From Blog to Business: 8 Ways to Help Nurses Get Started
‘I’m going to start a blog… Someday.’
Sound familiar? You really mean it, but somehow you never get around to actually doing it.
No matter what your reasons are for not getting started, I’d like to let you know that blogging is a great tool that can open many doors for you in terms of your career or the start of your business.
And lots of NURSES ROCK THEIR BLOGS + BUSINESSES online and make a living. So it may be an option for you, too.
Popular blog to business nurse entrepreneurs include health coaches, fitness experts, wellness gurus, health writers, health information technology professionals, doulas, relationship coaching, spiritual teachers and many, many others.
Or, they may not even be blogging in the health space at all. Consider creative art forms like photography and jewelry-making or even financial coaching or cooking.
And believe it or not, just a few short years ago, I actually had to look up the word BLOG. Embarrassing to admit I must say, but for someone who considers themselves rather technologically savvy, I came to the realization that there was a whole new world besides social media platforms and the “Google search.”
But how do you get started?
It’s fairly EASY.
So… You have a message. You have something to say. And you’d love the opportunity to express that in some way.
The following steps can be used to get you started with your blog… whether it’s in healthcare or not. So, whether you have a love for vegan living, landscape photography or modern-day vampires… these steps will help you get there.
1. YOUR MESSAGE
Your message is your content. Basically, what would you like to blog about?
The good thing is… if you’ve considered starting a blog before, you probably already know what you want to write about. You probably already have your message.
Now for those of you who feel clueless about what your message is, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to figure it out.
- What are you absolutely passionate about?
- Are there any issues that you love to read about or write on?
- Do you journal? What topics or themes come out the most in your writing?
- What could you talk about all day, if you are in the company of your closest friends?
- If you have the choice to do anything for a living, but could not get paid for it, what would you do? Can you use that interest as a theme for your blog?
My recommendation: Write about what you know and love. The words flow a lot better that way.
2. YOUR METHOD
Blogging is more than pen to paper. There are many different methods to the madness than just writing!
Side note: When I first started blogging back in August 2014, I HATED writing. If a college course had papers due in the syllabus, I moved on to another course. I avoided it like the plague! And I was the type of student in college that took odd courses like a second semester of Calculus just to avoid it. Yes, I took a second dose of Calculus! But over the months, writing became so much easier. Now when I sit down to write a blog post, sometimes it seems to inevitably become a mini-paper… So, stay open to writing.
If you’re not in love with writing right now and still have a message, try…
Photo Blogs: Now this can be a pleasant form of blogging, especially if you love taking photos. And, it’s a great avenue for those interested in creative or visual art forms. If you find you’re always documenting your passion in pictures, consider a photo or gallery type blog. You can still add captions or stories to include in each entry if you choose to as well.
Vlogging: This is basically a video blog. If you’re not camera shy, this may be the option for you. You can record a simple message on your smartphone, upload to your computer and then embed it in a “blog” post. With some blogging platforms (or websites), you can even upload a media file (video, music, pictures, etc.) directly from your phone to your website.
Podcasting: Or an online radio show. It’s great because you can have more than one “voice” online at once when you interview guests. I’m a podcaster, and sometimes I’ll have guests on the show, and other times it’s just been me.
Podcasting does take a lot more effort than the other options listed here because you have to consider so many factors including audio, your recording software, editing software, hosting, etc.
In short, I’ll briefly review the few tools (and others) that I use to help me get my show on the air.
And what’s key to a great podcast?
Sound quality. If the sound isn’t great (i.e., using the right mics and editing), no one will listen because it’s a pain in their ear! To edit my podcast, I use Audacity. GarageBand is pretty popular for Mac users.
I use Libsyn as a host for my podcast. Others you can try include Archive.org, SoundCloud, Amazon S3 or many others. Then, you syndicate on iTunes and Stitcher, for instance. Check out The RN Podcast here. We made iTunes New & Noteworthy!
Cheat (and cheap) trick: My very first 2 podcast episodes were done via Google Hangouts, the cheapest method out there. I just downloaded the audio and used Windows Media Player to edit.
Video Interviews: Google Hangouts is free. This is a great platform when you want to speak live to larger audiences at once. You can also record them and send the video out to subscribers on your email list (more on this below) as a blog post at a later date.
Webinars: If you’re planning on teaching your readers and would like a way to present slides on your computer screen, Google Hangouts is, again, an excellent choice. There are also plenty of other popular platforms that you can use that have some fees involved if you’re looking for more advanced features, like GoToMeeting, AnyMeeting or WebinarJam. But again, if you’re just starting out, Google Hangouts may be all you need.
As you see, there are many ways you can choose to blog when you decide to start.
The easiest may be writing a post when you’re first starting out. And you don’t have to be married to either of these methods. I encourage you to experiment with a few, and you may actually find a couple that you like.
My recommendation: Try writing first, then test out the others.
3. YOUR PLATFORM
So what blog platform (website) do you use? There are too many to count, but the most popular blogging software out there is WordPress. And there are 2 flavors.
WordPress.com: A fully hosted platform that’s free for the most part if you use as is. And you don’t have to worry about updates, security, etc. However, it’s limited in themes (the “design” of your site) and plugins (extra “packages” that add more functionality on your website). You also won’t be able to modify the code (your designer would hate this). So, when it’s time to customize (i.e., removing ads, customizing themes, extra storage, etc.) that’s where the fees can really add up. You would also have to purchase a domain name if you don’t want the WordPress tag. For instance CookingSouthernCuisine.WordPress.com vs. CookingSouthernCuisine.com.
