The February 2010 Blogger in the Spotlight is Trisha Torrey who writes the Every Patient’s Advocate blog.
Blogger in the Spotlight is a monthly series where Newstex turns the spotlight on our publishers with in-depth interviews that give you a glimpse into the stories, tips and secrets of successful bloggers and content producers.
This month’s interview is with Trisha Torrey who was diagnosed in 2004 with a rare, fatal lymphoma and told her life would be measured in months not years.
But her intuition told her there was something wrong with the diagnosis. In search of alternatives to both the diagnosis and chemo, Trisha did some homework, empowered herself, made a few professionals angry, but eventually proved that in fact, she had no cancer at all.
With that odyssey behind her, she changed careers to begin teaching others to improve their chances for better medical outcomes, too. Today Trisha is known as Every Patients Advocate. She is a newspaper columnist, radio talk show host, About.com’s expert in patient empowerment, and a national speaker who teaches patients how to navigate the unwieldy and dysfunctional health care system. She’s been quoted by CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, US News and World Report and others.
Her blog, called Every Patient’s Advocate provides tools patients can use to get the healthcare they need.
Trisha’s first book, You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes will be published in October 2009.
Newstex: How did you get started writing your current blog?
Trisha Torrey: I started in my blog in January of 2007 when I realized I had far more to say and comment about than I could possibly fit into my bi-weekly newspaper column. Blogging seemed like the perfect outlet to turn current health information, which mostly revolved around how the professionals viewed it, into something relevant to patients.
Newstex: What makes your blog unique?
Trisha Torrey: I have a different voice – the voice of a healthcare consumer or a patient needing safe, effective care. There are plenty of blogs about people’s experience with specific diseases, or complaints about healthcare, but there are very few that focus on using specific experiences, or even current events, and making them into something patients can learn from. That’s what my blog does.
Newstex: To what do you attribute your blog’s success?
Trisha Torrey: I spent 20+ years working in marketing before I ever began doing patient empowerment and advocacy work. As a marketer, I know about promoting and seeking opportunities. I make sure my blog is listed and linked from everything I do, from the signature in my email, to my book, to my websites and my Twitter bio. In addition, I keep it current and relevant, and I’m not afraid of a little controversy either. Readers find useful information, so they return.
Newstex: What are the top 3 tips you can give to bloggers looking to develop successful blogs?
Trisha Torrey: Three tips: First, blog regularly and keep up with it. if you want to blog once a week, or five times a week, or even just once a month, just be regular so that you meet the expectations of the people who want to read what you have to say. Second, fill your blog with key words and phrases that your target readers will use. That way the search engines will present your blog as a result when someone searches on those keywords and phrases – and they will find you. Third, write the way you speak. Don’t try to be formal; be friendly. Don’t worry so much about grammar, instead try to be more conversational. Put yourself into your blog so that readers will be able to see the person behind it.
Newstex: What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your work on your blog?
Trisha Torrey: I probably owe my entire new career to my blogging. I am working in a field I never anticipated, certainly never trained for, and honestly, didn’t really exist until I started doing it – that is – providing patients with non-medical tools to help them improve their healthcare, despite the fact that our healthcare system is so dysfunctional. Blogging took me to the top of the search engines, and helped me let the world know I was out here to help.
Newstex: What inspires you to keep blogging?
Trisha Torrey: Feedback. I get thank yous. I get fights. I get people who tell me I’ve saved their lives. And I get people who would punch me if we were in the same room. I also hear from people who need help, and I can help them make connections to others who can provide that help. I love it all.
Newstex: What are your favorite blogs and why?
Trisha Torrey: I enjoy blogs that present different points of view about healthcare. I read blogs written by other patients, by medical providers, and by industry professionals. I also enjoy blogs written about the use of social media in general which helps me continue to build my following. Blogs about book publishing round out my interests.
Newstex: What effects do you think blogging will have on traditional media? How about on your industry?
Trisha Torrey: Blogging has changed the face of traditional media all together. Newstex has even made a contribution to that. Probably the biggest impact has been on print media that went online one way in the “old” days, with websites only. Now the ones that are surviving have encouraged their best journalists (the ones who are still employed) to blog, twitter, have facebook pages and more.
Newstex: At what point did you decide to syndicate your blog with Newstex and why?
Trisha Torrey: Syndicating with Newstex was a nobrainer. I’ve been syndicated for almost two years now, and it’s been a great relationship. The marketer in me knew instantly that a relationship with Newstex would expand my readership – and it has.
Newstex: What’s next for you and your blog?
Trisha Torrey: My new book is coming out February 2010 – and my blog will begin to take on aspects of my book. Called “You Bet Your Life! The 10 Mistakes Every Patient Makes” this book will give me, and my readers, much more fodder for exploration.