As my regular readers will know, I seem to have no problem with finding subject matter for my weekly posts. My life is quite varied, and what tends to happen is that either I will read something, or talk to someone, that will prompt, that post. On some occasions the subject becomes apparent, as I have had cause to discuss them on more than one occasion. Most of my time is spent talking about cancer, either in a clinical environment, or via social media, but I also have a variety of other things happening, so the subjects can be much broader. Ironically this week, I had got to Friday, and there was no obvious subject to write about. I can really only write well because of my passion for the subject matter, so was concerned, what I would write about. But as on previous similar occasions I needn’t have worried, as nature provided for me, yet again!
Most of you will be aware that I had been shortlisted for an award at the UK Blog Awards in London. They called it, ‘the Oscars of the blogging world!’ The actual ceremony was held on Friday evening, in a 5* hotel and everyone was ‘dressed to impress.’ I had gone along with my wife, who wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and it didn’t disappoint! The red carpet, champagne, and a large room full of the best of British blogging talent. It then started to seem real. I was talking to people who were blogging on almost any subject I could think about. It was really stimulating, but I was struggling to see how my cancer blog, would be interesting.
There were twenty eight categories, I was tucked away in Health. The stage was bright and the music was loud, as the prize winners came on stage, to collect their awards. Very quickly my category came up. From eleven people shortlisted, two were commended, with then a winner. The two commended were brilliant, then my logo flashed on the screen as the health blog of the year! Little old me, I couldn’t believe it, my wife dropped all her books, and said “it’s you, it’s you!”
That was a couple of days ago now and it is slowly sinking in, what has happened. All my channels of social media have been busy, new followers and plenty of congratulations. But how on earth did this happen? Just over two years ago, there was no blog. A set of circumstances, led to me being encouraged to start one. But quickly, I could see the benefits in healthcare. Communicating with people around the world, sharing your experiences, and learning from theirs. This has become quickly adopted by many patients, who will write in their own unique style.
Blogging is very much a two way process. I have found that, not only can others learn from my experiences, but as I write, I am also learning more about myself. ‘Sharing is caring,’ as they say, and the numerous channels of social media make great content easy to share. After many ‘blogging hours,’ we have an established, increasing audience, and I am able to see the tangible difference we can make, with this work, which was what I believed in when I started. So to be recognised for that by the senior health professionals who were judging the candidates is fantastic. It is very difficult to be able to critique your own work, but a great honour when professionals say the word outstanding!
The evening was a great opportunity to talk to other bloggers and judges and to hear their stories, and one thing became very obvious for me. That is the increasing power and influence that bloggers are having in their fields and the quality of work is very high. It is now difficult to tell, a professional from someone who does it for fun! Most bloggers do not earn any income from their passion, it is purely that.
My opinion is that blogging is becoming more effective than the regular press. It is very much current, and freely available. People can talk about any subject they wish, in any style that suits them. They are a totally free voice. Organisations are now very wary of bloggers, which I feel in many ways is a good thing. If something is good, we can make a noise about it, but also if something isn’t we can get something done. Of course, there are good and bad ones, and it is likely you will find both. But with a little investment of time, you can find some that you will enjoy and learn from.
In healthcare, my concern is still that professionals do not really understand the true value of patient blogs, on both counts. The many benefits for the writer, but more importantly the benefits of professionals, to read and understand more about what patients are really feeling, whilst living their life with cancer. Having won this award and had many recent conversations, I now have more faith that the profession is beginning to warm to blogging, and social media generally. Not only is it an incredible honour for me personally, I am excited to see the subject of cancer and long term illness enter, and be willingly accepted into, the mainstream blogging world.
My sincere hope is that this award will ultimately help us reach more people affected by cancer, and slowly, post by post, improve the support landscape of the current system. My sincere thanks go to everyone who reads/ shares etc, because we are starting to make a difference, they are even telling me that at the top 🙂