“Be worth knowing, not just well-known.”

Melissa Bolton

*This is Part One of a Four Part Series being published daily*

Originally on thinking of this blog post, I was so sure that I would have written something like this before that I went right through my content archive! I found a ton of posts that will be really useful in referring back to in this post; but nothing even remotely similar to everything I’m hoping that this one will be. Upon making this discovery, I started to wonder why I hadn’t written something like this before. I didn’t have to think on it for too long though, before the self-doubt and fear of judgment surrounded my head and, before I knew it, I was questioning what right I had to write a post like this. I mean, who do I think I am telling others how to do something like this?! But I’ll be honest; I just keep coming back to the fact that I’m NOT Disordered has over 1.3 million readers now and shouldn’t that count for something? So, I’m swallowing the low self-esteem, pushing away the nerves, and desperately hoping people will deem this piece to be genuinely helpful and a useful resource… Here goes nothing…

I feel that the greatest element of my blogging career which has kept me somewhat humble and very grounded, has been remembering I’m NOT Disordered’s beginning…

On January 6th, 2013, I had a 1:1 with my Key Nurse in the specialist psychiatric hospital I had been sectioned in for over 6 months. In the conversation, I agreed to write about the abuse I had experienced when I was younger and to give it to the staff to help improve their understanding of my mental health and better place them to help and support me more effectively and efficiently. My Key Nurse then put together a ‘Management Plan’ (which I wrote in full in my first blog post: pictured below!) that detailed instructions for any staff who were on shift whilst I was writing things down.

Returning to my hospital room after the 1:1, I saw that the staff had taken my laptop out of Security and put it on my bed (we were only allowed access to them at set times, and I had been in the 1:1 when the time started). As I logged into it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how productive I felt and that agreeing to write about the trauma left me feeling like I was making a massive step forward towards ‘recovery.’ Making this progress, I almost instinctively wanted to shout about it from the rooftops and so I started writing a post about it on my private Facebook account to tell my friends and family all in one go, without having to individually message people.  And it was with that proud urge that I found myself creating I’m NOT Disordered…

Over my eleven-year blogging career, I’ve actually facilitated workshops and courses on blogging for a number of different organisations and in every instance, I have always advised creating a Mindmap of all the names you think of in setting up your blog. This is because I have definitely learnt first-hand(!), the number of different ways in which a blog’s name can be so important. However, I do recognise the chance or possibility of the name just almost automatically coming to you because that’s exactly what happened in naming, I’m NOT Disordered! Now, I wouldn’t say that absolutely no thought went into it… I mean, I did think about it being symbolic of all the people who view those with a mental health Disorder as being defined by it. That the Disorder is all there is to them. And I wanted the ‘NOT’ to be in capitals because I felt it made it sound more passionate, determined, and really dedicated to the message the title was trying to get across in those three simple words.

Now, something about me which I think a lot of people are surprised to hear, is that I’m not a total whiz-kid when it comes to technology, and that meant that when I looked to websites to create my blog, I felt completely out of my depth with one and so I decided to use Blogger. However, I found that I still struggled in creating a design and layout for the blog. Fortunately, the inpatient I was closest to – who was only one bedroom away from mine – had more knowledge on that sort of thing and offered to help me. Everything was still my decision, so I would accept responsibility for anything that was seen as ‘wrong,’ but – in the same breath – I can’t take credit if people thought the blog looked quite decent for that first year or so!

When the professionals began discussing this girl’s discharge from the hospital a lot sooner than mine, I was almost forced into figuring out how to do everything myself. In all honesty, ultimately, I was really happy about figuring things out for myself because I was beginning to find it to be small knock to my confidence every time I had to go to this girl and ask her to tweak something on the blog. Over the three years previous to that admission, my local Crisis Team had constantly and consistently tried to hammer into me the encouragement of taking responsibility for my actions, and so doing that, really became such an important aspect for me and everything I do in my life – even to this day! And that urge of wanting to take responsibility was particularly strong when it came to, I’m NOT Disordered, so I actually thoroughly enjoyed teaching myself how to edit the design, colour scheme, layout, logo and so many other visually creative elements to my blog.

