How to Get More Veterinarians to Blog (And a Shout-Out to Others Who Do)
Sometimes I feel like I’m a lone voice in the wilderness, seeing as so few of my fellow veterinary professionals have glommed onto blogging as an extension of their professional roles. Sure, there are some (see below), but it’s still a virtual desert out here.
You might think I’d like it this way. More readers for me and all that. But I’m of the opinion that more bloggers is better for any niche. And more personal descriptions of what our jobs entail can only be good for the profession at large. Which is why I clamor for more blogging veterinarians any chance I get.
In fact, it’s gotten so lonely out here that I’ve offered to lecture on blogging and new media marketing at next year’s big Western Veterinary Conference out in Las Vegas. We’ll see if the powers that be are Web-savvy enough to bite.
For an example of what I try to offer my fellow veterinary professionals (vet techs, too), here’s an excerpt from an interview I did last year on this subject. I just discovered it online and thought you might get a hoot out of it. Following the interview is a list of vets I know who keep blogs. Enjoy!
Q: Why did you start blogging about veterinary medicine? Was there any particular incident that made you start?
A: Not really an incident, more like a moral imperative to fill a void in the world. Partly, it was born of frustration at much of the crappy information I was reading online. But most of it was feeling the urge to write and not really having a goal worthy of the stress I require to get my butt moving. Blogging does that for me.
Q: Who’s the target audience for [FullyVetted]? Are you aiming to reach clients and pet owners, other DVMs, or all of the above?
A: All of the above. Truly, [FullyVetted] isn’t a mass market-worthy site. It’s more a destination for those who care about pets, have an interest in veterinary medicine and enjoy reading/arguing about animal-related stuff. I get a lot of techs and other veterinary staff, trainers, groomers, breeders, whackos with a chip about vets, regular pet people, and of course, vets themselves — who, by the way, seem largely bemused by why a veterinarian would put so much time and energy into a daily blog.
Q: How do clients respond to your blog?
A: Oh, yeah. My clients love it. I’ve known most of them for years so it’s a fun talking point during visits and it’s pretty cool to be able to watch them improve their compliance after reading another one of my classic, pet-owners-sometimes-suck kind of rants.
Q: On that same note — you share a lot of personal anecdotes from daily practice on the blog. How do you balance privacy concerns with sharing information on [FullyVetted]?
A: I change all names, dates and identifying details to protect the innocent and indefensible, alike. I don’t need a law suit, you know? But that never keeps me from having my say — well, almost never.
Q: How has blogging helped your practice, in terms of marketing and overall enrichment?
A: Um … lots. I get plenty of new clients via [FullyVetted]. But it’s not really about the quantity. The best part is that all the clients I’ve sourced online have become Class A clients. In this economy that’s a brilliant thing.
I also find that blogging gives me more credibility in the media world. I’ve parlayed the blog into a better than decent sideline income from advertising and from writing for magazines and newspapers. By the end of this year my vet income might actually look smaller than my on-the-side stuff.
In terms of overall enrichment? Hmmm….let’s just say that I keep up with my journals a whole lot more, I attend oodles more conferences and I’ll never want for CE credits. And personally speaking, I’d be willing to credit my continued job satisfaction to [FullyVetted]. That’s a whole lot more important to me than racking up CE hours. I may work more hours but I’m more satisfied by all of them. Lifestyle is everything, you know?
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned while blogging?
A: Good question. I’ve learned to be more diplomatic — not my forte. I’ve learned not to write off the cuff — hard for a blogger that writes about 500-1,000 words a day. I’ve learned how to take criticism far more gracefully. And I’ve learned, above all, to respect my audience and be more inclusive of their views. In short, I’m more open-minded, I think.
Q: What advice would you offer veterinarians who may be looking to start their own blog?
A: Start small but post every day. Don’t publish it online if it makes you squirm but just keep writing daily. Pick easy topics at first — ear hematomas, claw fractures, common toxins — and move on to real life, non-formula writing after you’ve developed a voice. Give it time and you’ll find that the two people and your mother who’ve been reading it have grown to 5,000.
And yes, it’s definitely worth a try if you find this economy’s got you sitting on your hands more than you really want to.
OK, so here are some other bloggers you should know about (I'm hoping to make this a comprehensive list for an upcoming USA Today article so please contribute more in your comments below):
- Dr. Phil Zeltzman: While this surgeon's weekly newsletter isn't technically a blog, it's an essential follow, nonetheless.
- Dr. Nancy Kay: Another weekly newsletter, and a perennial goodie.
- Dr. Marty Becker's blog at PetConnection.com. Though Dr. Becker doesn't write most of it, his staff is tops in the pet health blogging biz. No die-hard pet peep should dare miss out on this one. Dr. Narda Robinson and Dr. Tony Johnson also contribute regularly.
- Dr. Pete Wedderburn: His "Pete The Vet" blog is a big hit with me. This U.K. vet is a regular on my blogroll.
- Dr. V's Pawcurious blog is another highly readable entry. I've just started plumbing its depths.
- The SkeptVet is a veterinarian-authored blog dedicated to outing the truth behind complementary and alternative medicine in our profession.
- Then there's the Animal Madness blog, which is authored by a U.K. small animal vet. Here's a great post of hers.
- No, she's not a veterinarian, but since she's a PhD animal welfare scientist at the AVMA, Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane's BunnyHugger blog falls easily into the veterinary blog category.
- Dr. Rachel Blackmer: The adventures of a dog and cat and wildlife vet. New to me, this blog promises to be bookmark-worthy.
- VMDiva is a must-read too, though she's not been posting much this summer (hope that lights a gentle fire).
- Then there's The Critical Vet, a newbie blogger who offers a much larger list of vet bloggers than I do here. Thanks!!
Dr. Patty Khuly