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Creature Clinic - A veterinary blog that's entertaining, funny & educational too

Posted in Inside veterinary Blogs @ Jun 9th 2016 - By Dr Joanna Paul, Veterinarian and Creature Clinic Blogger
Dr Jo Creature Clinic Blog

Welcome to the 2nd post in our new series: Inside Veterinary Blogs - How you can join the pack.

In this post we find out more about veterinary blogger Dr Joanna Paul and her blog: Creature Clinic.

Why Start a Blog?

I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always loved telling stories.  I was the class clown as a kid and at school I actually enjoyed English more than Science and Maths.  But I always performed better in the sciences, and the nerdy part of me won out in the end.  

The idea of a veterinary blog appealed to me for a few years before I actually started Creature Clinic.  I just had no idea how to get started.  Then one day my brother started a blog.  I bombarded him with questions day after day until I had a starting point.  I organised hosting (I use Hostgator, but there are many options) and I got Wordpress.  I would highly recommend anyone considering starting up to go with this option from the start.  If you start with a free website there are loads of limitations around what you can do and it’s likely to be painful to change later if you decide to change.  Hosting actually only costs a few dollars a month, so it’s not a huge outlay.

What’s Your Blog all About?

My original vision for Creature Clinic was somewhat (okay, completely!) unrealistic.  I pictured James Herriot-esque storytelling mixed in with informative articles that helped to educate owners to care better for their pets.  Yeah, I know.

I’ve never really used client handouts in the clinic because I’ve never really liked any of the ones I’ve come across. They often didn’t cover the points I wanted to, while emphasizing things not relevant to my cases.  And they were so boring.  I understand that this is how they have to be, but I wanted to offer an alternative way of explaining things (outside of the vet clinic) in a friendly, personal way that would hopefully get the important information across without putting the reader to sleep.  Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m not, but at least my mum thinks I’m cool.

Image: Dog Bite Prevention - Safe Interaction Between Children and Dogs (Creature Clinic)

How Frequently do you Blog?

Ah, yes.  If you ask the pros of the blogging world, they’ll likely say you should probably be hitting publish daily, or at least a couple of times a week.  

Not me though, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I figured I’d get out one good post out a week and that would be enough.  Then reality set in.  I quickly realized this was stupidly ambitious with a baby and toddler, two week days plus weekends in the vet clinic, studying a CVE distance education course and, you know, finding time for luxuries like eating and showering.  

So I get one or two posts out a month – a far cry from the incredible and superhuman achievements of the brilliant Anne Fawcett of Small Animal Talk (JG: Read about Anne's blog here Smallanimaltalk Blog- Bringing veterinary and pet owner worlds together).  For now though, it’s enough for me. 

How Much Time Does it Take up?

It totally depends.  Some people seem to be able to churn out 500 words in 20-30 minutes.  My brain would probably explode if I tried such a feat – even with 3 or 4 coffees on board.  Honestly, I spend more than 10 hours on most posts, more than 20 on some. 

I’ll never put an article containing medical information up unless I have thoroughly researched just to absolutely ensure I’ve got my facts right and it’s all current.  VIN has been my friend, and I have invested (squandered) many dollars on textbooks over the years. 

I have horrible writing technique in that I tend to agonise over every small detail instead of just smashing something out and tweaking it later.  In fact I’ve changed that last sentence several times and I’m still not happy with it!  I also love images, and spend a lot of time taking and editing my own photos or poring over stock image libraries.

So I guess I’m lucky it’s a hobby and not a business or I’d be broke!

How do you come up with topics?

I started out with some of the topics that I talk about in the consult room all the time like puppy socialization, arthritis, or inappropriate elimination in cats. These discussions can be a massive information overload for clients.  

I’m also really passionate about helping pet owners to understand the behaviour and normal needs of their furry companions so they can all live in harmony.  

In general, I just sit down and think about the questions I get asked in the consult room and what the recurring topics are that people tend to have problems with.  

I love for Creature Clinic to be entertaining and a little bit funny, and it sometimes serves as a place to pour my heart out, but it absolutely has to be useful too!

Image: Doggy Danger - A guide to common poisons in the home Free eBook (Creature Clinic)

What goals do you have for your blog?

The blog is constantly evolving and my goals keep changing along the way.  At first it was a tentative dip into the world of blogging just to see if I liked it.  For a year or two to be honest I basically did nothing with it.  Then I started writing more posts and getting immersed in the social media side.  This made a massive difference because I began to connect with people. 

Now my goals would probably be:

  • Educate – On all aspects of pet health and behaviour.
  • Build the store part of my site – I’m currently selling pet first aid kits and manuals with other ideas in the pipeline.  I’m envisioning a series of really useful, simple books that could be sold or gifted to clients by their vets to back up what they’ve already discussed in the clinic.
  • Create online courses – This ties in with educating but is also a way to start getting some financial return on all of the blood, sweat and tears I’ve poured into this whole epic adventure. 

Image: First Aid for Pets - eBook & Pet First Aid Kit (Creature Clinic)

Has your blog helped you to build connections in the pet/vet community or meet people you may not have otherwise met?

In one word – YES.  

I’ve become acquainted with so many like-minded people from all over the globe, and have made some really great friends along the way.  I’ve reached out to people through blogs or related social media that I would never have met (or even dreamed of meeting) in the real world, and I’ve been so happily surprised by how awesome the responses have been.  All of these people have helped to inspire and push me to work and improve.  

Through my blog I was invited to join a small group of Melbourne pet bloggers for monthly catch ups - and just wow. Not only do I now have very clever and experienced minds to bounce ideas off, but I’ve got these new (and extremely awesome) friends with common interests.  We brainstorm, we celebrate each other’s successes, and when things don’t go so well we have each other for support (probably over a wine or two!). 

I’m really grateful for these new friendships.

What has been your most rewarding blogging moment?

The most rewarding moments are when pet owners from all corners of the world get in touch with me to let me know that I have helped them.  I wrote one post in particular about diabetic cats, and several people have contacted me to let me know my words helped them to decide which path to take or to come to terms with the guilt they felt about choosing euthanasia.

How has your blog supported or complemented your practice/business?

I’m not a practice owner.  My blog is very much a personal project started for personal reasons.  I am hoping that it will become a profitable business in itself one day, because as a mother of two young children it’s brilliant to be able to do something from home in my pjs that still uses my veterinary brain!

What is your favourite thing about having a blog?

It’s not the number of website visits, social shares, or the occasional few bucks from a sponsored post. It’s the creative outlet, the sense of achievement every time I hit publish, and the incredible people I’ve been lucky enough to meet along the way.  And it’s pretty fun, so I’m gonna keep doing it.

Click here to visit Jo's blog Creature Clinic

If you have any questions you'd like to ask Jo, just add them to the Comments section below.


About Jo

Jo graduated from Melbourne Uni in 2006 with honours. She is a practicing small animal vet in Melbourne with two young kids, two dogs, a cat, and a 3-legged lizard. Three of her favourite pastimes are learning new things, teaching new things, and secretly cuddling other people's pets while they're not looking.

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Joanna @ Jun 23rd 2016 2:29pm
Thanks for having me, Judy!
Judy @ Jun 24th 2016 1:09pm
Hi Jo - thanks for talking to us - you're always welcome :) Judy

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