By Suzza Silver
We’re lucky to publish this guest blog from our colleague Suzza Silver, a freelance writer specializing in blogging and content writing. Find Suzza on Twitter @Susan_Silver or visit them on the web at SuzzaWrites.com. Keep reading to learn about why you should start a science blog.
My challenge to all who read this? Start a science blog this year. It does not matter if you work in a lab or an office. You all have something to offer by communicating science. A blog is a way of starting a conversation. It gives you a chance to connect with your fellow scientists or the public in fun and engaging ways.
“Start a science blog this year. It does not matter if you work in a lab or an office. You all have something to offer by communicating science.” – @Susan_Silver #SciCommTweet
Here are some ways a science blog can help you.
- Fighting imposter syndrome
- Building a portfolio
- Networking with colleagues
A science blog is one more step forward to starting a career in science communications or science writing. We need more scientists sharing their experiences and expertise. There are no others more capable of expressing to the public their research. Successfully communicating through your blog can change people’s lives for the better.
If you are on the fence, the following will convince you.
Finding Your Voice
Imposter syndrome is not uncommon. Even those with the most advanced degrees can experience the feeling of not being qualified to speak. They feel they are fakes.
I had this feeling when I started my mathematics blog. I am not a mathematician or a journalist. I have only completed some undergraduate work, which is not the same as having a degree. What could I contribute to mathematics?
I remember purchasing the domain BeautyofMathematics.com. I could not believe someone would give up such a great URL. There it was being sold for 11 dollars. I had to have it. I just sat on it, hoping to give it away to someone else with more knowledge.
Then I had a breakthrough and realized that person was me. My experiences with mathematics are valid. My math journey is one about healing and learning to flourish. That is a message worthy of sharing with others.
Starting my blog and getting used to sharing my feelings helped me develop a voice. When that content began to resonate with others, I was encouraged to continue on my path. Now, I can write for some publications because I have gained the self-confidence to express myself.
Writing Samples Are Important
Another reason to start a blog is to develop a portfolio as a science writer. A science writing portfolio gives your potential clients and future editors an idea of your writing. You need some form of evidence that you can write in specific niches. Your blog will showcase your knowledge and expertise and act as writing samples. That is how I got my first job over a decade ago.
I had just dropped out of graduate school and did not know what to do with myself. I was broke and living with my parents at the time. I was disappointed with myself for not finishing my degree. It would take me time to heal from that wound.
That is when I decided to start writing a blog. It was a simple one. I just wanted to show people that you could find free events in Los Angeles and use public transportation to get there. I set up a Google calendar with all the activities. It was mildly successful.
My life changed when I saw an ad on Craigslist looking for writers for Gather.com (which is now defunct). I was able to show them my blog. That got me the job. I wrote about news in entertainment. I had a following covering Lost episode reviews and recaps. I got paid based on my writing’s views, which was not great. But I was one of the more successful authors and did okay. That experience led me to the career that I have now as a freelance writer.
One of the reasons why I returned to school in 2019 was to start a career as a science writer. I am working toward a mathematics degree so that I can write about the subject with some authority. I consider my blog practice and as a way to enter the field.
You do not know where your writing can take you. I guarantee that it can change your life. If nothing else, it allows you to connect with like-minded people who can support you and your work.
Getting to Know You
The last thing that I want to mention is that writing a blog can lead to networking opportunities. Use your content in ways to connect with others. The following is how I have used my blog to meet others.
Twitter, Instagram, and Social Media
I like social media because it increases our reach when connecting. There are two ways to do this:
1. Using hashtags.
2. Tagging people.
Both of these options can lead to more exposure for your work. You do not have to do a lot to create content. You can, for example, just compile a list of your favorite science communicators. You can then Tweet out your blog post, and mention them in a Tweet that you have featured them! Of course, be polite and do not spam people.
Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees once Retweeted a blog of mine. That was a personal highlight.
A cold email is when you message someone who you don’t know. It is cold because you have not formally introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Remember what it feels like to get an unsolicited email. We have all received those messages from marketers that are not relevant and are spam. So, why am I telling you to do this?
Your targets have to be specific. You want to make the message personal to the people you contact. It is okay to promote yourself to people interested in what you do. Look for a public email or contact form so you know that they are willing to receive messages.
I have used my blog as a starting point to reach out to my favorite people in the mathematics world. Surprisingly, I got responses back from sculptor and geometer George Hart and math communicator Alex Bellos. I will never forget that. I am sure there are people who you would love to talk to if you had the chance, and starting your blog is your chance.
Search Engine Optimization
Another way that people may find you is through search engines. I am not kidding. It is another way to connect with people. I know this through first-hand experience.
One of the keywords I rank for on Google Search relates to Harry Nilsson’s song “One.” Otherwise known by its opening lyric, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” The article was a review of Harry Nilsson’s career in music, which is often overlooked. Peg Fong, the journalist behind the podcast Alone Together, cold-emailed me to request an interview. She featured me in her episode about mathematics, where I talked about my history overcoming math anxiety and learning to love it.
Networking is important. Not just to promote your work, but also for mutual aid and support. Writing is difficult. There will be times when not much seems to be happening. That is when you need friends to help you along the way.
Start a Science Blog This Year
We live in a time when starting a science blog is easier than ever. It might be harder to stand out, but using the networking techniques I have shared will set you off in the right direction.
If you are ready to take that leap, I have compiled a list of 105 resources that may help. They cover topics like SEO, content strategy, and building community.
Leave a comment below if you have enjoyed this post. I would love to hear about your writing journey.
Suzza Silver is the writer with the mathematical muse. Suzza is a freelance writer and blogger with a decade of experience as a content writer. If you would like to learn more about how to blog, read Suzza’s new ebook.