Infographic

How to Ignite Your Creative Process

Attention-grabbing prose can’t always be cranked out on demand. Most writers can relate to occasionally being frozen by a blank page and a looming deadline. Nonetheless, some simple steps can get ideas flowing and your writing moving in the right direction.

Check out the infographic below for suggestions on firing up creativity, especially when you feel like you’re at a standstill.

How do you get your creative juices flowin’? Tell us on our podcast! Leave a voicemail on our homepage!

Jodi McCaffrey

How to Get the Most from an Interview with a Subject Matter Expert

Good healthcare content conveys information. Great healthcare content tells a story while delivering it. To get to the core of your topic, you’ll need to act like a reporter and get input from experts in the field. I interviewed five freelance healthcare writers — Erin L. Boyle, Tricia Chaney, Kristen Indahl, Amanda Mattison and Melissa Mills — about their process. Here’s how to get subject matter experts (SMEs) to give up the “good stuff” that makes great content.

Prepare for the Interview

Although most writers will agree that you need to be flexible and allow the conversation to flow naturally, most also agree that some prep before the call is essential. Winging it doesn’t work when you’re interviewing busy professionals.

·         Learn all you can about an SME before the interview so you can make the most of your time together. Some SMEs can only give you 10 minutes of their busy day, so ensure that you use every second of those minutes to your advantage. – Erin

·         Try to find the person on LinkedIn to get a sense of who they are and what they do.

Melissa Mills

·         Write questions in advance, and try to have an idea of the direction you’re taking with the article to help focus the discussion. – Tricia

·         Sometimes you can let the conversation flow organically. Certain insights from the SME may lead you down an interesting path that you may not have previously considered if you had mapped out the conversation in advance. – Kristen

Ask Insightful Questions

For most writing assignments, you’ll need to cover the standard Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, but truly great content takes it a step further and tells a story. Start by asking yourself why someone should care about this topic, why it’s interesting, and what’s new?

Ask open-ended questions. If there’s only one source for the article, ask what key message they hope to get across.

Tricia Chaney

·         SMEs are expecting specific questions about their research or areas of practice, which I ask, too, but often they want to discuss their passion, their why, and tell their stories. One question I sometimes ask is “Tell me your story.” These quotes can be among the best. – Erin

·         I always ask my favorite question at the end of an interview: “Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you feel is important to add?” Nine times out of 10, it leads to a solid conclusion or a beautiful quote. – Kristen

Here are some questions to consider using during your next interview:

  • What makes this hospital/technique/research unique?
  • What would you tell your neighbor about this topic?
  • Tell me your story.
  • How did you feel when you discovered/accomplished this? How did it change you?
  • What’s new about this topic?
  • What do you imagine the future holds regarding this topic?
  • Why did you conduct this research? What inspired you to investigate this deeper?
  • Why does this subject interest you?
  • Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you feel is important to add?
  • What else would you like to say that we haven’t yet discussed?
  • What’s the one takeaway that you want readers of this article to leave with?

Stay On Topic

Sometimes an interview is short and abrupt, just a few minutes with a surgeon between cases. Other times, it’s long-winded with many tangents —  some helpful, some not. Deftly steering the conversation back to the topic takes some finesse.

·         Send questions in advance. Then, your subject can think about their answers, and the questions become almost like an agenda, helping everyone stay on target. – Tricia

·         If an SME goes off message, I listen politely, make non-committal responses, and then return to my questions. Want to keep the interview on track? Validate but don’t engage. – Erin

I continually reroute us back to the questions so that they get answered. However, remember that the rabbit trails frequently lead to the best parts of the story.

Amanda Mattison

Ask for Clarity

You may not understand everything your interview subject is discussing. If this happens to you, don’t let your ego stand in the way of understanding the topic. The worst thing to do is to pretend that you get it, and then when the piece is published, you—or worse, your client—get an angry phone call from the expert.

