This post is the fifth in a recent guest blog series on my blog featuring science bloggers who recently got their start in the science blogosphere. This series of posts I'll be inviting from new science bloggers, or anyone who started blogging about science in the last year or so, will help paint a picture of how science bloggers get their start today.
*If you want to contribute to this series, and you recently (within the last year or so) started any form of science blogging, e-mail me at pbrow11[at]tigers.lsu.edu. You can either write a free-form post, or I'll send you a list of Q&A questions to guide you. Thanks!
Fifth up in the "New to Science Blogging" series is Lucy Eccles from London. Lucy started her blog Sparkly Science in January this year: "it’s all about making science relevant, amusing and approachable," she says. She has enjoyed blogging so much that she is now moving from a career in oncology clinical trials to one in science communication, so that she can blog and tweet as part of her job!
So we know that having your boss or a co-worker standing in view of your computer screen makes you minimize YouTube and look busy – but some new research suggests that just the presence of others in the room can increase your productivity. This is based on the psychological term ‘Social Facilitation’ – which means an improvement on performance based on the presence of others. This is nothing new - but a new study in France managed to explain how this works. - Increase productivity – all you need is some company, by Lucy Eccles
Me: What motivated you to start blogging about science? Why did you start a blog, vs. using only other newer forms of social media like Twitter?
Lucy: Having studied biomedical science and worked in oncology research, I have read a lot of science journals, articles and blogs. I was starting to feel like everything was a bit formal and serious, which I thought could be putting people off reading about science, so I wanted to put the excitement and fun back into things. I created sparklyscience.com with the aim of making science and current research amusing, relevant to trending topics and approachable to both scientists and the lay person alike. I write on the science behind fun things like make-up and hangover cures, as well as recent research that relates to everyday life. I chose to blog about these topics rather than just tweet or use Facebook as it gave me a chance to write! I love writing and blogging has given me the chance to be creative with my writing and prove that science isn’t boring!
Me: How did you navigate deciding where to blog and how to blog about science? Did you have an idea of what the blog would be before you started? Can you describe that and perhaps where it came from?
Lucy: When I first created Sparkly Science I knew I wanted to write things in a casual, light-hearted language, with pretty colours and sparkles. This idea came from wanting my blogs to be approachable and different. I looked at how popular beauty and lifestyle bloggers wrote their blogs and I saw that keeping things relevant, upbeat and sometimes a bit sassy went down really well; I wanted to see if I could apply this format to science blogging.
Me: How do you feel your blog is evolving now, if at all?
Lucy: I am happy to say that my blog is evolving now that I have more followers and a wider audience. I have ventured into inviting guest bloggers to write for Sparkly Science about how science is related to what they do and things they are interested in. This has included an NBA cheerleader who is using cheer to get young girls interested in science, and a popular beauty blogger talking about the psychology behind attraction. I have found that having guest bloggers allows me to include topics on the blog that I’m not an expert on, but I know my readers would enjoy hearing about!
Me: How you are finding your niche in the science blogosphere? Have other science bloggers influenced you or your blog direction, and if so how?
Lucy: I think I do have a niche in the science blogosphere in the way that I write about the science in trending, everyday topics and the sassy way that I write. A particular influence to my blog is Science Friday – it’s always so approachable and entertaining, which is how I think science blogs should be. It may sound like a strange influence but YouTube vlogger Jenna Marbles is an influence to my writing as her vlogs are so honest and fun. Millions of people enjoy her quirky, outspoken videos, so I thought why not try and communicate science in a similar way? Imagine how many people could be interested!
Me: Please describe any other experiences you have had in starting a science blog, or being a new science blogger online and finding your "place," that you feel have been relevant to the direction or content of your blog now.
Lucy: I am often told “I like your blog because I can actually understand it!” This encourages me to continue to write to include the lay person. Just because someone doesn’t have a degree in science doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy it and be interested in it.
Me: Are there any struggles to being a "new" science blogger?
Lucy: My biggest struggle in being a new science blogger is promoting my blog and getting more hits. It can be disheartening when you spend hours researching and writing a piece that you know people will enjoy but you just can’t reach as many readers as you would like. I am sure I won’t be alone in this struggle!
My tips for any new science bloggers would be to create something that you enjoy writing. Use whatever language you feel expresses what you want to say and don’t feel like it has to be super technical to be a science blog. Don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers for help too - it’s a community!
Lucy is spot on that science blogging is a community activity, but bloggers like Lucy are also trying to reach outside of that community to lay audiences as well. Check out Sparkly Science!
More posts in the "New to Science Blogging" series: