Friday, 16 November 2012
What I have learnt about blogging
I blog... by alamodestuff
So if you have known me on Twitter or elsewhere for a while you will know that I am a big fan of blogging and I encourage everyone to start keeping one. Why? You will learn a lot and you will help others learn too!
I started my blog just over 4 years ago. Sometimes I will write a few posts in a week and at other times I leave it for a month or two. How often you write is up to you. It shouldn't feel like a chore.Write when you have something to share, a question to ask.
Blogging is public writing. Think about who your audience is. For me a massive strength is that all kinds of people read and comment here. This means that I can learn about many more different perspectives than if I was to walk down the corridor and ask my colleagues at work what they thought of the random idea I'd just had. But sometimes people won't understand what you say, the language you use or where you are coming from. That's OK. Just as in any communication, if someone doesn't understand you then don't get angry, just try and explain in a different way.
Writing helps me to develop my thoughts and get some way to understanding what has been perplexing me. Usually I ask a question at the end so that people who read the blog know that I didn't just want a soap box but that I am really interested in what they might add. If no one comments on your blog, and you have wanted them to, then maybe people who were reading didn't know what kind of response you hoped for. Questions really help with this. If you are writing the post because you are developing an idea that arose out of a conversation somewhere else, then make sure that you let the other people involved know so that you can continue the conversation there. If there is someone whose insight you would really like then email them or send them a tweet with the link and ask them to leave a comment. And get into the habit of commenting on other people's blogs too. They will appreciate your feedback.
Sometimes people ask about ethics. Are there any particular ethical concerns? If you were writing for a journal or a magazine you would most likely have an editor who would tell you if what you were writing was really off for some reason. But you don't have an editor on a blog so you do have to take a bit more care and consider what you are writing. My own rules are that I don't mention a patient on my blog without asking their explicit consent. In fact, I don't often write about anything relating to my clinical work on this blog. If I am teaching and I realise that I would like to write a post about something which has come up then I would let the students know when I am with them. Sometimes, I don't realise at the time that I want to write about the episode but I always try to make sure that I at least let anyone involved know that I have written the post later. So I don't think there is anything particularly ethically troublesome about blogging, but if you have any doubts then don't be afraid to pass what you are going to write by someone else first.
Should you blog in your own name? I do. That doesn't mean that you have to. But I think that writing in your own name leads to a richer experience because you can make stronger links between your online and offline worlds.
And some practical tips? You can set your blog up on any number of sites. This is on Blogger, which is owned by Google and is really very easy to use and rarely down. Lots of other people choose Tumblr or Wordpress. Have a look around and see what you think will suit you.
Do make sure that you enable sharing buttons on your blog so that people can easily share it with others. And let people subscribe by email too.
I usually add a picture to my posts because it brightens them up and hopefully helps with understanding too.
I allow anonymous comments here but I moderate all comments, mainly to stop spam getting through. It's easier than deleting.
And you'll hear people say every now and again that blogging is dead. But that's nonsense. How could it be when you have just started? Enjoy!