Tips for better blogging

A group of us met today for a session about better blogging – a forum for sharing ideas and best practice, rather than an expert presentation approach.  The members of the group all worked for the library service, in a variety of roles, and some (but not all) were responsible for maintaining subject liaison blogs.

We started with some small-group discussion on the following topics:

What do I want from my blog?

Responses included: a communication channel, an alternative to email, a place to communicate less formally, a mechanism for reaching both students and academic staff, a platform for publishing instructions/FAQs.  In general, the tone aimed to be informative and friendly.

What type of content do I post?

Some examples were: news, events, instructions (e.g. logging in), recycling of content from the library website (e.g. learning spaces, opening hours), special campaigns or promotions.  Some blogs had static pages as well as the usual dynamic front page (and this was used like a LibGuide).

How effective is my blog?

This was a question that elicited further questions rather than definitive answers!  As well as quantitative statistics (whether obtained via the blogging platform itself, or Google Analytics), we talked about the importance of qualitative feedback and value.  Furthermore, even if the stats are good, are the ‘right’ people reading it?

Strategy, planning, and evaluation

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of our blogs, it’s important to start with a strategy (why am I doing this?), back it up with a plan of action (when, how?), and then look at impact (what, and on whom).

Use a diary approach to plan posts – this helps to get good mix of different types of content, and means that you don’t have to spend time every week thinking of what to post.

Blogging plan

Example blog plan for one academic year

Over the year, block in specific campaigns or publicity drives, and seasons such as freshers and dissertations.  You can auto-schedule posts to publish on specific days to cover periods when you will be away, or busy with other projects.  Get ideas by following other blogs.

From time to time, review your blog to assess its total impact, and its specific effect on your target audience.  Use this information to decide which approaches/content to keep and which to abandon, and see the effect of trying new things.

Action!

We then condensed our ideas about aims, content, media, and measurable outcomes.  Here are some ideas for each:

Ideas for aim, content, media, and outcomes

Ideas for aim, content, media, and outcomes

In combination with your annual plan, you can inject some variety by choosing an item at random from each column to come up with a fresh approach for one of your blogging strands.

See also: Social media strategy (2010)

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cpd23 final reflection

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I was fortunate that the timing of cpd23 coincided neatly with preparing my CILIP Chartership portfolio.  As well as my blog posts, my portfolio was the major outcome of my reflective practice this summer/winter (depending on your hemisphere).

Thoughts about the cpd23 journey

It was loooooooong. Not just completing each Thing, but just reading the instructions each week came to be a bit of a task in itself.  If you’re planning a 23 Things programme of any sort, I advise keeping the posts for each Thing short and sweet, and give clear actions at the end of each one.

Focus on reflection.  I found this difficult, but I know/hope it’s good for me.  If you haven’t yet done a personal SWOT analysis, try this guide from Mindtools to help you get started.

I will definitely keep blogging!  Thanks for reading 🙂

Summary of posts for each cpd23 Thing

21, 22 Applying for jobs and volunteering to get experience

20 Library careers: routes in and what does this type of work actually involve?

19 Integration, integration, integration

18 Presenting: podcasts, screencasts and the like

17 Presenting with Prezi

16 Library advocacy

15 Events: attending, presenting at and organising

14 Comparison of reference management tools

13 Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

12 Thing 12: short and sweet for catch-up week

10, 11 Librarianship as a career

8, 9 Getting organised: Google Calendar and Evernote

My involvement in professional organisations

Online networks

Minutes and agendas

Current awareness using social media

Monitoring my personal brand on the web

1, 2 Starting out with 23 Things for Continuing Professional Development

Integration, integration, integration

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

My use of the main tools in the programme hasn’t changed much recently, but I am getting more followers/hits/connections from fellow cpd23-ers.  Here’s how I use the following tools:

Twitter – great for making new library contacts, a bit of banter and also for benchmarking with professionals outside of my usual sphere.

Blog – this is my record of my CPD – born from my previous system of writing summaries of training I’d attended that I never referred to again, I decided to let everyone else on the internet never refer to my posts again too 😉

I have often wished that instead of compiling a Chatership portfolio, I could just ask Michael Martin at CILIP to read my blog and tick ‘chartered’ on my membership record, but sadly it ain’t so simple.  He has read my blog though – thanks, Michael!

RSS (via Google Reader) – essential for keeping up-to-date with new developments in the worlds of  libraries, technology and Cute Overload.

LinkedIn – Many people I’m connected with on LinkedIn are also people I follow on Twitter, and it’s on Twitter that we interact most, so at the moment I currently use my LinkedIn more like a Panini* collection of people I know rather than for active networking.

*When I was at school in Belgium, Panini stickers were highly sought after.

Italia 90

I am delighted that someone somewhere has scanned in their complete Italia World Cup 1990 collection.  Well done for finishing that – I could never find the German goalkeeper.