Our SMEs on SMEs add:

·         Try not to feel bad about not knowing something; it’s why you’re interviewing someone who is an expert. – Melissa

·         I send the article to the person interviewed when appropriate to ensure I got it right. – Tricia

·         I ask if they can think of an analogy or an example that will help readers understand – Amanda

Sometimes rephrasing what you think the SME is saying or asking your questions again in different ways can get you to an answer that your audience will understand.

Kristen Indahl

·         Don’t despair in these cases. Summarize and quote your SME where you can. If you still don’t understand a mechanism or process, seek an additional interview elsewhere. – Erin

Bonus Tips

Our panel shared some bonus tips for working with SMEs:

·         Don’t take it personally if they’re rude. Some also get really picky about wording and will want to make a bunch of changes. It’s not personal. – Tricia

Enjoy the process! You can ask these masters of medicine whatever you want. You have access to some of the best physicians in the world, luminaries in their fields, if only for a few minutes. Bask in your chance to ask them exactly what you need to best enhance your story.

Erin L. Boyle

·         I have noticed that people love to talk about themselves, especially when someone else is genuinely interested. So, I set myself aside and make space for them to be on stage. – Amanda

·         Use Zoom or other video call platforms that give you the ability to record the call so that you don’t have to try to keep up with notes. This way you can fully engage in the conversation—and not note-taking. – Melissa

Crafting content that entertains and informs is part art and part science. Every interview is an opportunity to hone your craft and adjust your process.

What questions do you use to elicit good content from SMEs?

Listen to how we interview on the #SavvyScribe Podcast!

5 Must-Haves For Your Freelance Health Writer Website

5 Must-Haves For Your Freelance Health Writer Website

Thinking about giving your freelance health writer website a makeover? Looking to create one to grow your business? Read up on these 5 freelancer must-haves to showcase your skills.

Employers and clients scan hundreds of resumes and websites, most for only 7 seconds each!  To be successful, it is crucial that you highlight those key details in a creative, easy-to-follow way that will catch your clients’ eye and show them why they should work with you.

1. Specialties

First and foremost, tell them what you’re made of! Be sure to list all your specialties, including those in both your professional healthcare and freelance work. You want to highlight those keywords to optimize your website and let your prospective client know what your strengths are. Clients want to know what you’re good at and why you are the best person for their job. They are searching through a sea of professionals for the right fit. Listing your strengths and areas of expertise shares this information in a clear, succinct way and boosts your search engine optimization (SEO)!

Examples:

  • SEO
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Blog Posts
  • Women’s Health
  • White Papers
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Technical Writing
  • Course Creation

2. Contact Information

Make sure your client can easily find out how to contact you, and not just at that email address you always forget to check! Accessibility and good communication are critical to the success of any business, especially freelancing. Your contact information should be easy to find on your website. Keep this information current. If you are active on social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, add links or icon buttons to attract new followers.

3. Previous Clients

Have you worked for a Fortune 500 company? Did you write copy for a major corporation? Highlight those clients! Be sure to obtain copyright privileges before posting a logo, but when possible, include some of those big-name clients. If you can get those clients to write a brief testimonial, even better! The objective isn’t to brag, but rather show that you are a serious professional who delivers high-quality work.

4. Examples of Your Work

Share your work! Your website is where you can highlight work you are proud of. The work you include in your digital portfolio should be relevant to the niche you are targeting as a freelancer. Be sure to obtain copyright privileges before sharing. If you’re not sure if you have the rights to a piece of work, contact the client or publisher, or check your author contract. Just because you wrote it, doesn’t mean you own it!

5. Who You Are!

Don’t forget to show some personality, without sacrificing professionalism! Clients and colleagues want to know who you are, beyond names and credentials. Your writer website is your space to shine and give a quick snapshot of who you are while communicating what you offer. Keep your images tasteful and professional, and don’t overdo it with pictures or clip art.

The Challenge

I challenge you to ask a trusted friend or family member, preferably someone who isn’t an expert in your business, to take a look at your website. Ask them if they can describe what you offer as a freelancer.

