Blogging for the Latino Community on Health
What began as a project for an online media class quickly developed into a health communication tool with insight into the online Latino community and how they receive and perceive health information.
I have been health blogging for six months and through The Healthy Latina blog have learned a few things about the Latino blogosphere and how Latino health can be pioneered online.
Know your audience
As a Latina who grew up within the Latino community, I have a bit of an advantage when it comes to understanding the Latino audience. In my family, health was not a major concern. The food was deliciously unhealthy, the idea of planned physical activity was laughable and chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension were something you learned to live with. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to try and influence someone to change their behaviors because I deal with it on an everyday basis within my own family.
You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish
I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish but a blend of Spanglish with more English. I chose to blog in English with Spanish words every so often because that’s how I speak the majority of the time anyway. Surprisingly, I have received praise for this “unique approach” because it’s easy for Latinos to relate to. And thanks to our friends at Google, with the Chrome browser you can translate any web page into a different language.
Make a connection with other Latino bloggers
I was shamefully unaware of the many Latino blogger collectives ready to support and promote your blog. Each blogger collective has their own online community with their own culture, style and purpose. Think of them as the extended members of your family. They are willing to help out with anything; questions, comments and promotion of your blog. Join their communities and support what they do as well.
Know your hashtags and social media culture. Find those key bloggers in your topic area and connect with them. My favorite day of the week is Friday simply because of the #FF or #FridayFavoritas in my case. It’s all about support and promotion because in the end, we’re all working toward building a presence online to educate others about health, right? You are one of many, trying to get your voice out there and everyone could use a little support.
Be aware of Latino issues and where you stand
There are always new developments to political issues surrounding Latinos as well as health disparity issues. As a health blogger, you are biased by nature toward what will benefit the greatest amount of people but your opinion is not always warranted. Think of the old “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” tactic and stick to your own beliefs. People will want to influence you to help their cause and unless it aligns with your beliefs 100 percent, know it is just fine to stay impartial on the issue.
Passion is everything
If you weren’t passionate about health, you would not be here. It’s as simple as that. I’m passionate about health education for Latinos because I have watched the suffering and experienced the loss of too many family members to preventable conditions and diseases. I am not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be. I want my blog to be the neighbor next door who is willing to offer up that Band-aid in the form of health information to keep the community healthy.
Read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
This popular book on providing culturally competent healthcare will change your outlook on healthcare. When you understand the challenges your readers are facing in their own lives, you can provide better insight into the issues they care about. Also, you’ll understand the importance of religion and spiritual beliefs in healthcare. I never made the connection until after reading this book that associating food poisoning and “the evil eye” was not a well received medical explanation, even though that’s what I grew up attributing the source of illness to. Be open to new ideas and new ways to convey health information. Always.
Use the most credible and helpful resources for your readers. I try to look for resources with both English and Spanish copies that are easily understood for someone without a medical background. You want to be used as a reliable source of information by your followers, so do your best to embody that frame of mind.
Although my experiences have been limited to the Latina audience, health blogging has been highly rewarding. I feel a connection to my readers and know that I have a job to do. I have earned their trust and I am doing everything in my power to provide easily accessible health information in a relatable way. Never underestimate the impact un voz can have.