Script Practical Guide

How to start a science blog

Speed read

  • There is always something you can teach others
  • Blogging will sharpen your communication skills
  • Good content will keep users on your site

By: Juan Casasbuenas 

Why should I set up a science blog?
How can I set up a science blog?
What makes a successful science blog?
Dive right in, but also get learning

Why should I set up a science blog?

Starting a science blog is an easy way to share your research with a wider audience. The list of potential audiences is vast: you could be trying to reach fellow researchers within your institution, friends and family, or aspiring young scientists. Who you target is up to you. Being able to disseminate your research widely is just one potential benefit of setting up a science blog. Here are a few more: 

Practising your writing skills 

A blog offers you the opportunity to practise writing in different styles and formats. Break loose from the conventions of research papers and experiment. Perhaps you want to improve your science storytelling skills, or develop your skills of writing for the public. Maybe you want to write a poem about your work. A blog is a great way to test different writing styles. It also offers an opportunity to develop basic science communication skills. Certainly, it’s an opportunity to adapt your language to different audiences or add flair to your writing. 

Building a public profile

Setting up a science blog can help with career advancement. For instance, you might attract others to your institution by telling them about your work. You might also attract funding if your writing is influential or if it demonstrates relevance and impact. Additionally, a journalist might reach out to you for an interview. You might also get some other, unexpected benefits.

Helping and inspiring others 

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there is always something you can teach others. You might have advice on how to work effectively with other scientists in a lab. Perhaps you have overcome a challenge in reporting your scientific findings and you want to save others the same trouble. Maybe you just got back from a field visit and want to tell people about the insights you gleaned from it. There are many unmet learning needs out there and your science blog might just address one of them. The knowledge and experience you share might inspire others to undertake a similar journey to you. 

Building a network

This relates to the earlier point about building a public profile, but deserves its own mention. The more connections you make with others, the more opportunities that can arise. This might mean ideas for new research, potential collaborations, or invitations to talk at a conference or school. There are many ways to build a network, and these are explored later in this practical guide. 

How can I set up a science blog?

You can easily find a platform that will allow you to set up a science blog for free. It’s critical to consider if there is a particular advantage one platform has over the others. Some platforms are more user-friendly. Some have better tools for measuring readership engagement, while others might be better for building a following of subscribers. The following table categorizes different platforms, giving a standout reason why you might want to use each one.

Standout reason to usePlatformsExamples
I want a 'classic', user-friendly platform focused on writing*
The Poetry of Science (
I want to create something visual and eye-catchingTumblrThe Wolf and the Moon (Astronomy photos)
I need a blogging site focused on building a following (e.g combining blog writing, newsletters and maybe even revenue generation)SubstackScience Writing News Roundup
I want to blog directly where I already have a social network, even if the site isn't mainly focused on bloggingLinkedIn

Science Communication Africa Facebook Group
I don't want the burden of writing whole blogs, but I do want to share my ideas through microbloggingReddit Communities

The top 50 Science Stars of Twitter
I'm an advanced user, experienced with coding, who wants to create a 'static' blog siteJekyllTom Preston-Werner blog (Example of how a blog site can be built)
* Some of these sites allow you to build a wide range of sites and have a huge range of templates available, not just for blogging.

What makes a successful science blog?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule for defining success when setting up a science blog, but let’s assume you want people to enjoy reading it. Perhaps you also want to reach the right audience to advance your personal objectives. Here are a few rules of thumb that will help.

Don’t be generic

Try to find a personal, unique angle to what you’ll write about. You might want to write about science in relation to your country, town or culture. Perhaps you can combine another interest in your life (music, art, sports, food, people, policy …) with the science you want to write about. Choose an angle that’s relevant to both you and your audience. We recommend getting inspiration from other science blog writers.

  • Example 1: The Nautilus blog talks about science through a range of lenses, including philosophical musings and reflections on our daily lives
  • Example 2: The Improbable Research blog collects real research that is happening that “may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless”.

Stick with what you know

You’re more likely to write fluently about topics or experiences you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Ideally, you’ve lived them. No need to complicate it. For instance, a post can simply be based on a conversation you had with someone at a conference, a debate you had with a colleague or simply a question you’ve been asking yourself a lot lately. Take for example this conversational and informal blog post on the Coding Horror blog. The author describes how he has made a bet with a friend about whether we will have fully autonomous vehicles by 2030. He uses this as a springboard to explore the science and rationale behind his argument.

Experiment and find out what works

Most of the platforms we have recommended for setting up a science blog have useful tools to measure readership engagement. They can help you understand the behaviour of users on your blog, and can help inform some changes you can make. It’s an iterative process that will help you find out what works for your audience. Here are some useful metrics commonly found on these platforms (but there are many others!).

Metric Description How it can help you
Page visitsHow many people visit a particular page?You can find out posts are most popular over a particular period. Analyse why you think they're popular.
DemographicsWhere are your visitors from?Are there particular countries you want to have visitors from? How might you target them?
ReferralsWhere is your website traffic coming from? (e.g Twitter, Facebook, institutional homepage)This can help you gauge the engagement efforts that help traffic to drive traffic towards your blog
Bounce rateWhat percentage of users leave your site after viewing one page?Maybe you're doing a good job at attracting people to your blog, but they're not hanging around. Explore why that might be.
Visit times When are users accessing your blog? What day of your week is most popular? At what time?Adapt your publishing strategy to when you think your audience will be most receptive

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Quality writing helps

Writing in a way that is engaging and accessible will keep users on your site (keeping that bounce rate low!). The features of high-quality writing are beyond the scope of this practical guide, but there are many resources out there to help you. For example, this practical guide from SciDev.Net is a good starting point. Similarly, this manifesto for the simple scribe is packed with useful advice. 

Make it useful

You can add a lot of value to your writing by adding helpful links, further reading, useful tools and references. This can even form the basis of a science blog post itself, e.g. “My five favourite science communicators” or “Five online tools I used to help my research get noticed”. You can also link to other blog posts you’ve written before, to your social media profiles; or to the “About me” page that tells readers more about who you are. 

Promote in relevant networks

It’s worth noting the existing networks you are a part of. Do they have newsletters? Do they have social media sites? Map out these networks and sites and consider which ones might be relevant to promoting your science blog. Alternatively, there might be existing science blog networks out there you could contribute to. For example, the Black Women in Science Network has a blogging section different members contribute to. The PLOS blogs website has a Your Say section for guest posts from scientists and science writers who wish to express individual points of view on particular issues from the world of science. It may be harder to be featured on some of these platforms, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Dive right in, but also get learning 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the myriad of options out there to set up a science blog. If you have the seed of an idea for a piece of writing, just go for it. You can always pivot according to the feedback (and metrics!) you get in response to your science blog posts. Our free Media Skills for Scientists course will also help you polish science communication skills that are directly transferable to science blog writing.