I specialize in helping business owners (especially natural health practitioners) to identify their goals, prioritize tasks in order to grow their business, and create a balance so they feel more in control.
Today I want to answer a question that has come up a few times lately with several of my clients:
“How do I know what type of content to write in my blog?”
“Am I sharing the right type of information for my patients and people I want to serve?”
Watch the video, or follow along with a written version below.
The problem of coming up with new blog content is extraordinarily common. The issue isn’t really about the act of writing (although most practitioners see this as yet another task to add to their endless list of things to do).
It’s really a matter of figuring out WHY you’re writing in the first place. Beyond the question “how do I write a blog post?” lies these deeper questions:
- “Who am I serving?”
- “Who are my ideal patients?”
- “What kind of information do they want to hear?”
To answer these questions, I recommend using a tool called the Brainstorming Map, which I’ll describe below. You might have seen this before. It’s a simple exercise that has made a profound difference in my own ability to organize my writing and generate new content.
What You’ll Need
To create your own Brainstorming Map, start by gathering these essentials:
- Some plain paper (I recommend an 8-1/2” x 11” or larger sheet, or a poster board if you like to use a lot of surface area)
- Pens, pencils, markers, or other writing tools (I prefer colored extra-fine Sharpie markers)
- A ruler if you want to draw straight lines
- A list of previous blog posts published
- A list of ideas for future blog posts
- Notes from your meditation and planning sessions
Step 1: Select a Main Theme
Once you are ready to get started, you need to pick a central idea that summarizes what you do, how your practice is distinct from competitors, why it exists, and who you serve.
I find that a lot of practitioners try to do too much. Their practice extends to a huge variety of services, products, body systems, and treatment methods. In an effort to solve the problems of all patients who come in the door, they offer “A-to-Z” solutions.
The problem with serving everyone is that your emphasis area becomes murky and forgettable. This is called being Everything to Everyone. And the results aren’t pretty; it can result in burnout, overwhelm, and lost revenue.
Niching Your Practice
Instead, I highly recommend that you select a niche area: a very specific aspect of your capability, knowledge, interest, or field of work.
A niche should also be for a problem that you can solve for people. This could be:
- Disease, condition, or set of symptoms
- Type of patient (gender, age, demographic, location)
- Treatment type
- your specialized area of expertise
- in what areas do you have training and experience?
- how can you best solve problems?
- your interests
- what do you enjoy doing (and keep doing for hours)?
- where do you want to spend your time and effort?
- your passions
- which type of work makes you feel excited to get out of bed in the morning?
- if money were no object, which activities would you do?
Yet another way to develop a Niche is to consider the needs of your Ideal Patient. This is an individual who:
- arrives to appointments on time
- is upfront about her/his symptoms and concerns
- respects your policies and procedures
- pays you without complaint
- responds well to services or treatment
- is a pleasure to serve, and
- agrees with your philosophy and beliefs.
The more specific you are, the more sought-after you will become.
Suppose you specialize in all conditions involving hormone imbalance: for men, women, children… suffering from every condition imaginable… and using every treatment method available.
Trying to go in all these different directions at once is nearly impossible. It can result in potential patients feeling very confused. They may have trouble finding your practice; and when they do, they might fail to recognize how you can help them.
But if you have a very distinct niche—an area in which you are a knowledgeable expert—then someone who is looking for that specific condition can easily see that you are a perfect fit.
(If you work in a field other than healthcare, then use the same concept to focus on the needs of individuals who share similar characteristics and a problem they desperately want to solve.)
In our example, we can imagine a healthcare practice that serves customers with the following characteristics:
- Females ages 35 to 55 years old
- Migraine headaches
- Hormone Imbalance
For our Main Theme, we’re going to pick “Hormone Imbalance in Women.” So in the middle circle, that is what we’ll write.
Step 2: Determine 10 Topics
Next, draw 10 lines coming out from the center. For each line, write a topic that is related to your Main Theme.
In our Hormone Imbalance in Women example, I came up with 10 topics, as well as questions that patients might be asking:
- Time in Life
- “When does hormone imbalance occur?”
- “Is this something to expect for this period in my life?”
- Types of Imbalances
- “What are the terms for all these hormones?”
- “Which Old Wives’ Tales aren’t actually true?”
- “How common are these problems for women my age?”
- All About Hormones
- “How do hormones work?”
