It’s hard to believe, but the Activity Tailor blog is coming up on its one year anniversary! I can’t believe it’s only been a year. Clearly, internet years are more similar to dog years.
There has been an onslaught of new bloggers, even in just the past six months, and I expect there are lots of therapists out there toying with the idea themselves. So to commemorate my progress, I’m offering a therapy blog recipe.
Like any good recipe, you need to tweak it so it suits your own tastes and what you have in your cupboard, but this currently feeds me.
Recipe for a Therapy Blog
- Mise en place: (For the non-foodies this means “everything in place”) You will need a name, host and blogging platform. For me, it was important my name cover both my clinical business and my website and, most importantly, that it was available as a .com. Although I started blogging a year ago, I had secured my domain name much earlier, when I started my practice. If you own your domain name, you will have greater freedom to change hosts or your blogging platform. If you blog through a “free blogging platform”, you don’t truly own your blog/name (and it’s very tricky to move readers from one site to another). I have a number of technical people in my life who provided guidance in the hosting/platform arena. You’ll need to do your own research, but my site is hosted on bluehost.com and I use WordPress to blog.
- Marinate in ideas. Spend some time imagining the creation you want based on your tastes and interests. Give minimal thought to your guests at this point—there are always a couple of picky eaters. If you enjoy the dish, the guests you value will too. Do you want to share your knowledge with other therapists? Will this be a resource for your clients or caregivers? Perhaps you want to blog about non-speech interests or offer frequent anecdotes about your day.
- Combine your knowledge and viewpoint. Try to set yourself apart in some way. For instance, there are several excellent technology/app sites out there right now and unless you bring something very different to the table, you might want to reconsider your niche. Think about the resources you tend to look for, but can’t find. Incorporate your skill set.
- Mix your enthusiasm with your expertise. Once you have your site up and running (and, yes, I’m glossing right over technical and design issues), start writing!
- Fold in attention to detail. If you can, write a post, walk away (a full day is ideal) and re-read it. Your writing will be better with the edits. Double check grammar and use spell check!
- While it simmers, try an editorial calendar. This discipline will actually make it easier for you to persevere in the long run. Ideas generate more ideas! An editorial calendar was a major takeaway from a blogging convention I attended last fall. I chose a pattern of a Wednesday post one week, with Tuesday and Thursday posts the following which was a schedule I thought I could keep up with long term. I have a calendar I use to jot down and “schedule” post ideas. Since I post therapy ideas along with tips and general musings, it also helps me keep the menu balanced.
- Offer a taste. Once your initial posts are up, give it a little taste. Is it what you were going for? Ask a friend or family member to sample a bit. Allow them to do this in private, on their own computer. You want to be sure they can find, without assistance, links and button. You also want to be sure your site is translating well on other devices. Do they have any suggestions? Remember, a suggestion is not a to-do list! Consider their input and make your own decision.
- Correct seasonings as needed. WordPress keeps statistics for you on a daily basis or you can install Google Analytics. This will give you a good idea of what seems to be resonating with your readers and how they found you. Keep working on your own flavor.
- Time to serve. This is a tough one, because it requires a thick skin. You’ll begin to gain readers/subscribers (hooray!) and they’ll comment periodically (yippee!). But you will also have someone unsubscribe at some point (ack!) or submit a comment you don’t love (boo!). Remember, you can’t please every palate nor should you try.
- Extra helpings: Wondering how to get them coming back for seconds and thirds? Some of it will just take time and regular posting, but there are some things you can do to increase interest. Be sure to announce your new post on your Facebook page or on Twitter (with #SLPeeps). Comment appropriately and thoughtfully on similar blogs. If you are particularly proud of a post, submit it to a large compilation blog (such as ASHAsphere or PediaStaff) or see if you can guest post on a site with more traffic.
A word about garnishes: Peculiar fonts, odd color choices (i.e. white text on black), background music, manically animated side bars, can quickly ruin an otherwise delightful dish (think peanut butter and pickle sandwich). Go easy.
A word about portion sizes: Blog posts are generally best kept on the short to moderate side. If you have lots to say on a particular topic consider, 1) breaking it into a multipart post, 2) adding breaks with photos, 3) using a numbered list or bullet point format or, 4) ignoring all advice and gorging! (Probably best saved for special occasions.)
I’m constantly sampling other sites and tweaking my own. This summer, I added an ongoing series, “Home is Where the Heart Is” with a focus on parents/caregivers. This fall, I’ll start posting every Tuesday and Thursday because….well, I guess I have room for a little more!
Chef’s Specials: Pathologically Speaking, Let’s Talk SLP, Speech Adventures or check out a complete menu at ASHASphere, “The Best Speech-Language Pathologist Blogs from A to Z.”