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Walkerville Vet Blog - Warning: Veterinary blogging is addictive!

Posted in Inside veterinary Blogs @ Mar 2nd 2017 - By Dr Andrew Spanner, Walkerville Vet
Walkerville Vet Blog Warning Veterinary Blogging Can Be Addictive

If it wasn’t for Facebook I probably would never have started blogging.

Our nurses had built up a small local following on our page but I pretty much left them to it. That was until I was seized with the need to tell someone about a cool case I’d just seen that afternoon.

So there I am at the kitchen bench writing this stream-of-consciousness story full of dense, wordy paragraphs. It’s still there called Case Study: Toby's deadly secret. Although its faults make me cringe these days, I was blown away by the universally positive comments from clients. 

There’s nothing like a bit of self-affirmation to get the ball rolling! I was hooked. Very quickly I found my 20-year-vet’s brain was overflowing with stories I needed to get off my chest. It was like opening a tap, I felt better afterwards, and each time, clients loved the results.

Phase 1: Tell Them What I Want To Say

The early blogs were all opinions I’d always wanted to air, and suddenly I had a forum and an audience. They were often topics that appealed more to me than to clients, but my passion for the subjects got me through. Examples were animals not complaining about pain, people feeding too many treats, dogs overdoing exercise, poor food regulation etc. 

The best moment of my whole time blogging was when a client first said to me “I Googled it  and your page came up.” I didn’t believe up to then that this would really happen. The second best was not much later when the first client said “I came here after reading your blog.”

This is how it went for over a year until I had a meeting with a true life web guru. 

Phase 2: Tell Them What They Want To Hear

So there I am at the first meeting and I proudly say how much I’m blogging. The thing is, everyone’s being told that blogging is great for SEO but he’s heard it all before. He tells me how results just aren’t that great for blogging, but if I really want to do it, that’s OK. I leave just a little discouraged, but not too much.

At our second meeting, everything is changed. Now he’s looked at our website’s traffic he’s truly surprised by how some blogs are performing. Suddenly it’s “you really need to keep blogging, and here’s how to make them better”

Now I’m more targeted, using topics people want to hear, and creating structures Google likes to see, Most of my blog topics still come from everyday experiences at the clinic, and especially client questions. After all, if they ask me you can bet they ask Google too.

Phase 3: Get Systematic

Just writing a blog a week is a great way to add a lot of content to a website. Most people probably start like me and write about whatever comes to mind. The turning point came when a client one day said “there’s so much on your website that I knew you’d have something about it.”

I realised my site had reached a critical mass where it was starting to become seen as comprehensive. All this by blogging!

The third and current phase is to fill in the gaps. I added a search bar to every page a year ago, and made a hit list of topics that needed adding so that the answers to most questions could be found. By now it really bugs me if a client can’t find anything on a general topic on my site. 

How I Write Blogs

Today I still write blogs on topics from all three phases, but new opinion pieces don’t come to mind as easily as they used to. I try to keep up a discipline of writing one a week but to do this I have to be quite organised.

Here’s how:

  • Take photos opportunistically in consults, always with consent (easy)
  • Jot down blog topics as they occur to me in consults (easy)
  • Do the research in small bites of free time during the week (easy)
  • Write the text in a very comfy place and good frame of mind, usually on Sunday morning (hard)
  • Create the Wordpress draft Sunday night in front of the TV and leave it for a week (easy)
  • Publish the previous week’s blog after rereading and editing with a fresh mind (easy)
  • Most importantly, get someone who isn’t in the industry to proof it, usually my wife (easy, but taking the advice is hard)
  • Choose the topic for the following week (easy)
  • Take December off! No one competes with Santa Claus.

In conclusion, you may wonder why I don’t sell anything on my blogs. The answer is simple: I don’t believe that’s the best way. No one is better trained than vets to provide animal health advice, and giving out information is already what we do every day. By a nice coincidence, the internet is full of people hungry for that information. It’s up to us to make it accurate and accessible. 

By engaging with the net we, not the fringe dwellers, become the authorities in animal health.

Click here to follow Andrew's blog: Walkerville Vet - Blog

About Andrew

Andrew Spanner, like most vets, has carried around excessively high expectations of himself ever since graduating from Sydney in 1994. He foolishly believes what he has to say actually matters, and achieves this belief by ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

He only really likes ‘animal people’, loves all animals, especially birds, but thinks “you poor bastard” whenever he sees any undomesticated species being cooped up. Although he lives in Adelaide he can’t name one AFL player but can talk for hours about English soccer and all things Italian.

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