This has been a transformative year for the blog
Here is our year-end summary!
Top Ten Posts of 2018
- The Book of Mormon – Alternate Chronology. This post was actually from 2015, but its traffic has really taken off this year and it has gotten twice as many hits as any other post. I revised the chart and the post this year to include hyperlinks to the online scriptures.
- Is There Something Wrong? A personal story about love, friendship, and mental illness that happened during my senior year of high school. This post really struck a chord with people, especially when it was shared among my high school classmates.
- The Crescent Moon. My neighbor Christie Perkins died in April, and this was my euology for her.
- Medical Marijuana. A contentious political and cultural issue, explained from the perspective of a practicing doctor.
- A British Summer: My Experience as a Latter-day Saint Missionary. My two years in England really changed my life.
- To Be Learned is Good If… This was the first post by Rand Colbert, MD, a new contributor who joined the site this year.
- Alternative Medicine. A fairly balanced discussion of another contentious topic.
- Ministering for Sociophobes: A Practical Guide. A discussion of social anxiety disorder, focusing on practical advice for sociophobes trying to fulfill church assignnments.
- It Becomes You – A Memoir About Medical Education. This was the series of posts which launched the year, describing the launch of my career. If you know someone who is thinking about becoming a doctor, send them to this post.
- What Is Death? A discussion of medical and religious definitions of death, and an explanation of Latter-day Saint doctrine about the afterlife.
Changes of 2018
- Name change. In August I rebranded the site from “MormonDoctor.com” to “Latter-day Doctor” in an effort to coordinate and harmonize my work with the new emphasis on using the proper name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Nelson gave a longer explanation of the reasons for this course correction in the October General Conference, and this line in particular struck me: “It is disingenuous for us to be frustrated if most of the world calls the Church and its members by the wrong names if we do the same.” I never really liked the former name of this blog, so I embrace the change.
- New Contributor. I recruited one of my friends and colleagues, Rand Colbert, MD, to write a couple of posts this year: “To be Learned is Good If…” and “Confidence in Our Special Knowledge.” Did you like his posts? Would you like to hear more from Rand?
- Sheer Volume. Before 2018 I averaged 7.5 posts per year on this blog. But then I started off this year with my memoir about medical education, which was a six-part series posted over six weeks, and I decided to keep up the pace for a while and see what happened. I ended up writing 42 posts (including this one), for an average of 3.5 posts per month and 1.2 weeks between posts. This has allowed me to cover far more topics than I have in the past, and I think my writing skills have improved through practice.
Throughout this year I have been trying to use more images, instead of just dry text all of the time. In August I was working on a post about The Whole Personal Protective Equipment of God, which really lent itself to illustration. I drew some rough sketches of my ideas for photographs that I wanted to take for the post, and when I showed them to my wife she laughed out loud and said that I should use the sketches instead. She always laughs at my drawings, which are so primitive, but apparently she likes them because she encouraged me to keep doing it. But other than my wife I haven’t gotten much reader feedback on the illustrations. Do you like them? Hate them? Do they help you connect with or share the content? Or do you simply ignore them?
- Antisocial Media. Back when this site was new my brother convinced me that a Facebook page would help me reach my audience, and he was right at the time. But in 2018 it is a different story, and I am not convinced that Facebook is helping that much any more. The algorithm tweaks over the past 18 months or so have made it hard for content creators to reach their own audiences without ponying up some cash to promote each post, and I just don’t want to do that. This is a hobby which I do on my own time for my own interest, and there is no financial motive in this for me. And I hate to think so much about money when I am trying to spread a religious message, because that just feels like priestcraft. Do you follow our Facebook page? Is it helpful? Are you seeing my posts show up there as often as you want them to?
- Antisocial Media, Continued. Early in 2018 I started a Twitter account to see how useful it might be in recruiting traffic, but honestly I have not been impressed. It seems that in order to get the most out of Twitter you have to be on it for every waking hour and engage in discussions with scores of random people every day, over half of which hate you and can’t spell, punctuate, write a complete sentence, or make a coherent argument. No thanks. So our Twitter account is basically just a robot, posting links to new blog content. Do you follow us on Twitter? Is that at all useful to you? In August I started a Pinterest account so that I could find new recipes and scrapbooking ideas. Just kidding. It is only for promoting blog posts. This was part of why I started illustrating. I also started an Instagram account a few weeks later, for the same reason. Do you follow us on Pinterest or Instagram? Let me know, because I’m not yet convinced that these platforms are useful.
Branching Out a Bit
This spring I polished up an old post from 2014 and submitted it to the Ensign Magazine. The article was accepted! It will run in the magazine sometime in the next 18 months. I haven’t been told what issue it will be in yet, but I will let you know and post links when it is published.
In November I received an award at the annual meeting of the Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association (LDSPMA). My post from last fall, “A Disease With Perks,” won first place in the short text category of the Praiseworthy Awards. (My dad and brother Mark were an honorable mention in the same category for this post.) I thought the LDSPMA conference was great, and I learned a lot about writing and publishing. It was a great place to network with other people in the field. If any of you are interested in writing or publishing, I would encourage you to attend the conference next year.
Mission and Trajectory
I had high hopes that 2018 would be the year when my stats really took off and Latter-day Doctor became a household name. That didn’t quite happen, but our readership does seem to be growing slowly, organically. (Is self-promotion a pesticide?) Like I said in March, web traffic isn’t really my goal, but it is an indicator that I am accomplishing my real goal.
Actually I stopped looking at the site stats so often, because I was doing it like an addict for a while. It is really validating to see that people have been reading and liking my posts, and it can be very disappointing when a post doesn’t perform as well. Sometime during the second half of the year I made a personal rule that I could only look at the stats once a month, and I have mostly followed that rule. Life is better when your sense of personal worth is less tied to an indirect and poor measure of what other people (mostly strangers) think of you.
As we move into our sixth year, I plan to continue pursuing the mission I described before: “Doing what we can to help people understand the faith that breathes so much hope and purpose into our lives. One post at a time, we will try to explain how this wonderful religion guides us in our efforts to serve and love others, and to approach God with greater faith.”
Thanks for reading!