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Entries in Physician Blogging (3)

Tuesday
Feb252014

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Victoria Dunckley, MD first started blogging on her own website to share information with patients and parents. When she moved her integrative psychiatry practice and opened a new office in Los Angeles, the blog helped her grow the practice. The blog also brought in consultation work with patients from all over the country, and has led to expert witness work, as well.

The posts on her blog eventually evolved into ideas for a book. When I first met Dr. Dunckley and began working with her, I suggested she pitch a blog column to Psychology Today as a way to increase her reach and national impact and meet her goal of "increasing awareness about the ill effects of screen-time."

It would also help make her book proposal for her book, Reboot Your Child's Brain, more attractive to agents and publishers. She did so and the result is her Mental Wealth Column on PsychologyToday.com.

At first, she blogged tangentially about her book topic with posts on topics such as misdiagnosed bipolar disorder,  how electronic screens can contribute to tics and 10 rules for safer cell phone use, so as not to give away all the information in her upcoming book. However, over time, she began to blog more specifically about electronic screens and their effects on children's brains and mental health--including what she has termed "electronic screen syndrome."

Indeed, her high profile blog posts contributed to landing a top agent and a book deal with New World Library for Reboot Your Child's Brain. Even before that book comes out, though, her blog has already helped her have a powerful impact. Dr. Dunckley reports, "I've received emails from people all over the world telling me how a particular article has helped them. Those emails make all the effort worth it! Blogging has also helped sharpen my writing skills and has led to supportive connections with like-minded individuals."

So, should you be blogging? Here are some reasons to blog and a few reasons not to:

Reasons to blog:

1. Blogging can help you reach a large group of people with your ideas and make an impact.

2. Blogging can help hone your writing skills.

3. By inviting comments you can find out more about how your audience/readers think and what they want to read about.

4. Comments and other responses to your blog can help you clarify your own ideas, explore new avenues or see things differently.

5. Your blog can attract a large audience of fans who are then interested in buying your books, attending your seminars or hiring you as a consultant.

6. Your blog can attract media attention: more and more the media are finding experts for radio and TV shows through searching the web. Your blog helps them find you as search engines like Google love CONTENT and your blog is full of relevant content.

7. Your blog can attract patients or clients to your medical practice or business. Again, search engines like Google are looking for websites with lots of relevant content. Websites with extensive blogs and tagged with appropriate "keywords" win out on Google.

8. Publishers LOVE authors who blog, especially if you are reaching a large audience.

9. Blog posts can be short--less time cnosuming than writing a magazine article, for instance.

10. Blogging is a great way to be viewed as a thought leader--and rightly so.

So, why wouldn't you blog?

a. Blogging takes some time. You will need to figure out where that time will come from and schedule it in for blogging to work.

b. You don't get paid. Sure, some people have ads on their blogs, but that can detract. In general, you don't get paid directly for blogging.

c. You may need to learn a few new skills--beyond writing, you'll need to learn wordpress and get some sense of how search engines work so you can make your posts "discoverable" on search engines like Google.

d. You'll want to blog with some consistency or it's harder to develop a consistent following of readers.

I hope none of these reasons deter you. Basic blogging skills can be learned in a day and the benefits are many--to your medical practice, your business and your own personal satisfaction.

If you want to learn more about blogging and other forms of reaching the public with your medical knowledge, join me at Harvard Medical School's CME course on writing and publishing: Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Outcomes through Writing and Publishing March 31-April 2 atthe Fairmont Copley Hotel in Boston, MA.

There, doctors who are also bloggers and published authors, as well as agents, acquisitions editors and other experts in the publishing industry, will guide you in the many writing opportunities available to doctors and others in the health professions. You'll also have many opportunities to share your ideas with us one-on-one and receive guidance for navigating this exciting arena.

Monday
Feb242014

Doctor, Should You Be Writing?

There was a time when a handful of doctors wrote books. Now, many doctors' books have graced the New York Times Bestseller list. And there are even more opportunities for doctors to write and reach an extraordinary number of people--through blogging, publishing online articles, or writing newsletters--to name a few.

