One could argue that I am a famous mental health writer. Under “mental health writer” on Google, a post I wrote is on the first page and my bipolar blogs are on the first and second page of the Google search results for “bipolar blog.” Moreover, I have over 35,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
So yes, I’m arguably a “famous” mental health writer.
And lots of other people want to be where I am. I get questions weekly from people starting blogs or writing careers who want advice on how to go about doing it. Well, if you want to be a famous mental health writer, or just plain old build a following, here are a few tips.
1. Know your stuff.
I know bipolar disorder. I know bipolar backwards and forwards. All I do is read about it, mostly in medical sources. I am, without a doubt, a bipolar expert. You can’t expect people to take you seriously if you’re not a subject matter expert. (How to be a mental health advocate.)
2. Bring something unique to the table.
Now, when I say you need to be an expert, that doesn’t mean you have to be a mental illness expert – you might just be an expert in your life with a mental illness (which is how I started). And, of course, your life is completely unique to you, so good news – you’re bringing something unique to the table. Your voice also needs to be authentic and unique.
I’m sorry, but if you want to be a famous mental health writer or blogger (bloggers do not get off the hook here) then you have to start out being an amazing writer, there is just too much competition for anything less. Spend your time honing your craft, take courses, read books, do whatever it takes but if you want people to read you, you have to be worth reading. (This means good grammar and spelling too. Hire an editor if you have to.)
4. Have something to say.
It’s not enough to bring a unique perspective and be a great writer – you also have to have something to say. What is your lens? What is your perspective? What are you trying to say through your writings? What will a person gain by reading you? Essentially you need to offer the reader a value proposition. I.e., if you read me, you will attain ___. (Here are some tips on having a well-read blog.)
5. Make social media work for you.
The reason why I’m a “famous” mental health writer is because I gained a large following on social media. Now, I’m a social media consultant, so if you really want to know how to do it, just hire me. If you don’t want to do that, then read up on social media and use it to your advantage. Get on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Grow your own following and connect with other influencers that can help.
6. Write for reputable sites.
I’m not known for writing for dead tree publications; I’m known for writing online. Some people might not like that. That’s okay, feel free to specialize in traditional publications if you like but the thing is, the turnaround time on those is long and there are a lot fewer of them to pitch. On the other hand, one can get monthly gigs working for well-regarded sites like HealthyPlace and Healthline and it can do wonders for audience building.
7. Promote yourself like crazy.
When I first started writing I hated to promote myself, and guess what, my audience numbers reflected that. Now I know that promotion is essential and I’ll promote myself whenever the opportunity arises and my social media network is explicitly there to promote my work.
8. Don’t expect to make a living as a ‘famous’ mental health writer.
Now, I break this rule because I do make my living as a writer but, trust me, it’s a very tough thing to do and I don’t recommend it unless you really want to put a substantial amount of time and effort into it. (And you’ll likely never do it just being a blogger.) If you really have your heart set on it, great, but more than likely you’ll just have to be happy being “famous” among a few and garnering great feedback from thankful readers (which, trust me, is a pretty great thing).
9. Invest in armor.
Oh, and did I mention not everyone will like you? Oh yes, I get death threats. Trust me, if you work in the mental illness space and you achieve any degree of fame, people out there will have something to say about it. Invest in armor early because they will attack you personally and professionally.
10. Learn what not to say.
Learn this right now: everything you have ever said on the internet will live forever and will be findable if someone really wants to look for it. That means that anything you say will haunt you – forever. This has bitten me on more than one occasion and continues to do so, so take my advice and choose your words very carefully. (Also, get the lay of the political correctness land. You may disagree with it but it’ll help you in the long run.)
Bonus tip: It takes time.
Getting to be a famous mental health writer takes time and you can’t expect to get there in a day, week, month or probably even a year. It comes down to time and effort and you have to spend a substantial amount of both if you want a sizable audience.
Tips on Being a Famous Mental Health Writer
Those tips on being a famous mental health writer are just what fell off the top of my head. There are, in fact, many things to know about it and you’ll learn as you go. If you take heed to those ten tips though, you’ll be way farther along than I ever was.