We turn to the internet for everything. And that includes questions about nutrition.
Since you want to be a dietitian, I bet you want people to help people be healthy. To make healthy food choices. To trust they’re getting evidence-based information…
And not another fu*king juice cleanse.
Well, starting a blog is one way to make sure people get the right information. And yes you can start now. As a dietetic student/intern (even if it’s your first year).
You’re reading my article for one of the following reasons:
- You aspire to be a nutrition writer in your new career as a dietitian
- You want to start a private practice some day and heard blogs help get clients
- Your volunteer or internship work includes blogging and creating social media content
- You just wanna have a nutrition blog
This post breaks down why you should learn to write a blog post and how to do it as a dietetic student.
Getting started is the hardest part, so I’ve made you an outline to make the planning process easier.
Let’s dive in!
Why are dietitians suddenly all online?
Our entire industry is shifting online. Scroll through your Instagram feed. Count how many dietitians or nutrition students there are.
And when you look for volunteer positions to get hours for your dietetic internship, what do you find?
A ton of posts that make you wonder if you’re a marketing major and someone forgot to tell you.
Businesses don’t survive unless they market themselves. And thanks to Covid, our industry is seeing how powerful digital marketing is.
Soon the question, “can you blog” will be on par with “can you use Microsoft Word” as everyone in dietetics rushes to build their blog.
Writing content isn’t the most relevant skill you’ll learn to become a dietitian. You’ve probably learned a skill or two that wasn’t directly relevant to your last career too.
Somehow, that skill always comes in handy though. And then you say to yourself, “I’m glad I learned that”. Writing blogs could be that new skill you later come to appreciate.
Who knows what the future holds?
Online Nutrition Information isn’t dominated by dietitians
Nutrition influencers are out there spreading questionable information online and we know it.
My personal favorite is the whole juice detoxes being the best way to “cleanse” the body.
I bet your cringing as you read that.
Are we going to stand by as a community and let that be the voice of nutrition?Or, are we going to take action?
Get online and share reliable, evidence-based information?
People are learning their nutrition and health information online. That is a fact. We need to be where the people are if we want them to listen to us.
Why do websites need a blog?
What do you do when you have a question?
You Google it.
And where do you get your answer?
The word “blog” used to mean someone’s personal website with information you should take with a grain of salt. (Some blogs are still like that, I know.)
Blogs have come a long way though, and just about every business seems to have one now.
American Express details 6 reasons why website should have a blog (read the full post here)
The main idea is that blogs can increase authority, build relationships and generate leads for a business.
Quality articles establish authority in an industry. People want to work with professionals who know what they’re doing and blogs are one way to demonstrate that. We as RDs, rd2bes and nutrition experts want to hold that authority so that people trust our advice.
Blogs are a way to “talk” to potential clients and help people “feel” good about a business. People buy things or use services based on a feeling. Logic is second in a decision.
Why don’t people ask a dietitian for nutrition information?
Most people don’t seek out a registered dietitian because they don’t know what that is.
I honestly didn’t know what an RD was until 2019. And look at me now (a dietetic intern)…
Most people hop online when they have a question and find a relevant answer from the search results.
Like you do when you have questions on other subjects.
They may not learn about what dietitians do until:
1. The have a medical problem
2. Someone in their life becomes a dietitian
3. Their google search results land them on a dietitian’s website.
How will a dietitian’s website end up on that first page of Google? Content writing aka blogging.
That brings us to the show of this post.
Blog Writing as a Dietetic Student
It’s not as simple as writing about a topic, but content writing is not an impossible task. You (a student), can write a great blog post.
Step 1: Get Over Your Imposter Syndrome
Writing about nutrition is a terrifying idea. Knowing people could read your article is petrifying.
As nutrition students, we know that health advice can have major consequences.
So, what if you write something inaccurate?
What if people brand you a fraud because you’re just a student?
What if someone learns accurate information from your article?
HA! Gotcha! That last statement–it’s going to happen.
There are people who tell others that 72-hour fasts will fix their digestive issues. FIbEr? forget it. ExTREmE FaSTinG iS ThE aNsWER.
Or that juice cleanses give your organs “a break” from their hard work.
Clinical anxiety and depression can be cured with essential oils!
These thoughts of doubt you have are imposter syndrome and if you can recognise it, you can get over it.
No one is immune to imposter syndrome. I had similar thoughts when I wrote my first post about nutrition (You can read my experience here).
Step 2: Plan Your Post
Planning is key to successful writing.
Know that a lot goes into a successful blog post. The results you see on page 1 of Google don’t get there by accident.
