As I recently “celebrated” my fiftieth post, I also recognize the progress, and mistakes, made so far. For those of you interested, modern blogging is a powerful medium in which to publish, share, market and promote goods, services and information.
I would like to share some of this progress and tell you what I have done so far;
1. Be disciplined. I started April 21, 2009. 50 posts took almost 4 months. It takes discipline, but more importantly, have an interest in what you are doing. Don’t write for the sake of writing. Your lack of interest will be evident if you have nothing to say.
2. Be focused. If you take the time to read the first 10-20 posts, you’ll find the subject matter is scattered. I recently decided to move away from writing about all retinal diseases as the subject matter is too broad. I have focused on patients with diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. This helps me choose what to write about, and faithful readers are more likely to find something of interest. Faithful readers will keep coming back.
3. Define/target your audience. I am not too sure of this one. I am relatively new to blogs and websites. I have a personal goal of achieving 5000 visits per month. It is important to “speak” to your audience in a manner that neither bores them nor intimidates them. It is impossible to address everyone’s needs.
4. Blogs/Web sites need to be dynamic. This means several things. First and foremost, you are building a site that will never be finished. This includes graphics, content, widgets, plugins, etc. As you change, so will your blog. Second, don’t be in a rush to have the “perfect” website. Readers are interested in what you have to say, not how you look. The graphics and layout will come with time. Just get started. It is scary, but if I can do it……………………….Oh, yes, third, be patient with yourself and your site. It will change as you better define what you are doing and so will your writing. By paying attention to your traffic, you should be able to tell when you have found the right recipe. Stay tuned – I’ll let you know.
5. WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com Both are exceptional products, but there are basic differences. WP.org requires the purchase of a hosting plan and purchase of your own URL (e.g. www.yournamehere.com). WP.org is free and contains hundreds of themes. I would choose a hosting service such as “Go Daddy,” as they provide hosting, support and WordPress. The biggest difference with WP.org is that you use your own domain. WP.com is free, does not require a hosting plan, has limited themes and you create your URL from within the wordpress domain.
6. Use “Go Daddy.” I chose WordPress. org for many of the reason stated above and would heavily endorse obtaining the URL (the www.yournamehere.com) and web hosting from “Go Daddy.” They are the largest and have supreme customer support. Wordpress.org is even integrated through Go Daddy if needed. It couldn’t be simpler to start. If you choose to do so, clicking on the link below will help this site as an affiliate. The pricing to you is the same.
7. Registered with Technorati.com on August 3. At this writing, this blog is 3,193,036 places from #1! Technorati is a weblog search engine. I’ve been reading a bit here and there, it seems it is one of the pioneers of blog SE and the one of the largest.
8. The downer about weBlogs is that you can’t have everything cute, pretty and tidy when you launch, or, I haven’t figured out an easy way to do this. Unlike a web site, the files/webpage are created on your own computer and then upload for publishing, that is, you can create your whole website from A-Z and not publish it to the world until you are ready. Wordpress software is located on your hosting server (in the case of WordPress.org) or on WordPress.com servers. You must login to work on your site. No hiding anything. The hardest part is getting to know the intracies of your theme to customize your layout as it takes time with trial and error. (There may be a work around, but I chose not to get too distracted and just plunged ahead.) The great thing about blog software is that you can work on your blog from any computer that has an internet connection (vs. a webpage that can edited only from a specific computer).
On the other hand, your popularity as a blog only increases with the number of tags and the amount of content, so in the beginning, you are going to be pretty hard to find anyway!
9. My hope is to create a credible web site for my patients, my colleagues and other persons that have macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. There are few sites that I have found that have been truly written by a retina specialist. I think there is an advantage in there somewhere!
10. Tweet on Twitter. Presently, I “tweet” every new post on Twitter. I am hopeful to start a periodic email/newsletter targeted to my patients and colleagues urging them to use this as a resource. I have integrated RSS and email opt-ins via Feedburner.google.com. It takes a lot of hastle out of keeping track of all the chicklets/social bookmarking sites.
Lot’s of luck. Wish me luck. Have fun!
Randall V. Wong, M.D.