Do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog.

By David Joel Miller.

What should you do after you have your blog name and your theme?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In previous posts we talked about selecting a blog name, using a free web name or registering that name to yourself and selecting a theme. If you elected to self-host, you had to learn a lot of technical stuff or hire someone to help you. So what steps you need to take next? A will base this on the steps I took using the wordpress.com site to host my blog.

Hang out a welcome sign.

Most blog themes provide a place for a picture at the top of your site. This picture can be changed, but I discovered it’s worth the effort to select a good picture. For my picture, I used some scenery with the words counselorssoapbox.com overlaid. Some bloggers include a picture of themselves or other artwork. Readers will see this picture over and over, and if you link to social media, this can end up being part of your “brand” another way that readers will identify you.

Create some pages.

For most bloggers the page people will first go to, often called a landing page, will be the page you will use for posting. It’s possible in some themes to use a different page as your landing page.

Other pages you might want to create would be an “about me” or an “about the author” page. On my blog, I also have a “contact me” page for readers to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment. If you have other static content, you can create a page for this. On my private practice website, which runs the same theme as my WordPress.com blog, I also have pages for frequently asked questions and local resources. Remember the more pages you create, the more work you are creating for yourself to maintain those pages.

I wouldn’t recommend creating too many pages for various topics. It’s much easier to sort posts by categories which allows readers to see all the posts you’ve written about a topic in one place.

Enable sharing on your blog.

If you have social media profiles, you can enable sharing so that your post, or at least the headline from it, will automatically be posted to your social media. On my blog, I find that in the menu on the left by clicking on settings, followed by clicking on sharing.

My posts are automatically shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and several other sites. I don’t find that these shares automatically result in people viewing my blog, but every little bit helps. Enabling sharing dramatically reduces the time it takes to get the word out about your blog on social media.

Create good headlines for your posts.

Good headlines encourage people to click on your post. Avoid getting too cute. The headline should include a word or words that tell the potential reader what the post is about. Writing headlines is an art. Look at the posts you read for ideas. What made you click on that post? What I found was no one formula for writing headlines works all the time. Don’t automatically use the first headline you think of. I keep a file folder for posts in progress. I start with a title, but by the time I am ready to post this article a better title often suggests itself. Up until you click post you can change the headline.

Learn to use the different heading styles.

I write my posts using Microsoft word. It’s tempting to try to make the piece look attractive by changing fonts and type size. Don’t do that. When you go to copy and paste the article you have written into your blog things can change. Learn to use the headings at the top of the page in word. When you go to paste it, type styles can change but the level of heading, H1, H2, etc. will be preserved.

Headings are used by search engines to help find content that matches what the reader is looking for. Using subheadings correctly makes your post more searchable and may improve its performance on search engines.

Create your post.

Since I create most posts ahead of time, I copy and paste them from my Word document into the blog editor. You can type directly, but that increases the risk of making a mistake. Writing posts is a topic for another day.

Don’t use H1 in the body of your post.

The title of your post will automatically be rendered in the top, H1, setting. Unless your post is exceptionally long having too many H1 will be penalized by search engines. You can’t get more attention by putting everything in bold and caps. That comes across as shouting at your reader, use bold and caps sparingly. This is especially true of marking too many things with an H1 heading style. If you say too many things are important, the search engine will ignore you and rank your post lower or not at all.

Experiment with inserting pictures.

You will probably find this under media. Using one or a few pictures makes your post more interesting. Using too many or too large a picture can interfere with loading on some mobile devices. Increasingly readers are viewing blog posts on their cell phones rather than on computers with large screens.

One way to do your experimenting is to set the post you are working on to publish at a future date. The dashboard on my site is set to publish immediately. To the right of that is the word edit. When I click on that, I can set a post to publish at future date. Once I set that date, I don’t have to worry about accidentally publishing a post for the world to see that is not ready.

