MEMBERS AREA

Establishing a Platform 101: The Beginner’s Guide To Getting Started In Medical Writing

The Doctor's DilemmaBy Dr Marlene Pearce
I’ve always harboured a suspicion that I’d be really good at telling people what to do with their lives.  My husband benefits all the time. Luckily, when I became a doctor, people paid me to do it! I enjoy General Practice, particularly the health education side of it.  So naturally, I wanted a greater audience for my rhetoric.

I’m new to medical writing, and was wondering how to get my break in the field.  I happened across AMWA’s blog on a friend’s recommendation and read, “a blog is a must-have for all medical writers who want to build a profile…and stay ahead of the game.” It also suggested I needed to dip a toe into the Social Media pool, to network and gain followers. Oh, dear!

I am a Luddite, you see. I’ve always been the last to the technological party. Only 5 years ago, my baby-boomer mother got fed up and bought me an iPod for my birthday, clearly trying to drag me into the 21st century.  I like my phone separate from my camera, and my computer separate from my phone. I only bought a cheap iPhone 3s last year (gasp!) because it allowed me access to WIFI while overseas without a laptop.

I was faced with a dilemma. I had to overcome my techno-deficits to create a blog, and brave the dreaded Twittersphere. I figured I’m reasonably intelligent – I can work through clinical algorithms, at any rate – so surely I’d be able to wrap my head around a ‘user-friendly’ blog site. I chose WordPress after chatting with blog-savvy friends, and set about making my new blog.

It took most of a weekend. Though to be fair, I’m a bit of an aesthetic pedant so choosing pretty colours did occupy most of that time. I got stuck once or twice – but happily you can type any tech query into Google these days and there’ll be a forum answer waiting for you. I uploaded a headshot, filled in a few details and wrote my first post.  Now, how to generate publicity for my masterpiece?

This is where social media comes in.  I’d signed up for Twitter a week before. I spent a bit of time ‘lurking’, following a few friends and figuring out the program. It’s important to get an idea of how the Twittersphere operates, since like any social situation it has its own unwritten rules of discourse. I discovered it’s an interesting mix of casual conversation and professional content.

It is clearly not enough to just advertise your blog on Twitter – you need to create relationships with others, reveal a little of yourself and collect a band of followers who will care about what you Tweet. And, if you’re lucky, they’ll ReTweet to their followers about you and your blog, thereby widening your audience.

And it’s been very effective, as far as I can tell! My first blog post got over 100 views in the first 24 hours of me announcing it on Twitter. This was through friends already established on Twitter ‘ReTweeting’ my link to their followers, and people who were interested clicked the link and followed it to my blog.

Since then, I’ve slowly been building up my own Followers on Twitter – which means an increased audience when I do use Twitter to announce a new blog post.

It’s all starting to tie together nicely. I wrote an article recently for Medical Observer, and they were nice enough to put a link to my blog at the end of my article online. My blog also gives people a button to click to ‘Follow @drmarlenepearce on Twitter’. So after the Medical Observer article was published I quickly gained a few more Twitter followers.

This recent publicity on Twitter led to me being ‘discovered’ and contacted by AMWA’s own Michelle Guillemard, who kindly asked me to be a Guest Blogger on here. And you’re reading my humble offering right now!

So there you have it – I have built a platform, established followers, and successively networked all within 5 short weeks of embarking on my Twitter & Blog adventure. I can certainly attest to the truth in the post ‘How Blogging Can Enhance Your Career As A Medical Writer.’

All that’s left to do is write something really clever, and figure out how to sell it.  I’d better ask a wise writing guru like Justin Coleman for some advice on that… now where do I sign up for an AMWA mentor?

 Follow @drmarlenepearce on Twitter

Read Marlene’s blog at thedoctorsdilemma.wordpress.com

AMWA 2020 – Medical Writing and Communication During the COVID-19 Crisis

For those who attended the AMWA 2020 Special Virtual Event: 'Medical Writing and Communication During the COVID-19 Crisis' on Thursday 19 November, we are sure you would agree that it was an invaluable two hours. The calibre of speakers and their learnings from this unprecedented crisis were beyond our expectations. We are humbled by their willingness to give their personal time to share their experience with us. 

If you missed the live event, a recording will be made available to AMWA members in the Members Area shortly. If you are not yet an AMWA member, but would like to join, you can visit our membership and benefits page here. Annual membership is $80 for full members and $40 for students.

Read more