In all honesty though, I feel like this is one of the largest, most influential elements which – eleven years later – I’m still learning about. I mean, it feels like every day there are new trends and new functions being created and designed that sometimes leave me feeling like my blog is ‘behind the times.’ So, around a year ago; having more than developed the sense that I’m NOT Disordered was important to me and would be around for a lot longer, I invested in a design theme from the fabulously talented Pipdig. I recognise that this might sound like a trivial thing, but for me; using Pipdig – a website/service I’d only ever seen those Bloggers who I admired feature on theirs, felt like a huge achievement. To feel that I’m NOT Disordered was good enough and important enough to do all this work on its appearance… To think how it had gone from being pink and a photo of me surrounded by flowers as its header to having a whole colour scheme I had decided upon and a dynamic logo I had created (through Pinterest and Canva)…? Well, it feels like such a huge illustration of its growth and development; and I honestly believe that being able to remember this design journey of my blog, has been one of the main elements that have helped to ground me and remain humble throughout I’m NOT Disordered’s success.

Now, the reason I think having these qualities is important and can help to increase the size of your blog’s audience, is largely because I believe they help to keep you – as a Blogger – seen as someone who is both relatable and who is respectful and therefore truly grateful for all the huge changes, successes, achievements, and milestones that they, and their blog, are experiencing. I think it’d be fair to say that the blogging industry has had such an enormous evolution in the eleven years I have been part of it. A lot of that growth and change came somewhere around 2015, when my first blogging idol (I actually blogged about our similarities here) – Zoe Sugg – began earning a huge number of subscribers to her YouTube channel which was branded as ‘Zoella’ and she started appearing in the media and securing huge partnerships in writing books and creating general wellbeing and beauty products sold in high street stores such as Superdrug and Boots. As a result of her accepting those opportunities, I found myself able to have somewhat of an outsider view in seeing someone’s online presence excel so dramatically and being able to watch Zoe’s attitude and response to this. In all honesty, I was expecting her to become a bit uppity and perhaps more self-assured, but I feel that she has really remained honest and still consistently recognises the beginning of her career and how far it has come since then.

Unfortunately, with Bloggers and Online Influencers becoming a ‘thing’ it opened it up to assumptions which, I think, led to a lot of people suddenly joining the industry and creating blogs, because they were often doing so with the misunderstanding that all the free products and the amazing opportunities and invitations to events and complimentary experiences are handed to a Blogger on a silver platter. As though it takes no skill, effort, energy, time, commitment, dedication, passion, intelligence, bravery… As though you don’t have to earn or work at these things?! And so, the additional memory to recalling the challenges around the design of I’m NOT Disordered which has kept me grounded, was when I reached my first 100 readers. I think I’d told the girl who had been helping me that the reader count was close, so we were looking at the blog at the same time and as soon as it reached that magical number, we both raced out of our rooms, met in the middle of the corridor, hugging, and screaming. We were so hysterical and emotional that the staff actually thought we were ‘kicking off’ and all the alarms were set off with a ton of staff running towards us!

When celebrating a readership milestone not long after creating I’m NOT Disordered, another inpatient who already had a blog but rarely wrote on it, asked me why I cared so much about ‘the numbers.’ I remember feeling fairly taken aback and almost insulted with the thought and feeling that she was trying to insinuate that I was being superficial or shallow in some way. As though my priorities were misaligned… I came to recognise, however, that the fact I had never had anyone ask me anything remotely like that probably really contributed to me feeling that I wasn’t prepared or have an answer that was well-thought-out, and these elements really influenced me feeling immediately on the defensive with that question from the girl.

Now that I’ve been asked that though – and having been blogging for over 11 years now – I’ve had a lot of time to really think through my actual answer should I ever be asked it again (which I actually haven’t been!). And I thought that with the whole intention and motivation behind the blog post being around increasing your blog’s audience, explaining where my drive and determination to do this for I’m NOT Disordered comes from, is useful in this first tip around remaining grounded… I think that if your intentions and hopes for having a larger audience are purely centred around the free or complimentary gifts and benefits that might bring to you, then it’ll be even more difficult to remain grounded should those things happen.