Search for pictures you would like to use on sites that offer images for free, licensed under a Creative Commons license. That will avoid copyright issues. Some sites will show you a few free pictures and then also show you pictures you need to pay to use. Most of the pictures I use come from Pixabay.com, and I have been pleased with the pictures. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, especially for technical pictures, my second go-to site’s Wikimedia Commons.

I discovered pictures can take up a lot of space on my computer. For a while, I was storing them on a flash drive, but that got full. Recently I purchased an external hard drive which allows a lot more space for both pictures and backup files of the things I write.

Besides the blog and books, I write I also create PowerPoint presentations and videos to use in the classes I teach. By saving pictures licensed under Creative Commons, I can reuse those pictures.

When you go to “add media,” you will have the option to upload files or use your media library. Initially, you’ll have to upload everything. Some pictures, like the one I use for my writing posts or the one I use for some of the technical “what is” posts, I reuse repeatedly. Most of the posts need fresh pictures each time. Your media library allows you to find and reuse your pictures.

Once you have selected a picture make sure you go to the right, scroll down, and fill in all the boxes. You will need to insert a caption which will appear on your post. I always put the credit for where I got the picture directly after my title. You can also tell it to place the picture at the left of the text, to the right of the text, or in the middle. Once you click insert into post, it will automatically be placed into your post wherever you left your cursor.

Mark your post for categories and tags.

Categories allow you to lump a group of posts together. I have categories for various mental illnesses, substance abuse, writing and so on. If you know which categories, you will be using, create them ahead of time. You can add new categories at any time.

Tags help search engines find your post. A brief tag like writing probably won’t rank very well and will not bring you many readers. A longer tag like “writing your first blog post” could potentially rank better and bring you more views.

Save your post.

Two possibilities here. You can click “save draft” with a plan to come back and work on this post more. If you feel reasonably happy with the post, you can click publish. If you set a future date, you can now go to your list of posts, click view, and see what it will look like when it finally publishes. If you’re not happy with the appearance, go back to your list of posts and click edit. This will allow you to make changes before the post finally appears.

Excuse the length of this post. Creating blog posts is a skill. There’s a lot more I could have said about this topic. But the important thing is to create your first blog post and learn from the experience. Best wishes on your blogging or other writing, wherever you are in the process. Be sure to leave comments or use the “contact me” form to send me questions. Likes and follows are always appreciated. See you next time as we continue our discussion about the journey of becoming a writer.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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The mechanics of creating a blog.

By David Joel Miller.

Creating your blog can be simple or complicated.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’ll try to describe briefly the process of setting up a blog now that you have an idea of your topic, your intended audience, and the kind of content you’ll be creating. Some people get really into this you can have a lot of fun creating their blog. But it’s not necessary for you to be tech savvy. Remember if this 70-year-old man can create a blog almost anyone can.

Not being a tech type person, I’m going to use analogies here, so I don’t get the details wrong and mislead you.

So, what are some things you’ll need to do to get this blog moving?

Decide where your blog is going to live.

Your blog will reside somewhere. If you already have a website, you can put your blog there. But if you’re new to this, you will probably want to house your blog on a site that specializes in blogs. I have two websites/blogs. One lives in a small house I built. And the other is housed in a condominium development called WordPress. I believe WordPress is by far the largest housing developments for new blogs. I noticed some bloggers use a site called blogger.

Since I use WordPress, let me try to explain how I use this site. This will be an extremely simple description. I recommend you spend some time exploring the neighborhood before you decide where you want to move into. They have lots of information available and even some humans who can help you.

You create an account. You give your blog a name. They will check to make sure that that name is not already being used by someone. This name becomes your mailing address for information coming to your blog and going from your blog to readers. My blog’s name is counselorssoapbox. The free version of that site would use the web address counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com.

You can elect to buy a web address. I purchased the web address counselorssoapbox.com which is set up to send traffic to my location at counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com. I chose to buy the web address because I expected to use it over a long time and wanted to be sure it was mine. If you buy a blog name, you will pay a small annual fee kind of like homeowner’s association dues.  Since I bought counselorssoapbox.com, I can move to a different web neighborhood, called a “host” If I ever wanted to.

