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I get quite a few emails from people looking to start their own blog and looking for some tips and advice. Below is my advice on how to start a nursing blog!
Before I start, I want to say one very important thing. If you’re doing this for the money you probably should not be doing this. It takes a ton of hours and investment of both time and money before you ever see a dime. Seriously. You work for hours and hours every single week and don’t make anything. There must be something more behind your purpose of starting a blog other than earning money. What are you passionate about? What do you really care about? And if you never made a dollar, would still be worth it?
Starting a nursing blog begins with your audience
Nursing is somewhat broad, so if you want to start a blog for nurses I encourage you to narrow your focus even further. Do you want to write for seasoned nurses, emergency department nurses, prospective nurses, nursing students, nurse educators..? There are so many different niches within nursing! The more you can narrow your focus, the better.
Address a need / fill a gap
People should want to come to your blog because they can’t get what they need somewhere else. What need or void are you fulfilling? What value are you providing? If you want to
Do your research
Learn about what makes a good blog post good (types of posts, images, word count, formatting, etc). People tend to lose focus after a certain word count unless it’s formatted in a specific way. If you’re telling patient stories, make sure you’re writing them in a HIPAA compliant kinda way.
Be easy to find
Have a URL that’s easy to remember. Make all of your social media profiles have the same or a very similar handle. Tag and categorize all of your posts appropriately so people can easily get to what they need on your site. I don’t know about you, but I give up after searching for something specific after about 30 seconds – 1 minute and then go look somewhere else or try to find something different.
Create quality content
You want people to have a desire to come back to your blog to hear more from you. You don’t want them to enjoy one post and forget about the blog. Create a post after post of valuable, sharable content. In the nursing niche, I’ve found that practical, tangible, helpful tips are shared easily as well as short yet powerful patient stories or inspirational posts are very valuable.
Be a professional and positive nurse in social media
Have a social media presence. Pick the platforms that you can do well – there are quite a few! IG, FB, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr all function a little differently, and a good post on one would not necessarily be good on another just copied and pasted. If you’re awesome at a few platforms, knock them out of the park. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to be all things on all platforms. (I’ve tried that – it’s way too exhausting and time-consuming to be sustainable.)
Interact on various platforms; engage with others that are interested in your topic. This is how you’ll get known! Find people that do social media well and see what you like and don’t like about their online presence to help you figure out what you want yours to look like. There’s not a cookie-cutter way to develop your personal online blogging and SoMe (short for social media) style.
It’s important for people to see who you are and your personality shine through. However, make sure your blog and SoMe presence are not distracting from your content. If people are looking at your blog and social handles for the latest revealing photo of you, that becomes the focus.. not your mission, passion, or content you’ve worked so hard to perfect. I bit the bullet and paid for some professional photos and have been using them way more than I ever thought I would. They were definitely worth the investment.
Remember, you’re not just representing yourself, you’re also representing the profession of nursing when you put RN behind your name online. Everyone from friends and family, to prospective and current employers, to patients and their loved ones will Google you and check out your blog. Make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with everyone reading.
Think before you post
Always make sure you are not posting in anger or frustration. This will not enhance your platform; this will make it seem like you are not in control of yourself. There is a difference between posting about something you are passionate about and posting because you are upset. Take some time away and collect your thoughts first if you are really fired up about something and wait to post it for a few days.
And please, do not use your blog as a ranting zone. People hear enough complaining at work no matter the profession and there is enough of that online as well. They won’t stay at your blog long if it is post after post complaining about work.
Never re-use or steal content
I’ve had people copy and paste my work onto their blog and not credit me. I’ve had people copy and paste my work and write an entire post about how they disagreed with me and again not credit me. I’ve had people steal my idea and make their post just different enough so they wouldn’t have to credit me. I’ve also had people steal my pictures from my various SoMe platforms to pass them off as their own, again, not giving me credit. One of the books I recommend goes into depth about handling this and I approach every situation differently, depending on the offender.
Some situations require an email from me. And some require an email from the copyright lawyer I work with. I’ve protected myself by copyrighting Nurse Eye Roll® as well as forming the Nurse Eye Roll LLC. I am well within my rights to send a cease and desist letter in all of the aforementioned situations, however … like nursing, you want to use the lease invasive intervention first! Ha! I use that as my last resort if people are not responding.
What you don’t do is call them out on SoMe – you’ll end up looking not so great and draw negative attention to the situation. Handle these situations quietly, professionally, respectfully, and privately.
And most importantly – NEVER do this yourself. Even if you’re just screen-shotting a pic someone else took a Pinterest pic, or whatever. Always, always ALWAYS give credit. That is basic blogging etiquette.
Earlier this month, Brittney Wilson over at TheNerdyNurse.com wrote a great post about the practical process of creating a nursing blog. You can check it out here!
Books I recommend:
Blogging platform I recommend: WordPress.COM is a great place to start. It can be confusing for those that have never made a blog before, so take the time to do the tutorials. WordPress.COM is a good starting point, but if you want to have more options for layouts and advertisements, then you’ll need to look at switching to WordPress.ORG later down the line. The book Platform and Brittney’s post I mentioned before discuss this more in-depth.
Images: I’ve used PicMonkey and Canva in the past. Right now I’m currently loving Canva the most! Do not make the rookie mistake of Googling an image and uploading it to your blog. You typically don’t know who owns the rights to those images, therefore if you’re repurposing them to your blog, you can ultimately receive a bill or creating copyright infringement. I know someone who did that, not realizing it was an issue and received got a $1500 bill from Getty Images for unknowingly using one of their pics that they found on Google. Be smart about images. Pay for stock images. Don’t use anything you find on Google.
Learn How to Blog From the Experts
I hope these tips and my experience were helpful.
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.
More resources on nurse blogging (written by nurse bloggers):
- A Day in the Life of a Nurse Blogger
- My Biggest Mistakes with My Nurse Blog
- 5 Reasons Why All Nurses Should Blog
- Nurses Need to Learn the Business of Blogging
- How to Start a Nursing Blog in 3 Easy Steps
Everything You Need to Know about Social Media: Without Having to Call A KidThe Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power UsersEverybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good ContentMens Eat Sleep Blog Repeat Motivational Blogging T-Shirt Small Heather BlueAsk Me About My Blog T-shirt