  • Do they know your areas of expertise?
  • Is it clear how to contact you?
  • Can they tell what services you offer?
  • What impression does your website give off?

Sometimes when we look at the same things day in and day out, we overlook the most obvious flaws.

Ask a trusted friend or family member, preferably someone who isn’t an expert in your business, to take a look at your writer website.

Jessica DZubak

What are your must-haves for your author website? What have you seen on others’ websites that you really liked?

For more tips, subscribe to HMN’s SavvyScribe podcast on iTunes!

Carol J. Bush, BS, RN

A Strong Content Plan Starts With A Creative Brief (Template)

The Creative Brief: An Insurance Policy for Developing Awesome Content

Ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach, without a list? Before you know it you’ve chucked healthy choices out the window, grabbed anything that looks good and blown your budget, only to find yourself with a pantry full of cheat day groceries and a guilty conscience.

Think of the creative brief as your shopping list. It provides a framework for your content plan, ensuring the creative team understands your goals and how to authentically represent your brand, voice and messaging. Like a shopping list, the brief describes what you want without dictating how to get there or the exact words to use. Without it, your compelling vision could wind up looking like the Supermarket Sweep of content rather than a coherent, on-point story.

Effective Creative Briefs Articulate Your Brand Attributes With Clarity and Assurance

Read more

A Writers Guide to Surviving a Freelance Famine

The feast and famine cycle is fairly common in the freelance world. Meaning you’re either up to your elbows in deadlines, staring at a screen through blurred vision stemmed from exhaustion or you’re trying to figure out what to do with yourself until the next gig comes along. Since I’m sure you can figure out a thousand ways to fill your time during the feast, today we’re tackling the famine side of the spectrum.

If you’re reading this article I imagine you fall under one of three categories:

  1. You’re currently experiencing a freelance famine
  2. You’ve been there, remember how terrible it was and want to be prepared for next time
  3. You’re a freelancer who has never experienced a famine (lucky you!) and want to be ready just in case

Regardless of why you’re here, the following information is sure to be helpful!

What is Freelance Famine?

If you’ve yet to experience a freelance writing famine in your business congratulations are certainly in order! And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it will happen. I have yet to meet a writer that hasn’t experienced famine in one sense or another. In other words, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

For example, tomorrow, all my clients could email me saying, “Janine our budget has changed, and the article you submitted will be the last one for now. Thanks for working with us.” and BAM, there goes a chunk of my freelance income.

Welcome to a freelance famine.

My Recent Freelance Famine

I had an excellent client who had a fantastic income for me monthly and I submitted 3-4 articles a month to them. Then, with a 30-day notice, I was cut from the budget. Just like that.

What did I do you ask?

What I don’t recommend. I panicked. “It could take weeks or months to make up for this client,” I thought. Then, I took a deep breath and knew I had to get back in the game and work on my business and I hope the following tips I learned along the way are helpful to you in your own journey!

1. Pitch Away

Now that I lacked a client, it was time to pitch! The Healthcare Marketing Network helped me regain clients quickly because all my pitches were accepted! Never pitched before? You can take our free seven-day pitch course when you join the Healthcare Marketing Network!

2. Update your Website

Could your website use a revamp? There’s no better time than now! I didn’t revamp mine, but I did change my pricing structure and played with some new ideas to expand my services. It was during this time that I started to offer coaching and virtual assistance services and built two email lists, rather than one!

3. Find a Tribe

I found my tribe within the Healthcare Marketing Network, but you could find yours anywhere! Go ahead and branch out to find a tribe that supports you in your the work you do, as well as the freelance journey itself. In one of my original Thoughtful Thursdays in our Facebook community for writers, I chatted about finding even one person who does exactly what you are doing. You can help each other become accountable, and just like many things in life, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know!

4. Continue your Blog Postings

Keep up on your content calendar. The more traffic you drive to your site, the more potential clients you will have. This would also be the perfect time to take a look at your social media accounts to make sure they are optimized and tailored to your perfect client!

