Health and wellness blogs are a fun, fresh and modern way to communicate complex scientific topics to an engaged audience.
What’s more, readers like to get their health advice from blogs. They also like to share compelling content – and, they’ll probably follow or recommend the health advice in the blog, too.
Yes, ideally people should get their health advice from health professionals – but they don’t, and Dr Google is a reality whether we like it or not.
With that in mind, it’s time to embrace this changing consumer behaviour and focus on writing high-quality, socially responsible blogs that help our readers make better decisions about their health and wellbeing.
Health and wellness bloggers aren’t experts
As a health blogger, you’re the bridge between the science/experts, and the public. You don’t have to be the expert.
In fact, you probably shouldn’t aim to be – unless you actually do have relevant credentials and a significant amount of experience in a specialty field.
So, while you don’t have to be an expert to be a health blogger, you still need to be aware that readers will make decisions about their health based on your content.
That’s why credibility, accuracy, and social responsibility need to be at the heart of any high-quality health blog.
Writing credible health and wellness blogs
Over the years, I’ve written health blogs for many different healthcare brands and businesses. And, all of my clients have slightly different internal review processes.
Some want every single sentence marked up with a credible reference, while others are happy with a reference list at the end of the piece.
These internal review processes, which often include a medical review from doctors and health professionals, have helped to teach me the essential best-practices of high-quality blog writing.
To write trustworthy health and wellness blogs, you need to take the principles of writing quality academic papers and ‘blogify’ them.
Here’s how you can do just that to create excellent blog content.
1. Understand your topic
As a health and wellness blogger, you’ll cover a wide range of topics – some you’ll know well, others will be new to you.
Yet you can never write well about anything if you don’t understand what you’re writing about.
Take time with your background research. Spend even more time researching than writing if you have to.
You’re not expected to become an expert in your topic. That’s why you speak to experts and conduct your research using reputable sources (more on that below).
Read widely, read a variety of sources, speak to experts – and ensure you thoroughly understand exactly what you’re writing about before you begin writing.
You can also Google the topic to see what else has been written about it – and this helps to ensure you’re providing a unique angle or perspective, too.
When you’ve finished researching, you should feel confident you understand the topic well enough to accurately represent it.
If you feel under pressure to meet a deadline, then perhaps you need to revisit your schedule and give yourself more time.
Understanding the topic also means understanding what your reader wants to know about it.
So, you also need to be clear on who your audience or ideal reader is, why this topic is important to them, and how you’re helping them.
2. Back up your health claims with evidence
It’s best practice to back up every health and wellness blog claim with evidence. This has two purposes – it helps to verify what you’re saying is actually true, and it gives your readers confidence in your advice.
‘Duh’, I hear you think. Most health writers know we need to do this. Yet, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to forget this simple fact – even if you’re an experienced writer.
“Exclusionary diets promote anxiety and orthorexia, an obsession with healthy eating.” This is a claim I read recently in a blog article on mythbusting superfoods.
I know if I sent this to one of my clients, it would be sent back to me, circled, with a request for a specific reference and more context.
What’s more, if the point of your article is to change a behaviour or your reader’s opinion, then you’re going to have the best chance of doing this when you can back up your medical claims with convincing evidence.
Also, when you’re sourcing evidence for your claims, make sure your sources are reputable. To work out whether a website is trustworthy, ask yourself: has the medical advice been peer-reviewed? Is it clear who wrote it and who funds the website? How recent is the source of information? Government health sites, libraries, not-for-profits and official associations are great places to find credible content.
3. Elaborate on research
Don’t just chuck in the phrase ‘research suggests X is linked to Y’ and call it a day. When you’re writing health and wellness blogs, your readers need details. Think who, what, when, where, why – and how.
You don’t have to address all of these questions, but it’s best to aim to consider at least a few of them:
- Who wrote it – who is in the research team, who funded the study, and who was studied?
- What was studied – what were the original aims and objectives of the research?
- Where was it published – which medical journal was the research published in, and where was the research team from?
- When was it published – how recent is the research?
- Why is it important – why should your readers care, why is the result interesting or significant, and why does it add to the body of evidence?
- Don’t forget the ‘how’ – how can this finding be used to help your readers better understand the topic?
4. Put the findings in perspective
What do these findings mean for your readers? Why should they care? How can they use science to improve their health, change their behaviours or better understand a health topic?
A new study might be exciting – it may even be a medical breakthrough, or there may be another reason why it’s worth writing about.
Yet we can rarely encourage readers to make significant health decisions based on the results of a single study. It’s always about accurately representing the body of evidence – and considering how this study fits within it.
Putting the finding in perspective also involves considering your ultimate take-home message. What do you want your readers want to get out of your blog?
Aim to give your readers somewhere to go after they’ve finished reading.
This could be a link to further reading, an association to go to for more advice, a helpline, a link to another one of your blogs, a call-to-action to leave a comment, or a request to sign up to your newsletter. Always give your readers somewhere to go, so they’re not left wondering, ‘where to from here?’