The dietetics profession doesn’t exist within a confined box like some may think.
I knew that registered dietitians (RDs) could practice in various settings such as clinical, community, food service and private practice, but I had no idea that my future profession would extended far beyond those traditional roles.
After high school, I travelled for a year and completed one year of studying at the University of Calgary. At the time, before discovering the world of dietetics, I was thinking about becoming a nurse. However, I was passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness, so after realizing that I could make a career out of teaching people about good nutrition, I was soon on my way to Edmonton to start my nutrition degree.
Going into dietetics, I was aware that many opportunities existed beyond the traditional roles, but to my surprise, many of my fellow nutrition students (and eventually, dietetic interns) did not realize the vast opportunities out there for RDs. Although a career in clinical dietetics can be fantastic, it’s not for everybody and it certainly wasn’t for me.
Once I was accepted into the internship program, I remember the first question I asked my internship coordinator: “Do you think it’s possible to do a rotation in private practice?”
I knew, before I even started my degree, that I wanted to work in private practice. Therefore, I wanted to gain as much experience as I could in this area during my internship. I was lucky enough to have two private practice rotations. I remember every moment of each one.
As soon as I finished my last internship rotation, I began working in this area. I started seeing clients in their homes, but I eventually rented office space of my own. Growing a private practice takes a lot of time (and money!). As such, my career has been peppered with various positions and roles in the clinical setting. But, throughout these experiences, I have been continually reminded of the fact that I thrive on my own, and I have slowly grown a private practice that I love.
How becoming a mom enhanced and changed my career
When I first started my private practice, I opened my doors to all populations, as I wanted to gain experience in many areas. However, once I became a mom, my interest in pediatric nutrition, as well as prenatal and postnatal nutrition grew tremendously.
After consulting with a business coach – one of the most valuable and worthwhile decisions I made – I narrowed my practice down to focus on women, babies and children.
How I became a “Mommy Nutrition Blogger”
During my first “maternity leave” in 2010 (I was self-employed), in the wee hours of the night while I was nursing my little one, I discovered the world of blogging.
I had already dabbled in the world of freelance writing at this point – I had a regular nutrition column in a local magazine called “Birth of a Mother.” Admittedly, I was itching to return to work in some capacity, but I also wanted to be at home with my new baby. So, I decided to start my own blog, which eventually became what it is today: Nutrition From Stork To Fork
This is when my business coach at the time mentioned Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club and suggested that I connect with Erica about possibly being their nutrition blogger. Within a couple of months, I was named The Yummy Mummy Club’s nutrition blogger, “The Non-Diet Dietitian
What started out as a fun, (very)part-time blogging gig, soon became a thriving, well respected parenting blog and my biggest passion (besides being a mom of course). Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me as an RD, including freelance writing opportunities, networking with other well-known bloggers, registered dietitians and parenting experts, as well as consulting opportunities with the food industry. It also helped me through my second “maternity leave” both financially and mentally.
Now that I have two little ones, I’m able to work from home during naps and after bedtime (in my pyjamas on some days). I use my creativity as a writer to share my passion for nutrition with other moms all over the country and beyond!
If you’re thinking about starting a nutrition blog to compliment your private practice, foster your interest in writing or to supplement your income, here are my top three tips for success:
Grow your social media numbers
If you haven’t already, start a Facebook page for your blog and sign up for Twitter and Pinterest. With these platforms, you can engage with your readers and colleagues daily, share your blog posts and grow your readership.
Dietitians of Canada has a great new blogroll on their website
that showcases DC member blogs. There is also a corresponding twitter account, @DCmemberblogs, which shares new posts. Contact DC
to have your blog added to the blogroll (you need to publish a post monthly to be a part of this).
Use compelling titles and colourful, clear pictures
It’s important to grab your potential reader’s attention right away with a catchy title that summarizes your post quickly and concisely. For example, instead of a title such as: “Healthy Foods to Feed Your Kids,” use “Top 10 Dietitian-Approved Snack Foods For Toddlers.”
Think about which titles you ignore and which titles grab your attention on social media. Use stock photos or personal photos that are in focus, clear and uncluttered (not a lot of stuff in the background). Pictures with text on them are great for Pinterest, while textless pictures are better for Facebook and Twitter.
Engage with other experts daily
Engage with other registered dietitians who have similar interests and large social media audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Share their work on your Facebook page if you like it, comment on their posts and let them know what you’re doing over on your blog.
If you have a special niche, engage with other credible experts in that field (psychologists, doctors, parenting experts, physiotherapists etc.) who may find your work valuable and will want to share it. Lastly, join online discussions and groups (such as Facebook groups) to grow your reach and readership.
It might be a few years before I fire up my private nutrition counselling practice again, but nutrition blogging has been the perfect outside-of-the-box way for me to keep my foot in the dietetics world, stay on top of nutrition research and stay connected with colleagues and other experts. Give it a try!
Editor’s note: Sarah is one of DC’s Media Network co-chairs. She strongly encourages media-savvy dietitians (and those who are interested in getting involved in media and/or blogging) to join the network.
The Media Network provides webinars, resources and information you can use to grow your business and become media savvy. It also identifies and shares the latest headlines and provides a great forum for discussions with your media dietitian colleagues!
Watch for the networks running list of favourite blogs, weekly top three nutrition stories and media segments featuring RDs. Join the Media Network here.
If you have comments, or questions for Sarah, please share your thoughts below.