5. Never Stop Learning

Did you recently hear about a great book on freelance writing? Now’s the time to start reading it! If you’re a writer you’re likely an avid reader as well, but I have met writers that aren’t big on the reading side of things. If that’s you, try listening to audiobooks or podcasts during your commutes. If you have the time and resources why not invest in your business via an online course or local workshop? No matter how you decide to go about it, use this downtime wisely and your business will thank you!

The freelance famine is real, and it can make you feel like a failure because you are alone at your computer. You’re not alone though. At the Healthcare Marketing Network, we offer up a tribe of experienced freelancers to build you up! Whether you need tactical business advice, have questions about a client, or just need words of encouragement we’ve got you covered. We’re like one big, happy family and would love for you to pull up a chair at our roundtable!

 

5 Things Every Nurse Writer Needs to Know

5 Things Every Nurse Writer Needs to Know

As the need for high-quality, on demand nursing related content continues to increase, nurses have unlimited opportunity to become well-paid writers. Whether choosing to write articles that speak to a particular audience, or developing individualized content for hire, nurse writers are very much in demand.

Because nurses are able to speak to an audience in a way that others without our industry experience cannot, we are able to leverage our expertise in a way that helps to secure writing gigs and build a strong following. Even if you’re only interested in writing for fun, there are still a few things you’ll need to do in order to get your writing noticed.

Since you’ve read this far, I’d assume that you are interested in learning more! So without further adieu, here are 5 things that every nurse writer needs to know:

1. Build a Beautiful Website to Host your Work

When you are interested in learning about someone and the work they do, where do you go to find out more? If you said “their website” then you are just like everyone else! It has become an expectation for all businesses and freelance professionals to have a website that not only lists their products and services, but serves as a communication platform for their clients and readers as well. 

When you are building your website you want it to look professional, but don’t be afraid to show some of your personality too! Your website doesn’t have to be fancy. If you look at my services page, you will see that it is a simple page that clearly defines the services I provide. The most important thing is creating a website that clearly represents you and the work that you do.

2. Find Your Niche Audience and Write to Their Needs

Finding a niche audience and writing to their needs has been one of the most challenging things for me to accomplish. With all of my varying experiences, opinions, and worldly views, I found myself wanting to write about whatever popped into my head. For example, one article would be about reality shock and then the next would discuss hospital value-based purchasing. Although both topics are nursing related, they cater to two very different types of reader. The problem with writing this way is that it is difficult to gain a loyal following.

I have since figured out that my niche audience is nursing students and new grads. I provide them with what they need: study tips, coaching, mentoring and tutoring. By creating content that is specialized and focused on providing value for my niche audience, I have gained a larger, more loyal following.

3. Write on Topics You Love

There’s always that one writing assignment we agree to, and wind up hating – but that’s okay! What’s not okay is continuously accepting writing assignments that you’re not excited about. Let’s face it, if you can’t muster up some form of positive thinking on the topic, it shows in your work.

Readers have a keen ability to feel your presence, hear your tone, and read in between the lines. Trust me when I say that if you’re not passionate about the subject you’re writing about, they will know it. This will cause you to lose followers, as well as potential clients. So, the next time you are considering  a writing assignment that doesn’t get you pumped and ready to go, – DON’T! You and your readers will be glad that you decided to say no, thank you, and kept moving.

4. Network with Like-Minded Individuals

When I first started writing, I felt that it would be best to do all my research independently. This meant not sharing my ideas for content creation with others. For some silly reason, I was under the impression that if others learned of my ideas, that they would swoop in and steal it. I didn’t want someone taking my intellectual property and creating the amazing business I was set out to create! Well, I learned real quick that wasn’t the way to go. Not sharing my ideas with other like-minded individuals was a huge disservice to my professional growth.

