Q&A with Amy Tenderich, The Voice Behind One Of The Top Healthcare Blogs

diabetes blogTaking liberty with lyrics from a Rod Stewart song, “every blogger has a story.”

By interviewing brilliant bloggers who don’t have Scoble-like notoriety, I hope to share what’s behind their distinctive voices and followings.

I’ve run Q&As with Max Swisher, the 12-year-old who started Good Morning Geek, and Millie Garfield, who’s still going strong at 85.

For my third interview, I spoke with Amy Tenderich who started Diabetes Mine in 2005 after learning she had Type 1 diabetes. By 2007, she landed on Forbes’ must-read health blogs list and earlier this year achieved what many bloggers would consider utopia, selling her property to the Alliance Health Networks.

If you want to see the mantra – blog about your passion – in action, check out Amy’s posts.

Amy was kind enough to talk with me about her blog, the voice she puts forth and a new tag line for the Marine Corps. 


 
Q: Considering you started your blog in 2005, you were a pioneer in bringing social media to health care.

A: When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I turned to Google, searched on “diabetes foot care” and got millions of hits. What does this mean? That I can’t wear sandals? I wanted to use the Internet to connect with other people and get a reality check on what the doctors were telling me. Unfortunately, there was no way to find like people. That motivated me to start the blog.

Q: Your first post triggered many comments. That must have been gratifying.

A: I didn’t know what to expect. But it provided immediate feedback that I might be onto something. Today, there are over 800 blogs just on diabetes, so I feel like I’ve been part of this healthcare revolution.

Q: Was there a particular post or event that propelled the blog to the next level?

A: When I was featured in The Wall Street Journal. Laura Landro at The Journal writes a column called “The Informed Patient.” She did a story on patient blogging that included me. That made a huge difference in our visibility.

Q: I’m sure the Journal article caused a spike in traffic.

A: Definitely.

Q: Has SEO played an important role in building your audience?

A: I don’t know squat about SEO. My philosophy is simple: Fresh content gets attention. I try to offer fresh content every single day.

Q: Consistently writing every day is going to stockpile some great content.

A: I agree. We’re planning a site re-design so it’s easier to search archived content.

Q: When you reflect on the blog, is there anything that has surprised you about your audience?

A: I thought the details would bore people, but that’s not the case. We consistently get feedback that they want detailed information.

Q: Can you pinpoint one element that’s your “secret sauce.”

A: I’d say its gonzo journalism. I put myself in the story starting with my very first post and this continues today. Plus, I go in with a critical eye and ask questions of the establishment. 

Q: Was this tough to do.?

A: Not at all. I felt like I was set free to tell my story. No one was going to tell me where I have to add an exclamation point.

Q: After reading your blog, I can see you also bring a strong personal dimension to your storytelling.

A: Absolutely. The whole idea is to make the blog personal.

Note: Check out Amy’s Thanksgiving post from a couple years ago.

Don’t worry. Be happy.  Enjoy the day! (And the long weekend!)
diabetes
That is my 7-year-old’s artwork, btw: Mr. Scarecrow.  Does he look bummed, just because he might be missing a functioning brain?  No Sir.  So no bemoaning your dead pancreas today People, OK?
Hey, if nothing else, be glad you’re not an astronaut;  if you thought we PWDs had food troubles on this feast day, check out their plight.
Warm holiday greetings to all…
                     Happy Thanksgiving!
                     “Diabetes Mine,” November 26, 2009

Q: I also like the levity you bring to the topic.

A: It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so yes, I want to be informative. But living with diabetes is crap, so let’s have some fun as well. The magic combination is to make the site both a resource and entertaining. I want every post to say something that people didn’t already know and do it in a fun way and a personal way. I don’t hit the mark every time but that’s the goal.

Note: Good example of this levity below:

Happy Mother’s Day, All!  Anyone else have their kids routinely tell them to please not be so “mother-ish”?  Yeah, well it comes with the territory.
For this week’s Sunday Funnies, by beloved fellow type 1 artist Haidee Merritt, something that for some reason reminded me of Jewish mothers the world over…
diabetes commic
                    Sunday Funnies: So Mother-ish
                    ”Diabetes Mine,” May 8, 2011

 


 
Tomorrow, we’ll publish the second half of the interview which covers advocacy, venting and that new tagline for the Marine Corps mentioned earlier.

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3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. dominiq May 19th, 2011 11:22 pm

    Thanks for the great article.

    We have mapped a significant part of the HeathCare social web, including Diabetes tribe (see at socialgps.ecairn.com)

    Diabetes Mine is clearly one of the top. Part of the secret sauce is that she does 5 + articles per week (even moved to 8-9 since March). I noticed that the traffic (as masured by compete) is going up since March. Is this the result of publishing more?
    Thanks

  2. AmyT May 20th, 2011 8:01 am

    Hi dominiq,

    Thanks for noticing! Yes, we have recently introduced our “Weekend Edition” featuring a quirky new diabetes Q&A column every Saturday and Haidee’s cartoons on Sunday. Obviously this is having an impact on readership :)

  3. Lou Hoffman May 20th, 2011 8:34 am

    Dominiq,

    The Q&A didn’t capture it but Amy also shared the addition of Allison Blass to her team as assistant editor.

    Obviously, another writing resource helps expand the content.

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