I’m about to do something that I’ve never done in my entire career. I’m going to open up and be brutally honest about myself: I’m a professional writer, and I struggle with writing.
Truly. This isn’t a gimmick. I’ve been working with words (in one way or another) for 15 years at this point, and while I like to think I’ve learned a lot during that time, each piece I write is genuinely difficult for me and oozing with self-doubt. I don’t like most of the words that pop out of my head, and the time it takes me to complete an article is, well, let’s just say it’s a bit longer than I’d care to admit.
This doesn’t mean I’m a terrible writer or that I’m not good at my job. It just means that writing is hard, plain and simple. No matter who you are, it’s tough to cram in language, tone, expression, and movement into these tiny little letters on the screen—not to mention trying to share useful information to a wide range of people and personalities.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because blogging can be an enormous boost to your practice, and I’m hoping that my honesty (along with some helpful advice) might inspire some of you to maintain blogs of your own.
Talent and time are two things that many of us feel we just don’t have enough of to maintain a decent blog, and I know this because I struggle with both. It’s my theory, though, that with the proper motivation and a little self-leniency anyone can create a valuable blog worth reading.
To illustrate my ideas, I’ll first walk you through some of the reasons why Cliniko makes such a hefty effort to maintain a blog, and then I’ll offer up my thoughts on how ‘non-writers’ can get started by focusing on what really matters in a post. (Hint: it’s all about the readers.)
Why does Cliniko have a blog?
We’ve published a sizable amount of content over the years, always with two explicit purposes: to help practitioners and to grow our business.
Cliniko is genuinely committed to offering ideas and advice that can help clinics survive and grow. We want your practice to be successful. I mean, that’s the entire purpose of Cliniko, right? Our software is designed to be a useful tool in your clinic, and our blog should be no different. Helping practitioners is what we do.
Having said that, blogs are also a tried and true way to boost our website’s digital presence. Although we try to be a nice business, we are still a business. We want to gain more customers, and writing a blog is a great way to do that. Every time we post a new article, it helps to increase our standing in search engine results, which can draw more people to our product. It’s also the perfect excuse for us to hop on social media to promote the new article and engage with readers.
The bottom line is, it’s in our best interest to support your practice. When we publish helpful articles, we wind up helping ourselves too. It’s a win-win, and because the promotional benefits are a pleasant side-effect of a useful post, we’re able to keep our focus where it should be: providing valuable content that practitioners can use.
These are the same reasons why I’m encouraging you to keep a blog. There are people who need your help and posting articles filled with information, advice, and treatment options could do more good than you’ll ever know. Some of those people might be returning patients or prospective clients and some will never book an appointment. It doesn’t matter. If your goal is to simply help people in need, you could earn yourself some marketing benefits in the process.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Have a look at this article from HubSpot to see for yourself just how valuable a blog can be.
How to write a blog post.
There is no right or wrong way for you to write. There is only your way. What works for one person may not work for another. So, instead of giving you rigid steps to follow, I’ll just say that you should do what comes naturally to you, and then continuously strive to improve your methods.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you improve your process and make your writing more effective, and I do recommend that you seek out some of that info when you’re ready. For our purposes here, though, I’m going to focus on what I think are the two most important things you can do to help yourself get started and feel motivated to gradually improve your writing process over time.
Write what you know.
The Cliniko blog is a team effort. Sometimes I’ll write a piece on my own, and other times, one of my teammates will write a post. And occasionally, we'll bring in a guest author from outside of Cliniko because they have expert knowledge on a topic or a unique perspective that we simply don’t have.
These decisions are made with one question in mind: who is the most credible person to present the information? My ego would love to say that I’m an expert in all things, but the truth is, I’m not (please don’t tell my wife). So it’s better to have someone else write a post if they are more qualified on the subject.
As a practitioner, though, you have an advantage here. Most of your posts (if not all of them) should be related to the services and treatments you offer, and you are by far the best person to share that information.
Most of your posts (if not all of them) should be related to the services and treatments you offer.
