Passion is great, but what else can I really get out of starting my own blog? What’s in it for me?
In part 1 of start a public health blog series, I argued that in a time where there is so much content on the internet, your words and perspective about a public health topic is indeed necessary. If you didn’t get to read that piece, check it out here.
In part two here (in the case my previous blog didn’t convince you enough about starting a blog) I want to tell you what’s in it for you: investing in knowledge and the power of network!
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
When you start your public health blog, beyond everything, you will be learning so much about your topic of choice. You will naturally be doing so much research to deliver quality content. You are going to become an expert in this field and let’s be real, a superstar.
At my previous job, I could not find any time to do “extra” reading to keep up with what was happening in the field. My 9-5 (sometimes more) was only enough to complete what I needed to. And when I got home, I just didn’t feel like reading. It was also probably I wasn’t super passionate about food safety that I wanted to read about it in my free time.
Enter project PH SPOT: public health education and career advancement! This is something I am more than happy to do on my free time, and talk about wherever I go. I have become so obsessed with providing great content to my audience that I am always reading articles and forums to find opportunities for career advancement.
Similarly, when you start your blog, and given you are super passionate about it, you are automatically going to be driven to read a lot about the topic. You will naturally gravitate to articles regarding this topic, and yes, become an “expert” in this field. For example, let’s say you start your blog around the topic of “the built environment and the public health impact” (you can get specific and choose to focus on the city you live in). You will end up searching the news, peer reviewed articles, reflecting on your day, being aware of your surroundings, talk to peers and professionals about this topic, and so on. You will naturally be hungry to gain as much knowledge as you can about the topic. Furthermore, once you start putting yourself out there through your website, you will be recognized as an expert in the field and could be invited to speak at events (I was recently invited to speak about public health and entrepreneurship at a conference, but had to turn it down due to a schedule conflict)!
Putting yourself out there and placing yourself as an expert in the field will only open more doors for your career. This brings me to my next point – building your network.
Your network is your net worth
You might have stumbled on this quote at some point in your life. If you haven’t, here is a life changing piece of advice and a very true statement: relationships drive our life. Everything you do, you can do better with the support and guidance of another person. Whether that is landing an interview for a job, sitting down with a leader in the field for coffee, or to talk about what to do next with your career. Of course you can land a job and decide what your next career move is on your own, but having someone who has done it (or even in the same boat as you) on your side alleviates a bit of stress and work. Having the right people at your fingertips with whom you have built strong relationships is so important. This section won’t be going into how to maintain good relationships, but will focus on how starting a public health blog will give you access to individuals with whom you can build strong relationships with.
As I mentioned earlier, by being recognized as an expert, you will have many more opportunities come your way and through these opportunities, will meet great individuals in the field (i.e. invited to speak at events).
Moreover, another great way to create content for your blog is to connect with individuals and other experts in the field to get their perspectives. Your blog gives you the platform to be able to reach out to these people, some of whom you probably would not have reached out to on your own! Being able to say, “hey could I feature your story on my website” or “can I have an hour of your time to interview you for my website” are powerful to get replies back! Going back to the built environment example, think about all of the people you could potentially connect with! City planners, the mayor, researchers, advocacy groups, transit users, cyclists, and the list goes on. With PH SPOT, I have been able to have conversations with some amazing individuals about their public health journey (i.e. U of T’s dean, the founder of Maple.com to just name two).
The important factor here is to maintain a good relationship even after you have been able to share their thoughts on the topic. You may connect instantly with some individuals, and others you may have to say goodbye after your interview, and that’s okay! The important thing is that you reached out and put yourself out there.
Beyond the amazing leaders I have been able to have conversations with, I have also been able to build great friendship! A contributor and follower of PH SPOT reached out to be a part of the team. This was great as we were able to begin brainstorming about what sort of work she could contribute. During these early conversations I found out she was starting a new job at an organization that I would eventually like to be a part of one day and was able to put in an early plug for a future job.
Another favourite story of PH SPOT connections is how I was able to reconnect with an acquaintance I had only met once in 2011 during a volunteering job. I found her on LinkedIn, randomly messaged her to feature her public health journey on PH SPOT in the early days and she agreed with great enthusiasm. We hit it off so well and have since become really good friends, that I even ended up staying with her at her new home in New Zealand!
I hope I have convinced you that in addition to pursuing your passion to find your purpose, knowledge and network are two very important pieces for you to build your public health career and make your impact in the world.
Continue reading the rest of this series:
Start a public health blog (part 3): Choosing a topic to blog about
I’m convinced and ready to share my passion with the world!
Start a public health blog (Part 4): Setting up your platform
I’m no tech wiz, so tell me exactly what I need to do
About the author:
Sujani Sivanantharajah is an Opioid Public Health Officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), placed at Manitoba Health. Previous to this role, she was an Epidemiologist working on foodborne and zoonotic illness outbreaks. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Biology and Health Studies, and then went on to complete a Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Saskatchewan. After guiding a number of students and new grads over the past 7 years, Sujani created www.PHSPOT.ca to reach and inspire a larger number of emerging public health professionals in the country to build their career.