If you are a healthcare professional and thinking about starting a blog, here’s some advice: Do it (as along as it doesn’t violate your employers’ policies). It’s easy, therapeutic, and might even help other people.
Although it can seem intimidating at first, writing can be surprisingly easy to start (more on that later.) Healthcare is a profession that naturally lends itself to producing great stories, lessons, and insights that your fellow healthcare professionals will appreciate. To be honest, there probably aren’t enough HCP bloggers out there. And blogging may have benefits you may not have considered. For example, committing to creating a blog may have concerned about added stress in your already busy life, but in fact, writing, much like journaling, can be an outlet for relieving stress. Adding the fact that it can help you become a better writer and connect with other healthcare professionals, as well as potentially generate revenue, it can be a win-win.
So how do you get started writing a blog? Here’s how it works:
1. Decide what kind of blogger you want to be. Spend some time thinking about what you want to write about, and how often you want to do it. This is not only key for things like selecting a name for your blog but can also influence the technology you choose to publish your blog. Try to find a niche — the more specific you are in what you write about, the more likely you are to find a loyal following. The good news is that whether you want to write an occasional post or launch a more serious endeavor, the amount of money you need to spend is low — ranging from no-cost to low-cost.
2. Consider a free blogging platform. To blog you generally need two things – blogging software, which is the content management system (CMS) you will use to actually publish and manage your content, and a web host, which allows the page to be viewed on the internet. There are blogging platforms that offer both, and for free. But there are pros and cons. The good: They offer pretty much everything you need to get started. One of the most popular and easy-to-use blogging platforms is WordPress.com, which has a free and a premium version. Other good options are Blogger and Medium. These sites typically offer you themes and layouts to customize the look of your blog. You go to the site, sign up, set it up, and get writing. The not-so-good: With some of these blogging platforms, you may have fewer options for customization, less control over your domain name, or the ability to monetize your blog. For example, your blog’s domain name or URL might be www.yourname.wordpress.com or www.yourname.blogspot.com. However, most allow you to purchase and use a domain name – like the cleaner looking www.yourname.com — either from the blogging platform itself or a site like GoDaddy, for about $15 to $18 a year.
3. For a more control, consider a self-hosted blogging platform. The most popular example here is WordPress.org. This is not the same as WordPress.com — we know, it’s confusing. To go this route, you purchase your domain name and web host separately and download WordPress.org onto it. Sure, this takes a few more steps to set up, but the advantage is that you have complete control over your blog. Wordpress.org offers thousands of plugins — as in 47,000 — and many customization options. This route also provides you with complete ownership of the content and the ability to move the content or monetize your blog, which isn’t the case on free sites. There are dozens of web hosts you can use, but some are more compatible with WordPress than others. Check out BlueHost, HostGator, and SiteGround. Web hosting generally costs about $5-$15 per month, depending on the plan you choose. Once you’ve selected one, download WordPress, customize it, and you’re ready to launch your blog.
Once you have all the technology set up for blogging, it’s time to start writing. But there are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
- It goes without saying but bears repeating. Don’t violate patient confidentiality or HIPAA rules by talking about patients in a way that makes it possible to identify them.
- Check the guidelines for social media and blogging at your specific institution.
- Be a frequent writer. Regular updates keep people coming back. You might want to aim for at least once a week.
- Promote your blog posts on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Be savvy about search engine optimization, or SEO. This is the practice of using keywords in headlines, body copy and throughout your post so that Google will offer your posts up to people searching for those keywords in Google.
- Link to other great nursing blogs. It’s good for SEO and networking.
- Respect copy rights. You can’t just pull any image off the internet and use it. It’s probably best to take your own pictures or use images that are clearly marked as free to use with proper accreditation. (For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a library of images you can use if you credit them.)
That’s it! Now start your blogging engine.
Last updated on 9/21/19.