Interview with Award Winning Blogger Keith Carlson

Keith-CarlsonKeith Carlson is a multi-talented  nurse coach, blogger, and co-host of the RN.FM Radio show. He blogs on his award winning blog Digital Doorway which has a large following that enjoys his entertaining and creative writing skills.

Also, his interpersonal and public communication skills are apparent when he co-hosts on the RN.FM Radio show.  His nurse coaching clients benefit from the variety of  his expertise.

What advice does he give coaching clients? “You need to see connections for more than just what others can do for you—it’s about how you can serve others!”

What inspired you to start blogging?

On a cold, snowy New England night in 2005, my brother was visiting from New Jersey. Sitting in front of the brightly burning wood stove, he said, “Keith, you love to write. Why don’t you start a blog?”

So, I took his advice, did a little research (blogging was not quite as ubiquitous at that time as it is now), and I launched Digital Doorway with little fanfare and low expectations. Since it was so much fun and so very rewarding, I never stopped, although various aspects of the blog have changed over the years.

As an award winning blogger, what are some of the factors that contributed to the success of your blog?

First, I believe that quality of content is key. I write on Digital Doorway consistently (most of the time!), and I believe I deliver content that my readers find valuable and interesting enough to keep coming back.

I also have spent a fair amount of energy cultivating supportive relationships with other bloggers over the years—especially nurse bloggers—and those relationships have been key to getting the word out and connecting my blog to others of like mind and interest.

I don’t worry much about hits, keywords or SEO, and perhaps my blog would be even more successful if I spent more time on those aspects. I also choose to not use images in my posts since I find stock images somewhat redundant and frequently boring (sorry, folks!), and I don’t have time to create my own images. Thus, perhaps the presence of images would boost the visual appeal of the site, but again, I feel that valuable content is king, in the end.

One other factor I like to mention is that, although I don’t consider myself a great writer, I think that I’m a good writer. I haven’t studied writing or earned an MFA like other nurse writers and bloggers, but I go out of my way to avoid errors of punctuation, spelling and syntax. In terms of quality, I believe that these details make a huge difference, and they can set certain bloggers and writers apart from one another in a big way.

Do you feel like your blog served as a springboard for your successful nurse coaching business?

Yes and no. My blog was a completely separate entity for a number of years, and my coaching practice did not come into full fruition until 2010. That said, my blog is still separate from my coaching website (nursekeith.com) although it’s linked very solidly on my website’s home page.

What I feel that my blog has given me as a coach is a level of credibility and name recognition that I would have otherwise lacked. When I announced that I beginning to coach nurses, the reach of Digital Doorway was very helpful, and it’s still a portal through which some nurses first come into contact with me.

Now that I’m a well-known nurse blogger, Internet radio host and nurse coach, all of my various endeavors seem to feed one another quite symbiotically, which is very nice, indeed.

Can you elaborate on your nurse coaching business?

Sure. Under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, I offer a variety of coaching services to nurses (as well as other healthcare professionals).

Early in my coaching career, I positioned myself as an expert on self-care, wellness, burnout prevention and burnout recovery for nurses, and I love to work with nurses on those particular issues.

In addition, I also coach nurses on career management, career mobility, entrepreneurship, and other aspects of navigating the nursing profession.

Many new and novice nurses come to me with questions about how to shape their careers or find their way as they forge a path for themselves within the profession.

I’ve also coached nurses on blogging, writing and the uses of social media.

Group coaching is a very satisfying aspect of my work as a coach, and pairing nurses who have similar interests and goals is a fun way to create healthy, supportive, symbiotic and creative relationships among nurses of like mind.

How did you get involved in hosting the RN.FM Radio Show?

In December of 2011, I was hanging out on Twitter and met a woman named Anna Morrison, who at that time was coaching nurses on being entrepreneurs. She and I moved our relationship from social media to the telephone, and we discovered our mutual desire to create an Internet radio station for nurses. She brought her friend and colleague Kevin Ross (another Twitter connection) into the conversation, and during one marathon Skype conversation around Christmas of 2011, we created RN.FM Radio almost overnight. We launched in January of 2012.

