Blogging is a great way to capture the attention of new patients and anyone interested in your practice's specialties. But starting a blog takes a lot of work beyond simply employing smart web design and SEO strategies.
What purpose do you want your blog to serve? How will you reach your readers? And how do you make your blog stand out from the competition? We've compiled some of our favorite guidelines for new bloggers — use this expertise to build a strong foundation for your own blog!
Set thoughtful goals.
You want your blog to be a success, so start by knowing what you want to accomplish. Do you want to reach quantitative milestones, like a certain number of subscribers, every quarter? Or are you looking for increased website traffic from potential patients? Maybe your goals are more focused on your own practice and a bit harder to measure, such as increasing the health knowledge of your patient base. Decide early on what your goals are and how you'll track them. Maybe you want to hit a goalpost in daily readership, or you'd like to publish a higher number of posts every week.
Your goals can be lofty as long as you perform regular check-ins with yourself and whoever else has a hand in your blogging efforts. If you have a marketing team or are collaborating with other writers, keep them in the loop and have quarterly or monthly meetings to check your progress. Remember, your smaller goals are stepping stones to bigger successes. You'll be blogging like you're on a mission, because you are!
Bring your brand.
Ensure that your blog is consistent with the rest of your branding. Use the same logos, color scheme, and writing style rules as other places on your website. Determine the tone of voice you want to use in your posts. Are you giving quick-and-simple tips to busy families, or breaking down more complex medical concepts for curious readers?
Also, decide if you'll feature guest posts, weekly special topics, or any other features that may regularly bring in new readers. Having a strong brand makes your blog easier to promote, and a weekly blog feature can factor into that promotion. You want your blog to be recognizable and memorable, so determine what sets you apart from the pack.
Find your audience.
You need to know who your potential readers are and — just as importantly — know where they are. Some may be local (your patient base, for example). Keep a list of your social media accounts in your waiting room, and use your practice's Facebook page to push blog updates into patients' feeds. Additionally, track Twitter hashtags that are relevant to your practice, and use them to find existing communities with an interest in your blog's topic. Google+ is also a good resource for publishing and keeping up with trends. Not only will these groups provide valuable feedback on your content, but they'll also help you diversify your ideas and stay on the pulse of the industry.
Another important tip: don't neglect your email lists. Keep them up-to-date and regularly replenished. Building your email list is a crucial skill for any manner of marketing, but for bloggers it's especially vital. If you publish guest posts on other writers' websites or invite guest bloggers on your own, cross-promote and seek out new email subscribers that way as well. Consider organizing a blogger network with other practices in your area, too, and link to one another's sites in your blog's sidebar.
Blogs are a great way to connect with patients as well as other physicians, and to increase your own expertise through writing and research. Keep your content thoughtful and listen to feedback. The hardest part is getting started, but once you have a solid brand and dedicated readers, it will seem like second nature.