How to become a science blogger – your 4-step guide
We show you the four steps to get blogging – but don't be fooled: starting a science blog or website is NOT a trivial task. Setting up and maintaining a website and creating content (on a more or less regular basis) takes effort and commitment, Also don't underestimate the patience and time required to grow your readership, get feedback, and get traction on social media.
And then there is the issue of "Why?" Do you want to earn money from your writing? Share your research with the world? Build a profile and get your name out there?
At its heart, blogging is about sharing your knowledge with the world. It all boils down to this: Do you have a genuine interest in passion for writing about whatever topic it is?
Before you start, ask yourself these questions:
Do I really want to do this? Why? Are you a scientist wanting to share your work with the world? Find a community? Or a budding science writer keen to build a profile and get your name out there? Or an entrepreneur trying to build your publishing empire and make money? Or...
Can I write it? Being a scientist you are trained to write scientific papers for your peers, not for lay readers. Not being a scientists you are either not trained at writing at all or don't understand the scientific details and intricacies of scientific papers. Writing about science for non-scientists is difficult.
Will they read it? Think about the audience you want to reach with your writing: potential collaborators, potential employers, lay readers? As long as you are writing about things that you are genuinely interested in, your passion will shine through and keep your readers interested.
Can you commit to it? First you need to spend some time and money to set up your blogging infrastructure. Then you need to keep writing on a more or regular basis to keep your blog alive. Are you sure you can commit enough time to your writing endeavor?
If your answer to all of the above is "Yes!" then keep on reading...
Here are your basic steps:
1. Plan your set-up
2. Start writing
3. Promote it
4. Monetize it
1. Plan your set-up
So, you decided to go for it – good for you. Time to build the infrastructure. To get your blog or website up and running you need two things: hosting and software.
First you need to choose a name for your website – choose something descriptive – and make sure the domain name is available (a domain name is a URL address pointing visitors to your site – e.g. yourscienceblog.com).) Check if your dream domain name is available and then register it, ideally combined with a webhosting bundle to get your domain name, hosting, and unlimited email for just $3/mo. Then you are ready to go.
Then you need to buy a hosting plan so that you can present your website to the world (a web hosting platform is online space that makes your site visible to others on the internet). There a plenty of hosting companies out there. Check out HostGator, one of the largest web hosting companies with great offers.
Then you need to decide on the scope and look for your set-up.
You could go for a full-fledged website where you also build additional resources like link directories and things like that. If you are not experienced in coding a website it's best to either just buy a website template off the shelf or get someone to do it for you, like a freelance service on Fiverr. And don't forget a nice logo, while you are at it.
Disclosure: HostGator and Fiverr are Nanowerk advertising partner and compensate us when you purchase through our links. So if you buy from them anyway, consider it an easy way of supporting us. Thanks!
For more advanced do-it-yourselfers, WordPress is the website building tool of choice. While there are free options to make a website, they come with a number of disadvantages — including lack of technical support and limited features.
Whatever you decide to use building your site or blog, make sure it is in responsive design – that means your website layout is automatically adapted to and looks good on different screen sizes (desktop, tablet, mobile).
You could also forego your own site altogether and build a presence on Blogger or a social network like Facebook, Reddit or Tumblr or join a blogging network.
Whatever you choose, once your set-up and running it's time to
2. Start writing
Well, easier said than done! Writing about science subjects is tricky! When you come at it as a scientist the danger is that you get lost in details and arcane scientific jargon. That might turn off lay readers.
When you approach a science topic as a non-scientist, you run the risk of not fully comprehending the scientific details and end up misrepresenting the findings. Find topics to write about by reading scientific papers in areas that you have a genuine interest in. Contact the corresponding author with questions you might have or for a better understanding of certain details and findings. Usually the authors are quite responsive and helpful – after all, they are interested in getting word out about their research and reach as many readers as possible.
Therefore make sure to get feedback from your colleagues, scientists and lay readers to get a feel for how to best fine-tune your style. Even the best writers need good editors. Find a reliable friend, colleague, or family member who is willing to read and edit your posts. Good editors will not only read your article, they will also take the time to think of more impactful ways to share your message.
Add links, images, and videos if they add to your message.
Go really deep when you want to, but write short if the subject doesn’t need a dissertation-length exploration. Don’t write an essay just because you can.
And finally: Write good headlines! If you want people to read what you’ve written, you’ll have to make them want to. Always ask yourself if you’d click on a link based solely on the headline (be honest). If you wouldn’t, change it. Descriptive headlines that tell a reader exactly what to expect often work well.
3. Promote it
So you’ve written this great article - but how will people find it, read it, talk about it, recommend it to others?
Ideally, you’ll have established social media accounts already so you can share your work with people you know on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also don't underestimate image-centric social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest or Flickr. Other interesting blogging options are Medium and Tumblr.
Don’t be afraid to send the post directly to certain people who you think will be interested (but, equally, don’t be offended if you get no reply).
It is also worth getting set up on science blog aggregator scienceseeker.org and any subject specific ones. They might not be huge traffic drivers but they'll help get you noticed in the science blogging community.
Another option is setting up a RSS feed or offering a newsletter (weekly, monthly, quarterly – depending on how many posts/articles you publish). This is a great way for people to stay up-to-date with your writing.
And finally, make sure you use the right keywords in your title and article description so that over time you rank for them on search engines. Because chances are that most of your readers will come through organic searches on Google.
4. Monetize it
Making money from a science blog is not easy! Your best and easiest way is by embedding Google ads in your blog or website. But don't expect to become a millionaire overnight.
Other options are links to affiliate programs (Amazon, is one good option; check out how we set up our Nanowerk storefront there) or finding sponsors who are willing to pay directly for you advertising their services and products with reviews, mentions or banner ads.
You could also sell subscriptions to a newsletter or put your articles behind a pay-wall and have readers pay for access. But for this model to work you better be able to share tremendous wisdom and insights for which people are willing to pay!
So, that's it for starters. Any questions, comments or want to share your success story with us - just write.