I received the coolest email the other day. One of our {grow} community members, Raman Minhas of the U.K., wrote about his struggle over FOUR YEARS to get any traction for his blog — and then finally, it worked!  I loved his inspirational story because I think it reflects the pattern of emotional turmoil many of us go through as bloggers. See if you agree … 

 By {grow} Community Member Raman Minhas

I would like to share my difficult journey as a blogger.

Hope

Four years ago, I started writing about the industry I worked in, biotech.  I dutifully wrote about commercial issues affecting the business and my frustrations of the complex R&D process (a new drug can take up to 10 years and over $1 billion to develop).

I worked hard to provide insightful posts that I would “push” to my network of around 1,000 email subscribers each month. These folks had not necessarily “opted in” for my blog, but since the unsubscribe rate was always less than 0.5%, I figured it was OK.  It also seemed like a good way to stay in touch. I was getting around 300 hits per month, but there was NO organic growth of my readership no matter how hard I worked.  After a few years, I felt like I was spinning my wheels.

Disenchantment

Without any positive feedback,, the blogging process became wearisome and I came to dread the “time of month” to write.  When I was at a very low point, I was inspired by Mark’s post, “Ten reasons to blog – even if nobody reads it.”  That kept me going for a while but I still wasn’t happy.  I had to find a way to push through these blogging barriers or it could not last. So after a couple of years of struggling, I performed an internal review last summer and decided to re-focus on a more interesting topic, medtech. A subtle change, but I’d previously spent six years as an emergency room MD in the UK and was more comfortable with medtech (devices, diagnostics, IT) than the abstract chemistry of new potential drugs.

Re-focus and renewal

With a clarification of my niche, my focus became much clearer.  I found I could write more easily and many more topics came to mind. Writing finally became enjoyable! Through the medtech theme, I was also able to connect to my interests in entrepreneurship and value investing. This was such a breakthrough. Slowly, the page hits began to grow — perhaps readers gauged more passion and a renewed sense of energy in my content? And the blog was starting to get NOTICED.   I was invited to present at an industry networking event on the use of blogging in our industry. This was a small audience (around 60) but highly relevant. It was a milestone for me!

Finding my voice 

Slowly I was finding my blogging “voice” and with this positive feedback, my confidence grew.  I decided I needed to work on being more consistent and that I needed to grow my engaged network of readers.  As my blogging changed, my audience changed too. I was now getting picked up by important medtech CEOs and investors.  I decided that to grow the blog I needed to write at least weekly. This felt daunting.

Finding the time

Here was another barrier. Would I have the time to keep this up?  Would I have enough to write about? I decided that I needed to make the time and this needed to be central to my business.  My wife and I have been blessed with two wonderful boys: one is 4 yrs old and the other is just 11 weeks old (sleepless nights). But we decided together that I was going to go for it and I learned to make the time and started posting weekly, without much trouble.

Traction 

This new consistency seems to be working. I can see the page views and readership grow!  By the end of last month, the blog got its highest number of monthly hits ever — over 800.  I was energized! And through the first two weeks of this month, I’m on a pace to exceed 1,000 hits.  Along the way, I have also been working on the look and feel of the blog to to reflect the new focus and concerted effort.

Part of my strategy to attract a meaningful and engaged audience was to connect to people on Twitter. Although I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, I had not been very active and only had a handful of followers.  I became a disciple of The Tao of Twitter and it is paying off.  By January I hit 200 followers and my quality Twitter audience has now reached 350 just a few months later.

The Pay-off!

The connections I am making through Twitter and my blog are remarkable. Here are a few of my recent social media victories:

  • Through these social media channels alone I was asked to attend an important two-day conference and moderate a panel on commercializing medtech. This is fantastic exposure for me and my business. Another breakthrough!  To be authentically helpful, I am using my social media channels to give the conference exposure. I’m helping the organizers with sourcing medtech CEOs from my own network for other panels in the conference. It’s a win-win-win for the conference organisers, medtech CEOs, and me.
  • One of my recent posts, “8 Lessons from Medtech Entrepreneurs…” was picked up by another organization and it was put up on the front page of their website as a news item. Hits to my blog went up. It was so successful, they asked if my posts could be a regular feature on their site. Of course, I said yes.  One of the CEOs from a high-profile company commented on one of my posts and subsequently introduced me to one his VC investors (a very influential group within my target audience).
  • Last week I had coffee with another CEO whose company I’d mentioned in a post. This was only our second meeting and we’re already discussing ways of working together. Things NEVER used to move this fast.  It’s as if the blog is a non-invasive, trust-building, relationship booster.
  • At an event in February this year, I met a medtech CEO for 5 just minutes. But we have had the chance to continue to get to know each other through the blog and emails. He emailed me: “Keep the blog coming, I’m an avid follower.” He’s been in the medtech industry for 25 years. Like I’d have ANYTHING to teach him?!

I have learned a lot along the way.  Patiently and steadily build rapport and trust with your readers.  Write about your passions. It takes time to find your blogging “voice.”  Authentic helpfulness and reciprocity go a long way.

It took me four years, but it is finally working. I have so much yet to learn but I wanted to encourage you to stick with it, have courage and continue to push yourself.  If I had quit years ago, I would not be realizing these fantastic benefits today.

Raman Minhas is a medtech enthusiast, working with entrepreneurial companies. He also invests in medtech stocks, using a value based approach, and blogs at Medtech Value Investor.

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