My other site counselorfresno.com resides in a planned community developed by a web hosting company. If you plan on becoming a large enterprise, with multiple sites, and doing e-commerce you probably want your blog along with your other web pages on your own site.

Let me tell you a little secret. I discovered it was a whole lot easier using the site hosted on WordPress.com that it was managing the self-hosted one.

You need to pick a “theme” for your blog.

I think of theme as the floor plan for my house. Do I need a large brightly lit room to display my photographs or do I need a room with lots of bookshelves in file cabinets from my papers? If you go with WordPress.com, they have a number of free “themes.” The nice thing about having my blog live in the WordPress.com housing complex is that if I change my mind about the floor plan I need, they let me move to a different “theme.” Not only did they let me move, but they move all my stuff into the new theme for me, for free.

There are also a lot of premium floor plans (themes) that are available for a small one-time charge.

Themes can be customized.

Whether you decide on a free theme or buy a custom one, there are lots of options. You can change the colors, move the doors that lead from one part of your blog to another and so on. Themes also allow for you to create some storage sheds (called widgets) that you can line up along one side or at the bottom of your theme. I use some of these to store things like a list of the topics I write on and links to take readers to those topics.

If you like the idea of building your own house, you’ll love self-hosting.

Some people prefer self-hosting so that their blog is built on their own property. This allows you to do a lot of other things with your website and blog but adds to the labor. A little secret you might want to know. If you decide to self-host, you can still use all the WordPress blueprints. Which are available through WordPress.org. Keep in mind if you self-host there with be more maintenance. If your blog lives in the WordPress.com development, they do most of the maintenance for you for free.

So, at this point, you have the keys to your new blog. Next, you’ll need to make some decisions about the furnishings and where you’re going to put them. In the next post, I want to give you some do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog. Don’t forget, if you have questions, please ask them. Otherwise, I’ll just keep rambling on with the story of my writing journey.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How will people find your blog?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Does it matter if anyone reads what you write?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Unless you are Buddy Holly, the last thing you want to hear one you start posting to your blog are crickets. (Did you get that allusion? If not google him, or better yet ask your grandparents.)

Unfortunately, many blogs experience precisely that problem. You write something, you set back and hope. Thinking about how people will find your blog during the planning stage increases the chances you will be successful. Here are a few of the possible strategies for getting readers to your blog.

Write content that will rank well in search engines.

Often this is very hard to predict. You can spend a lot of time hunting for keywords that would rank well but if it’s not consistent with the rest of your content, even if you get people to your blog they won’t stay. Some of the posts I wrote years ago, by pure accident, have ranked well and year after year I continue to get reads for these posts. This can be a fantastic way of driving traffic to your blog, but it can disappear just as quickly.

An example of accidentally ranking well in searches.

Let’s say you are an enthusiastic gardener, always on the lookout for new and unusual plants that might grow well in your climate. You start writing a blog about your gardening experiences and how hard it is to find plants suitable to your locale. On one trip to the nursery, you discover a new, unusual variety of salvia (Sage.) I know from personal experience there are about 350 varieties of Sage, when I tried to grow them in my yard, only a few varieties thrived.

So, you write a blog post about this very unusual Sage and how it does so well in your yard. It turns out your post is the only one on the Internet about this species. Suddenly your blog goes from two readers a day to hundreds. People from all over the planet are finding you because of this one post. You are suddenly so happy with your blog.

Everything goes along fine until one day you discover no one is looking at that post anymore. What has happened? What you find out is that the nursery which grew this plant has a gardening website, and because of the sudden increase in demand, demand you created, they feature an article on the front page of their website about this unusual plant. Other nurseries in your state rerun that article or write articles of their own for their websites. Suddenly your post drops from the first position the search results to number 87, and you stop getting hits.

Search engine traffic is terrific if you write in a very narrow field and you write a lot of posts, but your position in rankings can change suddenly and dramatically, especially every time a search engine changes their algorithms.

Social media can help promote your blog.

