Nurse blogging has been good to me. It has allowed me to travel the country, interact with nurses all over world, and has provided extra income. But it hasn’t always been wonderful. I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I’m going to share with you some of my biggest nurse blog mistakes in hopes that my experience won’t become yours. And while these mistakes created some setbacks, they certainly have not and will not define my career…
My Biggest Mistakes With My Nurse Blog
I was tired (sound familiar, nurses?). I was working full time in a neuro ICU and writing a blog. I was staying up late answering email after email, writing new nurse blog posts, talking to nurses and students on social media. It was quickly turning from a hobby into a job. I was coming home after a 12-hour shift and then was on the computer for another 3 hours before bed. I spent all of my time off writing. There were no days off. And I wasn’t making money from all of this time spent writing.
When Curated Content Becomes Duplicate Content – Forever
A larger company wanted me to write them blog posts, which I thought was a great opportunity, but I simply didn’t have time. They offered a solution: they offered to “curate” posts from my website to theirs so I wouldn’t have to create more. I was grateful for the exposure and not having to expend more effort to create more posts. I thought they’d only use a few posts… at maximum, 10.
Long story short, I signed a contract that enabled them to take an unlimited amount of content from my site to theirs and edit it. Slowly over the contract, they were “curating” more and more of my original work. While there was a termination date on the contract, I didn’t realize some of the sections of the contract were perpetually (or, never-ending).
Slowly over the year, more and more content was curated, until they had copied and pasted almost an entire year’s worth of content.
I had developed a respecting and trustful relationship with them, so I never thought to check behind them. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this company would take so much from me, knowing it was bad practice.. let alone what they did next…
I went back to take stock of everything they had copied once the contact was over. As I was going through each post, I noticed that my name was removed as the author.
My 40+ nursing experiences with patients and their loved ones… the things I learned from my colleagues and patients… all were copied from my website are on theirs, and now no longer bear my name.
I didn’t realize that copying and pasting a blog post from one site to another is called creating duplicate content and bad blogging practice. It’s bad for SEO and could cause a duplicate content penalty from Google. Because people are much more likely to click a higher ranking link on Google, all of the traffic that would have come to my site is going to theirs.
To read my very personal nursing experiences.
Without my name.
Just to sell more of their products and pretend one of their non-nursing staff members wrote the post, when it was actually me.
When You’re Paid With “Exposure”
I’ve also experienced multiple companies reaching out to me to send me free product in exchange for posts and reviews. I used to think it was awesome, but once I started realizing the time it took to actually create quality reviews and posts, it wasn’t adding up.
I started to notice that though scrubs, shoes, and socks are nice, they don’t pay my bills. I wasn’t staying up late recording videos, writing posts, and trying to get quality photos just for a new set of scrubs scrubs, socks, and badge reels. My mortgage company, insurance providers, water and electric providers, all don’t take products as a form of payment for their services. Little did I realize, I shouldn’t have either.
“We’ll send you a FREE set of scrubs if you just post a review on the blog!” they’d say in a tone like they were doing me a favor… or they’d say they wanted a blog post and for me to post on social media, but couldn’t afford to compensate me because they were a new company… or they would want to send me something and want to tell me what and when to post… like they had indirect control of my social media channels because they sent me a free set of scrubs.
Essentially, if you’re spending time creating content in any form (video, writing, social media posts) you are doing work and deserve to be compensated for it.
You have done work to cultivate an audience and create a platform. Just because some company wants to give you a free set of scrubs or badge reels doesn’t mean they get to just jump in on that. Your time and your platform is valuable.
My only caveat to this is that occasionally, you’ll run into a few opportunities that would be beneficial long-term for you to do something without compensation simply for the networking purposes. However, these are the rare exceptions, not the rule. You should be getting paid for almost all of the work you do… but if some major nursing organization or wants you to write a blog post for their platform once, that’s different. If there is an on-going request for content, there should always be a contract in place and you should not do work without being compensated.
When They Will Gladly Provide You With Free Content
Almost daily I receive an email from someone who would say something along the lines of, “I wrote the great post on a topic just for you and your audience! Will you post it on your blog, share on your social platforms, and send me the links?”
I didn’t realize their motivation for doing this. Basically, a post on my blog, written by a company or person, directly touches their target audience. If I don’t charge them anything, that’s basically providing them with free advertising. I only post once per week on my blog, as to not overwhelm my subscriber list with too many emails and keep my content concise and highly valuable. I don’t post just anything. Therefore, there are only 52 blog posts per year on FreshRN.com. If I started posting every time someone emailed me something, I wouldn’t have any room for my personal content, and my audience would slowly dwindle.
