Scientists blog for many different reasons. They may have a specific area of expertise, or they may just want to help raise awareness about important scientific discoveries. Blogging can also provide you with a platform for networking and connecting with other scientists who are interested in similar subject areas. Whatever the reason, science blogging is an excellent way to share your passion with others and practice your writing skills at the same time.
A common view among scientists is that outreach activities (including blogging) are an unwelcome drain on their time. But this view overlooks the professional development benefits outreach and blogging can offer. It turns out that if you prepare carefully, you may use science communication to enhance your own scientific talents and promote your scientific career.
First off, blogging can improve your technical writing skills. Like any muscle, writing improves and becomes easier with regular practice. If you are used to sitting in front of a blank screen and filling it with words, it makes the process of writing seem much less daunting, especially when it comes to writing a paper or a thesis.
What’s more, scientists often have to communicate with peers outside their own specialist spheres. When you apply for grants, interview for teaching jobs, or seek tenure, for example, people from outside your field may not fully grasp the jargon or the fundamental concepts that guide your research. This means that all scientists must be able to communicate complex ideas in plain language. Blogging gives you ample opportunity to practice this.
Blogging also familiarises you with professional networks on the internet, as well as helping you build your web presence. Both are important for forging a life in academia.
Challenges of blog writing for scientists
The challenges of blogging for scientists are that they are often busy with their lab and teaching responsibilities, so they don’t have enough time to write. They can be overwhelmed by the pressure of writing a good blog post, which is hard to do. This is also true of PhD students, who are juggling multiple demands on their time, not to mention the small matter of the thesis writing looming in the distance.
There are a couple of solutions. One is to have a routine for blogging and to stick with it. That way, bloggers can make sure that they are not giving up on their blog because it has become too difficult or because they no longer have time for it. For this, a plan in the form of a content calendar is essential.
A content calendar
A content calendar helps you plan ahead, manage your time and avoid being overwhelmed with content creation.
It’s a visual and practical way to see all your content at a glance, when it will be posted and what stage it’s at. A blog content calendar can help you reach your blogging goals faster and easier by planning out each topic so that the posts are published on time. Having a scheduled list of topics will also give you an idea of what to write about in the future
Additionally, a content calendar will help you avoid being overwhelmed by all of the ideas that are floating around in your head. You can also check where you’re lacking and fill the gaps with more content. And you can plan ahead to find or create resources such as videos, images and audio content to take your posts to the next level.
As well as keeping you on track, a content calendar provides an excellent chance to craft a blog strategy. What are you attempting to do to position yourself as an expert in your field? Think of your calendar as your game plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated–a simple spreadsheet will do. Here is an example of a content calendar–feel free to download and use it.
A group blog
Another option to manage the workload is a group blog. This is a blog that’s written by several people. It can be a team of people at the same research group or colleagues from different research institutions. The idea is to divide the work among several people. For example, or one person could take care of the marketing, another one to work on design and content creation can be shared among several authors.
Group blogs also have some disadvantages. For example, it can be hard to keep up with all of the posts on each blog and it’s difficult to maintain
consistency in tone, voice and style across multiple authors. However, this will be less of an issue if the blog has a clear outline and editorial guidelines in place.
A half-way house between writing all your posts and running a group blog is to invite guest bloggers to submit posts. Guest bloggers are writers who have their own blog or website and they write on your blog to increase traffic and bring in new readers. You can also get guest bloggers to write the stories that you might not have time to cover.
Finding ideas for your science blog
It is important to find your own voice and niche as a writer. You need to understand who you are writing for and what they want to read about. This will help you stand out from the crowd and write content that people will enjoy reading.
Finding a topic to write about is one of the most difficult parts of any writing project. But when you are a science writer, it can be even harder because there are so many topics and angles to choose from.
One way to find topics is by looking at what’s in the news or what’s trending on social media. You can also look at scientific papers and press releases in your field.
And finally, you can always reach out to experts in your field for their expert commentary or personal experiences with the topic. You can add your expertise to the article by commenting on current affairs or science news stories. You can also use your expertise to debunk myths and misinformation.
Content: What makes a great blog?
A well-designed layout and fancy technical widgets can help a blog succeed, but they cannot replace good content targeted to the right audience. Content reigns supreme over all other elements of blogging, so if you do only one thing to make your site successful, produce amazing content. Know your audience’s expectations and meet them, and they will keep coming back.
A successful blog also has a good layout and effective use of multimedia. And lastly, it should be shareable on social media. There are countless science blogs in existence, so it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. To be successful, select a niche that you like writing about. Readers will be attracted to your material if you are writing it because you enjoy it.
Make sure you know who your audience are. If you haven’t got a clear picture of the people you want to reach at this point, think about who you want them to be. Jot down a profile of your ideal reader. There are no rules about what you have to put. You can include anything you want, from their professional interests, to their hobbies and locations. This information will help you write content for this person on your blog.
Don’t forget that your readers aren’t only interested in what you say, but how you express it, too. Allowing your style and individuality shine through on your blog is an important part of its character, and helps to distinguish it from all the other ones out there.
Many people have difficulty finding their own unique style and voice when they start out. To get a sense of your writing voice, think about what you want your readers to take away from reading your posts. Do you want your blog to be like a news service, offer analysis and opinion, or do you want it to be a more personal take on how you do your science? Keep experimenting until you find something that works for you.
Don’t forget to enjoy writing! It can be difficult to do well, but the personal rewards are just as important and the professional ones.