Many bloggers spend a lot of time on social media. If your primary goal of writing is to develop relationships and have conversations with others, this may work for you. Social media can take up a lot of your time which is one reason I probably do less social media than I should. If your goal in developing a blog is to introduce people to your writing, you could find that your spending so much time networking that you never get your book written. It’s important to be clear who you want to read your blog and how you’re going to connect with them from the start.

Encourage readers to follow your blog.

Make sure you have a follow, or follow by email, button on your page. You don’t have to turn into a computer programmer to do this. The blog platform you use should make this easy for you. We won’t talk about the technical part of this today but put this on your “to do” list.

If you write a tightly focused blog, you can develop a core following of people who really like what you have to say. Make it easy for them to subscribe and many of them will come back week after week to read your post. If you count on readers finding you again by accident among the billions of web pages out there you’re making it hard for your readers to ever find you again.

There are some thoughts on making your blog discoverable, so you don’t find yourself talking with no one listening. Drop back again next week for what has become writing Wednesdays or better yet subscribe to the counselorssoapbox.com blog, so you don’t miss an episode.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Blueprint for moving from writing to creating a blog.

By David Joel Miller.

What steps will take you from planning to hitting post?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

So far, I’ve been talking about long-range planning for your blog.

What your primary topic will be, what will be your voice or personality, how are you going to go about attracting readers to what you have written?

So where do I suggest you go from here?

Spend some time reading blogs.

Read lots of them, on your topic and on others. Look at what other people are writing about and how they’re presenting the material. Make some notes about blogs you especially enjoy. What draws you to those blogs?

At this point, you are immersing yourself in the blogosphere. Some blogs are heavy on illustrations. If you’re an artist, talking about your artwork, you’ll need to feature images or examples. Do you gravitate towards blogs that include video clips? You will need to decide whether you’re going to create those videos or provide links to existing videos. This is an excellent place to pay attention to copyrights, yours and other people’s.

With your blog use images?

If you’re an artist, you want to be sure to include notices that the work is copyrighted. There are lots of tricks you can use. While you can’t copyright an idea, you can copyright the finished product. Some artists show only a portion of their work or pictures of them in their studio creating. Writers often give away snippets of the story or book. If you plan to use video or images, make sure you abide by the creator’s copyright.

There are several sites where you can obtain images available under a Creative Commons License, free for anyone to use or share. What you don’t want to do is just steal images off the Internet. The last thing a new blogger wants is a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit for copyright infringement. When in doubt read the fine print or contact the person who posted the original and ask them for permission.

You can, of course, create your own photographs or videos. If you decide to do that you have to ask yourself why? If your original plan was writing, detouring into photography and video production can sabotage your writing plans. But then maybe you’ll discover what you really want to do is express yourself visually rather than through words.

Start producing content.

If you plan on your blog lasting more than that first few weeks, it’s a good idea to have some content in reserve. In the middle of your blogging project life happens. You don’t want your blog to go dark, with no new content for periods of time. We haven’t gotten to the mechanics yet, but I will share one thing I learned the hard way.

One year I tried to post every single day. There were many nights I was up late getting that post done, and this was at a time when I had a full-time job as a therapist and a part-time job teaching classes to beginning counseling students. The result was that a lot of posts were published with typos and spelling errors I wish I had caught. I have significantly reduced the errors by writing ahead of time, letting the posts set for a while, and then proofreading it a second time before posting. I’ve also taken the pressure off myself by scheduling posts to appear in the future. It is currently the beginning of August, and I already have at least one post per week scheduled to run on counselorssoapbox.com until the end of the year.

Think about how often and how much you will post.

Learn from my experiences. You’re probably better off to plan on posting once a week then to plan on writing every day and ending up without posts ready. As I write extra posts, I save them for later use or schedule them for future dates. Don’t turn the pleasure of blogging into avoidable pressure.

With all this planning done, your next step will be the mechanics of setting up your blog site.

We will start talking about the mechanical parts in the next post. Think about the mechanics of a blog as similar to starting your own business. If you need a vehicle for business, do you need a nice car to transport clients or a van to carry materials and equipment? Having created some content will help you plan the layout and functionality of your blog.

