Whether or not you syndicate a blog depends on your goals. “If you want to build readership, it can be helpful,” Dr. Sufka says.
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The downside of syndication is that it might decrease the ranking of your writing in Google or other search engines, which tend to penalize duplicate information (unless the duplicate post is tagged in a specific way).
Syndication can either occur by invitation (e.g., a known blogging network or specific blog asking if it can repost your content), or by you asking to do the same from similar networks. Alternatively, you can pay networks to promote your content through syndication.
A blog should tackle complex or sensitive subjects in a clear and concise way, have a subtle sense of humor where appropriate and not be too long, Mr. Steinmetz maintains. It’s important to address issues plainly and honestly. Don’t obfuscate because you are afraid of scaring people away. However, there are also times when the best line will be, “Be sure to talk about this with your doctor.”
But ultimately, whether your blog is successful or not depends on your definition of success. “A blogger can be considered very successful, but publish only rarely, especially if he writes high-quality content,” Dr. Sufka says.
The best blogs are written by people who are passionate about a particular subject.
Personally, Dr. Sufka bases his blog’s success on the types of connections that he’s formed over time. For example, his blog has led to invitations to speak at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, organizing meet-ups of rheumatologists on social media and various other connections through his interest in technology.
For Dr. Hausmann, feedback from patients has been rewarding and encouraging. “They really appreciate that I bring awareness of their diseases to other providers, because many have had these conditions for years before they were diagnosed,” he says. “I break down a disease’s components so readers can understand them without knowing many medical terms. Readers also find comfort in knowing that they aren’t the only ones suffering from a condition, and find my referrals to other blogs and resources useful.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.
Should You Hire a Writer?
If a rheumatologist really loves to write, by all means they should give it a try. What they may find, though, is that it might become drudgery as they fit it in with all of their other tasks. And because the point of writing a blog is to attract patients by disseminating one’s knowledge, the blog should be very well written—not perceived as rushed. “Professional blogs should be interesting, clear and concise, and grammatically perfect with no spelling or punctuation errors,” says Paul Steinmetz, MBA, principal of Writing Associates, Danbury, Conn.