I actually squealed with excitement when one of my best-friends (Lauren) posted on her Facebook that she’d landed her very first ad with Arista Living through her YouTube channel; Green Tea, Please! Knowing that Lauren has always struggled to regularly maintain her blog, it was incredible to hear that she’d found success with the YouTube channel she turned her attention to since buying her first house (a tour of which, you can watch on her channel here) with her partner.
I first started talking to Lauren in 2007 via MySpace (remember that old site when it was the cool one to be on?!) when I came across her account and heard her profile song was Scouting For Girls’ She’s So Lovely! Months later, and we were attending the same School to study our A Levels and finally introduced ourselves to one another. Looking back, it’s one of those things where you can’t quite believe something so small turned into something as huge as the lovely friendship we now have. I mean, it wasn’t a friendship where straight away you feel like you’ve known them forever; we got closer over time, until I was calling her family my second family and her home became my second home.
Funnily enough though, our friendship really cemented when we weren’t attending the same school! I think I’d actually pinpoint it to 2011, my mental ill health had started two years before and Lauren had stuck by me the whole time. Even though we were best-friends, I kept the magnitude of my illness from her and wasn’t always honest when it came to my reasons for attending hospital, but it felt as though I didn’t need to say anything. It was as though she just… knew. I honestly felt like whilst she’d never experienced anything like what I was going through, she understood it – a greatly helpful trait in supporting someone with mental ill health.
Lauren also supported my achievements and when I worried, they were ‘silly’ or ‘small,’ she recognized (and helped me to recognize) that actually, they were huge signs of progress and recovery. One of her most helpful supports has been with I’m NOT Disordered and my blogging career in general. She’s always been proud to say that her best-friend is a mental health blogger and has never worried that she’d be stigmatized for being friends with someone who’s gone through what I have.
And when my blog reached 100,000 readers, she (and her entire family!) came to the event I hosted to celebrate and mark this important moment in my life – she also made THE most amazing and emotional (it still makes me cry when I watch it!) video of the event, which you can watch here. For me, the video said a lot because she’d put so much time and effort into creating such a wonderful thing for me. It really made me feel confident that our friendship will last forever.
Looking back at the event, I’m actually really proud of it because it was the first real occasion that I did some self-promotion and showed that I was proud of all that I had achieved with I’m NOT Disordered. That was a big deal to me because I’m one of those people who has always struggled to praise myself or recognize my strengths and my achievements. I always worried that it would seem big-headed and self-important but through blogging, I’ve learnt that this isn’t the case. Ironically, I believe that in blogging, if you want to increase your number of readers then self-promotion is often key to making that happen. In order for more people to discover your blog and check it out, you need to be willing to talk about it with others and to promote its strengths.
With I’m NOT Disordered being a mental health blog, I think that its strengths are obviously a whole lot different to those of beauty or fashion blogs, and that isn’t to demean those types of blogs; it’s just that their strengths are different. Where a fashion or beauty blog might help someone’s body confidence and self-esteem, I hope that I’m NOT Disordered encourages people to talk about mental health more openly and that by doing so, this develops their confidence. I hope that me talking about my own experiences of hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and abuse, helps others to see that there’s nothing wrong with talking about these things and that, if anything, it can actually be beneficial for others to gain insight into a world that’s so frequently misunderstood. The hope that my blog helps others is a huge motivation in talking about it more because I obviously want to spread that message and increase the number of people I could potentially support.
Talking more about I’m NOT Disordered came a whole lot more easy and natural as the years have gone by because my blog has become such a huge part of my life that I think it’d be almost odd to not mention it at all! Often, though, I choose to bring it up in conversations because it is my greatest achievement. If I were to look back over my life (all twenty-eight years of it!) I think my only other achievement was passing my GCSE exams even though I was being abused and my abuser was constantly throwing curve balls to sabotage my exams. Those exams were in 2007; so, until I started blogging in 2013, I had no real achievement to hold onto as motivation to fight the suicidal thoughts and hallucination’s commands to self-harm. So, now that I eventually have a motivation, excuse me if I don’t shut up about it! I guess, at least no one can accuse me of ‘hiding behind a keyboard!’
Self-promotion in blogging isn’t just about increasing your audience though, it can also increase the chances of gaining more opportunities by way of collaborations with organizations, event invitations, and gifts etc. It’s basically about what you want your blog to become. Do you want to build an empire with it? Is it purely a hobby that you do in your spare time or to improve your writing or technology skills? Your answer will determine how necessary self-promotion is for you. If you were to find that it would be irrelevant for you, don’t judge those of us who it is relevant for. Instead, try to understand that we just made different decisions to one another; but that doesn’t make either choice right or wrong. Purely that it is different.
To have over half a million readers – the majority of whom are probably a result of my self-promotion – I think that it’s the right thing for me to be doing to get where I want to be with I’m NOT Disordered and to build the future I’d like my blog to have.
For more on Lauren’s ad, go watch her video about it here and read the description box for more info on using her Arista Living discount code!