So, as your clinic's resident expert, look within your practice for writing ideas. What are some of the most common treatments you offer? A blog post with helpful info on a popular topic has the potential to help a lot of people and might draw some nice traffic to your website. On the other hand, writing about a unique condition that you rarely see might help you tap into a niche group who are underserved by the allied health industry.
I came up with the idea for this piece in a similar way. I was looking through clinic websites searching for a practitioner to write a guest post on our blog. I must have searched through nearly a hundred sites, and I was shocked at how few of them had blogs. Since I happen to know a bit about writing, and I believe that blogs can be helpful marketing tools, I decided that this project was worth developing.
Write in your own voice.
If you’ve ever considered blog writing in the past, you may have seen or heard the phrase ‘write like you talk’. That’s good advice, and it’s worth taking to heart. Don’t over complicate your writing with fancy wordplay—just be yourself.
But what does that mean exactly?
When it comes to writing, ‘your voice’ is really just another way of saying ‘your style’. If you’re compassionate and a good listener, try to convey that empathy in your writing. Or if you like to crack jokes and make clients smile during appointments, toss some humor into your posts. Maybe you’re a little more serious, but you always offer thorough explanations. That’s great, too. Carry it over into your blog.
All the skill and talent you need is already in you. In fact, it is you.
I try to add a little of my voice into everything I write, but that’s pretty difficult at the moment. As a Texan writing for an Australian company, it takes a lot of effort to resist my redneck tendencies and make good use of the playful Aussie vocabulary. I’m making progress, but it’s hard yakka! (See what I did there?)
The point is, my voice is not Cliniko’s voice, so I have to make adjustments in my writing. Fortunately, you’re not in that situation. Your voice can be your clinic’s voice, and all the skill and talent you need is already in you. In fact, it is you. Your patients hear your speaking style at every appointment. They’re comfortable with you and the way you share information. Reading that same tone in a blog post will probably feel quite natural to them.
Of course, prospective new clients will read your articles too. Some will like your style and some won’t. That’s totally fine. You can’t please everyone. But by putting yourself out there, you make it possible for those who like your voice to discover your practice and maybe even book an appointment.
Quality over quantity.
The quality of a post is defined by the value it brings to the readers. No one expects you to win any literary awards, but people do expect that reading your articles is worthwhile. Don’t waste their time with useless fluff pieces just so you can meet some arbitrary quota that you saw on a marketing website.
It only takes a quick Google search to find a slew of companies saying that you should be cranking out new material like you’re some kind of content machine, and to be fair, they’re not wrong. Statistically, a high-volume blog can produce strong results. But most practitioners don’t have time for that. You’re too busy running your practice. It’s not realistic for you to write every day (or even every week).
And I’m here to tell you, that’s okay. You don’t have to make new posts all the time. Yes, it can be helpful for certain metrics, but it's not a requirement for creating a good blog. Just do what you can, because even a sporadic post is better than nothing at all.
Just do what you can, because even a sporadic post is better than nothing at all.
Some people are tempted to outsource their blog posts to freelance writers and marketing agencies. That can be a good option for some, and there are plenty of reputable services out there, but as a former freelance writer myself, I recommend that you write your own articles. No matter what modality you’re in, the relationships you have with your clients are inherently personal. Your patients put their trust in you, and it’s important to create a blog that reflects your commitment to them—no one can do that better than you.
How to get started.
This is the most important advice I can give you: begin every piece by establishing the intended value for the reader. See the finish line first, and then figure out the best path to get there.
Will your post help people to feel less pain or avoid a chronic condition? Will they gain a new understanding of their situation or learn techniques that could resolve a specific conflict? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself before you start writing, and the more detailed your response, the more focused your writing can be.
Keep in mind, though, that the value is different from the topic. Value is about how the information you provide will improve a reader’s circumstance in some way, and the topic is the vehicle you use to provide that value.
At the end of the day, it’s all about offering care for people who need it, and I have a hunch that’s part of the reason you got into practice in the first place. So your blog is truly just an extension of your desire to help. Keep that in mind as you write, and you’ll be just fine.