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The Benefits of Veterinary Blogging: An Interview With Dr. Patty Khuly

2 Comments Posted by Alyssa Noonan in Industry Trends, Marketing, What Your Clients Are Reading on Monday, March 16th, 2009.

It’s no secret – a veterinary blog can yield big benefits for your veterinary practice and website. As a marketing tool and educational asset, a vet blog can keep you in touch with your existing clients while directing new clients to your door. For a look at some of the realities of veterinary blogging, we turned to Dr. Patty Khuly, who runs dolittler.com. Dr. Khuly has touched on nearly every topic related to veterinary medicine, from the nuts and bolts of practicing medicine at a busy animal clinic to the latest pet trends, since she started writing on Dolittler in 2005. Thousands of readers visit Dolittler each day, and according to Dr. Khuly, the veterinary blog has been a valuable source for attracting new clients and strengthening her relationship with current clients. Beyond that, Dolittler has paved the way for other media opportunities, and maintaining the blog has kept Dr. Khuly in the thick of the latest medical developments and animal news. Check out our interview with Dr. Khuly below and be sure to head over to dolittler.com afterward.

First, the basics: how long have you been a practicing veterinarian? What hospital do you practice at?

Now you’ve done it. Much as I tell myself that more experience is a point of pride, it’s hard to reconcile 14 years in practice with my gender’s legendary age obsession. I graduated in 1995 from the University of Pennsylvania.

I practice four days a week at Sunset Animal Clinic in Miami, Florida. The rest of the time I spend writing on my blog and for other publications. Sometimes I do a little business consulting. Maybe a
little TV and radio, too, depending on the week.

Why did you start blogging about veterinary medicine? Was there any particular incident that made you start?

Not really an incident, more like a moral imperative to fill a void in the world. Partly, it was born of frustration at much of the crappy information I was reading online. But most of it was feeling the urge to
write and not really having a goal worthy of the stress I require to get my butt moving. Blogging does that for me.

Who’s the target audience for Dolittler? Are you aiming to reach clients and pet owners, other DVMs, or all of the above?

All of the above. Truly, Dolittler isn’t a mass market-worthy site. It’s more a destination for those who care about pets, have an interest in veterinary medicine and enjoy reading/arguing about animal-related stuff. I get a lot of techs and other veterinary staff, trainers, groomers, breeders, wackos with a chip about vets, regular pet people and, of course, vets themselves – who, by the way, seem largely bemused by why a veterinarian would put so much time and energy into a daily blog.

How do clients respond to your blog?

Oh, yeah. My clients love it. I’ve known most of them for years so it’s a fun talking point during visits and it’s pretty cool to be able to watch them improve their compliance after reading another one of my
classic, pet-owners-sometimes-suck kind of rants.

On that same note – you share a lot of personal anecdotes from daily practice on the blog. How do you balance privacy concerns with sharing information on Dolittler?

I change all names, dates and identifying details to protect the innocent and indefensible, alike. I don’t need a law suit, you know? But that never keeps me from having my say – well, almost never.

How has blogging helped your practice, in terms of marketing and overall enrichment?

Um…lots. I get plenty of new clients via Dolittler. But it’s not really about the quantity. The best part is that all the clients I’ve sourced online have become Class A clients. In this economy that’s a brilliant thing.

I also find that blogging gives me more credibility in the media world. I’ve parlayed the blog into a better-than-decent sideline income from advertising and from writing for magazines and newspapers. By the end of this year my vet income might actually look smaller than my on-the-side stuff.

In terms of overall enrichment? Hmmm….let’s just say that I keep up with my journals a whole lot more, I attend oodles more conferences and I’ll never want for CE credits. And personally speaking, I’d be willing to credit my continued job satisfaction to Dolittler. That’s a whole lot more important to me than racking up CE hours. I may work more hours but I’m more satisfied by all of them. Lifestyle is everything, you know?

What are some lessons you’ve learned while blogging?

Good question. I’ve learned to be more diplomatic (not my forte). I’ve learned not to write off the cuff (hard for a blogger that writes about 500-1,000 words a day). I’ve learned how to take criticism far more gracefully. And I’ve learned, above all, to respect my audience and be more inclusive of their views. In short, I’m more open-minded, I think.

What advice would you offer veterinarians who may be looking to start their own blog?

Start small but post every day. Don’t publish it online if it makes you squirm but just keep writing daily. Pick easy topics at first (ear hematomas, claw fractures, common toxins) and move on to real life
(non-formula) writing after you’ve developed a voice. Give it time and you’ll find that the two people and your mother who’ve been reading it have grown to 5,000.

And yes, it’s definitely worth a try if you find this economy’s got you sitting on your hands more than you really want to.

If you want to get started on your own veterinary blog, or need help with an existing vet blog for your practice, visit our page on custom veterinary blogs and give us a call at VetNetwork!

2 Comments for The Benefits of Veterinary Blogging: An Interview With Dr. Patty Khuly

Barbara A. Albright | February 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

All right Dr. K, just who are those “wackos” with a chip on their shoulder about vets, hmm?

I’m disappointed, terribly. Because there are just as many “professional” wackos with client “chips” and eeek, some of the support staff comments are enough to scare any pet-owner away from vet care.

Please clarify for all of us !

Barbara A. Albright | February 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Small world, Dr. K— and gets smaller EVERY day. Talk about coincidence, my favorite vet from the past! Too cool, but makes me sad. And how about post timing??

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