I hope you are finding some of this helpful and I am looking forward to talking to you again.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Your blog needs a personality.

By David Joel Miller.

What will be your blog’s voice or personality?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Writers spend a lot of time trying to develop their “voice.” That may or may not be the same thing as your own voice. Some lessons I learned in writing and publishing my first two books taught me that lesson. In the early stages of writing the books, I ask friends and colleagues to read the books. As an aside here, in the future, I think I will ask strangers to be the first readers and work with an editor next.

So, what did I learn about voice from the first readers of my books?

People who read my nonfiction book told me that it “sounds just like you.” My voice came through in the writing. I’ve done a lot of teaching and running groups and developed an individual style for public speaking. That’s not what happened when I had people read my first novel. Not only did they tell me that my protagonist did not sound like me, but they said the hero had a distinctive personality. One beta reader even told me that something they liked about the book was that each of the main characters sounded differently. I had succeeded, at least in a small way, in giving different characters different voices.

So, what does that have to do with creating a voice for your blog? One thing you will need to decide, plan on, is what will be the voice of your blog be like. It could sound like you, but it could also be a very distinct personality. But that I don’t mean that you should be phony, just think about the style in which the posts will be written.

If you are knowledgeable about a subject, you could write like a professor.

My blog does reflect my personality. At the college, they call me “Professor Miller.” The central theme of my life has been learning new things and teaching others. Writing with a “Professor” voice doesn’t mean lots of large words and long sentences littered with citations. I tend to believe the best teachers take a complicated subject and explain it in a simpler way.

If you decide to write in a “Professor” voice, you need to either be an authority on the subject or be willing to do a lot of research. While I’m licensed as a therapist and counselor, I still read a lot of research trying to learn new things and trying to be sure that I’m explaining things correctly. That’s what a professor does.

Your blog could have a “persuader” voice.

If there is a topic you feel strongly about you may try to convince others to agree with your point of view. That doesn’t mean you should use sleazy tactics or try to get over on anyone. Good persuaders provide people with information but also explain things in ways that overcome objections.

If you feel strongly about global warming, or pollution, or animal overpopulation, you could easily write a blog about any of those topics. The professor would be describing the science behind pollution and possible technologies to minimize its impact. The persuader would be trying to convince people to do something about that pollution, reduce usage, recycle, maybe even buy an electric, nonpolluting vehicle. You can write about any topic, but the voice you choose can result in a unique presentation.

Your blogs personality might be the “entertainer.”

Some blogs teach some persuade, while others primarily entertain. The entertainer can teach or persuade, but they do it differently. The entertainer blog, rather than presenting hard facts or emotional reasons, will get there point across by telling stories that are enjoyable to listen to. Fiction frequently contains a theme or moral, illustrated by an interesting tale. Entertainer personalities are more likely to use humor or detailed descriptions of people and places than either the professor or the persuader personality.

There are many other voices you could explore for your blog.

There is a branch of Psychology called positive psychology. One premise of this branch of psychology is that there has been too much emphasis on what’s wrong with people and not enough emphasis on the positive. It’s possible to create a blog which emphasizes one of those positive characteristics such as creativity, vitality, zest for living, kindness, gratitude, or spirituality. Deciding on your blogs voice or voices can make it much easier to write your posts.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The first step to a successful blog.

By David Joel Miller.

Don’t make the blog mistakes I did.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you want your blog to be successful, there are some things you need to do before you publish your very first post. Spend some time planning. If you read a lot of blogs, you may know more than I did when I first started. Not knowing anything I leaped directly into the deep end and spent the first-year learning about the process. I’m not suggesting you fall into planning paralysis. There are some things you will only learn from doing. But as you think of your blog a little advanced planning can save you a lot of headaches later. What do you need to plan? Two things, content, and process.

Planning your blog’s content.

I think more beginning blogs fail due to faulty content plans than anything else. The mechanics you can learn as you go, though watching some tutorials and other blog posts, can save you a lot of time over trial and error experimentation. More about that later.