Doctors decide to write for various reasons--from the desire to reach more people with the valuable health information they have to offer to supporting an entrepreneurial venture to the joy of tapping into their creativity. I've known a doctor who increased funding for his medical research, others who segued into a speaking or consulting career (actually, he did that, too!) and still others who saw the writing as more of a satisfying creative outlet.

As Harvard Medical School's CME publishing course is coming up in just over a month, it's the perfect time for a doctor to explore the itch--or dream--to write. The official title of the course is Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Outcomes through Writing and Publishing.

Here are a few takeaways and tips from past graduates of Harvard Medical School's CME writing and publishing course:

From Donna Hicks, PhD, author of Dignity: "Only write about something that you know. You cannot fake authenticity and authenticity is what sells."

Hicks' book Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict was published by Yale University Press and Hicks reports, "Publishing Dignity has changed my life. Becoming an author catapulted my credibility exponentially. Three years after publishing my book and I am in just as much demand as the first year. I love giving talks about a topic that I feel so passionate about. You can't shut me up!"

Martha Rhodes attended the Harvard course two years ago and her book 3,000 Pulses Later: A Memoir of Surviving Depression without Medication was featured in the New York Times, Psychology Today online and many other publications. The book's publication has led to paid speaking engagements where she has the opportunity to reach more people with her message. Her biggest takeaway:

"Understand who your audience is – visualize the exact, specific person you want to read your book and why you want them to read it. And the biggest takeaway? Just proceed!"

And Leslie Shapiro's attendance led to writing Understanding OCD: Skills to Control the Conscience and Outsmart Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is being published by Praeger Publishing. She suggests anyone considering writing a book to ask yourself, "If you don't write it, who will?"

You don't need to be contemplating a book to attend. You can find out more about writing articles, blogs and more at the course as well.

The course will be offered March 31 - April 2 at the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Boston, MA and includes sessions on understanding the publishing industry, narrative writing in healing, how to write a memoir, writing a book proposal, publishing choices, how to write compelling prose, using social media and more.

Click here for more information on Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Outcomes through Writing and Publishing.

Sunday
Nov182012

Physician - Why You Should Blog

Physician NetworkingSome physicians are embracing blogs. Why?

More people read blogs that you may realize. Smart, informed and professional people read blogs. In fact, I probably don't need to point this out, but you are probably a smart, informed professional person who is reading one now!

If this is true, why do blogs have such a bad reputation among many high level professionals? It's likely due in part to the fact that nearly anyone can blog (and lots of people do), so it may seem like it's not worth pursuing something that essentially anyone can easily do.

But, all blogs are not the same. And, one blog can change your life--or at least really enhance it. Blogging is really about having something to say and then reaching your intended audience.

For example, the first time that I talked psychiatrist Ron Schouten into blogging was for Harvard Business Review--a very prestigious blog site. Dr. Schouten's blog was titled Psychopaths on Wall Street and was read by many thousands of professionals including a Time Magazine reporter who blogged about it on the Time website within 24 hours.

Dr. Schouten began to see the power of blogs and how they can reach a wide and impressive audience.
And, it's interesting to see what happens when a doctor starts to blog. Doctors who blog often virtually meet other doctors or professionals who blog, and they form some really great relationships. For example, David Yamada is a tenured professor of law at Suffolk University and a scholar at the Workplace Bullying Institute. One day, Professor Yamada was browsing through the bookstore and came across Dr. Schouten's book, Almost a Psychopath. Dr. Yamada blogged about this book in a blog post titled Do Almost Psychopaths Help to Explain the Prevalence of Workplace Bullying and Abuse?

Professor Yamada virtually met Dr. Schouten thereafter, and this led to Schouten being invited as the keynote speaker at a conference Yamada was organizing. Their paths have crossed numerous times--as they have similar interests in educating people about the subtle and not so subtle "bad behavior" that so often occurs in the workplace--very often due to men (and some women) who have subclinical psychopathy (read the book to find out more!).

If you haven't tried out blogging, consider submitting one to FreelanceMD.com. Before you do, read some of the blogs on this site and think about what people might want to hear more about. One blog really can open up lots of new doors, and it's fun to try!

More: 59 Top Physician Blogs Worth Reading

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