Today I received a DM from a colleague asking for guidance on how to start a medical blog.
The simplest answer to this question is: start writing.
You don't need a website or any specific software. You just need to write. You can sign up for a free Medium account, post articles on your LinkedIn profile, or start a Substack.
Then just sit down, write, and hit publish.
However, whenever I'm asked this, I know the question is not about how to write but how to get other people to read what you wrote.
Doctors have a wealth of information and many of us feel it's our duty to share it with the world. Use our expertise to combat misinformation and hopefully help people not need us. At least not as often or as urgently.
Now, the answer to that question is much more interesting.
When your goal goes beyond writing, you need to have a plan.
And it starts by deciding who you want to write for.
And then, what do you want to write about. Obviously, these two should be related. For example, if you are a family physician:
- You may want to write for middle-aged patients with diabetes
- And maybe you want to write about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle modifications.
These will be your constraints as you start your writing journey.
Now it's time to "make noise and listen for signal"
This is a concept I learned from Nicolas Cole during my first Ship30 cohort.
And it basically means you need to start publishing a lot of ideas and pay attention to the response your ideas get. Going back to the example of the primary care doc, perhaps you notice your posts about exercise get ignored while those on nutrition get engagement. The data is telling you to post less about exercise and go deeper on nutrition.
This is invaluable information.
Before you go and start writing, here are some parting words:
- Don't write what you want to write, write what your audience wants to read.
- Quality is determined by your audience, not by you.
- Optimize your workflow for quantity, not for quality. Specially since you can't know what quality is until you build an audience.
- The scrappy post that helps one person is better than the perfect post that never gets published. Hit post.
- Building a writing habit is no different than an exercise habit. You can't just go to the gym for 6 hours on Saturday and build a habit. You need to go regularly.
- The easiest way to build a habit is to build a routine around it. Define where and when you'll do your writing and then… write.