Last Thursday evening was our Navigating Your Health Narrative webinar featuring Lisa Emrich and Jenni Prokopy. The event was an incredible testament to these two bloggers’ dedication to their communities (special thanks to them for joining us and sharing their wisdom!) and showcased their skill at getting real about health blogging. If you joined us, you know just how “real” we got (did we set off anyone’s TMI meter?) and if you’re ready to relive some of the greatness with us – check out this some of my highlights below. I wanted to recap some of the most important points we discussed live in the event and pop in some of the brilliance that our awesome commentariat offered alongside the webinar live on Twitter (#wegowebinar)!
1. Name your blog! So you have a health condition and you want to talk about it online… Lisa recommends first deciding what you’re going to talk about in your blog. She decided to name her blog Brass & Ivory because she wanted to talk about more than the health research she was sharing (this was back before her patient blogging days) and named her blog after her love of music. Jenni went with the blog and moniker “ChronicBabe” to encompass that lifestyle she wanted to promote – living well despite chronic illness and “being a total babe.”
2. Be you! No matter where you blog, comment, interact – be yourself. It helps build your brand, yes, but also keeps your online persona honest and easy-to-maintain – less work for you, more reward for your readers. It’s best to be true to your writing voice from the very start. As you blog more, you’ll progress, sure, but you’ll have already established that awesome “you” that readers and community members will associate with your name and avatar.
3. Health bloggers share things with their blog-readers that they don’t even share IRL (in real life)?! It’s true. As both Lisa and Jenni will attest – they have opened up about unbelievably personal topics because they knew it would help their communities to be open, too. In fact, in doing so – both felt they’d “done the right thing” and actually helped their readers feel comfortable opening up (or even talk to their doctors about sex stuff) and, as the case may be, laugh at themselves.
MiriamsHope : I do find the times that I really bare my soul out there – that’s when I get some of the most wonderful support from my readers
Be real! Don’t let the downers get you down, it’s ok to be upbeat. And if you want to be down for a bit – that’s ok too. It’s your blog! You’re in the driver’s seat. Positive is a good bet, but being honest is even better.
KellyRawlings: Positive is fine & good, but really I prefer snark & sass.
PeacheyPlanner : I use the 20/80 rule with keeping topics positive. 80 percent positive, 20 percent negative.
4. Conversely – health bloggers swear less on their blogs than they do in real life. Our commentariat was sure to throw out some cuss-words on behalf our panelists. Now that’s Health Activist teamwork!
5. Planning your blog is your Editorial Calendar. It’s not inauthentic to think ahead. You don’t have to be a journalist to have something on the docket. If you make an Editorial Calendar as an ideal framework – just be sure you “schedule-in” some play time and space to get creative. It’s great to look ahead to see what you want to cover each month on your blog, but don’t worry about being married to an Editorial Calendar (or EdCal). Something will come up that you want to comment on or research – that’s ok! It’s what really differentiates your blog and your blogger voice.
FeliciaFibro : I keep a loose editorial calendar so I can think over my post ideas more, but it more by season – no specific dates really.
txtngmypancreas : I have never had an editorial calendar. I’ll have ideas on post-it notes that I eventually get around to, but… that’s it.
mandylipka : The great thing about the blogging ed cals is that YOU are the journalist you’re hunting down and pitching.
6. It’s cool to schedule tweets, posts, and interaction in advance. Especially if you have a chronic condition and can have unexpected, painful flare-ups, be ready ahead of time. It’s ok to take day(s) off when you’re hurting or need to rest. Be as prepared as you can. Use one of the tweet-scheduling programs or ask a blogger friend to guest post. And, if sometimes comes up – be honest about it. It’s perfectly ok to write about what you’re going through and let your readers know you’re going to take a blog-breather.
7. Share the conversation, share the love! Here are some great tweets about interacting with your community members:
MiriamsHope: Getting participation from readers: I try to end my posts with a question or action item.
txtngmypancreas: Getting started – read blogs and leave some comment love. Let people get to know you, and know you aren’t all about YOU.
PeacheyPlanner: the community makes me feel less alone when facing the disease
typedwriter when i view someone’s blog I almost always make a comment to one of their posts as a sign of support
diabetesalic : Always share your sources – it makes people feel really great when u link back to them!
4thandLife : the twitter world is so friendly & helpful, just ask them and they’ll help
amblass: Unless it is your job, its OKAY to take a few days off from your blog. Go out and live life. Material will come.
8. If you think you might want to blog; just do it! It’s worth it. As Lisa said, “”What comes back to you seems so much greater than what you put out there. Its totally worth it.” And as Jenni put it:
9. An anagram for “webinar” is “winebar.” Awesome.
And remember what all health bloggers have in common:
What was your favorite moment of the webinar? The hour went so quickly, we had lots of other topics and questions to cover – what would you have wanted us to talk about? Jump over to our Health Bloggers Group to discuss.