In fact, it wasn’t until I started to share my ideas with other like-minded individuals, that I began making real progress. I learned of questions I never thought to ask. I learned of potential flaws, and learned how to identify many business opportunities. I learned how the sharing of my ideas could inspire, motivate and attract others who want to cheer, support and validate my work. It is with no doubt that seeking out other like-minded individuals and bouncing ideas around is easily one of the most valuable things I have ever done for my professional growth as a nurse writer.

5. Carefully Listen to Your Audience and Clients

The power of listening to your audience and client base can’t be stressed enough! The last thing you want is to create content that does not meet the expectations of your readers. Whether you’re writing for a group of eager nursing students or a prestigious nursing organization, make sure to listen carefully.

It’s also important to let clients voice their concerns openly and honestly. It may seem intuitive to reassure them, rather than letting them express themselves, but it isn’t good for either one of you. Trust me, I speak from experience. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to allow people to fully express their desires, hesitations, and needs before formulating a response. Not only does this method provide me with a better understanding of what they are asking of me, but it gives me the opportunity to form a comprehensive response as well. In the end, it winds up being a win-win situation!

I hope that you find these 5 things valuable to you and your writing journey, and don’t forget to be a gem and share this with others who may benefit from this advice!

 

https://www.healthcaremarketingnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Why-Healthcare-Freelance-Go-Hand-in-Hand

Why Freelancing & Healthcare Go Hand-in-Hand

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the healthcare industry? Whatever your answer, one thing’s for certain; it’s not freelance writing. I hope to change that today!

How many times have you emptied the pockets of your scrubs or lab coat only to find what seems like endless amounts of scribble on post-its, notebook paper, receipts, or anything else you could get your hands on? How many times have you had a patient with a new disease process or medication that you needed to brush up on, so you do a quick search and jot down notes?

You enter your patient’s room or home and you educate him or her to the best of your ability. It leaves you with a sense of pride and accomplishment to know that you’ve given another human information that could possibly save his or her life. Like most healthcare professionals, freelancers love intertwining the art of patient care with education. We get a sense of fulfillment submitting articles to publications or clients knowing that our words will have a positive impact on the reader.

My Freelance Story

Like many freelancers in healthcare, I began freelancing as a way to make extra money. I was tired of working PRN jobs to supplement my income and I knew there had to be a better way and I’ve always loved to write. Even as a small child, I could sit for hours and just write. It wasn’t until I landed a job with a home health agency that I realized that I could use my passions for nursing and writing, simultaneously.

Home health nurses go into the patient’s homes and educate the patient and/or caregiver on various disease process, medication management, prevention methods, etc. I often found myself working with patients who had difficulty retaining the information that I was presenting. Spending thirty minutes once or twice weekly, really isn’t sufficient to teach a newly diagnosed diabetic everything he or she needs to know. Sure, the agency had tons of reading material, pamphlets, brochures, and booklets, but let’s be honest, how many patients were actually reading the material once I left the home? Some didn’t have the time, others weren’t interested, and for some it was just plain intimidating. So, I came up with a solution to my problem.

I began to research and use the material provided by the agency and condensed it into two or three pages, per each visit so I could effectively go over the material. My patients and their caregivers could look over it in a short amount of time, and it was written in a style that wasn’t intimidating. Eventually, I saw the fruit of my labor and I quickly became a fast teacher and more efficient nurse. It changed my life and it was one of the stepping stones to building my own business.

Turning Passion into a Business

Equipped with the knowledge that my writing could make a difference in the lives of others I decided to start my journey into entrepreneurship by blogging at Your Nurse Connection. Mainly, for my own therapeutic reasons, but I also realized it could help me educate vast numbers of people that I couldn’t reach on my own.  It wasn’t until someone sent me a Facebook message and asked for my price sheet, that I realized I had stumbled upon something grand. This led me to do what most of us do when we want to find answers; I googled it.  I typed “freelance nurse writers” into the search bar and was surprised to find that there was an actual market for this!

