The 4 factors of blogging

Earlier today I posted about blogging. I wanted to expand further on the topic, by sharing this great infographic (© eMerge) about the 4 factors of blogging. In a nutshell, it signposts the 4 essential aspects of any blog entry that you would like people to read. In other words, no matter how good are the contents of your blog; if you want people to find it and read it, you have to…

→ Make sure your post entry is linked to from other web pages. This can be achieved by linking to other blog posts (either yours or others’), or linking to your blog from your professional profile page.

→ Make sure your post is easily readable: use headers, bold text, (not too many) colours and fonts. Make it as visual as you can, and use images. But remember and respect copyright.

→ Make sure you use social media to publicize your post: tweet about it, write a brief LinkedIn update on it, and so on. Remember, social media is a conversation and if you don’t talk no one will hear you.

→ Make sure your post is searchable. Tag it. Use a Google-friendly URL. See my URL up there? Don’t just use a random number: ensure that the URL for your post reflects what you are talking about.

These were my own reflections on the excellent infographic below. Enjoy!


Blog about the things you know about, not about the things you think you should be blogging about

blogging blue

Often, when we think about starting a blog, we feel that we need to come up with something extraordinary, something that will blow the reader’s mind. And with so many brilliant blogs around, it is difficult, if not impossible, to come up with such a wonder. What we don’t realise is that often our own area of expertise is fairly obvious to ourselves, but quite interesting and obscure to others.

Things that are obvious to you might not be obvious to the rest.

An example. I love doing systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and have done quite a few. So, after going through the process of learning how to do them, I feel confident about this particular methodology. And because I feel confident about it, I tend to assume that it is easy for everyone. Wrong.

I am lucky to work with many talented, hard-working people, and they each have their own area/s of expertise. Some of them do not know how to do systematic reviews (I am not talking about literature reviews; I am talking about proper, scientific methodology systematic reviews). So now and then they come and ask me for advise about it, which I am more than happy to provide. After all, I often ask them for advise too. But it took me a while to realise that what seemed obvious to me (for instance, designing a solid and comprehensive search strategy) was not obvious to my colleagues. This made me realise that I knew some stuff, and that I could blog about it. Before that, I felt that I did not have anything interesting to say.

So my advise would be: blog about things you know about, not about things you think you should be blogging about.

Read more about the essentials of blogging.

Let’s talk about blogging fears

Let’s talk about blogging fears. Earlier today I attended the Oxford Brookes University Health and Life Sciences Research Conference 2013, and enjoyed some inspiring sessions. Amongst them, there was a session called “Blogging for healthcare and life sciences: What is the potential for academic development, research and teaching?”, by Marion Waite and Anne Osterrieder. It was a brief, engaging session covering some basics about blogging. We also discussed some of the most common barriers when it comes to blogging. That is, the things that stop us from posting our thoughts on our blogs. Lack of time aside, I was particularly interested in what I like to call apparently some people already call the blogger’s block.

To me, the major block is the idea that what I post will make me look less professional, and possibly stupid. In essence, my 3 main barriers are:

  • It’s all up to me. When I have published before, there has always been some kind of peer review process. For instance, my latest paper on the British Journal of Dermatology went through a few comments and modifications. Any published scientist will agree that that is a rather annoying process. But, nevertheless, I find it reassuring: if these experts decided to publish my stuff, it can’t be that bad. In a way, it’s someone else’s decision, so the mistake cannot be all mine. However, when it comes to blogging, I am here alone, typing. The decision of posting and the consequences of it are all my responsibility.
  • Language barriers. Not being a native English-speaker makes me very insecure when I blog in English. When I have blogged or written for the Web in my native languages Catalan and Spanish, I have never felt this insecurity. I have lived and worked in Oxford for many, many years, and my British family and friends say that my English is good. So I guess it is not that bad. But still, it lessens my confidence.
  • Blogs are not always good. I have seen more boring blogs than I can remember. I am also lazy, so unless a blog is really engaging, well written and relevant to me, I stop reading after the second sentence. So I worry that people will find my posts boring, irrelevant, badly written, too long, and so on.
These are my 3 main barriers. What are yours?