Better Blogging

MacBookLibrariansToday, I’ll be blogging about blogging. How very meta!

I started my library’s Readers’ blog, The Top Shelf, about two years ago and it has steadily grown in readership ever since. Last year we had more than 4,000 views, and this year we hope to double that. But that doesn’t mean we are satisfied. When it comes to blogs, it’s important to constantly be improving and experimenting, both because you learn from mistakes and because the ever-changing technology demands it. From my experience, I’ve compiled a few tips to improve your library blog’s readership, credibility and effectiveness.  Many of these are goals for my own blog, and will be taking my own advice over the next year.

  1. Read other blogs, especially ones that aren’t library related. It’s useful to get outside the echo chamber and notice what keeps you coming back to a blog and why it works.
  2. Use a conversational tone. If you have trouble with this, speak the post out before, or as, you write it.
  3. Keep it short.
  4. Use images, and give their creators credit.
  5. Give your blog a facelift. Upgrade to a paid theme for usually no more than $75. (WordPress offers these in-house, or you can purchase them at themeforest.) Stay tuned for The Top Shelf’s makeover this September!
  6. Get yourself a legit url. Instead of http://www.nvcltopshelf.wordpress.com, it will only cost me $17 a year to be http://www.nvcltopshelf.com.
  7. Find out who your readers are. Create a polldaddy survey and ask their age, gender, profession, etc., as well as what types of posts they like and don’t like. Offer a prize as an incentive.
  8. Encourage interactivity and participation. Ask your readers to comment on posts. Ask them specific questions. Ask for recommendations. Offer prizes and giveaways. Invite them to write a guest post.
  9. Similarly, encourage community participation in the blog. Feature local readers, interviews with authors, guest posts by authors and book-related people, profiles of library staff, video reader reviews, etc.
  10. Use multimedia: video, images, podcasts, polls and surveys.
  11. Have regular columns and features. Be sure to create categories for them.
  12. Post regularly: once a day is our goal, but twice a week is realistic for now.

Now it’s your turn: What are your tips, goals, best practices for your library’s blog? What has worked? What hasn’t? Please comment below!

–Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

(Photo courtesy of Mike Licht)

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