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. As a freelance writer, particularly in healthcare, you hold a unique and marketable skill. You have the eye of a writer and of a healthcare professional. This is immeasurable. You hold the power to aid in changing the healthcare continuum, which is currently packed to the brim with misinformation. Too many people, who have no formal training in healthcare or medicine are donning the title of “health coach” and shoveling out tons of inaccurate information. It is dangerous and we need more reputable, certified, licensed practitioners, in this industry. Imagine googling “hypertension management” and finding articles from a nurse, dietitian, or physician rather than someone who simply uploaded an article full of “wiki facts.”  As practitioners, who have taken on the responsibility of saving lives, we owe it to our communities to get them the most accurate, updated, cited information possible.

New Opportunities Await

Freelancing can also lead you to jobs outside of your normal niche. I’ve had the pleasure of ghostwriting for several entrepreneurs. I recently landed a role as a contributing writer with a brand targeting millennial thought-leaders. Writing articles about everything from entrepreneurship to career acceleration. The editor located me through an old blog post. It has been an exciting journey.

Healthcare and freelancing go hand-in-hand because it is already ingrained, in each of us.

We have the knowledge and skill set to educate. We have a responsibility to push out the inaccurate information, that so many of our patients are receiving. The internet is not going anywhere. It is our duty make sure that people have access to accurate information that will change lives.

 

How to Leverage Networking Events to Benefit Your Small Business

How to Leverage Networking Events to Benefit Your Small Business

Have you ever wondered how to land clients that can pay you what you’re worth? In short; the answer is networking, but let’s back up a bit before we dive in. If you’re new to writing, chances are you’ve heard more than your fair share of “starving writer” stories, but that doesn’t have to be the case! With the right marketing plan, you can easily attract companies who would love to hire you (and have the budget to do so).

Think of marketing as simply showing up and offering solutions to people who have a problem that you solve. If that definition of marketing resonates well with you, please take the time to read Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. While I am a fan of using social media for marketing (aka offering solutions), the truth is that my largest contracts come from in-person networking opportunities.

That’s why I’m here today; to teach you how to leverage networking events.

Where to Start

As a health care professional, we tend to over complicate things. You may not want to start until the perfect conditions magically align, but trust me; there’s no such thing as perfect. Start where you are. You can start by using Eventbrite, Meetup.com, or even your community newspaper to look for local in person networking events geared towards your target audience. Reach out to the event planner and ask if they have a need for a presenter. Be prepared to tell them how you can serve their audience. To make the most of your efforts, have a way to track your reach outs to the planners and if you do not hear a reply in a weeks time, remember to follow up. I try to follow up at least twice.

After Getting Booked

Once you get booked for your speaking opportunity, your work has just begun. Your presentation should have a call to action that includes an invitation for the audience to sign up for your compelling offer. I’d also encourage you to design a simple downloadable freebie that supports your topic. You may also wish to have a clipboard with sign up sheet that is clearly marked with why your attendee’s should sign up for your e-mail list. Related, I suggest having a value rich e-mail follow up sequence ready to go designed for your specific audience. The the goal is to make the most of your valuable time while networking. I would block a few hours out after your event. I also block time for “coffee chats”, so I can set up meetings with people while still at the event.

After the Presentation

During your time that was blocked for post event work, take out your new contacts. Enter these into your Contact Relationship Management (CRM) System. This system can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet, but having a system to track your contacts is super important. Be sure to enter these contacts into your email follow-up system and set up a time to make phone calls if this there was a lead of particular interest.

While this may seem like a lot of work for a local presentation, the truth is that not many will put in this much work. Use this fact to your benefit! Showing this type of consideration for your audience will be easily remembered. By increasing the number of exposures to your expertise, you will easily stand out to your audience as a valuable resource.

By following these exact steps, I recently sent out an invoice that was almost double my monthly nursing salary. By keeping in touch with my group attendees, one thought of me when someone in her circle had a need. When she heard of this need, she thought of me, found one of my many emails, and reached out to me. This was not the first time business has resulted from my keeping in touch with people after our initial meeting.

