The no. 1 blogging tip you should always keep in mind

My first blog was a travel blog. Nancy and I were working and travelling around Australia and New Zealand and, like so many others, we blogged about our down-under experience. The audience: Family and friends. Number of daily visitors: 3-5.

In 2004 there was no Twitter, and LinkedIn and Facebook were the new kids on the block. Still, it was good fun. We were passionate about our travel adventures and we enjoyed uploading the pictures we took with our 4 megapixel Sony Cybershot.

Professional blogging

Four years later we settled down in Western Australia and started a business. A blog became part of the new practice website.

In the early days the blog attracted 20-30 visitors per day, but after a while the number grew to 40-60. Connecting the blog to the practice social media accounts made a big difference. I learned a lot about content – what works and what doesn’t.

In 2013 we decided to move back to Queensland and I left the practice. I began to focus more on my Doctor’s bag blog (it’s good to see the Panaceum blog is still very much alive).

Keeping a blog going is hard work. There is no ‘easy way’ to do it. The competition is fierce and as there are many great bloggers out there, it’s not that simple to get noticed.

I really enjoy blogging – which helps of course. I am fortunate to work in an industry that’s a constant source of inspiration.

Slowly the visitors number started to climb to 80-100 per day.

The struggle

But just as I thought my blog was taking off, writer’s block hit me hard. My creativity was gone. I didn’t blog for a while. The longer I didn’t post anything, the more attractive the thought of deleting my WordPress account.

English is not my first language and I often struggle to find the correct words. So, I argued, why not save myself the trouble and stop blogging altogether?

One evening I was reading an article about writer’s block. It was the break-through I needed. The author, Jeff Goins, simply said: “You overcome writer’s block by writing.” His message was short & sweet: It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you get going.

That’s what I did and somehow it worked. Before I knew it, the inspiration was back and the blog ideas started flowing again.

The first time my daily visitors number reached 1K, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a one-off, just luck, but last month over 15,000 people visited Doctor’s bag.

Although I want people to read my posts, it has never been my goal to get more visitors – nor do I think the hit counter is a measure of success. I enjoy producing content that makes others think. If it leads to change – even in the smallest way – I’ve reached my goal.

There will always be people with more writing talent, better posts and more followers, so I try to keep Bill Gates’ words in mind:

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself

But there is one thing that is more important than anything else…

The best tip

The one thing that determines success in blogging, and in many other ventures in life, is perseverance. It is important to follow your passion. If you enjoy writing, the best tip I can give you is: Don’t give up.

Everybody has a story to tell, so keep writing. You will get better at it and people will find your blog.

Picture from my first travel blog in 2004, dropped off at Lizard Island, North Queensland, with food, water, tent & map.

Blogging: What do you write when you have nothing to say?

The SoMeGP team was presenting about social media and blogging at the recent GP Education & Training conference (GPET13) in Perth, when this great question came from the audience: “What do you write when you have nothing to say?”

It is a common problem and the fear of every writer and blogger: not knowing where to start. Yet, the medical profession is full of topics to write about. In fact, most doctors, especially GP supervisors, have enough experience to explain a range of topics to patients, registrars, students and staff. It’s just a matter of putting these words in writing.

If you can email, you can blog. But the great thing of online media is that there are many ways to present information: traditional blogs, videos, podcasts, slide shows etc.

Take time to figure out what you want to do with your blog before you begin. Here are some tips to get started:

#1: Write for patients

Debunking myths is always a hit, and (de-identified) questions from our patients are a great place to start: Does hypertension always cause a headache? Is tonsillitis contagious? Can the flu shot cause influenza? Are antibiotics effective against sinusitis? Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? Should I have an annual cancer test? Blog about smoking cessation, healthy foods tips, how to perform CPR, etc

#2: Write for colleagues

Most doctors have a passion or field of interest, and sharing this knowledge or skills is fun and much appreciated by many colleagues. GP supervisors could help registrars by blogging about exam preparation, study tips, or asking & answering questions in blogs and online forums, like FOAM4GP.

#3: Write about the profession

Never a dull moment in health care. We have got a wonderful profession, but the ever-changing rules, ‘good ideas’ and intentions by policy makers and the flood of bureaucracy and red tape need to be reviewed and discussed, and blogging is a very effective way to do this. Work-life balance is another ongoing challenge. If you are passionate about a topic, do your research and share it with the world – we want to hear from you!

It sometimes helps to write things down during the day or use one of the many free apps, like Evernote, to collect and organise your thoughts and ideas. The advantage of Evernote is that it captures anything, can be accessed from mobile devices and computers and syncs between them.

And remember, a good blog post doesn’t have to be long: 300-500 words fine. Still in need of inspiration? Have a look at my number 1 blogging tip you should always keep in mind.