How starting a science blog changed my life!

When I told my friends two years ago that I wanted to start a science blog, I knew nothing.
I did not know how to go about it and where this project would take me. I had no idea how to start a science blog, but I was sure I would figure it out. I just started to “see how I would like it”. But I enjoyed it a lot and it became another passion for me. And it opened so many doors and completely changed my life.

How it all started

When I was working on my PhD project, I always liked to talk about bacteria. Not necessarily about my research or the lab work I was doing all day, but about how amazing I found bacteria; about all the remarkable things these tiny organisms were able to do; about the many ways bacteria impact our daily life. And still, many people didn’t even realise!
While investigating the molecular details of bacterial behaviour, I always liked being at the border of human knowledge and learning about previously unexplored mechanisms. I also liked understanding the whole field, how everything is connected in the microbial world and how much we actually know while there are still so many questions.
But I also felt that researchers were only supposed to talk to other researchers and discuss research solely with their peers. However, I thought that everyone else also had the right to know about how remarkable bacteria are. I thought it was a shame that so much of the knowledge I acquired during my research was buried in scientific papers or my PhD thesis that no one outside of academia would ever bother to read.
So, I wanted to open another channel to reach people outside of the scientific field. And I decided to start a science blog.

Going on a journey

I had never been too much into technologies, but my brother, the web developer, was quite optimistic: “There is software for people like you who only want to blog!” That sounded really promising and I knew I just had to go for it and try it out!
So, I set up a WordPress blog, called it BacterialWorld, and started writing my first post about my PhD research. And because I liked it so much, I immediately wrote a second article about the project I was working on as a postdoc. Yay, the beginning was easy. And some people even seemed to like it and they understood it.
Logo of BacterialWorld created by Noémie Matthey –
Now, I finally had a good excuse to dive into other research topics, read papers outside of my own research field and learn and write about our little bacterial friends.
And I quickly realised that I very much enjoyed my new science blog project. I was my own boss and no one told me what to read and what to write about. I decided how much of my time I put into this project and how often I would publish a post as long as it didn’t interfere with my lab work. And mostly, that people really like learning something new – for many the world of bacteria is such a strange one and I was happy to shed light on this unknown world for them.

Collaborating to produce amazing things

However, I also knew that for the things I had in mind for the site, I would need more help. Just as collaborations are important in academia, I knew that I on my own could not make BacterialWorld as appealing as I wanted it to be. I knew that many of the topics I was writing about were pretty complex and things are always easier to understand if you have visual support. But yeah, I can’t draw at all…
So, I was incredibly lucky when Noémie agreed to support the blog with her amazing, witty and colourful comics. The blogging project reached a whole new level, the quality of each post was a lot higher now thanks to her pictures and they gained a lot of attention on social media.
We were also super happy when Rachel joined the team as a recurring guest blogger and brought new expertise to the BacterialWorld family. Together, we started the series “How bacteria can save this planet” because the three of us agreed that bacteria help us in so many ways that many people are not even aware of. And together we came up with a lot of great ideas to showcase how bacteria positively impact our daily lives.
The mascot of the series How bacteria save the planet –
With such an amazing collaboration, the blogging experience became a lot more efficient. I was completely hooked by the world that opened up for me: science communication and science writing. And I wanted more!

Taking it to the next level

I read a bunch of books about science communication, blogging, setting up an online business, science writing and I knew that I wanted to do this professionally. The contract for my postdoc was supposed to run out in October 2020, so I gave myself this deadline to figure out how to best set myself up for a career in science communication.
I knew I wanted to help scientists get their research out to the world, write about microbiology research or coach scientists so that they can write about it themselves. But with the pandemic, I quickly realised that finding an employer was more difficult than ever. Plus, I already had plans where to go and live next, but travel restrictions made this step extremely difficult (and they still do!). So, I decided to take a leap and become my own boss by starting my own science communication and science writing business. This at least would allow me to work from anywhere, sit out the pandemic until I could finally go and see more of this world while working.
Now, here I am in another lockdown, but this time with a colourful science blog, my own business MicroComms and plenty of crazy ideas what to do with my new opportunity. I feel proud, excited and scared at the same time about the uncertainty. But what I learned from academia and research is that you can find the solution to almost any problem by doing different experiments to look at the problem from different angles. So, here I am experimenting and seeing where the results take me!