The first thing you need to think about is what is your blog going to be about?

A blog is not social media.

I’ve seen some blogger started out writing about themselves and what they do. So, there’s a post about the hamburger that had for lunch and how they took a walk around the block, and they’re going to the park, with their kids on Saturday. The only person who might read this would be your mother or a jealous ex-boyfriend. Most people won’t care what you’re doing unless you are already a phenomenal celebrity.

Can’t you write a blog about food?

Sure, you can. Don’t write that you ate a hamburger or show me a picture of the ice cream you had. Write a post about the Ethiopian restaurant you went to and how their food was different from what you’re used to eating. Write about the new Pakistani restaurant or the Indonesian one. Write about foods I’ve never experienced and restaurants I didn’t know existed, and I might be interested, particularly if I’m a foodie. Show me ways to eat healthily, save money on food, and that might interest me. In other words, it’s not about you, it’s about providing the reader content they would like to read.

Can’t you write about the places you go?

Writing about your walk around the block is probably going to be boring unless you live in a very unusual neighborhood. Writing about your travel experiences, your week exploring London and the week spent in Moscow, that might interest people. I’m not saying a blog about walking around the block is impossible. I’m saying the blog shouldn’t be about your routine of life. Writing about some of your observations, philosophizing about how your neighborhood reflects society today could be interesting. But it’s going to be a challenge.

It is your viewpoint that matters.

Almost everybody has children and parents or know someone who does. You need to ask yourself what makes your relationships different, what have you learned you can share with others. If your family is unusual, a blog about Raising Five Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane comes to mind, people may be interested. If you write about your struggles with raising a newborn, new parents might be interested.

If you or someone in your family is or has struggled with a challenge, you can write a blog about what you’re going through, the lessons you learned, and how you managed that issue. An excellent example of this approach is OCDtalk.

Could you write about your garden?

I think after one post, I would get tired of reading about, today I planted seeds, tomorrow I’m going to pull weeds. Tell me about ways to control insects organically, or a new variety of plant that you’re trying, and I might be interested if I was a gardener.

Planning your topic will help you avoid running out of things to write about.

The Internet is littered with dead blogs. They may have started out with massive content. I remember one blog that had huge posts filled with multiple illustrations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out what the blog was about. After a few posts, the author disappeared. If they had a clearer idea what they were writing about and written smaller posts over time, they might have developed a following.

The blog planning conclusion?

If you’re going to jump into the blogging ocean, spend some time thinking about where you’re going. Read a lot of blogs. Develop a list of posts you’d like to write. Practice your writing so that when you do lunch your blog, the whole process won’t be overwhelming. I hope what I’ve written here doesn’t deter you. I’m just telling you a little planning in the early stages will make the entire journey a lot more enjoyable and productive.

In addition to a topic for you to write about you’ll need to refine your personality and voice. Let’s look at that in next week’s post.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Should you write a blog?

By David Joel Miller.

There are some reasons to write a blog and some reasons not to write one.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you look around the Internet these days, you’ll find a lot of articles telling you that you should be writing a blog. I think every new, aspiring writer will be told they need a platform. Now platform does not automatically equal blog. But most of the articles about platforms start off by telling you to just create a website, and they usually followed that up by telling you that your website should include a blog.

There are also a lot of classes and trainings you can take on how to create a blog and how to be successful at blogging. These trainings run the gamut from short and free to some tremendously elaborate and expensive trainings. I have been writing a blog since May 2011. If I had known then, what I know now, I might never have started my blog (counselorssoapbox.com.) On the other hand, you should note I have more than two “mental hands,” so I am frequently in a divided mind. By two hands I mean “on the one hand I think x, and on the other hand, I think Y, unless it is Sunday when I may not be thinking at all.”

Now that I’ve been writing the blog for seven years I’m glad I’ve had the experience. Let me tell you a little bit about how I learned about blogs, got started blogging, and some of the things I have learned as a result.

So, what’s a blog?

