Blogging is not as easy as most people make it out to be. It takes consistent time and effort to produce a quality blog, let alone one that makes some money.
But the most important thing needed to become a successful blogger is passion for your subject. Dr. Jennifer Lyerly, a fellow optometrist from North Carolina, blogs about various issues in the field of optometry. Her knowledge and passion for the profession is evident from every post she puts up on her blog, Eyedolatry.
I asked Dr Lyerly some questions about her life and blogging career. Read on to learn more about what drives Dr Lyerly to produce consistent quality content for fellow optometrists and anyone looking to learn more about the profession:
Tell me a little about yourself and your career:
I graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 2011 and started blogging right after graduation. I’ve been working in group private practices since graduating, and I’ve found I really enjoy working with a team of doctors and having a personal relationship with a boss who is also an optometrist. I’m constantly learning from doctors with more experience where I work at Triangle Visions Optometry, and I also feel like I bring something new and insightful to the table as a millennial doctor on the team.
When and why did you start blogging and who is your primary audience?
I was studying to take North Carolina boards, and also organizing my thoughts on patient care for my first job when I decided to write my first blog post. The blog was a great way to think about a topic and work out how I would describe a medical condition or an optics question to a patient. Most readers on my blog are curious patients, wanting to learn more about their eyes. Since I’ve been putting more focus on women’s issues in optometry, I have seen a huge influx of readers that are new graduates and student ODs. My goal is to make the blog informative to people with various levels of education in eyecare, so that an optometrist, a student, and someone completely inexperienced with our profession would all feel like they took away valuable information from a post.
How do you manage your time between blogging and seeing patients?
It’s difficult! My rule is that I never mix blogging with work. At work I see patients and am a doctor only. When I leave the office, I don’t take home patient care so I’m free to work on anything I want. I try to write 1 good quality post a week. More than that, and I just don’t have time to research and edit enough to feel like I’m delivering quality information.
What has been the biggest challenge in your blogging career?
Dealing with criticism has been tough. When you put yourself out there, you’re going to have people who don’t agree with you. I’ve had a surprising number of people criticize my support of daily contact lenses on the blog, or leave a comment meant to insult me or belittle me about “not being a real doctor.” I was even blocked on Facebook for a few months when someone upset about how many posts I’ve done about daily disposable contact lenses (they wear their Biomedics contact lenses 4-5 months at a time and are just fine!!) reported me as a bad URL.
Any negative feedback I get just drives me to want to write better and better articles. The world is largely uninformed about what we do as optometrists and what is true about their eye health, and I feel like my blog gives patients at least one place where they can get true, medically supported information. Not everyone will agree with the science, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear it.
If you could give some advice to your first year optometry school self, what would you tell her?
I was so focused on classroom excellence in school, I didn’t participate in leadership groups as much as I should have. Looking back now, optometry school is truly a place of social connections as much as learning. As a natural introvert, it took me being out of school and having to talk to new people every 20 minutes in patient care to realize that making connections with people isn’t scary or intimidating — it’s actually pretty easy and very rewarding. I’ve almost become an extrovert at this point and life is so much more fun this way!
What are some of the major challenges that young optometrists face nowadays?
Where I practice in North Carolina, the choices of where to work seem to be getting smaller and smaller every year. Our industry is going through major ownership consolidation and I fear that lack of competition and choice for where to work will drive down our salaries and our quality of life as doctors. Negotiating what you want is essential from your very first contract – not just for you, but for every doctor that comes after you. We have to stand up for what our education and skills are worth.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
In elementary school, I wanted to become an author when I grew up. I haven’t written a book (fail), but blog – author has to count for something.
Are there any blogs you visit regularly?
Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
I plan to keep practicing, blogging, speaking, and serving the profession of optometry in anyway that I can. I’m passionate about the success of our profession and I am excited about any opportunity I get to make our future brighter. I hope in 5 years I can look back and feel like I’ve been making a difference in our profession, no matter how small the impact is.
Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
I started the blog as a way to supplement my learning, and I can’t picture a time where there isn’t a topic I want to learn more about. But in addition to educational articles, I also want to use the blog to help our profession. I want to work with companies and industry leaders for the next generation of young female ODs to champion the future of our industry. I’m really passionate about making private practice survive in optometry, and embracing social media is the best way for independent doctors to compete with large corporate entities — you need a personal, unique presence and you need to connect with people!
Through the blog and the social media experience I’ve had, I’ve also started a new business with Dr. Glover at Eye See Euphoria where we are offering social media management for exclusively optometrists at Defocus Media. It’s impossible to know what the social media landscape will be in 5 years, but I want to be right there, representing optometry and connecting with other doctors and patients to grow our profession.
What is your favorite book?
This is always a hard question for me — I love reading and there are so many books that have spoken to me. I really love The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because I think many young women go through the feelings the main character has in that book — feeling confused about what and who you’re supposed to become and how you’re supposed to do it all, feeling like what you’re creating or delivering to the world is not valued. Knowing other women before me were overwhelmed with expectations from society, their families, and themselves makes me feel more comfortable with imperfection and not being able to do it all.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not blogging or seeing patients?
Traveling, eating, and dancing at weddings. Being married to my best friend, I feel like we are always planning our next adventure.
Any words of advice for young professionals seeking to make an online presence?
Don’t judge your worth by the number of readers or number of followers you have. Don’t judge your worth by one person’s negative comment. If you look at what you’re doing online, be it blogging or on social media, and you are proud of it, then you are success! And you know what, if you’re producing good content, your readership and followers will grow naturally anyway.
Big thanks to Dr Lyerly for the interview and giving some insight on what it takes to build a successful blog while holding down a full time job.
Her blog is called Eyedolatry. Check it out for consistent quality information about eye conditions and the field of optometry.