Hi Gemma! Tell us about How to Make Friends. How long have you been blogging for and what made you decide to start?
I launched www.howtomakefriends.co.uk in October 2017. I was feeling quite lonely at the time and really wanted to make new friends. I found myself single, in my late twenties and all of my friends had got married, had babies and their priorities had changed. I decided to embark on a friend project for a year to look at different ways to make friends. I started the blog as a way of documenting my journey but as soon as I started telling people about it I quickly realised that a lot of women were feeling lonely too. It very quickly became a platform where I could help other women make friends.
Your blog posts resonate with so many women – how do you come up with ideas for new posts?
I always get inspiration from the women I write for. When I first started research for my blog there was a big spike in people searching how to make friends in the early hours of the morning. It really upset me to think that people were awake and worrying about friendships. I look at what people are searching for online and try to answer their questions. I take inspiration from the conversations I have every day.
Do you find inspiration in any particular place? For example, out on a walk or people watching?
I tend to find inspiration in everyone I speak to. I’m a very open person and will happily share how I’m feeling. In doing this, a lot of people end up sharing things with me too (sometimes more than they have ever shared with their friends). Listening to other people’s stories and experiences with friends is great for inspiration to help women that are feeling the same way. I really enjoy sitting in coffee shops too. It’s really interesting to watch how people interact with each other.
What’s been your biggest achievement since you started blogging?
My biggest achievement so far was winning the Health & Social category at the UK Blog Awards in 2018.
And your biggest challenge?
Getting noticed because blogging is a very big crowd.
You now have a podcast, speak at events and judge on award panels – but what’s next for you?
I have just founded the Make Friends Club which is an online membership platform. It’s a place online for women to come together as part of a community. It includes a forum so women don’t ever have to feel lonely, societies to meet like-minded members and I do group coaching on how to make friends. It’s kind of like a dating site for friendships, but with actionable advice and lots of female empowerment vibes.
What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
I am the mental health category judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m also really excited to see the Make Friends Club grow and meet lots of members at the meet-ups.
If you could give some advice to a blogger just starting out, what would you say?
Choose a topic that you’re passionate about and write information that is helpful for your readers. You’re going to have to write about your chosen topic, again and again, so make sure it’s something you have a lot to say about.
And finally, your top tip for someone looking to make new friends.
It all starts with you. Build your self-worth first in order to be able to recognise toxic friends and build resilience. Not everyone will want to be your friend and that’s totally fine. Not every friendship will last forever and that’s fine too. Be confident and if you find people you get on with don’t be afraid to invite them to hang out again or follow each other on social media to chat further.
Find out more about the Make Friends Club and how to get involved here.