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Susie Burrell – Your food, your body, your life

I had always liked writing and had written since my university days by contributing articles to local newspapers and newsletters on all areas of nutrition. When I started seeing clients, I thought it would be a fun idea to send them a little update each week, a message to keep them engaged with tips and recipes. I called the newsletter ‘Susie’s Updates’ and it has now been going since 2006 with more than 5000 subscribers. Each week I write a 500-600 word piece with new products, tips, tricks and it gives me a chance to do what I like most – writing for the average person who is looking for user friendly lifestyle information written in a conversational style. My blog really evolved from the updates. A few years ago, my web man suggested I have a blog attached to my website. I simply starting adding my newsletter to the blog each week and then blog on any topical areas in nutrition that would arise during the week. I added to the blog sporadically, when I had time and it sat on my main web page for a number of years. Fast forward to a year or so ago, and with changes to Facebook looming, my IT guru, who is also my brother in law was keen to update my website to be blog driven, with much more structured content that was updated daily. And hence the blog we have now.

The blog is updated every day, or weekdays anyway with regular pieces on new products, recipes, topical issues and some guest blogs. I now have someone who manages the content for me, and I tend to write the content all in one hit and then it is loaded on each week. This makes it much more manageable from a work perspective and also lets us track closely what content is getting the most hits and tailor our content accordingly.

For me the blog allows me to talk to my followers as if I would my clients – with real life, hands on info based on my clinical experience and areas that I am particularly interested in. Of all the work I do, I would write my blog even if I did not have too and my blog is like my own personal work therapy. When issues come up, or people have a go at you, a blog is a great way to express yourself and I find the coming together of words in a beautiful way most cathartic. Sometimes I cannot wait to get home and have 20 minutes to myself so I can respond to a big issue in the media or report on an issue I am seeing come up with my clients – the hardest thing for me is actually finding the time to sit and write uninterrupted.

We are currently in the process of reviewing the blog, with new additions planned and over the next 12 months my plan is to broaden my writing and launch a new blog site which targets general lifestyle, not just nutrition in isolation, as I try and tap into my psychology background writing on more general life issues and aspects of behavioural change.

My advice to anyone who wants to write more, or who is interested in blogging is that the content has to be consistent and it has to be updated regularly. There is nothing more off putting than finding a blog and then seeing it has not been updated since June. It suggests you are out of date, and in the current world of social media, it is not a good look. Any of your online presence – your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog combines to give the online world your story. You want it to reflect you – your drivers, your interests, your passions, your personality. You will then attract followers for whom your content appeals, which over time builds your own online community and creates a whole new world of work opportunities. And most importantly, online content and social media is a massive opportunity for dietitians to remain current and relevant, we need to keep up or we will simply be left behind – remember, no one wants to read generic information on eating more vegetables. Make nutrition fun, get it to tell the story in a different way that will appeal to people, and most importantly you have to enjoy writing it. Then, the rest will follow.