Anna left the show to return to NP school later that winter, but Kevin and I forged ahead as “two nurse dudes” and have found great success and satisfaction in producing the show. It has grown in popularity, depth and scope over the months, and we’ll have more than 100 episodes under our belts by some time in early 2014.

We expect that RN.FM Radio will only continue to grow, and our new umbrella corporation will be the driving engine behind other related endeavors that our audience will be hearing about over the months to come.

Your wife Mary Rives is also a writer and a coach. Do you ever collaborate in business?

Yes we do, and I’m glad you asked.

In 2006, Mary and I became Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders, and we’ve guided many groups and individuals on the health-promoting journey of laughter and Laughter Yoga.

Having been certified by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician in Mumbai, India (and the creator of Laughter Yoga and the founder of Laughter Yoga International), we have worked with groups ranging in size from 4 people to 150 people, in venues ranging from prisons to universities.

In 2009, Mary and I founded Rives Carlson Coaching, our first collaborative coaching practice. As my interests shifted towards nurses and hers towards performers and actors, we diverged and formed our own coaching practices (Nurse Keith Coaching and Thrive and Shine Coaching) under the umbrella of our corporation, Laughter Inc, LLC.

Mary is a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Life and Laughter Coach, and she now focuses on coaching performers and actors, although she also loves to work with dynamic women who want to manifest the life of their dreams.

As a Laughter Coach, Mary doesn’t necessarily coach people on how to laugh, although she can certainly do that. Rather, she uses laughter techniques to guide clients on breaking through their creative blocks and fears, which, as she says, “gets them out of their left brain and into their right mind!”

 This year, Mary has been published in two anthologies of transformational stories by powerful women authors. “Journey to Joy” is a gem of a book for women looking to transform their lives by learning from the journeys of other amazing women, and it can be found on Mary’s website. The next book, “Successful Transformations”, will be released soon.

Do you have any advice to beginning nurse entrepreneurs?

First, only you can decide on the level of risk that you’re willing to take as an entrepreneur. Some new business owners quit their day jobs, take out loans, and otherwise finance their new endeavors without the “safety” of a regular job bringing in cash during the start-up phase. I’ve seen new entrepreneurs take huge risks, max out credit cards, and otherwise leap into the void in order to get their business launched. Some fail, some succeed, and some fall somewhere in between.

Personally, I’ve kept several part-time nursing positions in place as I grow my business. This can, of course, be challenging in itself, since having less time to devote to the business might serve to slow its growth. However, having a steady paycheck is also a very nice buffer before things get fully off the ground.

I also recommend that new entrepreneurs focus a great deal on networking. You can have a great website and social media presence, but true networking isn’t just about SEO, Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers. I pick and choose which online relationships to move into a less virtual space, and I use the telephone, Skype and face-to-face meetings to facilitate the deepening of those relationships. You need to see connections for more than just what others can do for you—it’s about how you can serve others!

For instance, when I connect with someone on Linked In with whom I feel a great affinity, I’ll sometimes make a date for a phone call with that person so that we can get to know each other better. These deepened relationships can sometimes naturally move into a space of collaboration, cross-promotion, cross-pollination, cooperation, and supportive friendship.

In my book, there’s no such thing as competition. Thus, I even develop relationships with other nurse entrepreneurs who offer very similar services to mine. We can learn from, support and even promote one another, despite the fact that we’re basically trying to attract the same client base. The notion of competition is an energy drain, but the energy of collaboration will only propel you in a positive direction.

Entrepreneurs need to be realistic about their expectations, create a business plan that meets their needs, and engage various professionals to assist them in doing what needs to be done in order to move their business forward. From coaches to web designers, accountants and virtual assistants, you may eventually need a team of skilled individuals to get you where you want to go.

And the last word is this: don’t forget to have fun along the way!

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