers with fast , daily traffic while they wait for their SEO efforts to pay off. I’ve listed a few of the courses I’ve found invaluable for me when it comes to learning about Pinterest.

Pinteresting Strategies by Carly Campbell- This is THE most comprehensive and IN-DEPTH Pinterest course out there. Carly Campbell knows her Pinteresting stuff. I have revisited the course, Pinteresting Strategies multiple times over as with each update to the platform and each trend, Carly has her finger on the pulse and is changing and adjusting to meet the needs of the algorithm. The Facebook Group attached to this course is the most valuable Facebook group that I am a part of (for real!) and I’ve learned more about blogging there than anywhere else on the whole internet.  

Tailwind– this is a pin scheduling tool that allows me to schedule my pins so that I am consistently pinning throughout the day which therefore helps me grow my reach on Pinterest and in return grow my blog traffic!

free blogging course

Pinterest with Ell –This very affordable course is the first Pinterest course I ever took and I’m so glad that I did. Ell is always updating the course according to the algorithm and is very happy to answer any questions.

Final Tips For New Bloggers

Try to be a consistent with your posting schedule as you can. You don’t have to to tie yourself to your laptop and post 5 times a week (although I mean, you could try). Aim to commit to whatever schedule is sustainable for you. For most, that’s posting once a week.

Be passionate about what you’re posting. Even if you are starting a lifestyle blog with the intention of running ads or promoting affiliates later down the track, you need to have an enthusiasm about what you’re writing about.

Two reasons : 1) It comes across – people can tell when you’re bored, if you can’t be bothered writing, why should they bother to read? 2) If you do begin promoting affiliate products and if you do sponsored posts, you’ll have poor conversions due to ineffective copy.

Have fun! It’s SO easy to get bogged down with the details in blogging. With the technical aspects, SEO, pin making, email marketing and eeeeeverything else- it’s easy to sink full time hours in before you even launch. This leads me on to my next tip.

Find your blogging community– For me, this is a few key Facebook groups (Cate Rosales of Becoming a Blogger is one) as well as Pete McPherson from Do You Even Blog (sign up for his FREE new bloggers course here). These groups can help with any technical issues as well as the Facebook communities of my favourite bloggers. I also have my own Facebook page.

And that’s it for now. All of the best blogging tools and advice I can possible think of to have you on your way to creating a lifestyle or mental health blog!

Are you thinking of starting a blog? Already started? Leave me a comment with your favourite and least favourite aspects of blogging so far.

how to start a lifestyle blog

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