Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thinking about the aim of this blog

A number of things has led to me thinking about where I want this blog to head next year - what is the aim of this blog? This has come about for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is a result of the conversations about how to cultivate an audience for a blog; how to find an individual brand or niche that will attract an audience. These conversations have resulted from a post by Michele Martin on her blog called "More on Blog Commenting From Bamboo Readers". I know that creating a blog should not be about fame and fortune but rather to provide information and foster learning - from an educational point of view, a blog is not about meeting the author's needs but rather developing a network of autonomous learners. However, in order to do that, one first has to find ways to reach the 'learners'.

The second reason is a post I read by Sue Waters about the 31 day challenge to build a better blog. With my usual impatience, I skipped down the list of daily tasks to number 31 which is carrying out a SWOT analysis including looking at one's mission statement and auditing one's blog.

The third reason has been watching the blog of a colleague of mine, Carolyn McIntosh, and seeing how she has developed her blog. She started her blog a little after I did, but she now gets more readers than I do. So I have been interested to see what she writes about and what attracts her readers and compare that to my blog.

So what has been the quandary for me? It has been about whether I make this a blog about clinical midwifery issues that would appeal to birthing women as well as midwives, or to concentrate on education and professional development, that would be of more interest to educators and researchers. In many ways, this reflection about my blog has mirrored what is going on in my mind about the direction of my career - do I want to stay a midwife or do I want to branch out into education and research that may take me away from midwifery?

If I make this blog about birthing issues, no doubt it will attract bigger numbers because of its appeal to a more general population. If I give it an education focus, especially around e-learning, that may restrict my audience numbers. But the truth is: what I am really passionate about is education and professional development, especially for qualified health professionals. And in particular, I am really interested in how health professionals can support each other and build their own learning from using social networking tools ie Web 2.0. This is because I believe these resources may go a little way to helping to address issues of recruitment and retention in the health services.

Birth issues are very ably dealt with by midwifery bloggers such as Sage Femme, Navelgazing Midwife, MidwifeMuse and, of course Carolyn. I could have two blogs, but I do not have time or energy to maintain two blogs.

So, where to from here? Looking back at my posts I see that the themes are mostly professional development and e-learning, particularly in relation to midwifery. And whilst there for a time, I thought I would concentrate more on clinical midwifery in order to attract more readers, in fact that is not what I really want to do.

So I have slightly changed my mission statement from "Welcome to this blog which aims to discuss matters pertaining to midwifery, midwifery education and research"... to " Welcome to this blog which aims to discuss matters pertaining to education, research, mentoring, professional development, e-learning and Web 2.0, particularly pertaining to midwifery." It is a subtle change but reflects more clearly where this blog is heading ...and where I am heading in my career.

I don't know if this makes any sense and in a way I feel as if I am going round and round in circles, but I hope you will enjoy this blog and find some useful information in it because it is written by a midwife who is working through issues of professional practice as well as an educator and researcher who is working out how to utilite Web 2.0 in her teaching and research practice.

Image: 'Questions' Tim O'Brien


Carolyn McIntosh said...

Good! I am glad you got that sorted out then. By the way did you look at the latest BMJ? They are talking about web 3.0. Just to try and confuse us even more when we are only just getting some understanding for what is meant by web 2.0.

So does this mean that you don't hate me anymore?

Michele said...

Sarah--this makes perfect sense and I also love how you shared your thought process on arriving at what seems to be your real passion.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Carolyn. Just had quick look at the article you mentioned and didn't really get it - will have a think about it when I am feeling more studious.

Still hate you - you are 200 visitors ahead of me now!!

Sarah Stewart said...

Michele - thank you for your support.

Joanna said...

Sarah it makes perfect sense to me too, and if you blog what you're passionate about, your blog will come to life! (And the readers will follow)

There are also lots of fabulous educational blogs out there that you can link to and connect with on learning and the power of the web, not just on the theme of midwifery, which will help to make you feel connected and build blogging friendships I'm sure.


Sarah Stewart said...

You're right, Joanne about 'passion'. I tried to blog about things that ultimately didn't interest me in the way that learning does. I knew I wouldn't sustain that sort of blogging, so why do it. Yes, I would have got a bigger audience but ultimately blogging is about my learning - if others are interested in my words or even learn from me, then that's a bonus.

What has been so interesting for me is that my blogging journey is being reflected in my 'real' life. Blogging has been a very powerful way for me to work through my 'issues'.