How do they get there? A combined effort between their content strategy, SEO, web copy and marketing strategy.
Let’s go back to why you’re reading my post.
- You want to be a nutrition writer in your new career as a dietitian
- A private practice is in your future and you heard blogs are important
- Your volunteer or internship work includes blogging and creating social media content
- You just want a nutrition blog
Unless you want to do content writing or digital marketing as an RD, you don’t need to master strategy or SEO. SEO can be a rabbit hole of information.
If you want to start your own nutrition-related business, learn how to write quality posts. Do some research on strategy and SEO, then hire a content strategist when you can afford it.
If you’re blogging as a volunteer or for your internship, you should receive some guidance. Ask (whoever you’re working for) for the keywords to use.
What do you need to consider in your blog post?
The target audience. Everything you do with this post is for their benefit.
- You’re answering a question the target audience has.
- Writing in a way they can understand.
- Reassuring them that they can trust your information.
- And you’re making the article accessible to them by sharing it on whatever platform.
Can everyone be your target audience?
When you talk to everyone, you’re talking to no one online. And your post doesn’t need to speak to everyone. It needs to appeal to your target audience.
Start your planning by thinking about your ideal reader. Be specific so that you can write a post for that person.
Next, consider the purpose of your article. Is it to educate, entertain, persuade your target audience or sell something?
You need to integrate these purposes, but there should be one driving purpose.
From there, you can choose a topic. Keep it general for now.
Let’s say I want to write about omega-3.
You then can start considering keywords.
How do you know which keywords to use?
Keyword research and ultimately a content strategy tells you which keywords to use.
If you’re new to blog writing, don’t worry about a strategy yet.
Practice writing blog posts first.
Basically, the keywords are terms your target audience is searching for. The idea is to rank for certain words.
There are a ton of tools (free and paid) to help you find keywords. I use RankIQ now (it’s $49 a month), but I’ve used Answer the Public to get an idea of what questions my post can answer.
Going back to my omega-3 example:
I type it in to Answer the Public and get all these terms.
With my topic and keywords sorted, I can plan which key points I want to cover. These points will likely become your headings within the post.
Take all this planning and write an outline. Here is a free outline template. No email required 🙂
- Click here
- Make a copy and save it to your own Google Drive.
Step 3: Write the Post (Just Do it)
Thinking about it isn’t the same as writing it.
Start off by writing for one hour. You don’t need to finish the post in that time, but you can get something done in an hour.
If you’re writing for someone else’s website, a deadline does help. If you’re blogging for your own site though, you have to hold yourself accountable.
I can pump out a blog post for someone else’s website in about 2-4 hours (depending on the content).
When it comes to my own content, I can easily spend 2-4 days finishing a post. Every freelancer writer I know has this problem, so you are not alone.
Keep at it.
Use AI to help you blog
Chat-GPT and other writing AI is here to stay. And you’re not cheating if you use it.
I let AI write my outlines and first drafts. Then I go in and fact check/edit my posts to sound like me.
It sucks to write when you have a blank screen.
And Using AI to write that outline and first draft takes the pressure of that relentless blank screen off.
Also, remember that you’re not writing an academic paper. AI can help you make your post readable with headings, short paragraphs and conversational language.
The headline matters because it will determine whether people read your post or not.
“How”, “Why” and “[#] tips..” are reliable headlines.
How long should a blog post be?
This is a hard question to answer. When you write content, your goal should be to provide valuable content.
Having arbitrary word counts encourages fluff words. No one wants fluffy garbage words. But, the almighty Google tends to favor long-form content (1500+ words).
But when you’re starting out, focus on quality and relevant answers (without overloading people with facts).
Step 4: Write another Post
Practice makes perfect. In writing, practice makes it better. Writer’s dilemma: you will always think your work can be better.
Same goes for your first few posts. They may not be amazing and that’s fine.
I look back at some of the posts I wrote 3 years ago and I feel embarrassed. They aren’t good.
Then I remind myself that I’m seeing progress. Plus, content should be updated regularly. Your post can (and should) be optimized later.
You’ve survived organic chem and biochem–blog writing is a piece of cake compared to it. And content writing is a useful skill to master now. Your first few posts will suck. Accept it now because you’re going to get better. And the great thing about blog writing is that you can (and should) go back and update old posts. So those “cringe” posts don’t have to stay cringe.
Content writing isn’t for everyone. But don’t write it off (Ha!) before you try it. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Katie Dodd–her blog made $39,149.30 in 2021…in passive income. And it’s still growing. 🤯