So, for me, my aim to increase I’m NOT Disordered’s readers is because I recognise that each number, is a person; and that with each person, you’re offered the potential and opportunity for your content to actually really, genuinely help someone. It can influence and impact their life in some way – whether that be small or significantly huge... I’ll never forget – after publishing a piece about coping with reporting abuse (you can read it here) – when a reader emailed me and said that after reading it, she had found the motivation, comfort, reassurance, awareness, and encouragement to report her own experience of abuse. And I honestly couldn’t help but feel dumb-struck at the level of power that writing – and, particularly, writing in the online world – can really truly have on a person’s entire life.

I genuinely believe that prioritising my readers as individual people and having the very honest hope and intention of wanting my content to help anyone and everyone who reads it, has helped me to stay grounded as the reader count has grown and grown.

So, similarly to my blog’s design history and its progress around that, remembering that first special reader milestone and how amazing it felt; and then comparing that to now having over 1.3 million readers is also so helpful in keeping me humble and grounded. I think this is the case because I can really efficiently recall a time when the reader count was a great deal lower, but I was still just as passionate and dedicated to blogging as I am now. Remembering just how proud and honoured I felt with those first 100, is something which I feel I’ve held onto throughout the more recent reader milestones – particularly reaching 100,000 (which I blogged about here), 1,000,000 (which I blogged about here) and 1.2 million – because my blog post celebrating that milestone was titled: AN INSIDE LOOK INTO I’M NOT DISORDERED’S READER MILESTONES | CELEBRATING 1.2 MILLION READERS!!! | I'm NOT Disordered ( In reaching these huge figures in terms of the size of I’m NOT Disordered’s audience, I’d like to think that any readers – especially those who have been here since Day One – won’t see me as having become ‘too big for my boots’ or arrogant in any way. And I think that I’ve managed to avoid those two potential changes in my character and attitude because I’ve remained grounded and humble in recognising and remembering my blog’s beginning and appreciating the importance of it.

Another aspect of my blogging journey which I think could have had serious potential to change my attitude and self-esteem to a point where I might have begun acting superior and pretentious, has come with the collaborations I’ve managed to secure, create, and feature, and everything that has come with them e.g. free products, complimentary experiences, event invitations… Similarly to the change and improvement in the design and statistics of I’m NOT Disordered, I think that I’ve managed to stay humble and grounded because I can remember a time when these things weren’t happening. A time when if I’d approached an organisation or company etc and requested anything like the incredible opportunities I’m offered now, I literally would have just been laughed at!

There was a point in my blogging career where I was doing a lot of media appearances, speaking at events, and travelling to London regularly, and a friend made the comment; “you have one of those lives that other people want to live!” And I was actually inspired to write a blog post about it (which you can read here) where I talked about the fact that – no matter the size of my audience – my ultimate goal of helping others through my content is still very much a priority! But then, I actually went on to create another difficulty for myself(!), which was really motivated by my low self-esteem and the cautious feeling or notion that I really wasn’t worthy or deserving of all these amazing achievements nor the general sensation of success.

Fortunately, I found a way around that too by constantly reminding myself that do you know what, if my blog just stopped receiving any new readers – like if no one at all were visiting I’m NOT Disordered and reading the content I spend so much time and effort creating – I wouldn’t stop blogging. I personally benefit from doing it so much that if you were to take away all these ‘perks’ to it, it wouldn’t change my dedication to it and my thoughts and feelings on how therapeutic I find it to write about something that has been taking up too much place in my head would motivate me to continue.

Now, I debated which order to write these tips in because I wondered whether this should come last because my others are relating to the things which might threaten your humility and genuineness. In the end, I’ve obviously listed this first because I think it’s important to find your footing as early on as possible in your blogging career. I mean, if you don’t think you can stay grounded should certain things happen to you/your blog then maybe you aren’t quite ready to put yourself out there and begin trying to make them happen…? Because really, that’s what this post is all about – putting in the effort and dedicating the time to make things happen for you and your blog.

Finally, with this tip on being grounded seeming to almost constantly refer to the beginning of I’m NOT Disordered, there’s a post in my archive where I talked about other things I’ve learnt from my first few blog posts which I thought might make a useful read and a way to end this tip: LESSONS LEARNT FROM I'M NOT DISORDERED'S FIRST POSTS | MARKING EIGHT YEARS SINCE BEING SECTIONED FOR 2.5 YEARS | I'm NOT Disordered (

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