by Michelle Guillemard
Earlier this month, I gave a short talk at a networking event for the Sydney branch of the Australasian Medical Writers Association.
My talk was about the business-related benefits of medical blogging for medical writers.
I spoke alongside the lovely Sarah McKay – a brilliant medical writer and blogger who you might remember from our Health Writer Hub Expert Interview Series.
Sarah was my real-life case study of how health blogging can help you to build a successful online profile and enhance your medical writing business or career – often in unexpected and surprising ways.
I primarily spoke about the main reasons blogging for business is a must-have strategy for all writers who are serious about growing their careers:
- Blogging drives traffic to your website (primarily through SEO and social media)
- Blogging is an important sales tool (if you leverage your views, ie by including call-to-actions in every blog post)
- Blogging enhances your credibility and establishes you as an “expert”
- Blogging helps you to achieve long-term career success
I could elaborate on my talk, but I thought it would be more interesting to share some of the questions I was asked when we were mingling afterwards.
How should I pick a subject for my blog?
Think about where your passions lie and where your unique experience sits within the broader health and medical writing industry.
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.
Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean your business blog should be about writing, or offer generic writing tips.
It can be a complementary subject matter – as long as it is showcasing your skills and helping to boost your business in some form.
Do I need to include references in my medical blogs?
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 about it – either 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 you are discussing an idea or a quote you found on another website, you can also refer to it informally and include a link back to the original article or website.
Remember: when you’re 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 ten thousand different social media profiles and spending hours every week building a following is daunting and, at times, stressful.
The key to social media is to approach it bit by bit, either day by day or week by week.
It can often feel like an uphill battle with few rewards – particularly 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 blog and business and focus on these.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, but do a little bit when you can.
Social media is one of the main ways you can drive traffic to your website with your blog posts, so it’s important to bite the bullet and embrace it in some shape or form.
How often do I need to update my medical blogs?
In my talk, I said something that I’ve often spoken about with other writers: producing one great blog once a month is a better strategy than churning out one average blog every week.
Blogging should be an exercise that comes from the heart.
It should be an exercise that inspires and motivates you and your readers. It shouldn’t be a chore – when it is, readers know. Also, blogging 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, but 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?
Should I have a wordpress.com or a wordpress.org blog?
This really depends on the individual writer’s vision for their website and 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 medical blogs and business?