Blogging is a popular format for online communication. It allows the writer to elaborate without being limited by the layout constraints of social media.
As a scientist you might be wondering if blogging is for you and what the benefits are if you decide to start blogging. Especially since time and resource are limited factors for you, so you want to prioritize your efforts to get a high impact.
In this post I have collected some advice on how to get started with your blog, and how you get measurable impact on the content you create.
This post explains in detail how to start a science blog, which is an example from my previous post about digital outreach for scientists.
It is all about storytelling
The flexibility of blogging is an advantage for scientists. It allows the author to use unlimited text, photos or illustrations, videos or animation. This is quite a mouthful, especially if you are not used to working with these elements. So before you dive into the different options be sure to have your story in place. This means find one to three key points you want the reader to remember after reading your post. If your topic is fairly complicated, keep it simple and have one point. If your topic is more relatable, maybe you want two or three points.
Either way: Keep your story clear and your point simple.
Remember if the point is not completely clear to you it will not be to the reader.
Describe your own research
Once you have the storyline in place, you can start creating content, which in this case most likely will be text. Be sure to describe your own research. The value of your blog is the unique insight the audience get to exactly your research. This also supports your own brand as a communicating scientist.
Set the stage with a brief introduction and explanation on which problem you are trying to solve or which unknown territory you are investigating. From there you can jump into the deep sea of scientific research, that you have dedicated your time and effort to.
I would in most cases recommend supporting your text content with visuals. These could be illustrations, photos, graphs, animations or videos. Here you need to again make it as convenient for yourself as possible; if you are not big on illustrations, then do not use this element. Choose something that supports your storyline as described above. Many readers start by scrolling though the post before actually reading it, so you want your visuals to trigger curiosity and support the message you want to convey. Preferably your visuals should be pleasant for the eye and provide insight to your science.
Now that your blogpost is ready, you need to get your message out across the digital universe. If you do not already have a blog-friendly website, you can set one up using for instance WordPress. There are many platforms available so be sure to choose one that you are comfortable with and that has the functions you need. I recommend using a service that provides access to statistics. That way you can set a measurable goal for your post and use it to evaluate the impact. How many clicks do you want? 10? 100? 10.000? Write it down and be realistic. If your post does not have the impact you wish, adjust your posts until you reach your goal.
Also be sure to create a user account on Twitter. You will need this to reach a broader audience, when you share your newly created blog. Are you in doubt how to set it up to match your scientific profile? And how to figure out what content to share? Contact me for advice or stay tuned for more blog posts about science on social media.
I am an astrophysicist and science communicator. I work as a consultant with both institutions, departments and individual researchers to reach a broader audience and communicate science to the public.
Contact me to hear what I can do for you.