Wife to husband on his return from the office: “What do you mean, ‘How was my day?’ Didn’t you read my blog?”

Cartoon by Denise Dorrance

Fran and I began our blog Gum on My Shoe in August 2013. In ten and a half years we’ve published 650 posts covering a wide range of topics, primarily focusing on mental health and supportive friendships. I thought it would be interesting to draw on our experience and address some common misconceptions about blogging and bloggers.

1. We Enjoy Writing

It might seem obvious that bloggers enjoy writing. Why else would we do it? In my case, it’s not that I especially enjoy writing. It’s more that I feel moved, even compelled, to write. It’s always been an important part of who I am and how I process and share my experiences. I’ve kept a personal journal for almost half a century. I’ve written poetry, short stories, articles and essays in the fantasy genre, and books. These days writing and publishing a new blog post each week is my primary focus. The schedule gives structure to my week and the motivation to keep exploring and sharing. But that doesnt mean I necessarily enjoy the process. As I’ve said previously, I write mostly because I’m scared to stop.

2. We Live Exotic Fun Lives

I’m sure it’s true of some bloggers, but the idea that I live a fun and exotic lifestyle is highly amusing to me! Like other social media platforms, blogging allows us to express ourselves in any way we choose. There are travel bloggers, fashion bloggers, and lifestyle bloggers. There are bloggers sharing content relating to the creative arts; writers in all genres, artists, musicians, dancers and more. Others, like me and Fran, blog in the health and mental health arenas.

Whatever the subjects we choose to write about, the best bloggers are those who write with honesty about their lives, experiences, and values. If we write from the heart, telling our stories openly and honestly, then our content can be a positive influence in the world, whether our readers consider our lives fun and exotic compared to their own, or not. Personally, I love living vicariously through the content my friends and others share online. It brings me closer to them, and allows me to experience things I never would otherwise.

3. We Live off Freebies

I wish! I know bloggers who do occasionally receive discounts, freebies, or samples of products and services as part, but in my experience this is much less common than people assume. I’ve received free copies of books in return for a review, but that’s about it. I’m sure I could find more opportunities for free or discounted items, but these are rarely completely free and it takes me a lot of time and energy to review books or other content and I only do so if I’m committed to the topic or creator involved.

4. We Spend all Our Time in Coffee Shops

Okay, this one is true, for me at least! I chose the photo for this article deliberately, because it reflects the fact that most of my blogging is done sitting at my favourite table in my favourite coffee shop near where I live. This has been a feature of my writing over the years. You can read about my top ten writing venues, all of them cafés and coffee shops. I’m grateful that Costa allow me to sit here for hours at a time, with my traveling set-up of phone, tablet, and Bluetooth keyboard. You can read more about my EDC (every day carry) here. Not all bloggers write in coffee shops, of course, but each of us will have our preferred time and place for writing, and for all the other activities that go towards publishing a blog post. I’ve shared my blogging workflow previously.

5. We Make Loads of Money

It’s clear that some bloggers and social media creators are very successful at monetising their content. In researching this post I came across a list of the Top 22 Successful Blogs and Hightest Paid Bloggers in 2024. I’ve no way of independently verifying the numbers but the bloggers in that article reportedly make between $40k and $1M per month. It’s fair to say that Fran and I don’t make anything like that from Gum on My Shoe! In fact, we make nothing at all, beyond royalties from sales of our books.

I’m not averse to making money as such and support anyone who manages to get a financial return on their investment in time, energy, knowledge, and creativity. Creating quality content isn’t easy and deserves to be rewarded financially as well as in other ways. Thus far, though, Fran and I haven’t explored any of the main ways of monetising our blog, such as affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored posts, or selling content such as courses or other programs. Maybe one day.

6. We Never Run Out of Ideas

Not all bloggers post every week as we do, or to a specific schedule at all. In the early days of Gum on My Shoe, Fran and I posted as and when we had something worth sharing. At some point, I found that having a weekly schedule helped me organise my time and effort, and I’ve continued with that ever since. But whatever the frequency and regularity, by definition bloggers must have ideas to write about.

