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There’s no shortage of nursing and healthcare blogs. So why would I start blogging in an already saturated field? This post explores some of the tips I’ve learned about blogging for nurse practitioners. Everyone’s career path leads them down different roads. Each of our experiences is unique. Over my 16 years of practicing in the health care field I’ve got some pretty remarkable stories and a wealth of information to share. Some laughs, some cries, and the overall joy of being a healthcare provider compares to none. I’m also curious by nature and want to explore the next adventure. So why not jump in and join the niche? Here you’ll find a log of my blogging journey for anyone who may be interested in starting a blog of their own. Here’s a synopsis of my first month. One of my favorite innovators once said,
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney
What I wish I’d known before I started blogging for nurse practitioners.
- I’ve quickly come to realize that blogging is a huge industry. I had no idea that there are so many sites designed to charge you to learn how to blog. This has been one of the most difficult things for me to decipher: what’s absolutely needed and what’s just filler?
- Nearly every plug-in is trying to get you to spend more money on their upgrades or someone wanting you to buy their secrets to success. When you first decide to start a blog you should try to get a feel for the blogging world. Do some research and see what’s out there in your niche and others outside as well. Take a look at another blogger’s formatting and tips for how to get started. Avoid buying anything if you can at this stage. There’s plenty of free content on the web.
- Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a domain make sure it’s with a self-hosted site.
Web design hazards.
- Don’t buy a fancy theme with too many widgets you don’t know how to customize. First research WordPress. There are other content and blogging management platforms, but WordPress is the authority at this time. Know the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Sample a few of the free themes available to play around with before spending money on a premium theme. All of the themes I’ve seen have a Live demo version that you can check out for free.
- Don’t get a web developer too soon. You will need to learn how to use WordPress, navigate plug-ins, and create some design elements if you don’t want to spend a fortune on Web developers each time you need to change something on your site. Invest in a class on Udemy or other teaching platforms to learn the ropes so that when you decide to schedule the visit with the web designer you have some idea of how the system works and what you’re looking for in your design elements.
Things I found to be the most helpful.
- One of the first things I did was take a class on Udemy called “Blogging Masterclass: How to Build A Successful Blog in 2020” by Brad Merrill. As of today this class has a 4.5 star out of 5 star ranking. It was tremendously helpful in teaching the basics of blogging and an introduction to domains, webhosting, and why you need a self-hosted website through Word Press.org not WordPress.com. This is if you want to be a serious blogger. I didn’t pay for the class as I was offered an Udemy membership through an employer. I completed this class on June 26, 2020.
- The second class I took was “WordPress for Beginners-Master WordPress Quickly” by Andrew Williams also on Udemy. I completed this course on July 3, 2020. This class has a 4.5 star out of 5 star ranking. After taking this class I was able to launch my blog only 5 days later on July 8, 2020. This class is the only thing that helped me set up my website quickly. Andy covered how to build a website from start to finish including security and must have plug-ins. The step by step nature of the course was exactly what a beginner would need.
- To recap, after weeks of heavily researching blogging for nurse practitioners, I took two classes on Udemy and launched my blog a week later with only 5 posts. I know some creators say to have at least 10 to 20 posts ready when you launch your blog. But in my opinion, the only way to learn how to write blog posts and the technical aspect is to do it.
- Free blogging templates are available on Hubspot. I found these helpful in defining how to go about the thought process for writing a good blog post and the different types of posts. Once your site is live, your main focus will be on creating quality content.
Must have free plug-ins, current WordPress theme, and other nuggets of information.
- Wordfence or All in One Security plug ins- You’ll need some sort of security to protect your site from hackers and spammers.
- Yoast SEO plug in- Search Engine Optimization tool to help people find your site on Google
- SiteGround webhost- Siteground is fast, not too expensive, and they have excellent customer service. I locked myself out of my site over a handful of times while setting up the security features and they were happy to help each time.
- Although this isn’t a plug-in, I just want to re-iterate you’ll need WordPress.org not WordPress.com as your blog content managing system because you’ll need a self- hosted domain if you’re serious about blogging.
- Monster Insights Google Analytics plug in- Must have for analyzing your site statistics.
- Lighthouse Pro WordPress theme- from Outstanding Themes. ** Do not buy**. The theme is fast and simple with lots of widget options for customization. However, I don’t think it is as mobile responsive as advertised. This may be due to user error on my part. I find that the smart phone setting interferes with the graphic presentation of a few of the design elements. This only happens with smart phones. But since the majority of users are using smart phones or devices, mobile responsiveness is a must. Due to these snafus, I would give the theme a 2.75 out of 5 stars. ** This is an update from my previous ranking (3.75). After working with the theme for a month once going live, I do not recommend the Lighthouse Pro theme outside of the learning environment.
A few notes on the Lighthouse Pro Theme
The theme has been good for learning WordPress, but you will probably have to upgrade to a more responsive theme down the road. Alternatively, just go with another theme. I highly recommend going with a different theme. I’ve recently updated to a Pipdig theme and it’s a world of difference in improvements from the Lighthouse theme. I also did not find the technical support from Outstanding themes to be acceptable. I emailed their group and still have not received a response 3 weeks later. Finding a theme is one of the most difficult tasks when constructing your blog. Try to research options fully once you dive in. If you have the budget to hire a web designer to completely set up your site right from the beginning you can go that route understanding that this method is definitely more expensive. You’ll also miss out on learning several new skills.
I hope this post has been helpful to you if you’re interested in learning how to start a blog. I still have so much to learn about blogging for nurse practitioners and I’ll take you along with me and let you know what works and what doesn’t. None of the links above are affiliate links. The reviews are 100% reflections of my experiences. What theme would you recommend for new bloggers? What other advice can you give?