Becoming a Headache Disease Blogger

When I started my blog, The Daily Headache, in 2005, social media was barely a blip. Even now, when social media is the place where people meet online, I’d start the blog all over again for the unique connection it provides. I have made deep, lasting friendships through my blog and explored complicated topics in a way I never would on social media. I have challenged myself and grown emotionally and professionally. While blogs might seem passé these days, they fill a special niche that I haven’t found anywhere else online and I’d encourage anyone who has considered starting a blog to try it. In this post, I’ll tell you how I started my blog, what it has meant to me, the benefits of blogging, and how you can get started yourself.

Why I Started My Blog

When my migraine attacks became so severe that I had to quit working, my husband encouraged me to start a blog and I brushed off the idea immediately. A year later, I had a great idea—I was going to start a blog about living with a headache disorder! I’d always loved to write and do research. Since I was reading everything I could find on headache disorders anyway, I figured the blog would be a way to share my research with others.

What I’ve Gotten From Blogging

I didn’t expect how quickly I would feel a deep sense of connection with readers. I also didn’t expect how quickly I would feel compelled to write about the emotional experience of living with migraine, not just the research I was doing. It was that candid, heartfelt writing that resonated with readers. Exploring my grief and fear through writing was also a sort of therapy for me. Living with a disabling illness of any sort is incredibly difficult and having a highly stigmatized invisible illness adds its own challenges. Being able to explore those charged issues in my writing has helped me tremendously, and readers tell me that my experience has helped them when they encounter similar struggles.

Why Start a Blog

Even though blogs aren’t as popular now as they used to be, here are six reasons I still encourage anyone who is interested to try it out.

  1. Blogging allows you to explore topics in greater depth than there’s room for on social media. Between character limits and the nature of social media, people generally don’t go there for deep dives into serious topics. Blogs are a perfect place for that in-depth writing and you can always share the links on social media
  2. Because the writing can be done anonymously and/or only shared with the people you choose to share with, there’s a level of privacy that might encourage you to write more candidly than you would on social media. That honesty will speak to readers and will help you think more deeply about a topic than you might otherwise
  3. It’s a way of building your own community of like-minded people. Yes, there are lots of headache and migraine groups available, but the people who read your blog identify with what you have to say, so they tend to have a similar approach to and thoughts about living with headache disorders. The closest friendships I’ve developed with people online who have migraine have been with my blog readers
  4. Blogging helps you sort out what you’re thinking and feeling about life with a headache disorder. Being sick is complicated and emotionally fraught. Having a place where you can work through those thoughts will help you cope better
  5. Having a blog is a good entry point into advocacy work. Showing you’re committed to helping people with headache disorders and aren’t afraid to speak up about your own experience can lead to connections with nonprofits and companies who support people with headache disorders. If you’re looking to volunteer with or write for those organizations, you can share your blog with them to show them who you are and how you write
  6. It’s low-risk and can be done at no cost. Even if you decide blogging isn’t for you, you’ll only be out a little time and you’ll have learned something about yourself in the process

How to Start a Blog

The first step is to Google “how to start a blog.” No, really—it’s the best way to learn what platforms are available and how to set the blog up and start blog-specific social media accounts (to share posts). Choosing a name and deciding on a logo, if you want one, is probably the hardest part!

Next, write some posts. This can be intimidating with a brand new blog. I find the best approach is to just start writing. Maybe you won’t publish everything you write, but getting some ideas down can help you organize your thoughts and decide what you want to share. It’s helpful to have a few posts published before telling others about your blog so that when new visitors come to read the blog, they can get an idea of what you have to say about a few different topics.

When you’re ready, share the link to your blog. You may want to share it with everyone you know—I ultimately did and have found that the people in my life now have a better understanding of migraine and my experience with it—or you can share it with only a few people if you’re more comfortable with that. If you’d like an audience from the wider group of people with headache disorders, you can share in online communities that you are part of and ask your friends with headache disorders to share with people they know.

It will take some time to grow your readership, so I encourage you to really focus on the content at first. Write about what’s important and meaningful to you. The more heartfelt posts you have, the more your blog will resonate with others and the more posts will be shared.

Kerrie Smyres

 

Kerrie Smyres
The Daily Headache

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