By Donna Scott
As you prepare for a career as a librarian, you’re probably experimenting with all of the different ways you can reach out to your patrons and offer them cutting edge research assistance, particularly students conducting intense research as part of their bachelor degree program or master’s degree program requirements. Blogging is a valuable tool for cataloging library news, sharing research tips and book lists, and marketing your own library while highlighting special exhibits, new technology and special guests. If you want to start your own library blog, check out this list of 100 tips and tools.
Here you’ll learn the basics of setting up a library blog.
- Find a focus: Figure out what niche subject your blog will cover, like library news, library school, or literacy. Having a plan and direction for your blog makes it easier to organize and market.
- Pick a good name: Put some thought into what you’ll name your blog. Pick something that’s easy to market and very recognizable.
- Match your name to your domain name: Remove the blogging platform from your domain and just use the titleofyourblog.com.
- Figure out your target audience: By deciding on the type of readers you want to attract, you’ll have better luck coming up with focused, appealing posts.
- Decide how often you’ll post: Decide this early on so that it’s easier to stick to your assignments.
- Link your blog to your library website: If it’s allowed, post a link for your personal library blog or official library department blog on the library’s homepage.
- Be consistent: When you post, remember your blog’s overall theme and message.
- Consider your blog a part of your business: Blogging isn’t just about having fun and sharing your ideas: it’s a legitimate marketing tool that can grow your business and attract patrons.
- Learn basic HTML: Even if your blogging platform automatically formats your posts, learn a little HTML so that you can eventually experiment with design and other techniques.
- Stick to your honest opinion: No one wants to read a blog that’s insincere or that doesn’t offer any intelligent critique. It’s best to write honestly.
- Stay current: Update your blog at least a few times a week, and reference timely news and social issues that impact your field.
Readership and Traffic
Attract readers with whom you can develop a mutually loyal and strong relationship by following these tips.
- Build a relationships with your readers: The more your readers feel connected to you, the more they’ll become loyal readers who reference your blog and share it with friends.
- Use RSS: Encourage readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS, which sends them updated posts regularly.
- Analyze your statistics: Find out which blogs are getting the most hits, allowing you to discover what your readers like best.
- Respond to comments: Let readers know that their opinions don’t go unnoticed.
- Make your blog easy to navigate: A blog that has an inconsistent, confusing layout will deter readers.
- Use search engine-friendly titles: Your titles don’t always have to be super catchy: use phrases that are likely to be searched on Google or Yahoo!
- Know when to post: Eddie’s Blog recommends posting on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
- Submit your blog to search engines: No one will ever find your blog if you don’t submit it to Google or another directory.
- Sponsor contests: Engage your readers with a contest.
- List your blog as a contact source or reference: Put up signs around your library and include your blog on newsletters, asking patrons to visit your blog for more library tips and information.
- Let your personality show through: Readers like connecting with the person behind the post, so learn to write in a friendly, direct style that reflects your personality.
- Make commenting, subscribing and discovering easy: Don’t require readers to click through lots of pages to submit a comment. Make it as easy and direct as possible.
Here you’ll learn all about the process of writing valuable posts and brainstorming.
- Keep your posts focused: Don’t try to cram too much into a single post. Save other ideas for more posts.
- Learn how to use "grab words": Grab words are words that grab your readers’ attention, like "coming soon," "free," or "listen up!"
- Keep everything appropriate and legal: If you blog directly from your library’s website, check with administrators and managers to see if there are any words or subjects you shouldn’t mention.
- Use categories: Organize posts into categories, making it easier for readers to find archived posts on your blog.
- Include library updates: Write about special exhibits or visitors to your library to establish your blog’s reputation as a local resource.
- Report on industry news: Cover new technology developments, legislation, literacy studies and other industry-related news stories on your blog.
- Host a guest blogger: Every so often, invite a library patron to write a blog about his or her experience in the library.
- Plan ahead: Always have a few posts ready to go in case you get sick, go on vacation or hit writer’s block.
- Get to the point quickly: In the title and first paragraph, get to your post’s main point.
- Visit forums and industry chat groups: Find out what your target audience wants to talk about, and you’ll have great fodder for future posts.
- Start a series: Categorize related posts into a series, giving you the opportunity to link back to older posts.
Branding and Marketing
These branding tips will help you gain more readers and develop your identity as a librarian blogger.
- Write guest posts: Write guest posts on a community blog or well-known blog to attract readers from other sites.
- Set up a new e-mail address: Set up an e-mail address that incorporates your blog domain.
- Post on other blogs: Get your name and your expertise out there by posting comments on related blogs. Link back to your site.
- Social marketing: Find social library sites and forums to market your blog, start a Facebook page for your library, and use social bookmarking sites like Digg to promote your posts.
- Twitter: Twitter is an incredibly useful marketing and branding tool for bloggers. Post pictures, news and links to your articles while expanding your network.
- Understand your trademark: What is it that makes people love your blog? Once you figure out your trademark, you’ll be able to market the attraction.
- Create an about page: Keep an updated about page explaining your experience and job duties to help readers connect to the person behind the blog.
- Incorporate photos: Don’t just use photos from the web. Add photos of library events, yourself, your patrons and guests on your blog, About page and on social media sites.
- Bring up your blog in everyday conversation: Learn how to talk about your blog without being annoying.
- Host a blogging party: Celebrate the launch or anniversary of your blog with a special reception at the library.
- Ask for a write-up in the school or local paper: Ask the school or local paper to interview you or use you as a reference for an article about blogging.
