For the writer who's new to blogging, there's much to consider when drafting your posts.
Yet, there's more to blogging than just writing. You may also need to provide images, research, revise, format, optimize, and amplify your content.
In this case, writing a blog is more akin to multitasking. It can be overwhelming to think about all of these things at once, especially when writing medical content, by itself, is challenge enough.
However, the process of building a healthcare blog can be made simpler if you follow a prescribed process that takes all these tasks into consideration. Here's one such approach (one of countless strategies) that can free up your brainspace so you can better concentrate on the actual writing... and maybe even enhance it.
The 4-step approach to blogging
If you've been blogging for a while, you may have already identified a process that works best for you. You may have already learned that, by organizing your thought process in some fashion, you can reduce time spent on blog "housekeeping" that might be better spent on content writing.
This 4-step approach is one way to do this, and it starts before you even start the writing.
Step 1: Organize your thoughts
This may be thought of as visually structuring your blog using 4 familiar components: The headline, headers, images, and keywords.
From inside the blog utility window, start by writing a headline that reflects your content goal.
You can always change it later, and you probably will, but at least it provides you with a conceptual anchor for writing the content. Headlines are important for capturing readers; don't skimp on this effort.
Headers are composed of special text such as subtitles or subheads which are subordinate to the headline.
Start with 2 to 4 main headers; these will represent the 2 to 4 key points you want to make in your blog. The use of lesser headers (subheads) beneath each of the main ones is a matter of necessity. If you have lots of information to break out, that's when the subheads come in handy.
Again, you can always change these later, but the idea is to give yourself a location to write from as well as a destination to write toward. The text you compose between the first main header and the next one should logically link the two together.
Here's an example:
In this clip from a recent post on headlines here at the inBoundMed blog, you can see that:
the main header, "What does a successful headline do?", is followed by text introducing the multiple points to be made in the blog post.
the use of subheads such as "Summarize," "Connect," and "Motivate" logically guide the focus of the content between each of these subheads, like a game of "connect the headers" instead of the "dots"
Now that you have this "connect-the-headers" structure in place, you can write your way from one key point to the next. Make sure you have a list of keywords you can draw from as you write this content; it's the keywords that work double duty, not only as the content of your blog post, but also as major optimization tools.
One way to ensure you are using the best keywords is to run keyword searches prior to writing the blog. In fact, sometimes you can bring clarity to a fuzzy blog concept by reviewing keywords first, then shaping your content around the stronger ones you discover.
Keeping a master list of universally strong keywords is both practical and inspiring for the writer of any skill level. It's also helpful to note that blogging utilities like HubSpot build in keyword lists and collections as well as analyze them for you.
Once you've got the semblance of a blog post, content wise, you will want to add images to the mix. Images also tell the story of your blog post, both fairly and accurately. They also break up the grayness of text, providing visual relief and interest, all things that help aid the readability of a blog.
You may wish to review images you want to use first (like you would keywords) to spark ideas or discover angles for what you want to write about. Or, you can write your blog post first and match up the images with the content you've created. It's all up to you.
Step 2: Generate your content
This is the writing of the blog content. There's much to be said about this topic, but for our purposes here, the discussion is narrowed to the main 3 processes of content generation: research, writing, and revision.
It's typical in medical blogging to reference studies, use quotes from experts (direct ones are best), and cite statistics from legitimate sources in order to ground your blog message in authority. Make sure you do adequate research. Your reputation rests on it.
Keeping the writing simple and easy to read is a must for medical blogs. Two words: plain language.
As you set up your blog (see Step 1: Organize your thoughts), remember it should use a traditional 3-part narrative that includes introduction, body text, and conclusion.
Introduction: This is known as the lede in journalism and the thesis statement in academic writing. This is where you briefly identify for the reader what you'll be writing about. It falls before the first main header and after the headline.
Body: This is the main content of the blog post, however structured. It follows the main header.
Conclusion: A brief wrap up at the end of the blog helps seal your message neatly, and naturally leads to the positioning of a call to action (see Step 4: Optimize to "be found"). It follows after the body of the blog post, but (usually) before the CTA.
For some writers, this is the best part of writing, but for others, it's the worst. In either case, it's necessary.
Look for typos, check spellings of proper names and medical terminology, confirm your facts, make sure the narrative says what you actually want it to say. Here's a helpful tip: Read it out loud. If it sounds funny, then something needs fixing.