I realized I had to stop replying to every person who emailed with a new “amazing“ post that would be a “perfect“ fit for my audience (please note the sarcasm). And not only did I not have to respond to them, I didn’t have to do whatever they asked. I started politely responding, letting people know that not only did a fee apply to a guest post on my blog, but also that I had to heavily review and carefully consider each post and only very few were included in the editorial calendar.
Have a lawyer who is experienced in reviewing contracts and intellectual property read all of your contracts.
If a company promises to pay you in “exposure” or free product – that’s a RED FLAG. If you are writing, creating YouTube videos, or creating content in any manner, you are doing work and deserve to be compensated for it. Not only do you deserve to be compensated for your time, but also for your expertise as a registered nurse. (There are a few exceptions in which you may want to consider doing something for free for networking purposes, but this should be the exception and not the rule.)
If you have any sort of following on social media, they are valuable to you and your brand. Carefully consider each contract requiring you to post things to your audience.
Never allow a company to copy and paste your content.
If a company says they’re getting a contract together, do not do any work for them until you have it in place. Don’t do 6 months worth of work and sign away an entire year’s worth of content for free like I did. (When the contract expired, they asked me to start working on more projects with them and scheduling calls to get things planned… I had to tell them flat out that I would not do any work until a contract was in place this time around.)
The bottom line: influencers are valuable. Check out this great article about how companies know influencer marketing has a much higher return on investment (ROI) than other methods of advertising. Therefore, companies will continue to reach out to any nurses who have a social following. And some are not as amazing and interested in furthering our profession as they may seem. Some will bleed each nurse influencer dry, like a ruptured aorta, and just keep moving to the next one. Look at the company closely if you’re considering a contract, ask other nurse bloggers if they’ve had any positive or negative feedback about them, and don’t be afraid to push back to them like you would to a doctor you knew was ordering something that wasn’t safe or appropriate.
Look, I really understand not wanting overestimate your worth. That’s why it took me so long to realize that I needed to require compensation. I just didn’t want to think I was worth more than I was. But then it dawned on me… what’s the worst that could happen? They’d say no? Saying no to compensation for work and a direct access to my audience just saves me from work, keeps me away from dishonest or manipulative companies, and enables me to create more content myself. I no longer sweat it when a company doesn’t like that I require payment. I am slowly evolving out of that people-pleasing mentality and into more of a mentality in which my bottom line is to do what’s best for my audience, my brand, and myself – and being unapologetic about it.
Learn How to Blog From the Experts
I hope these tips and my experience were helpful. As you can tell, I’m quite passionate about this topic because I’ve learned quite a bit from doing things the wrong way.
Over the past few months, Brittney Wilson BSN RN (The Nerdy Nurse) and I have been writing a blogging and social media guide book for nurses. At over 200 pages, it’s full of practical help, our experiences, recommendations, and major mistakes to avoid.
We truly want nurse bloggers to have a successful experience and also empower them to know their worth. In addition to the book we’ve written, we are also developing an in person 5-hour seminar during the 2017 NNBA Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
We’re elated to work with the NNBA (National Nurses in Business Association) because they offer a huge network of support… support I could have used when I was going through this whole mess. It would have been helpful to already be in a network of people to bounce ideas or situations off of that just didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t really specify why.
The NNBA consists of over several thousand nurses, leaders, and mentors. Growing a successful business, balancing life, and making sure to consider our profession as a whole can be challenging. If you’re a nurse business owner, or considering starting a membership, an NNBA membership is truly an investment in your success.
In addition to being a member of the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, I’m also a member of the National Nurses in Business Association, and I highly recommend becoming a member. Join me.
Registration for our 5-hour seminar is officially open. Take this opportunity in professional development, earn some continuing ed, and come hang out with us!
(Pro-tip: use the trip as a tax write off!)
What: Nurse Blogging 101: Growing a Profitable Business and Community at the 2017 NNBA Conference
Where: Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida
When: September 8-10, 2017 (our seminar is on the 8th!)
Why: Grow your brand, positively impact the nursing profession, and make money doing what you love
How: Register Now!
Pre-conference seats are limited and filling up fast!
Register now by clicking here.
I hope to see you there!