- “Why is there so much confusion about hormones?”
- “What are the most important things to know?”
- Environmental Factors
- “Should I get rid of all plastics, or which ones are most risky?”
- “What can you tell me about harmful things in my house?”
- “Is this activity/location safe for me and my family?”
- “What is the chance I will get cancer?”
- “Am I normal for having these problems?”
- “When should I be most concerned? Which conditions are the worst?”
- “Why is this happening to me?”
- “How did it start? Did I do something wrong?”
- “What are my options?”
- “What are the risks if I use natural treatment rather than regular medicine?”
- Vitamins and Supplements
- “I’m not sure which pills to take; which should I choose?”
- “How much will supplements cost me?”
- “Why should I take expensive supplements and vitamins instead of cheap ones?”
- “Can a single drug fix the problem?”
- “How much does my diet need to change?”
- “What is a detox? How does it work?”
- “What are the side effects?”
- “How long will it last?”
- “How often should I do it?”
- “When can I go back to regular food?”
- Immune System
- “What does a compromised immune system mean?”
- “How does cortisol affect my mood and how I feel?”
- “Does it matter that I experienced trauma in the past?”
- “What can I do to improve my immune health?”
You might notice that these topics overlap a little, and they aren’t necessarily in logical order. We could re-organize the list and move things around. But for now, the goal is to get things out of your head and down on paper (or on a whiteboard if you prefer). Correcting and organizing comes later.
Even at this point, you may be finding some common themes. By asking the questions your Ideal Patients are wondering (and potential patients who are in need of your services), you can put yourself in a position of knowledge and expertise. When your blog posts answer the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of a particular issue or condition, this will start to attract patients to your front door.
“What kind of questions would my Ideal Patient want to know, and how do I answer it in a way that demonstrates my knowledge and ability to help them?”
Step 3: Add 3 to 5 Subtopics
In this part of the exercise, you can add details to the main topics. Start by writing down anything that comes to mind:
- Why the topic is important
- Additional details that you wish patients would know
- Aspects of your work that you love to talk about
If you’re feeling stuck at this point, here are some more ideas:
- Are your patients asking the same questions in their sessions with you? (You could create a series of blog posts on Frequently Asked Questions)
- Have you been hearing a lot of chatter about a new treatment type or therapeutic method?
- Are you getting referrals for patients with similar symptoms or conditions?
Your subtopics should be a deep-dive discussion on something you see a lot in your practice, that you hear complaints about, or about which people seem confused and need help understanding it. Patients who are looking for answers may be self-diagnosing and finding misinformation. You can isolate topics that are especially important (and potentially life-changing) to a segment of the population who really need this kind of help.
Please note: I am not recommending or suggesting any treatment listed below; these are merely to demonstrate how to use the Brainstorming Tool.
Continuing with our Hormone Imbalance in Women example, here are the subtopics listed (follow along in my video):
1. Time in Life
2. Types of Imbalances
- Growth hormones
- (and many more)
3. All About Hormones
The effects of hormones cover a variety of systems, including:
- Heart rate
- Sleep cycle
- Reproductive cycle
- Sex drive
- Growth and development
- Mood and stress level
- Blood sugar
- Body temperature
- (just to name a few)
4. Environmental Factors
- Estrogen mimicking chemicals like bisphenol A, phthalates, and parabens
- Heavy metals and other poisonous chemicals in the air, food, water, earth, etc.
- Emotional and mood, Physical, and Mental
- Excessive sweating
- Inability to sleep
- Weight gain
- Heat and cold sensitivity
- Dry skin
- Blood pressure changes
- Blood sugar
- Brittle bones and osteoporosis
- Blurred vision
- Heavy periods
- Hot flashes
- Excess hair growth
- Thinning hair
- Skin growths
- Imbalance in body chemicals
- Malfunction of organs (adrenal, testis/ovary, pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas)
- Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Diabetes 1 or 2
- Cushing, Addison, Turner, or Prader-Willi syndromes
- Iodine deficiency (goiters)
- Toxins and pollution
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Birth control pills
Natural methods can include:
- Hormone re-balance
- Nutritious food, limited carbs and sugar, high protein, healthy fats
- Regular exercise
- Good hygiene
- Avoid spicy foods
- Manage stress; practice yoga and meditation
- Use glass containers, ceramic pans, and avoid microwaving plastic
- No pesticides or artificial chemicals
- Consistent sleep
8. Vitamins and Supplements
- Broccoli, green tea, cinnamon, dark chocolate, flax
- Herbal supplements for menopause (black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, evening primrose, ginseng)
- Other options you recommend
- Liver detox
- Food as fuel for increased energy
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Restore adrenal rhythm
10. Immune System
- Gut health
- Manage high cortisol levels
- Trauma as a factor
- Stress levels
Every woman I know has struggled with a number of the symptoms and problems above. Hormone imbalance can be life-altering. From my own experience, there aren’t a lot of discussions on these topics in particular.
