Earlier this month, I gave a short talk about starting a health blog at a networking event for the Sydney branch of the Australasian Medical Writers Association.
My talk was about the business-related benefits of health blogging for writers.
I spoke alongside the lovely Sarah McKay – a brilliant medical writer and blogger over at Your Brain Health.
Sarah was my real-life case study of how health blogging can help you to build a successful online profile and enhance your writing business or career – often in unexpected and surprising ways.
Sarah’s health blog led to the launch of The Neuroscience Academy – an online course about brain health and wellness. More than 600 students have now taken Sarah’s course.
Blogging for business is a must-have strategy for all writers who are serious about growing their careers, because:
- Blogging drives traffic to your website (primarily through SEO and social media)
- Maintaining a high-quality blog is an important sales strategy (if you leverage your views, ie by including call-to-actions in every blog post)
- Health blogging enhances your credibility and establishes you as an “expert”
- Your blog helps you to achieve long-term career success
Of course, there were questions after my talk. Here are some of the most common questions I was asked – along with my answers and top tips for aspiring health bloggers.
How should I pick a subject for my health blog?
Think about where your passions lie and where your unique experience sits within the broader healthcare industry.
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You might care about research, ethics, statistics, bad medicine, or evidence-based medicine.
You might know a lot about a particular therapeutic area or health topic.
Or be interested in a specific topic, ie pregnancy, cancer research, muscle health, fish oil or biochemistry.
Finding your passion is key to your blogging success.
Also, if you’re a writer, your blog does not have to be about writing. Your blog can focus on a complementary subject matter – as long as it is showcasing your skills and helping to boost your business in some form.
Does I need to use academic references in my health blog?
Because blogs are like diary entries and are usually informal and chatty, traditional medical referencing and citations often feel out of place.
However, whenever you are citing research or referring to a clinical trial, it’s a good idea to provide detail.
You can do this by linking to the PubMed abstract or including the author name, year and journal article in-text or in a list at the end of your post.
This means your savvy readers know that you’re providing a credible link which they can examine further if they choose.
If your health blog is discussing an idea or a quote you found on another website, you can refer to it informally and include a link back to the original article or website.
Linking to external sites of authority can actually help to improve your search engine optimisation, too.
Remember: when it comes to health blogging, YOU are the expert of your subject matter.
So, think of your blog as an opinion piece as opposed to a “journalistic” article or report where you’re only providing the facts.
What if I’m really bad at social media?
Setting up different social media profiles and spending hours every week building a following is daunting and, at times, stressful.
The key to your health blog’s social media presence is to approach it bit by bit, either day by day, or week by week.
Social media can often feel like an uphill battle with few rewards.
This is especially true if you’re not comfortable with the current “web celebrity” formula that many solo business owners adopt.
Think about which platforms will be most relevant to your health blog and business. Focus on these platforms to begin with.
Do a little bit every day. Or, you can schedule in time once or twice per week.
Social media is one of the most important ways to drive traffic to your website with your blog posts.
That’s why it’s important to bite the bullet and embrace social in some way, shape or form.
How often do I need to update my health blogs?
Producing one great blog once a month is a better strategy than churning out one average blog every week.
Your health blogging should be an exercise that comes from the heart.
Writing blog posts should also be an exercise that inspires and motivates you and your readers.
Blogging shouldn’t be a chore – when it is, readers know.
Also, writing a blog shouldn’t take too much time away from your paid work.
Blogging is a necessary marketing and business-building exercise for all writers who are serious about growing their business.
However, you need to ensure that the time you spend blogging doesn’t come at the expense of your client work (or paid employment).
The same applies for the time you spend on social media, building a following and leveraging your blog posts.
What blogging platform should I use?
WordPress. That is all!
Should I have a wordpress.com or a wordpress.org blog?
Your WordPress strategy depends on your vision for your health blog.
Will your blog be integrated with your website, or will it be separate?
Do you want to pay someone to design your website, or would you rather do everything yourself?
I like the flexibility of the wordpress.org option, but this option is more technically-demanding if you are doing everything yourself.
Do you have a question about health blogging and business?