Despite how it might seem, this isn’t something that comes naturally to me. There are still times times I struggle to find a suitable topic for my next blog post. That said, I’ve come to trust the process and keep myself open to ideas and suggestions, no matter where they might present themselves. With this in mind, I’ve posted a collection of our articles on blogging, including two specifically related to blog topics and prompts. One is a list of 40 mental health blog topics from the caring friend’s perspective. The other is a collection of 21 image prompts for the mental health blogger.

7. Blogging Is Easy

There’s a misconception that blogging is “just writing,” but there’s much more to it than that. In addition to writing, blogging involves a range of skills and activities. Depending on topic and blogging style these may include idea generation, research, collaboration, editing, proofreading, image selection, layout and formatting, scheduling, keywords, search engine optimization (SEO), technical aspects of your chosen blogging platform (Blogger, WordPress etc), marketing and promotion, and responding to reader comments and engagement. I’ve described my blogging workflow previously, as well as how to choose the perfect image to accompany your blog post without breaching copyright or licencing laws.

8. Success Happens Overnight

Success means different things to different people, and that’s as true of bloggers as anyone else. For some, it might mean meeting targets such as the number of followers, readers, or page views. Others might be more focused on advertising revenue, sales, or other income from their blog. For some, it might be the number or prestige of collaborations, blog awards and recognition, or engagement with readers. Whatever success means to you, it’s important to celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small they might seem to others.

With all that said, the idea that blogging success happens easily or overnight overlooks both the very significant work involved in growing an online platform, and the gradual growth most bloggers experience. Blogging isn’t an activity for the impatient! No matter your aims, it requires a long-term commitment and a lot of effort. In my experience, most bloggers are highly dedicated to what they do, and approach their blogs seriously and professionally.

9. All We Care About Are the Numbers

Numbers are undoubtedly important, whether it’s the number of followers, sessions, readers/users, pageviews, or comments. (For the difference between sessions, users, and pageviews check out this article.) Statistics such as these can help you chart how your blog grows over time, which types of post or themes are most popular with your readers, and which promotional avenues are most effective. If you monetise your blog, it’s useful to know which strategies are working best for you, whether it’s advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, or product sales.

I’m happy when the stats suggest our writing is reaching a wider audience. I’m also fascinated to see which older posts appearance in our monthly most viewed rankings. That said, numbers can only take you so far. Neither Fran or I, nor any of the bloggers we know treat stats as more important than they are, or mistake them for what really matters, which is engaging meaningfully with our readers.

10. We Never Talk About Anything Else

Okay, let’s be honest, there’s definitely an element of truth in this one! With a weekly publishing schedule, my current blog topic is never far from my mind, and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. I’m often inspired by conversations with friends and colleagues, as well as things I see online. This article is a great example. It was inspired by a semi-humorous meme that listed ten misconceptions about musicians.

As well as Fran, I’m grateful to friends who are interested in my writing and happy to explore ideas with me. A special shout out to Jen and Aimee. It’s perhaps no coincidence that they are each creatives in their own right. Jen is a mental health public speaker who’s guested with us at Gum on My Shoe several times. Aimee has a highly successful mental health blog called I’m NOT Disordered.

The importance of blogging in my life is expressed perfectly by two of my favourite personal items. Last year, I treated myself to a t-shirt boldly emblazoned with the legend LIFE IS SHORT. BLOG MORE. The second item is a coffee mug Aimee gifted me last Christmas. It reads:


If all this seems a little self-important, it’s worth remembering that blogging and social media can make a real difference to people’s lives. In the words of English media personality, entrepreneur, and author Zoë Sugg, also known by her online name Zoella, “Every time you post something online, you have a choice. You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world — or you can make it something that takes away.”

Or, paraphrasing words often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “Blog the change you wish to see in the world.”


Photo by Bonnie Kittle at Unsplash.


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