Consider establishing yourself as an expert in an area where you can shed light on one unique problem that isn’t discussed very much—or one that is not explained very well in general.
As a natural health provider, you guide your patients on the path to healing. Instead of just giving them a list of pills to take, things to do, and “we’ll see you in a year” (which patients have come to expect from healthcare professionals), you can use this opportunity to isolate the biggest misconceptions patients have and educate them through a series of blog posts on things like:
- Frequency of visits
- Lifestyle choices
- Cost of investing in a naturopath or chiropractor
- Nutrition, regular exercise, and yoga & meditation
- Consistent sleep
- Impact of past trauma
- Degree of commitment required to get long-term health benefits
- Simple steps to creating a better future self (Before & After)
The image below represents a final version of the Brainstorming Tool, with all 3 circles (Main Theme, Topics 1-10, Subtopics 1-30).
A Word About Trauma and Abuse
One niche opportunity that I find personally lacking in a lot of healthcare practices is the niche area of “How trauma affects the body.” We know that traumatic experiences impacts a person physically, emotionally, and mentally, often in ways that are invisible. Yet the impact of abuse in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood can have a major effect on their health and well-being.
By interlacing a topic like “trauma,” “rape,”or “abuse” with a symptom set or treatment modality, you can reach a very important (and rarely discussed) aspect of many women’s lives. This topic is extremely timely (see the #MeToo post) and can help you connect with patients on a deeper level.
(This is what natural health practitioners do so well anyway, by using a holistic perspective on identifying the patient’s needs across all spectrums, rather than just discussing the presenting symptoms).
Powerful niche areas could be:
- Hormone Imbalance for Women Who Have Experienced Trauma
- Hygiene Tips as a Female of Size
- Understanding and Welcoming the Aging Process
- How to Tell if Your Periods are Normal or Not
These are all issues that I have personally gone through. I was obese in my 20’s and have lost quite a bit of weight, but at the time I was very ashamed and didn’t see a doctor for many years. The stress, shame, and fear really affected my health.
Establishing a niche will give you a clear focus. It will also allow you to simplify your services, prioritize tasks, limit distractions, and feel more fulfilled as a practitioner.
Final Step: Develop Content
By now, you should have a better idea of how this tool can help you generate ideas for what to write on your blog. Each of the subtopics can be used to create:
- blog posts,
- audio recordings,
- training sessions,
- webinars, and
- newsletter articles.
Once you start thinking in terms of what your patients are wondering, you’ll be able to come up with a series of topics that can propel your message forward. You can use the Brainstorming Map tool to create tons of content that will bring people to your website and trust you enough to sign up for your services.
A final thing to consider is the power of combining topics in order to find a niche. I mentioned the benefits of using combination elements in How Do I Make a Weighted SWOT Diagram? [Video].
Here are some combos from the lists above:
- Pregnancy/diabetes/weight gain/no appetite
- Perimenopause/excessive sweating/food cravings/cold sensitivity/cysts
- Menopause/low sex drive/hot flashes/hair loss
As you can see, these combinations allow us to consider the needs of a very specific type of patient. This blend of conditions, symptoms, causes, and treatments can serve as a rich source of inspiration for future articles on your website, guest posts for collaborators’ blogs, and even developing a course or book.
I would love to hear your experiences with using a brainstorming tool like this one. What did you use, and how did it help you?
If you a healthcare practitioner who feels frustrated about running your business, schedule a free call to discuss ways to regain balance.
Grace LaConte is a Strategic Risk Expert who helps service business owners find and fix organizational vulnerabilities. Using her experience as a Risk Officer in the healthcare and technology fields, Grace shares a refreshingly honest approach to uncovering hidden risks and opportunities. Learn more at http://laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Twitter @lacontestrategy.