- Use StumbleUpon: This unique rating and bookmarking service can really help spike blog traffic.
- Learn how to analyze your statistics: Understanding your blog’s traffic can really help you develop a smart marketing plan.
- Invite other librarians to blog: Fully develop your library’s blog by asking other librarians, assistants, interns and managers to contribute.
Learn how to network with other bloggers, librarians patrons, and students in bachelor degree programs online for the sake of growing your blog.
- Visit your readers’ blogs: When your readers link back to their sites, make sure you visit and start commenting on their posts as well.
- Start a blogroll: Create a list of other librarian blogs to share links.
- Reach out to other bloggers: E-mail bloggers and ask if they’d be willing to work on a cross-promotional project or exchange links.
- Register on blog networks: Blog networks like Technorati and BlogCatalog can really expand your readership.
- Use networks for news and updates: Using social media for news and updates is more effective than just linking to posts.
- Help other bloggers: By helping others and promoting their work before you ask for a favor, you’ll start longer-lasting relationships.
- Link to other bloggers and websites frequently: The more you use them as a reference, the more likely they’ll be to start linking to you.
- Network offline: Organize librarian blogger meet ups and social events for real-life networking.
- Highlight the accomplishments and work of others before yourself: Retweet other bloggers’ work and share links from other sites besides your own.
- Add a forum: Add a forum or community page to your blog to make it easier for you to network with readers.
Your blog’s design can hurt or help its popularity.
- Choose the right typography: Even your blog’s font can contribute to the overall design.
- Consider open source: Here you’ll find 100 web design templates that are free and can be customized.
- Match your design to your theme: Consider your blog’s theme and message when developing a design.
- Develop a scannable design: A blog’s design needs to be processed within seconds, so don’t overload your site with distractions.
- Photoshop: Your library probably already has Photoshop, so learn how to use it to make your blog extra attractive.
- Avoid using Flash and music extras: These features take away from your content and annoy readers.
- Use images: In addition to your logo, use an image or photo for each post.
- Use a CSS-based design system: CSS designs are faster and easier to use.
- Add captions: Let your readers know where you found your pictures or from which event they were taken by adding captions.
- Customize your template: Even if you’re using a free template, add photos or change icons to make it your own.
Learn the difference between blogging platforms, and find the one that works best for you.
- Know the difference: Choose the blogging platform that can best meet your needs as an independent blogger or blogger affiliated with your official library site.
- WordPress: WordPress is a free platform that can be customized with updates.
- Blogger: Blogger is a simple, practical platform that is also free.
- TypePad: TypePad blogs are search engine-optimized and highly customizable.
- Movable Type: This blogging platform allows you to build interactive sties with social networking and more.
By incorporating extra services into your blog, you’ll get more readers and make your blog more fun to follow.
- Create static resource pages: Add a static page that includes library search tips or another kind of resource or reference. You’ll get way more hits and extra brownie points for providing a service.
- Reading lists: Create a page with updated reading lists for summertime, the holidays or another theme.
- Provide coupons: Provide coupons for the library coffee shop or a used book sale.
- Host contests: Hosts contests for free stuff, free downloads or upgraded privileges in the library.
Organization and Administrative Tips and Tools
Stay organized with this list of tips and tools.
- Continue to edit: Don’t be afraid to edit archived posts, especially if they’re still getting traffic.
- Plan for the future: Come up with a serious blogging business plan to increase readership and stand out amongst the crowd.
- Add a search box: Make it easier to find archived posts with a search box.
- Desktop tools: Use a desktop blogging tool to manage and edit your blog offline.
- Organize categories: Categories should have descriptive names and a corresponding number that shows how many posts are in that category.
- Tagging: Use tags to make your blog posts easier to find on blog networks and search engines.
- Understand the importance of an "About" page: this guide shows you what you need to include on an About page.
- Showcase your best content: Create a popular posts section or a "best of" page to highlight your best content.
- Post on an automated schedule: To make sure you post each day, write a post when you have time, and then use an automated publish setting to upload it on a pre-set schedule.
- Edit: Always edit your posts for grammatical errors, typos, image quality and other issues before publishing.
- Use an editorial calendar: An editorial calendar will help you keep up with timely issues, stay on schedule, and create a backlog of articles.
Here you’ll find even more tips and tools for creating content, keeping your blog in order, finding new ways to use your blog and ensuring you have students of all ages ranging from pre K-12 to those pursuing a master’s degree.
- Consider monetizing your blog: If you have an independent blog, learn how to make passive income by posting.
- Know how much to write: Blog posts shouldn’t overwhelm readers, so don’t write long feature articles.
- Run a speed test: Make sure your blog is running correctly when you do a speed test.
- Prepare for the future: Have a backup and recovery plan in case disaster strikes.
- Polls: Learn more about your readers while encouraging them to participate on your blog with a poll.
- Write lists: When you want to spike your traffic, use a list format for a few of your posts. Lists are easy to read, easy to link to, and add to your professional design.
- Keep posts positive: While it’s best to offer your honest opinion, a consistently negative attitude will turn readers off.
- Use good advertising etiquette: Don’t sacrifice design and usability for advertising.
- Ask your readers for advice: Encourage readers to share their favorite books, library experiences and research tools.
- Address problems: Pacify patrons by addressing problems in your library or technical issues on your blog, giving an estimated time frame for when they’ll be fixed.
- Listen to readers’ requests: If your readers tell you that they want more of a particular kind of post, indulge them.
- Have fun: Your blog is a less official extension of your "serious" job duties as a librarian. Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment, network with other bloggers, and chat with your readers.