Blogging is hugely beneficial for your practice and patient acquisition: it positions you as an expert, provides a way to communicate with your patients outside of appointments, help boost your position on search engines, and give you a platform to share valuable health information with colleagues.
Whether on your practice site or for your own personal thought leadership, starting a blog is highly recommended.
Here are a few pointers before you get started:
1. Be Committed
A blog should not be something you start on a whim, say by reading an inspiring post yourself and deciding to move forward on the spot. A blog takes planning, research and, of course, time—which, if you’re like most medical professionals, is probably in short supply. Figure that an average 500-word post will take you about two hours to complete; be sure you can commit to a regular schedule for posting before you start or announce your blog. Remember: missing your promised deadlines is arguably worse than not having a blog at all.
2. Have a Purpose
Think about why you want to start a blog. Do you regularly have valuable health information that may not be getting through to your patients? Or Is your main priority patient acquisition or retention? Boosting your Google rankings? Knowing your motivations moving forward will give you the KPIs (key performance indicators) by which to measure your finished product.
3. Plan Ahead
Before you publish your first post, you should have five or six concepts “in the can” and at least a few completely written. Your blogs should appear on a regular schedule, and as often as you feel comfortable committing to, but no less than once every two weeks. Plan out your topics on the calendar and give yourself plenty of time to meet your deadlines. You don’t want a sudden emergency to throw your schedule out of whack because people will come to expect your posts on, say, every Thursday morning.
4. Be Yourself
The tone of your blog should be different from that of most other business communications—informal, light and perhaps infused with a little humor. Write in the first and second person, using “we” and “you” pronouns rather than “they” and “their.” Check out this example from aesthetic surgeon Dr. Michael McDonald, Self-Love: Why Plastic Surgery Could Be Right for You for an example of tone.
While you don’t want to open the door too widely into your personal life, you want to try to relate to your audience at an everyday level, so it’s OK to occasionally use the first person.
5. Do Your Research
While you may be able to write about some topics “in your sleep,” try to also include some statistics, case examples or quotations from related experts. They will add credibility to your piece and give it a little more depth too. Obviously, all sources should be cited—or better yet, hyperlinked too—although it is not necessary to create a formal bibliography.
6. Include the Other Point of View
No matter how good your writing is, or how varied your experiences, it’s always a good idea to have posts from other team members as well. It will give your blog a fresh perspective, provide details on topics you may not be familiar with, and last but certainly not least, allow you to share the burden of the blog-writing responsibility with others.
7. Invite Reactions
When you write a blog, you don’t want to only come off as an expert dispensing advice to your readers. As they read along, they will undoubtedly have their own reactions, thoughts, and disagreements with your content. Make sure you have a forum to gather and review their responses and even allow for additional comment posts on their comments. It will make your blog more interactive, help your rankings and give you another avenue through which to share information and expertise.
8. Spend Time on Titles
Sometimes, a catchy title is all you need to engage your audience and “convince” them to give your blog a read-through. Your audience is bombarded by advertising messages, job-related emails and personal communications all day long. Make your blog stand out with a title that entices them into giving up the next ten minutes of their time. For instance, look at this blog title from Dr. Gharibian, DDS — it definitely provokes a reader’s’ curiosity…
9. Showcase Your Blog
You may give birth to an excellent and topical blog, but if nobody sees it, you are by and large wasting your time. Be sure to announce your forthcoming blog and make it show prominently on your homepage, either through a blog menu link, or by actually including a part of your piece directly on the home page. Dr. Gharibian’s home page includes a link to the blog in the top navigation menu and suggested blog content below his Services section.
Now that you know the basic steps to get you started, let’s dive a little deeper into choosing the tone you will use in your blog. Not all blogs need to use the same tone, of course—it will ultimately depend on your level of authority, your audience and your personal preference—but let’s assume you are a pediatrician talking to your patients about childhood vaccinations. Here are two potential intros. Which one is more effective?
Childhood Vaccination Requirements
Childhood vaccinations are required in the U.S. to protect children against Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Rotavirus and a host of other potentially deadly diseases. Pediatricians normally track their patients’ immunization schedules for them, immunize them at the correct intervals and warn parents of any possible risks or side effects. It is important for parents to stay current with their physician’s recommendations in order to keep their children safe and free from potentially devastating diseases.
Don’t Worry: Vaccinations Really Are Safe
If you have a new baby, childhood vaccinations will come into play almost immediately. You may, understandably, have some trepidation about immunizing your child, based on the negative press, that, frankly, would have any new parent at least a little worried. The truth is, that despite the poor press surrounding vaccinations, research continues to prove both their safety and efficacy in preventing devastating diseases like Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, and Rotavirus. Your physician will track your child’s immunizations for you and remind you of needed office visits to stay up to date.
Notice the important differences between these two posts—Approach B is clearly written in more of a blogging style—and try to adopt a similar tone: one that is informal, direct, engaging, and acknowledges how the reader may be feeling about the topic at hand. Fortunately, the medical field is rife with interesting subject matter that readers would be eager to learn about.
You may just find that writing gives you a creative outlet outside the examination room, or you may discover it’s not for you and outsource it. Either way, it’s a boost to your online marketing strategy and we highly suggest practices regularly post blog content.
If you’re interested in having PatientPop create blog or social media content for you with our Grow or Social packages, contact your Customer Success Manager!