Over the past few months of writing for this blog, I’ve learnt a few things about the specific challenges of writing a health-related blog and thought they were worth passing on:
1. Define your niche
This isn’t an issue specific to health blogs but is pertinent all the same. The health fiels is so expansive that establishing a more defined area is nearly essential. A multiple sclerosis (MS) blog will gain more interest than a neurological disorders one. The former gives the opportunity for MS sufferers and their family and friends to identify with the issue. The latter may make most people feel sleepy after reading the title.
2. Put your ideology on the table up front
Health, politics, ethics and religion are all fundamentally intertwined. Before starting your blog you should take a hard internal look at your perspective. There’s nothing wrong with an ideological bent for your blog, but be damned transparent about it from the start. Some blogs do attempt to take a consensus approach and that can work well if the discipline of non-partisanship is maintained. If you’re running a pro-legalisation drug blog but want to hear both sides of the debate, then keep comments open and avoid the temptation of censoring comments that don’t meet your world view.
3. Know your field
No-one needs to be an expert in a health field to blog about it, but at the very least you need to have a solid grasp of the basics. The surest way to alienate readers is to get the basics wrong. It also gives the perception of a lack of interest on your part. If you don’t know the difference between schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder then don’t inflict your ignorance on the public by starting a mental health blog – unless the niche is really well defined so that clinical terms aren’t important. Even then, you’re playing with fire.
4. Knowledge maintenance or death
Health, like any other discipline, evolves constantly. Keep yourself up to date so you sound informed in your blog posts. I run a syndicated feed with the latest news related to the blog’s purpose – use it for your own enlightenment.
ProBlogger are runnng a 31-day project on improving your blog – well worth checking out whether you’re already established or not.