Step 3: Format your post
This has, in all likelihood, already been done for the main elements of the blog post, such as the headers. However, there's still more to tend to.
Inside the text
Italics. Establish rules for when to use italics, then be consistent and use restraint. For the best advice, check out the AP Stylebook or the APA for rules about using italics.
Boldface. The same rules go for boldface. It's usually used only to help call out important phrases, terms, or other key information. As usual, be consistent and don't overdo it.
Special characters. Symbols, em dashes (which should replace double hyphens), and accented letters should be spotted and added at this time.
Indentation (bullets, numbers, blockquotes). You may wish to use lists (a popular format in blogging) to convey batches of information. Hanging bullets are common; enumerated text can help with process writing, in which directions using a sequence are relayed. You can also, for variety, simply indent key text, like quotes, using the blockquote formatting feature to set them apart.
Outside the text
"Typefitting." Make sure there's enough allowance of white space between the text and any images you've positioned there.
Special content. There might be a "sources" list or photo credits to include which don't fit into the main body; these should be formatted to stand out.
Step 4: Optimize to "be found"
Search engine optimization (SEO) describes strategies to ensure your blog will be found by Google and other search engines.
We've already mentioned keywords (in Step 1: Organize your thoughts). Here's a great opportunity to revisit your blog and see how many keywords you've already used and how many more you might be able to plug into the content in order to improve your rankings with Google.
Keywords, Part Two
Don't underestimate their power; keywords are critical to use in all forms of text associated with a blog in order to optimize it.
Meta tags: These are the words that search engines "crawl" for in order to catalog your content. Never forget to add these.
URL: Keywords should be part of the headline. The URL will usually reflect the headline, but you may also be able to add more keywords to its default URL to make it easier for people (and search engines) to find.
Social media text: Some blogging platforms (like HubSpot) now have automated messaging that is distributes and amplifies your new content to your social networks the moment it goes live. You can build in Twitter code (such as @ and #) to draw even more attention.
Image tags ("alt text"): All images have a space to include alternative text; this is to help search engines identify what the images are, but also to benefit people who cannot see the images, but who may still encounter an image placeholder. The text you choose to tag your images should be—you guessed it—keywords.
Embedding links into your content will give it more authority and interest to readers, as well as improve its rankings in search engines. There are two main kinds.
Internal links: These take the reader to another location inside the host webpage where the blog lives. The idea here is to create "rabbit holes" of quality information that keep your readers actively engaged in your blog. The longer they stay, the more likely they will take some sort of action toward engagement with your medical practice.
External links: These send the reader to another website. They come in handy when you want to share authoritative or controversial information or provide your readers with a digital, in-line "footnote."
Do yourself a favor: format your external links so that they open into separate windows or tabs. This way, the reader may visit the site you recommend without fully leaving your blog. Remember, you want them to stick around.
Also, external links are a form of "link love" which drives traffic to your favorite resources. Generally speaking, this is a kind of blogger-to-blogger karma you don't want to undervalue. When you refer readers to sites you love, the site owners will notice and do the same for you. Free publicity is free publicity.
Finally, one of the main reasons you have a blog for your medical practice is to connect with potential patients, right? For them, you need to always include at least one call to action (CTA), which asks them to participate actively in something, such as a poll, newsletter subscription, comments, or other digital engagement.
These optimize your blog by using keywords, but also by providing the vehicle necessary to connect you, one on one, with potential patients.
Marketing research shows that when a reader commits to filling out a form for a website serving a business, they are much more likely to end up reaching out to that business in "real life."
If you take this 4-step approach (or some version of it), you may find that, over time, the actual content generation for your blog will come more easily and quickly. This is because your thinking about the structure of the message will have become second nature, leading to content that is much more sharply focused.
While language, syntax, and diction are necessary for clear, concise writing, the structure of the content should be equally intentional. Using blog elements to shape content can add dimension and fluidity to your narrative as well.
If this approach doesn't work for you, you may find another process does. It could be an inverted variation on this one, or something that makes sense only to you.
Remember this: there is more than one way to write a successful blog post. Trying out different processes for simplifying the work and lightening the load on your personal "bandwidth" can go a long way toward making you a resilient, efficient, creative, and clever blogger.
Want to learn more about inbound marketing to attract new patients? Check out our free e-book below for more in-depth coverage of these medical content marketing efforts and much more.