The Year in Brief, and Where I’d Like to Go with My Blog in 2020
2019 was like life on speed, in fast-forward mode. Everything went by in a blur; the highs were paradise level, and the lows took me camping by the borders of hell. Something must be in the stars, because it wasn’t a good year for many people I know either. Chronic illness is life played in ‘handicap’ mode, and 2019 was a good ‘case study year’ for it. We spend most of our time recovering, only to be knocked back by yet another medical crisis. But upward and onward, that’s the only way forward. In this post I’d like to talk a bit about what I’d like to focus and spend my energy on, blog-wise, in 2020!
(Read Related Post: What it Feels Like to be Refused Treatment by a Hospital’s A&E)
New insights, lessons, thoughts and conclusions form organically with each passing year, as I grow together with my blog. ‘A Chronic Voice’ has matured quite a bit since its inception, but it still has a long way to go, and I’m not the best at making the most out of it! Raising awareness of invisible illnesses is also a neverending job, as we know.
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(Throwback to the first post I wrote for the blog: 5 Deceptively Simple Everyday Achievements)
1. Social Media Focus & Group Pods
I utilise four main social media channels to raise awareness about the blog and various chronic illnesses – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. None are better or worse, they just require different strategies. I will be paring these down to focus on two main channels – Twitter, because it’s my favourite. And Pinterest – because it’s my second favourite, and has the best longevity.
I will continue posting to Facebook and Instagram, but will spend less time interacting on and promoting these channels. I need my energy for other important tasks, even if I would like to do all the things! Although having said that, I might incorporate poetry writing on Instagram again, but largely for my own pleasure. It’s a great platform for short form poetry and it was an activity I enjoyed in my youth, so why not?
I have also been participating in a lot of social engagement pods on Facebook of late, and have found them helpful, when done right. I am still learning, but I plan to set up one for chronic illness bloggers soon (like right after this post!). Chronic illness is niche, and it’s best to target the right audience together. Another reason for me wanting to set this up is from numerous bad encounters with admins of such groups. They behave like untouchable, snooty goddesses. Simple contributions or questions can be instantly misconstrued as an attack on their ‘status’. Today was the last straw when an admin said to me, ‘I founded this group – and who are you?’. I told her my name was Sheryl, before she kicked me out ? Anyway /rant. One for chronic illness bloggers it is. Thanks for the motivation.
2. Video Pins
I keep reading that these are on the rise, so I really need to look into them as well. I’m personally not a big fan of anything that won’t let me click through straightaway, but then again I have a background in programming. Most humans are visual by nature, and I can see how videos would appeal to them more. I don’t think I’ll be starting a YouTube channel anytime soon as it’s not my thing. But we’ll see how we can make things more visual and animated within Pinterest as well.
Podcasts are something I’ve been musing over for a while, having been interviewed in two different ones:
- My Virgin Interview on the ‘Disabled to Enabled’ Podcast
- Episode 47 on Lauren Selfridge: Acceptance Is Power With Sheryl Chan
I found them quite fun, despite the stress of sticking to a schedule with the time zone differences (I tend to keep checking and re-checking just in case I calculated the timings all wrong!). Many people enjoy listening to podcasts, and there’s an untapped audience out there which I’d like to try reaching out to.
I find this expansion daunting as it seems like it’d take up a lot of time and effort, and I’m not sure that I’ll enjoy the process. I’m also worried about the lousy internet connection at my parents’, and I don’t have any fancy audio equipment.
But the plan is to just start and work my way up from there. Never know til’ you try, right? ‘Sick Lessons’ is a project that I started last year, but faded out because I didn’t have the time or energy to maintain two blogs. But I’m thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to merge it with ‘A Chronic Voice’.
4. Pre-Plan Seasonal Posts & Pins
The holiday season was fun, but also lots of work all round, blogging included! Participating in the group pods was also an eye-opening experience for me. Full-time bloggers begin sharing seasonal posts wayyy in advance (up to two months!). To be a professional blogger is to get a head start in raising awareness, whatever that may be – an important day, event or promotion that’s coming up.
The irony is that I’m already late for New Year’s, but I guess I’ll take the whole of January off to work these kinks out. I’ll also create a calendar with important dates such as holidays and health awareness days. Keep an eye out for this resource which I’ll share soon! (You can sign up for our mailing list so you don’t miss out on it.)
5. More Helpful Resources & Topics
It isn’t that I don’t write enough resource posts, but I believe that I have the capability to ramp up my efforts. I need to write more posts that answer my target audience’s questions, plain and simple. Here are some pretty neat tools that I found, which you can use for crafting new blog posts, too:
- Google Trends
- Hubspot Blog Topic Generator
I’ve had a Quora account for years but don’t maximise it like I should. There were 1,000 views last month – for questions I had given answers to from years ago! Quora is truly underrated, and a great place to see what kinds of questions people ask, or seek solutions for. There’s a lot of false information out there, so it’s a good opportunity to help educate using reliable sources. The topics can get pretty niche as well, which is great for rare diseases. For e.g., today I see ‘How can Lupus cause death’, and ‘Are there low-dose or microdose steroids that do not have harmful side effects?’. Just to give you an idea of how specific the questions can get.
6. Creating a Paid Section & Adding Services
As some of you may know, I do web development work. But business hasn’t been great; the market is so saturated right now. I’m thinking of combining instead of dividing my time and energy. Instead of trying to cast my nets out into various waters, I’ll cast them all into the same ocean.
They say that multiple income streams are important. It isn’t that I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, even if I’ll be spending more effort on ‘A Chronic Voice’. What I am trying to do is to anchor ‘A Chronic Voice’ as a brand, and offer a diversity of services, packages and resources straight off my blog. Stay tuned for this as it’s still in the musing, infancy stage!
7. Antiphospholipid Syndrome Advocacy
Finally, one of my top five posts on the blog is an ‘obscure’ article on Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). I believe it’s one of the few rare comprehensive guides written by a patient on the internet, at least from what I can tell.
What this signals to me is that there’s not enough information out there, and that there’s a niche group of people who are searching for it. The pages found via Google search are all bland, repetitive and general ones from medical sites. As a patient who’s reading them, that’s not so helpful as it’s such a complicated autoimmune disorder.
My chronic illness life began with a mild stroke at 14, due to Antiphospholipid Syndrome. I’ve gained a ton of intimate knowledge about the disease and how it works in my body, having lived with it for 20 years. A lot of it I learned through near death experiences. In fact, all but one of my near death experiences were because of this disorder.
As such, I believe that it’s my duty as a chronic illness blogger to raise more awareness about Antiphospholipid Syndrome from 2020 onwards, on top of my other disorders. I’d like to make it a household term, so to speak. So there are my blogging goals and thoughts for the New Year. Share yours in the comments below! 🙂
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*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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