Every month, around this time, for the last 5 years, whilst waiting in a hospital room, I take a moment to ponder about our society.

 

I sit, in a hospital waiting room, scruffy hair, unshowered, no makeup. This has been my routine for the last 5 years. Because if I don’t do this, then I feel vulnerable. I know this sounds strange. I am a huge advocate for power dressing, making an effort to empower yourself. But in this situation, it’s different. If you look like you’re doing ok, you are not taken seriously.  I’ve tested this before. It’s one thing bringing the average age down in a hospital waiting room by several decades, it’s a whole other thing if you look like you are fine.

 

There’s a perception that people have, that if you look like you can get on with day to day life, then you have no worries. We are all educated well enough now to know this isn’t true. From high functioning depression, to invisible illnesses that fluctuate. But still, the stigma is ever-present.

 

In our current society, the opposite tends to happen. Due to the social media, people portray their rose-tinted life and others expect it’s their reality. People don’t feel like they can be real anymore.

 

I’m guilty of this. You wouldn’t know from my Instagram feed that I have weekly injections and medication to keep me out of a wheelchair. That I have three different medical teams who dictate whether I get said medication. At my lowest, I have screamed into my pillow because the pain was too much to bear, being carried and helped by my loved ones and sobbing to any doctor that would listen. At my best? I am a normal, functioning human being. By societal standards, anyway. I work full-time, I go on holiday, I socialise, I exercise. Nothing about me would lead you to believe there is anything else going on.

 

I know I’m not alone in this. Invisible illnesses have this kind of ‘put up and shut up’ situation, because no-one knows how to behave to someone that doesn’t look like they have a disability.

 

Due to a lack of global evidence, the numbers of people suffering from invisible illness is hard to calculate. At least 5 million people worldwide have lupus. At least 1% of the world’s population has rheumatoid arthritis. 350 million people suffer from some sort of depression. And this is just 3 examples. These are not small numbers. These voices need to be heard.

 

The only way to tackle this, is to stop with the judgement. Don’t presume to know someone because of what they look like. We all fight our own battles. Focus on that instead.

 

This isn’t my usual type of post; I shy away from speaking too much about this because I’m scared of putting it out there that there are times that I can’t function ‘like a normal human being’ – whatever that is. But this has to stop, because by not speaking up, I am guilty of the same crime that so many of us fall victim to.

 

It helps to understand. I’m sure you know at least one person that has an invisible illness. It’s not always easy being supportive when you have no idea how you are supposed to act. These are a few of my favourite blogs that have helped me throughout the years:

Statistics:

http://www.resources.lupus.org/entry/facts-and-statistics

https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/what-is-ra/ra-statistics/

http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/facts-statistics-infographic

Hands up if you’ve ever been personally victimised by an entry level job advert asking for experience 🙋🏻

As a writer, one of the biggest difficulties is getting your first job. I must’ve been sending at least 30 job applications a day at my peak, with the knowledge that only 5% would ever deign to get back to me, if only to give me a rejection.

 

There isn’t a golden ticket or magic key in this situation. It sucks. It’s hard and it takes its toll on your self-esteem. But what someone wise once told me, is that you should always aim to write everyday.

 

I’m not talking a novel, or even anything worth publishing. But if you can write a few hundred words, or even just a paragraph, then this will keep your writer juices flowing (soz, mental image).

 

Which leads me onto my next point: write a blog!

 

I know, I know, it seems that everyone and their mother, aunt and long lost cousin three times removed is writing a blog these days. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for you. The internet is a vast, wonderful, ever-expanding space (desperately trying to avoid a universe metaphor), and the blogosphere is just as wide reaching. Besides, keeping a blog means you have a record of your writing ability. As long as you’re not being offensive with what you’re writing, then it’s fair game. Or if you are, then do it with conviction!

 

Keeping a blog means you can link it from your LinkedIn, send it with job applications and use it as evidence of writing experience. If it then gains a bit of traffic then you can use this as well!

 

Like I said, there’s no magic key, it’s a lot of hard work, but that call to say you got the job is what makes it all worth it.

Now if you want to make your blog gain a bit of traffic, then I have the SEO tips for you!

Blog with laptop, coffee mug & diary

SEO is a subject that causes most people not in the know to switch off. People think it’s boring, techy and for geeks. I mean, I am a bit of a geek. But still. SEO IS FUN! Kind of. Anyway. SEO actually makes a hell of a lot of difference to your website traffic and any CTR (click through rate), but it’s ever-changing due to Google making it more complex and chopping and changing their top secret algorithm.

Instead of giving you an in-depth lesson into the technical side of SEO (because we may need an energy drink for that), I thought I’d compile a little snapshot of quick, easy, super simple steps you can take to optimise your content. This works fabulously for those of you that run a casual blog and are wondering how to increase traffic.

  1. Get yourself a plug-in

    We’re not talking Airwick, people. SEO plug-ins are really useful for those starting out a blog. There are some great little plug-ins that will give you reminders to add a focus word, or not write a really long meta description, etc. Personally, I think Yoast is great for starting out, and the tips become habit sooner than you think.

  2. Research those keywords

    If you write a post on evening wear, guess what? There are thousands, even MILLIONS of web pages already in existence out there that have written about evening wear. Your job is to make Google think that YOUR post is the bees knees, the MUST-HAVE evening wear of the moment! So research your keywords. Are you talking about summer evening wear, or winter? Dresses or tops? Incorporating these words can help focus your traffic, so people are more likely to read, explore & return to your site.

  3. Alt-tags

    Something a lot of people overlook are the alt-tags on your images. If you have images on your blog (which you should), then having it named image_05325.jpg with no alt tag is not the most helpful term for Google to search. Descriptive, detailed image tags will help Google rank it higher, and where do people often go from there? ‘Visit website’. Exactly.

  4. Get to the point

    Ok, ok, I know this is vague. But it’s important, nonetheless. I have seen so many blog posts, that flounder around a subject, or use really bizarre clickbait headlines that don’t have anything to do with your content. If you’re talking about your evening meal, then say that. Obviously, if the creative juices are what’s going down, then that’s fine, but it’s getting the balance between creativity and SEO techniques.

  5. Linking your posts

    Imagine you’re reading a blog post. It’s fantastic, witty, and you want more. But to get to more content, you have to go back to the homepage, search for what you want, then repeat the whole process again. You wouldn’t, right? If, like me, you click off because IT’S JUST TOO HARD. Then don’t think of yourself as an impatient millennial, think of yourself as a customer, trying to complete a journey. User experience is hugely beneficial when telling Google just what your blog is trying to achieve, so link up your pages with a ‘you may like’ sidebar. Or even including links within your copy. It all helps.

 

If you haven’t fallen asleep by now, then congrats, I salute you. If you are just trying to solve a problem like your traffic, then these tips can be really easy and you will see the results. Trust me on this.

Lauren Conrad on The Hills reacting