I celebrated an anniversary last month, dear readers. It’s now been 10 years since I launched my Heart Sisters blog. I started writing the year after my heart attack (and my subsequent trip to Mayo Clinic to attend the WomenHeart Science and Leadership patient advocacy training).
Here are some fun facts about Heart Sisters: ..
For two years, it was also the working title of the book I was writing based on this blog (e.g. we called it “Heart Sisters: A Survivor’s Take on Living with Heart Disease”) before the (now former) publicity manager at Johns Hopkins University Press rejected that title, forcing several revisions in 2017 until the reluctant compromise: “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“, a title I do not like because of that word “guide”.
♥ Why a blog? At first, I thought a small website would be useful to help tell readers how to book one of my free public presentations on women’s heart health that were becoming increasingly popular after my return from Mayo Clinic. Then I started writing specific articles about the amazing and scary things I’d learned at Mayo. I wrote like crazy that first year – in October 2009, for example, I wrote 24 articles (compared to the 4-5 per month I might do now). From a little 3-page site, this blog grew and grew. And grew! Over 800 articles so far, usually a new post published every Sunday morning (which could change any minute now depending on ongoing cardiac symptoms).
♥ Who reads Heart Sisters? The vast majority of my readers live in the U.S. 🇺🇸 followed by the U.K.🇬🇧 and then by my own beautiful home, Canada 🇨🇦 (known by some Americans as commie-pinko land of socialized medicine). Most readers are heart patients or their family members (or women worried that they might become heart patients) although I do have a small but madly keen readership of breast cancer patients – even though I don’t write about breast cancer. Hundreds of physicians, nurses and other clinicians also subscribe to my blog. So far, this site has attracted over 17 million views from 190 countries.
♥ How do you make money off Heart Sisters? I don’t. In fact, I pay an annual fee to my blog host, WordPress, to prevent them from running any ads on my site. Heart Sisters is fully self-funded, independent and advertising/conflict-of-interest free, although I am contacted almost daily by for-profit organizations wanting to buy advertising space, or place banner ads, or submit guest posts to help sell their products. My answer is always NO.
You’re welcome. . .
♥ The most-read Heart Sisters blog article ever is How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Women survivors answer that question. It’s been read over 2.8 million times since 2009 when I interviewed 22 women who had survived a heart attack (asking just one question: “What were your very first heart attack symptoms?”) Then I published their compelling word-for-word answers; I was also able to include all of them in Chapter 1 of my book.
♥ Lots of words: The average Heart Sisters article is long (an average of 1,286 words, as WordPress tells me). I used to worry that this might be too long, until I read (and then wrote!) more on the enduring value of well-researched longform articles in a world of shallow click bait and short attention spans.
♥ Spammers: The WordPress security filter called Akismet has protected this site from over 1.5 million spam comments so far. That’s a lot of trolls and bots. My disclaimer page has more on how to get your comment deleted. But thank you to all of you who have left your thoughtful, funny or challenging non-spam comments in response to what you read here. I really love reading them!
♥ How do readers find you? Most readers discover Heart Sisters by using a search engine like Google, which is millions of searches ahead of second place Bing each year. (Bing? What is that?) Some of the most-searched words or phrases that landed readers onto this site lately, for example, include these Google queries:
- – can I drive after a stent procedure?
- – why so tired after my heart attack?
- – can aspirins be cut in half?
- – do I need to lie down to take nitro?
It struck me that these are the kind of practical everyday questions that newly-diagnosed heart patients might grapple with. They’re not the ones you’d make an urgent appointment with your physician to ask about (and your doc might not know whether you should lie down to take your nitro), so it’s nice to be able to learn more here.
♥ Social media: Of all social media sites, Facebook steers more readers here than any other platform. (Ironically, I quit my own two Facebook sites during that first security mess at FB). Twitter, Pinterest and Linked In are the next most popular referring social media platforms, in that order.
♥ Any advice for new bloggers? Yes. Spelling and grammar are important. Also, citing credible sources is a good thing. Citing Dr. Oz is not. And finally, most importantly, life is very short. Enjoy the ride!
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: My book “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” reads like a “best of Heart Sisters” blog collection. You can ask for it at your local bookshop or public library, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use the code HTWN to save 20% off the list price).
Q: What’s the best thing about writing (or reading!) a blog?
- A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease: my blog-turned-book project!
- Patient bloggers at healthcare conferences: ‘real’ journalists?
- Failure to inspire (I wrote this while having a bad day as a blogger…)