Sunday, February 10, 2008

31 Days to Building a Better Blog: Days 13 and 14

It was a relief that Day 13 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge was to do with making money from your blog, so I had the day off from that challenge.

Day 14 is to make an analysis of my 'competition'. This is to help ensure I find a niche for my blog and am not copying other bloggers. It is also a strategy to help strengthen networks with bloggers who have similar interests.

I decided not to even think about looking at education blogs because there are so many out there, especially those who are working their way through issues of using social networking and Web 2.0 in education. The aim of this blog is not to 'compete' because I know I am repeating themes that many others are talking about. I blog about these issues because it helps me process my own learning about them, and if people choose to interact with me as I do that, all to the better.

Midwifery is the other area of interest I belong in. There are a number of key blogs in this area.

Sagefemme is probably the blog that is referred to most frequently. It certainly made a considerable difference to Carolyn's visitor numbers when she was mentioned on Sagefemme's blog. Sagefemme is a homebirth midwife and birth activist in the USA and she attracts the most comments when she writes about natural childbirth and issues that are impeding midwives from practicing with a midwifery philosophy.

Navelgazing Midwife is another American midwife which is in a lot of blog rolls. She writes a mix of things from issues that face birthing women to personal stories. Again, she appears to get the most comments when she write about birthing issues such as her post about how sore Christina Aguilera was feeling after her cesarean section.

Another blog that comes up on Google search is Midwife with a Knife. It is not a blog that crops up in midwifery blogging circles, probably because the author is an obstetrician. The reason I have looked at this blog is because she appears to get a reasonable number of readers, if her comments are anything to go by. And I am very intrigued about the title of the blog and look forward to reading more about why she sees herself as a midwife.

Midwifery in the NHS in the UK is the theme of the blog by A Midwife's Muse. I suspect her readership is not as big as Sagefemme but again, the posts that attract the most comments are those about midwifery issues such as recruitment and retention rather than personal posts.

Other commonly cited midwifery blogs include Meconium Happens, Mamma Mid(Wife) Madness, At Your Cervix, and The Midlife Midwife. It appears that the posts that attract the most attention are the issues that affect midwifery practice and birth activism. In other words, anything that is controversial/worrying for midwives such as the growing rate of cesarean sections or litigation.

So what does that mean for this blog. Well, I think birth activism is covered especially in the UK and USA and as I have said before, that is not really an area that really interests me in this blog. However, apart from Carolyn, there is no one else that I can see who is talking about midwifery in New Zealand, so that clearly is a niche for me to exploit (if that's what I really want to do).

Midwifery education is one of the main themes of this blog, and as yet I have found very few midwives writing about education, which is great news for me. The only other midwifery education blog I have come across apart from Carolyn is Midwifery Education, hosted by Elinor Clarke. She has literally just started this blog so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

So to summarize this analysis:
  • posts about birth activism attracts readers but I have made a conscious decision that I do not want to write those posts on a regular basis
  • no 'competition' from blogs about midwifery in New Zealand
  • very few blogs about midwifery education, which clearly is the 'niche' that I want to build on.
Was this activity a waste of time? In one way it was because it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. But having that conformation does help guide me when I am thinking about what information and resources would be helpful to post about.

I have not talked about the growing number of blogs by student midwives who are charting their way through midwifery education. This will come in another post soon.

How do you feel about this strategy of looking at blogging? Is it a useful activity or should I really be concentrating on doing what I want to do rather than worry about other people?

Have you come across any great midwifery blogs that I have not mentioned, especially midwifery education?

Image: 'Rainbows cut the sky in two (or three)'


tiny said...

"But she has annoyed me a little because I asked her why she calls herself a midwife and she never answered me."
Gosh, how sulky. Have you not realised she hasn't answered anyone nor written anymore posts since that one when she said she was ill. Considering her health problems I think she is allowed to feel ill and not up to blogging for a few days - I am sure there are other priorities in her life and that includes answering questions on her blog. Give the girl a break.

Anonymous said...

I like that you might want to focus on the educational aspects of midwifery. Having read some of your blog pieces occasionally, I do encourage finding THE focus (or even a transient focus) regarding midwifery. Oftentimes, to me, it seems an afterthought. Perhaps after this exercise, it will be easier as you are writing to *think* where you are and where you want to be.

That said, I know when I write about educational topics (which, for me, mean teaching women about a certain aspect of midwifery), I get a lot of hits. Women Google terms a lot and love to come and explore what I am "speaking" about.

Also, students seem to use my blog as a learning exercise - I really enjoy that. As a midwife, I can only take on a certain number of apprentices in my lifetime. Here, I can reach many more students and it is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction.

When reading students' blogs, I really enjoy hearing their confusion, worry, concerns, questions about life as a student or life in the future as a midwife. I also love to hear how the accomplish their goals, how they overcome the really hard stuff that's going to make for a well-rounded midwife and woman.

Does this help to know what a midwife enjoys reading?

Keep exploring... I love it!

Sarah Stewart said...

You're right Tiny, that does sound ungracious so I have edited my comments accordingly. Thank you for pointing it out to me.

This has been a lesson to me, though, about the importance of connecting with readers through their comments. Personally, I am much more inclined to become a regular reader if the blog author interacts with me in some way.

Sarah Stewart said...

Navelgazing midwife: thanks for dropping by my blog.I do find it difficult to keep a midwifery focus at times, and to be honest, I don't want to have a completely midwifery focus. I feel I cross several boundaries and in some ways, this blog is the story of my journey which is diverging from a narrower midwifery track into a wider education/professional development road.

Loving Pecola said...

I want to add that I don't think "At Your Cervix" is a midwifery blog...I think she's a L&D nurse! I think focus is good...I try to focus on only a couple of things, but you know how that is...LOL


Sarah Stewart said...

That's a really good point, Loving Pecola. I did know that and probably should have made it clear in my post. I included her blog because she does touch on 'midwifery' issues. Her recent post on documentation particularly resonated with me.

BTW, I love your blog about your experiences of being a midwifery student:

What other blogs by and for midwifery students would you suggest I look at?

tiny said...

She has now resumed blogging and I notice that includes a reply to your questio. Patience is a virtue...

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, Tiny. I think you have made your point and it has been duly noted.

infomidwife said...

Hi sarah,
that was an interesting read, I am not sure in which direction my blog will go. My first intention was to reach women who were seeking information about childbirth, midwives and choices available. However at times my focus has changed - so I think I will just continue and go with the flow and see where it leads me, as this is all very new to me.
I still haven't worked out how to get the RRS feed or whatever it is called linked - I am enjoying finding more midwifery sites. thanks for your comments on my blog

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi infomidwife, I would get hold of Sue Waters if you need any further help with RSS feeds etc or have a look at the advice she gave me - the link is here.