In the business world, this process is called business development. There are teams of people who are sent out to networking events with the goal of making new contacts and developing quality relationships. As a small business owner, we are a business development team of one. A virtual assistant can help with many parts of this process and can allow you  more time to follow up with potential clients. They may even help with the follow up reach outs and setting appointments for you via email or phone.

I hope you found some of this information helpful to you and your business! We would love to hear about your “keep in touch” system!

 

How Starting a Vlog Made Me a Better Writer

Every nurse is a writer, we just don’t know it.

Maybe I should change that statement to, every nurse is a ‘charter,’ we just don’t know it?

*Insert massive eye-roll from the audience*

Every nurse knows about charting. “If it wasn’t charted, it didn’t happen” is a mantra we learn early in nursing school. Our words and thoughts are expressed to document events that unfold. We learn how to describe an event, situation or scenario succinctly so that the next nurse can pick up where we left off.  This is why every nurse is a writer.

My Intro to Writing

My name is Sean.  I’m an “O.G.” diploma-trained nurse turned Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and I’m a writer.

About ten years ago during the pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter era, I was a new nurse who was baffled by all the crazy things I was experiencing. Every day I would come home from my shift and say, “Well, they didn’t teach THAT in nursing school!” It was both comical and frustrating. I felt so unprepared and alone. So I did the only logical thing; I took to the internet. I discovered this thing called ‘blogging’ (it was new at the time) and I fell in love with it. I found an outlet to share my stories with other like-minded individuals that ‘got me.’ I started a small lil’ blog sharing my stories, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ten years later I’m still blogging, and I still love to tell my stories. It’s the best way I know how to pass on knowledge and teach the next generation of nurses. Storytelling is embedded into our nursing culture; it’s how we assimilate into a new environment (or job). Remember the last new job you had? How did you learn about your new colleagues? We share front-line experiences on how we learned a task or a skill as a way to break the ice when meeting new nurses. I mean c’mon, Everyone has their first foley catheter experience, don’t they?

How Vlogging Helped

Through a series of events with a former employer (as a blogger), I was introduced to the world of video blogging. It wasn’t something that came easily to me because I was used to typing instead of recording. However, I quickly realized it was something I enjoyed. Not only did it delivere an element of emotion that cannot be expressed with just words, but it also helped my creativity and content creation.

Vlogging (video blogging) allowed more freedom of expression, but it also forced me to think about my audience during the entire creation process because I’m on camera. I had to talk ‘to’ my audience not just write ‘about’ a topic. Stepping outside of my comfort zone by getting in front of a camera helped me become a better writer by requiring me to (literally) have a conversation with my readers.

Vlogging is more popular now than ever thanks to the popularity of live streaming video (thank you Facebook). With live video you can talk to your audience in real-time about current events. Every nurse remembers the Utah Nurse Assault.  

In 2016 I posted a video (vlog) every day for a full year. Yes, I posted 365 videos consecutively. It started out as an experiment and turned into an exciting endeavor. I got to share my stories, but I also discovered I could reach more people. As in 1 million new people.  

It was an amazing learning experience as a creator. I not only had to create content, but had to become proficient at it as well. This meant I needed to sharpen my time management skills. How long does it take you to create a video or traditional blog? Now think about doing that every single day for a full calendar year. Yeah, I learned to streamline a lot of tasks. (I share some of them with the Healthcare Marketing Network → HERE.)

What I’ve Learned

I learned a lot since that first vlog many years ago. And if I had to offer any advice for someone interested in starting a vlog, it would be to just press record. Don’t get bogged down in the trivial details. It’s so easy to get paralyzed by perfection, but don’t give in. Just record. Forget about the equipment, the lighting, the sound, the editing software or the platform. Just get your creation out there for the world to enjoy. An unpolished and scrappy ‘something’ is better than an unpublished and unknown perfect nothing. The rest you can figure out later.  

