As we conclude our three-part series on blogging as a CIO, let’s briefly recap where we’ve been. In Part One you learned the origin and definition of “blogging,” and in Part Two you were asked to consider your answers to five probing questions to determine if it made sense to invest your valuable time in a new hospital CIO blog. Hopefully you’ve had time to take a look at what your colleagues are blogging about, and have decided that you, too, have something meaningful to say and the time and passion to make your blog a success. So, how do you get started?
The first step in birthing your new blog is to choose your blogging platform, if your hospital Web site doesn’t already have a Content Management System in place. If your occupation was …well…virtually anything other than a high level IT professional, I’d most likely advise starting with Blogger for a few months, and then once you became comfortable with the interface, moving on up to the blogging crown jewel (IMO), WordPress. However, I know better than to recommend a mainstream platform to someone with your depth of IT experience, so instead I’ll simply comment that, like every other application, each has its pros and cons. Many comparison articles are available online – this one at Blogging Basics 101 is one of the better reviews I’ve found. Additionally, here’s a look at the blog platforms of choice for the Web’s top 100 blogs:
Now that we’ve got the technical part out of the way, it’s time to start blogging! The fantastic gift that a blog provides the blogger is expressive freedom – a place to be an individual, to voice your own thoughts, ideas, and opinions in a way that is distinctly you. That being said, there are a few common practices that all successful bloggers seem to follow:
1. Be consistent. Are you addicted to “Lost?” Do you schedule your evenings around “American Idol or Dancing With The Stars?” Why? Because you want to see what comes next! Successful bloggers understand this hook, and build a following by posting regular, consistent content to satisfy their audience. If you go long periods of time without updating your blog, your readers will go somewhere else for their fix. Be consistent!
2. Be interesting. As a hospital CIO, you are at the epicenter of a very complex organization, made up of many diverse departments and individuals. Think about it -- who else has the depth of cross-channel interaction and the breadth of opportunity to view the big picture and yet deal with the smallest of details like you do? Look beyond your computer screen for fascinating stories to tell. How do the decisions you make impact the patient? The telemetry nurse? The morgue? If you run into blogger’s block, I highly recommend a technique called “mind-mapping,” which will quickly help you develop hundreds of blogging ideas. Be interesting!
3. Be humorous. Not everyone is a natural comedian. But chances are good that by the time you’ve has reached your level of success you’ve had some funny experiences that would help to illustrate your blog posts. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your blog – readers want to learn from you, but they want to be entertained, as well. Be humorous!
4. Be passionate. In response to Part Two of this Blogging series, Dr. Joe Bormel responded with the following comment: “Effective bloggers are exquisitely in touch with all of their passions; that drives them to blog. If that's you, and one of your passions is being a HCIT CIO, you should figure out how to work blogging into your day. You'll be happier and a more effective learner.” Anthony Guerra, Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Informatics, added this thought: “I absolutely agree with the idea that a successful blogger needs to be passionate about the subject. That's because the level of expertise and knowledge required to tell a group of professionals anything new or insightful means you have to live, eat and breathe the subject matter. It is impossible to make such a commitment unless one in genuinely interested in what they are blogging about.” Be passionate!
5. Be your authentic self. People who know me well read my blog postings here at Healthcare Informatics and say, “That sounds just like you.” That’s truly the highest compliment that can be paid to a blogger! You are taking the time to become a blogger because you have a unique voice with something unique to say. Although blogging in your professional capacity does require a bit of self-censorship (probably not a good idea to drop “f-bombs” on a regular basis or rant about that pinched twit over in HR), don’t be afraid to show your personality, and voice your own opinions, observations, and ideas. Be yourself!
On a primary level, your job as a blogger is to give your readers something to think about – to expose them to a new way of looking at the world, through your eyes. In doing so, however, you are also opening yourself to the opinions, observations, and ideas of your audience – and in the best of blogging circumstances, you and your readers will be mutually enriched!