In 2005, I was sitting in class waiting for the instructor to start his lecture. I probably should mention that I have gone to college off and on since 1966. I’ve gone, drop out and returned several times. I’ve also changed majors so many times; I’ve lost count. Along the way, I finished an associate of science degree, a bachelor’s degree, and most recently a master’s degree. From my first day in college until I finally completed that master’s degree only took me 40 years. I say only half in jest that I have taken every class possible and the only way they would let me hang out on campus anymore is if I would teach a class.

So, in 2005 I am trying to finally finish that master’s degree that had eluded me for so long. That and I am trying to learn these new technologies and keep up with some students who are closer in age to my grandchild that to me. Several of the students in the class had mentioned blogs, so I finally asked one of them, “what precisely is a blog?”

The technical answer, so I am told, is that “blog” is a shortened expression for a “web log or weblog.” I suspect most of you youngsters out there know more about this than I do. The closest analogy I can come up with for those of the older persuasion is that a blog is a rough equivalent to what used to be called a newspaper column.

Most newspaper columns were topical. Some covered sports, some might be advice columns, and occasionally there was one that was a general-purpose column. Most blogs today are like that. Many have a specific topic, but the topic of some blogs are the life experiences of the blogger.

Counselorssoapbox.com launched in 2011.

After looking around the Internet a bit, I decided to write a blog. I had been working for a while as a drug and alcohol counselor and my last trip back to school had been for a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. In California children’s therapy is included as part of the family therapy training. After working both as a counselor in the substance abuse field and as a marriage and family therapist, I’d seen a lot of people recover from some serious mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. I developed a firm belief that people can recover from almost any life challenge. I won’t try to define recovery here.

One other consideration for my blog was how commonly I saw people who had both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. The official topic for the blog then became one counselor’s opinion about mental health, substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and the broader subject of how to have a happy life.

So, do I think you should write a blog?

For some people, the answer is yes. If you have a topic you feel strongly about, something that you are enthusiastic and passionate about, then writing a blog offers you an opportunity to tell people how you feel about your subject, and to share what you know about that topic.

If you’ve read or heard somewhere that to be a successful author, you need to have a platform you probably should pause a minute before starting a blog. Writing a blog takes a lot of work. To create any significant readership, you will put in a lot of hours. If you are blogging only to build your platform, there are several other ways to build your platform that may be easier or more productive.

If you’re writing mainly to express yourself, blogging probably isn’t for you. If the main thing you talk about in your blog is yourself, people will get tired of reading it. If you’re writing from a place of problems you’re likely to either run out of what to say or become so discouraged you give up. Occasionally I see a blogger who writes about their struggles with a specific mental illness but does so in a very informative and entertaining way. They can develop a following.

If the primary thing you’re talking about is you, most people will get tired of listening. If you are going to write about yourself, you should do it for you and not be disappointed if you have little or no readership.

Every year many new blogs start, most never attract enough readers to matter. Don’t write a blog expecting lots of people to follow you. Occasionally that happens, but it’s rare. If you do start a blog, do it because you strongly care about the topic, and be prepared to go on writing those blog posts year after year until eventually, you accumulate enough readers that what you say might make a difference.

I started my blog because I wanted an opportunity to talk about some things that mattered to me. Along the way, I learned a lot of lessons which prepared me to do a much better job of writing full-length books. The challenge has become to balance the time I spend on the blog with the time I need to finish my books in progress.

In the next few posts let’s talk about the mechanics of setting up a blog and creating content for it. After we walk through the lessons I learned from blogging then we will take up the subject of writing, publishing and marketing a full-length book.

If you have questions about blogging or writing or suggestions for future posts, please contact me either by leaving a comment or by using the contact me form. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. If it takes me a while to get back to you, it is probably because I’m currently working on actually doing the writing. Just know that as soon as an opportunity occurs, I’ll answer your question.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The newsletter started out to talk about mental health issues. I recently added some other categories. In addition to mental health, you can also sign up for newsletter updates about writing and my novels. You can sign up for any one of these lists or all 3.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.