WordPress.org: My platform of choice because it’s fully customizable with an endless number plugins being developed every day. You have to pay for hosting, but in the end, your costs could be a lot less than the .com depending on what you need for your website. However, if you don’t consider yourself to be technologically savvy, WordPress can be a beast to learn. Luckily, since it’s the most popular platform, you’ll find may designers and developers that can help you get a site up and running in no time.
Weebly: Weebly is what I often suggest to my Bossy Nurse community who have limited experience working online. It has a drag and drop functionality, and it’s a pretty easy platform for beginners.
Other platforms to consider are: SquareSpace, TypePad, and Blogger, among many, many others. But remember to do your research and consider the method of blogging before picking a platform (for instance, Tumblr is great for photo blogging). And if you plan to sell products online, some eCommerce tailored sites may work better: Shopify, Wix or Volusion.
If you’re open to platforms, and have plans on building a business that’s service-based (like coaching), I think a WordPress (.org) platform is the way to go! Again, there are tons of platforms out there, so make sure you do your research!
My recommendation: WordPress.org or Weebly.
4. YOUR POSTS
Your FIRST POST is simple.
Give readers the….
- Who (who you are)
- What (what’s your blog about)
- When (how often they’ll hear from you)
- Where (where they can find you online or in their inbox)
- Why (your story and why it matters to them)
- How (how you will help them)
And you’re all set!
Remember to decide on how often you’ll want to blog. Weekly is common. Or if writing is not the easiest, try bi-weekly. However, try never to go longer than that. Your readers may forget you!
My recommendation: Blog weekly and tell them something they can’t easily find via Google search.
5. YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you have your message and your method, it’s important to determine who your audience will be and write to them specifically.
Note: Now many bloggers will debate me on this. Some will say that you should find an audience (“niche down”… more later) first and then tailor your message to meet that audience. I say find your passion, and then find the audience. Because if you’re passionate about what you’re blogging about, you’re less likely to give it up. Anyway, you make the choice.
Finding your audience is finding your ideal reader (or avatar). Who are you writing (vlogging, podcasting, etc.) for? Who is your message geared towards? And don’t be afraid to SPEAK in their language. If your audience is a reflection of you, this should be easy. Write as if you were talking to a friend.
How can you find an audience if you don’t already have one?
An easy way is to get involved with online forums or groups that have topics related to your message. A great way to find an audience in social media… FACEBOOK. You can perform a search in Facebook for your particular topic and highlight the “group” tab for your search. Join the ones that resonate with you and your message.
Then, once you start participating, ADD VALUE TO THE GROUP. And never, never, never spam the group with your website information or content! Only offer it when and where it’s relevant.
Also, in the blogosphere, you’ll often hear people speaking of “niching down.” Basically, the more tailored your audience is the better the reach you’ll get.
So a small, specific audience can sometimes be a good thing.
For example if you’re interested in blogging about cooking, a very specific niche could be blogging about the influences of religion in the Southern cuisine. And then you can find many topics within this topic to write about.
Trust me… there’s an audience for everything!
My recommendation: Start your audience search with Facebook.
6. YOUR TRIBE
This is often called your community or your “LIST.”
So you have your blog up and running, and you’re producing lots of great content. Question is, how do you get YOUR READERS on an email list so you’ll be able to keep them engaged with your every post through a weekly newsletter?
Basically you have to have a way to collect email addresses from those who like your content in the hopes that you can show up in their inbox every week.
And, how do you do that? Try this:
- Create quality content on a regular basis that they can use. Make sure it has a unique twist, and something your tribe can only get from you.
- Offer an opt-in, an “ETHICAL BRIBE” or a quid pro quo. Simply give them something for free in exchange for their email address. This could be an ebook or something like a video series, etc. that teaches them something that they find valuable and can’t easily find anywhere else.
- Have a way to collect those email addresses and a way to send out content. Mailchimp and AWeber are among the top choices for free or low-cost list management. You can also try: Emma, iContact or Constant Contact.
- Need a customizable page to offer that opt-in where your readers can give you their email address? Leadpages is my favorite. And, it easily integrates into the major list management systems. There is a fee involved, however.
My recommendation: Leadpages + Mailchimp.
7. YOUR COMPLIANCE
First, if blogging with an emphasis in healthcare? Chances are, if you have to THINK TWICE about posting something. Just don’t. Save the headache. Save the worry. Keep your job.
Second, HIPAA. Enough said!
My recommendation: See the statement above.
8. YOUR MONEY
Yes! They are ways to build a business from a blog WITHOUT advertisements, although this is a great option if there are products out there that you can advertise on your site that aligns with your tribe.
Selling your own products or services can build your business, especially if you’ve been offering tons of value to your readers already. I’ve made my income by offering my services through my blog in the form of travel packages, coaching and online courses for nurses. And at this time, I have no ads on my websites at all.
So ads are not the only option.
Remember, the more unique your message and the content you offer, you’ll start to get noticed. So that’s the key to blogging being the start of a wonderful business.
And the opportunities that come from readers of your blog are plentiful. Those opportunities can be in the form of advertising, affiliate programs, authoring a book, coaching, guest blogging, physical products, digital products and speaking gigs, among others.
If you really have a great message, you may be approached by those who want to collaborate with you! And sometimes, they’re willing to pay. Of course, you’ll want to make sure it aligns with your brand and your ethics.
My recommendation: Pick one type of revenue stream to focus on at first, and then add on from there.
So there you have it – my 8 tips you’ll need to consider when starting your blog.
What about you? Have you been procrastinating on getting your blog up and running? What’s been holding you back? Please comment below. And if you found this article helpful, please share it by clicking on the social media icons to your LEFT.
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