I agreed to teach a session on “Best Practices for Blogging.” In case others are making these kinds of presentations, or other libraries are just now starting blogs (hey, we have a couple of new blogs, so surely others must, too, right?), I thought I’d share the best practices I’ve pulled together and leave the floor open for others to comment and add theirs.
I’m focusing this talk on blogs by library staff, for patrons. But these best practices are also applicable to other kinds of blogs (and, arguably, I should follow more of them, here).
Also, I’m really not claiming to be any kind of librarian blogger expert. I’m just a lady who has written some blog posts for a few different audiences, over time, and has learned some lessons (and asked for others’ lessons, too). These are tips I’ve picked up, or borrowed from other bloggers. You’ll pick up other best practices of your own, as you blog.
Without further adieu, some best practices:
- Blogs are social. Don’t think of your blog as a broadcast medium, or your posts as press releases. The best blogs are part of a conversation—they either start a new conversation, or they add to an existing one.
- Follow other people’s blogs. If they write about something that interests you, or that might interest your audience, write a post with your thoughts about it. Be sure to link back to the post that got you thinking.
- When you’re not joining an existing conversation, try to write blog posts that are conversation starters.
- Reply to comments when you get them. If your reply takes the form of another blog post, that’s fine.
- Know your [intended] audience – any time you’re writing content, having a particular kind of person in mind will help you write something accessible and interesting.
- Know the primary purpose of your blog – to educate, to entertain, to share news?
- Have a purpose for each post you write, too (hopefully contributing to the blog’s overall purpose!) – Don’t blog just to blog; make posts that are worth your readers’ time.
- Always include Who, What, Where, When, How, and most importantly Why Should You Care? in each post.
- Have a personality. Let a little bit of yourself into the writing. (Or a lot!)
- Write about topics that interest you. Your audience won’t be interested if you aren’t interested.
- Don’t use acronyms or jargon; if you can’t avoid using them, at least explain them.
- Use good grammar and spelling.
- Keep your sentences short and simple.
- Your posts, too.
- If you can tell a story, do it. People love stories.
- Add an image (or video) to every post, if possible; making the post visually interesting is a nice thing to do for your reader.
- If you’re taking an image from another website, download it to your computer, and upload it to your blog. Don’t just <img src> it from its home server. That’s rude.
- Always give proper attribution for images that you use. You can do that via a caption, or you can link to the source with the picture itself.
Some things I’ve seen go well in library blogs:
- Reference question of the week
- Staff profiles – Get to know your librarians
- Trivia (once you have enough of a following that people will participate)
- Exciting resources or services (with reasons why they’re exciting)
Some blogs for inspiration (I hope to find more examples before Tuesday’s session):