Behind the Feed: Sara Miller of 'Sara Strives,' Pushing for Realistic Mental Health Conversations

When Sara Miller started Sara Strives, her mental health and lifestyle blog, in 2015, she simply wanted to share realistic mental health experiences with the world in order to normalize them. After all, as someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Sara understood the struggle of mental health and the uncomfortable conversations surrounding it. 

But, six years later, her initial goal has been far surpassed, having evolved with her podcast titled Me, Myself, and You and her YouTube channel. And, while her form of content has changed during her career, her purpose remains the same: providing insightful and realistic content for women struggling with anxiety. 

Courtesy of Influencer

Her Campus: Tell us about your site/platform and why you launched it.

Sara Miller: I launched Sara Strives my freshman year of college, and it's been with me through many life phases. When I started, it was a creative outlet that helped me deal with the severe anxiety and depression I was dealing with at the time. It's since morphed to focus on self care, mental health, and self development topics (including the launch of a podcast!).

HC: What do you hope your followers get out of following you?

SM: Ultimately, I hope to provide advice, insight, and hope for women struggling with anxiety. I don't want to be someone who's falsely positive, but I do want to be encouraging for my followers, whether that be through self care tips or stories about my own struggles with mental health. Or, even the occasional lifestyle topic to lighten the mood.

HC: What does your week currently entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

SM: I work full-time in animal welfare as a marketing assistant. Honestly, it's my dream job! I love being a part of something that impacts pets and their people across the world. I'm also a new mom, a wife, and dog mom. Thanks to COVID-19, I work from home full time, which I love.

So, a typical day in [my] life looks like getting out of bed, getting dressed from the waist up, and getting my coffee. I try to spend a little time with my husband and son before I log on to work. I spend most of the day on the computer. When I sign off, I have dinner with my family, I work on blog/podcast stuff, and watch one of a few things: Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, or some sort of true crime thing on Netflix.

HC: What are the best and worst parts about being an influencer? 

SM: That's a loaded question! The best part is the connections. I've made incredible friendships over the Internet thanks to blogging over the past five years. These are women I never would have connected with had I not gotten involved in the industry.

The worst part can be the comparison. It's easy to get jealous, and look at others and feel inadequate.

HC: What advice would you give to a college woman with similar aspirations?

SM: Stop looking at other bloggers or influencers as the competition. Make friends! Make connections. The thing that's kept me blogging is the community around it. It's absolutely incredible if you lean into it.

HC: Is running your platforms your full time job or a side hustle, and why did you make that decision?

SM: Side hustle! I did work on my blog platform and freelanced full-time for about six months post grad, but I did want to pursue a full-time job for some stability. 

HC: Which people have had the most influence on you, and why?

SM: The main social media platform I use is Instagram! I would say some of my favorite people to follow are people I consider friends. And, I think this stems from being able to make those connections as fellow bloggers [and] influencers. 

Some of my friends/favorites include Darrian (@darrianchamblee), Sara (@blondehanes), Marly (@marlykhanson), and Sam (@samanthability). I'm also a big fan of Rini of @ownitbabe and Amy Landino (@schmittastic).

These women have influenced me in a variety of ways. Oftentimes, the biggest thing they do is remind me why I blog and why I post on Instagram — to connect. But, to get into specifics, Sara has taught me to be unapologetically real. Darrian has taught me to be vulnerable and to set healthy boundaries as a blogger. Sam has taught me discipline. Marly has taught me how to revel in the joy. Rini has taught me that all bodies deserve love. Amy has taught me to stay resilient.

These women, these online communities, can be such positive places to connect and grow together.

HC: How has being an influencer affected your friendships and relationships?

SM: Well, I've made a lot of friends through being a content creator. One friend of mine, Ellie (@treefilteredsunlight), was also a blogger at my college. We didn't meet until our senior year, but it was so cool when we did! I'll also point back to the previously mentioned friendships. 

But in terms of relationships with non-influencer friends, I wouldn't say it has a huge effect. For the most part, my friends have been supportive. My husband has always been a huge advocate for my content creation, spending hours with me taking photos, making sure I have time to record podcast episodes, etc. I think those photoshoots used to be something we both enjoyed a lot. It usually involved a coffee run, and gave us some dedicated time together not sitting in front of the TV. It sort of became a shared project in some sense.

HC: What has been the most surreal thing that’s happened to you as an influencer? Any fun or crazy gifts you've received?

SM: One of the most surreal things for me was being recognized at a wedding. It was actually at my friend Ellie's wedding. Apparently, she told one of her friends about me, and they started following me and consuming my content regularly. So, they were a genuine follower that I didn't know. That was a really cool moment, understanding that someone I didn't know genuinely liked my content enough to recognize me.

One of the funniest things I've received as an influencer was ham. I received two massive frozen hams in the mail to try. I honestly got such a kick out of it, and so did my followers. I ended up hosting a Friendsgiving to use it.

HC: What are your three favorite tools for content creation?

SM: Some of my favorite tools for content creation include Later, Lightroom, and The Content Planner. I use The Content Planner to plan out my content on paper. I love paper planning, and I find this to be the best way to get a big picture view of my month. I use Later to schedule my posts, and I think it's the easiest way to schedule Instagram and also get a preview of what my feed will look like. I use Lightroom to edit my photos using some presets that I've tweaked to my liking.

HC: What does the future of influencing look like for you? What's next for you personally?

SM: My content has somewhat followed me in life; for example, I had a focus area of college while I was in school. I've been in this transition with a five month old (as of November) at home. I'm considering how I want to incorporate motherhood into my content without isolating my audience members that aren't moms. I still want to focus on self-care, mental health, and self-development going forward. I think that's my niche, but naturally, some elements of motherhood will be incorporated since my brand is me. I'm also working on finding the best workflow for myself with this as my "side hustle" and as a new mom! Lots of life changes, so it's definitely a time period of adjustment for me when it comes to creating content.

Behind the Feed is a weekly series showcasing a different member of the InfluenceHer Collective every week. Are you an influencer? Apply to join the IHC, and you could be featured in the future!

Updated 2/25/2021 - Sara's podcast is titled Me, Myself, and You. A previous version of this article reported it as Me, Myself, and I.