Have you ever tried vlogging? If not, would you like to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

3 Lessons I Learned Writing My First Book

3 Lessons I Learned Writing My First Book

I started working on my first book in January of 2017, shortly after we expanded our family with two puppies.

The puppies needed constant supervision and attention, so I moved my laptop from my backyard sanctuary to the kitchen. Not only was I quickly reminded how energetic and demanding puppies are, but I also learned three key things as a first-time author.

Writing the original puke-on-paper version took less time than I thought. Getting everything out that I wanted to say was only the beginning. The next step – editing it into something that made sense – was the challenge I hadn’t anticipated.  

Since I didn’t know much about writing books, I relied on my mentor and publishing coach and owner of The Stay at Home Nurse, Deanna, for guidance, and then there were a lot of things on which I happened to stumble in the dark, out of sheer ignorance and luck.

The first dumb thing I did was send the finished, but unedited copy to another author I knew in the same genre and topic. He agreed to read over it and tell me what he thought. This led to lesson number one, through dumb luck.

1. Seek Tough & Honest Critics

Get as many critical eyes on your manuscript as possible, and you absolutely MUST find critics who will be tough and honest.

Criticism, though it may hurt the ego, is key. Whether they know the topic or not, they can read it and see if it makes sense to them, or if they think it’s something they’d recommend to anyone else to read.

The response I got from this person was nothing like what I expected. Over an hour-long phone call, he ripped it apart. He said I had a lot of good ideas, but it sounded angry, had not clearly articulated my goals for the book, or made it clear who the audience was. He asked me how many people had read it.

Since he’d already been through the process with his book, and I respect his knowledge of the subject matter, I listened, even though it was like being repeatedly punched in the gut. I staggered away from that phone call, ego-shattered, but knowing he was absolutely right if I ever wanted to have something that wouldn’t be a laughing stock.

In this case, I sent it out too early, but that turned out to be a good thing, as I got critical input that helped me focus.

Lesson number one naturally led to lesson number two:

2. Get a Great Editor

A great editor is essential! I was so lucky in this regard. Deanna recommended someone who I corresponded with over email and she made the process of writing my first book mush less stressful! It was pure trust, but I sent her  hundreds of pages of my puke on paper and she turned it into a streamlined, coherent, sensical version. My editor was the most wonderful part of this entire project. She was easy to work with, but relentless in taking things out that really didn’t need to be in there. I had to learn to let go at first, but she was always right.

3. Create Ample Time & Space

Deanna was absolutely right when she said whatever you think it will take, expect it to take longer.

It will take more time, money, and space in your life, (especially time) than you envision when you’re first starting. So be sure not to set too strict of a time goal for finishing. You can’t expect to be “on” all the time, either.  It will take concentration and focus, and you’ll be thinking about many things in addition to just writing the material. Life happens. Sometimes, you have a bad brain day. Get out and do something else, don’t stress over it. Your creativity will come back. Fortunately, I had two puppies. When the words weren’t flowing, we went for a hike.  

3 Lessons I Learned Writing My First Book

There are some costs to publish a book. I had to hire an attorney for contracts with people I’d interviewed, and for filing a copyright to protect my intellectual property. Editing and formatting cost money, and you’ll want to negotiate this ahead of time. When doing so, keep in mind that it will always be more than you thought.

Finally, make space for it in your world. Do the people and animals in your life understand this is a major undertaking? That you might wake up at 2 am with a terrific idea and run downstairs in your pajamas to write it down before it escapes you?

I missed writing “for fun”. My blogs, which had always been my outlet for verbal creativity and rants, got pushed aside. The book took precedence over everything. And once it’s done, there’s marketing…

Conclusion

Now that it’s all said and done I highly recommend you write that book you always wanted to write! Just make sure you clear a big space for it in your life, warn everyone around you, and be prepared for it to take over. The reward of holding the finished product in your hands will make up for everything!

Find my book on Amazon, Navigating the C: A nurse charts the course for cancer survivorship care.