Tag Archives: my awesome job

Starting A Blog

I was recently asked to put together and deliver a presentation on “Blogging Basics” for the library where I work. I certainly don’t see myself as a blogging expert, but I do enjoy putting together and delivering presentations, and I would consider myself pretty knowledgeable in the field of social media endeavors, marketing, and web 2.0 and library 2.0 kinds of things. I agreed… then I forgot about it and procrastinated until the day before.

I think I did all right. #Nailedit

Without further ado, here is said presentation:

http://prezi.com/6755ts3bxpw8/so-you-want-to-be-a-blogger/

 

I really enjoyed this, though I had a small crowd. For one thing, I always enjoy presenting much more than I think I will. For another thing, organizing my thoughts this way helped me sort of review my own blog and renew my passion to write and share my stuff.

Getting Started

What will your blog be?

1. Pick a topic or niche for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want to write about?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What blogs do you enjoy reading?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What do you want your audience to know?

2. Pick a name or title for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • What describes your blog?
  • Is your potential name memorable and catchy?
  • What are similar blogs called?
  • What are keywords your audience might search for?
  • What does your potential name look like on screen and sound like aloud?

3. Pick a platform for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to pay for hosting?
  • How much flexibility, customization, plug-ins do you want?
  • Do you want to host, install, and configure on your own, or rely on a service to do that for you?
  • Do you want to monetize? (Keep in mind monetizing isn’t easy with some blogging platforms)

Some popular blogging platforms include…

WordPress: WordPress is available for free with limitations or pay for a full-on experience and tons more options. It is extremely customizable, plug-ins are available (if you pay for the service), there are more than 1,000 themes. WordPress is one of the most popular blog and website creation services.

Blogger: Blogger is a Google service and is available for free. Several templates and backgrounds are available. While there isn’t as much freedom as far as customization it is easier to monetize with Blogger, using Google’s AdSense service.

Tumblr: Tumblr is a free social network that allows users to share content and create original posts. Tumblr is sort of a mix between Twitter and Facebook, and could be considered a form of micro-blogging.

Medium: Medium is a free platform that allows users to focus on writing. There are no plug-ins, sidebars, ads, etc. The focus is truly on writing, and the idea is that users will share their own stories and ideas and read others’ as well.

Marketing Your Blog

Get the word (your words!) out there!

1. Write good content.

  • Use proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Write what you know and be confident in what you’re writing about.
  • Be original and interesting.
  • Use quality images, videos, and other sources. Many of your readers are visual consumers.
  • Let your readers get to know you.

2. Establish your blog.

  • Create a few good first posts. You want to have content (not an empty shell of a blog) when you start getting visitors.
  • Create an about page and determine how you will use your sidebars and menus.
  • Consider adding an email subscribe button or an RSS feed subscription button to your blog.
  • Consider creating a Facebook fan page and other social media network pages for your blog.
  • Always respond to questions and comments on your blog and emails you receive via your blog. You want to establish not just your writing, but also a relationship with your readers so they’ll keep coming back.

3. Share your blog.

  • Tell your friends and family you’ve started a blog. Ask for support.
  • Consider (again) creating fan pages or accounts through various social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).
  • Share your content on both your fan pages and on your personal social media networks.
  • Tell people about your blog in-person if the opportunity arises naturally.
  • Don’t be annoying with any of the above. Don’t beg.

4. Take advantage of what’s popular.

  • Use popular hashtags and keywords when sharing content.
  • Blog about current events and other popular topics.
  • For blogging ideas Google “trending,” or check Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Yahoo for what topics are currently trending. Share these topical blog entries you’ve written soon, while that trending topic is still actually trending.
  • Consider being a devil’s advocate when blogging about what’s popular. It stirs the pot and gets attention.

5. Do some detective work.

  • Search for content creators and consumers that align with your blog’s niche.
  • Join Facebook groups, subreddits, and message boards that revolve around blogging and your blog’s nice.
  • Follow other bloggers and interact with them.
  • Search Google or other search engines for “[your blog’s topic] blogging groups.”

Maintain the Momentum

Don’t run out of gas!

1. Create and work to achieve blogging goals. Some goal ideas:

  • Write ## blog posts per week.
  • Increase your email/RSS subscribers by ## each month.
  • Update your blog’s Facebook fan page or your Twitter feed ## times each week.
  • Comment on other blogs or message boards ## times each week.
  • Link to ## other blogs each week.
  • Spend ## hours each week marketing, sharing content, and networking with other bloggers.

2. Do something your readers will remember. Try these ideas:

  • Create a series of posts (part 1, 2, 3, etc.) or numbered lists (i.e. “top ten canning recipes”).
  • Run a contest and offer a prize.
  • Flatter your readers by writing about them.
  • Guest post on other blogs, and invite other accomplished bloggers in your subject area to guest post on your blog.
  • Write about something popular or even controversial. Playing devil’s advocate always attracts attention.
  • Refer to or link back to your existing content. Try reviving old posts by creating a post about previous posts.

 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching ways to make my blog better. A few resources I used are:

Starting Your Blog: http://startbloggingonline.com/, http://www.ehow.com/how_2045008_start-blog.html, http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog, http://wordful.com/how-to-name-your-blog-what-makes-a-great-name/,

Blogging Platforms: http://mashable.com/2014/05/09/16-minimalist-blogging-platforms/, http://www.edudemic.com/minimalist-blogging-platforms/, https://blog.shareaholic.com/best-blogging-platform/, https://blog.shareaholic.com/best-blogging-platform/)

Marketing Your Blog: http://startbloggingonline.com/how-to-promote-your-blog-and-get-visitors/,

Blogging Goals: http://blog.osmosio.com/101-blogging-goals-grow-blog/, http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/blogging-goals-types-of-goals-to-set-for-your-blog/, http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/8-different-tips-for-promoting-your-blog/,

Monetize: http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/fyi/101-ways-monetize-your-blog-without-irritating-your-readers

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Innovative Technology in the Library

In the library and technology world David Lee King is a true mover and shaker (in fact Library Journal named him on of the Movers & Shakers in 2008). He is the Digital Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (one of my favorite libraries to keep up with) in Kansas. He knows what’s up when it comes to emerging trends in libraries, particularly when it comes to technology and the social web. I don’t frequent his blog as much as I intend to, but each time I do I pull something really cool from it.

Oh, and he’s nice to look at, too. *grin*

When I decided to redesign our website last year a lot of the ideas I had for it (some of which are yet to come) came from hearing him (and others) speak at the Internet Librarian conference in 2012. I’ve also tried other social web marketing ideas he’s written about on his blog or spoken about elsewhere. He’s definitely an idol of mine. I would love to be as successful at marketing my library and doing innovative things, but I’d also like to be better at speaking and invigorating others in the field.

Anyway, I read a post he wrote about a month ago about submitting a speaking proposal at the Internet Librarian 2014 conference and it just got me thinking about being successful in my job, encouraging and exciting others, and being more active. I was speaking there for a very few years, and even though I’m a totally shy and awkward introvert I have to admit I really enjoyed it. And… I think I was good at it. I think. I hope.

I feel like I used to be more innovative and on top of things in my field. I’ve always taken pride in being a jack of many technology-related trades. Web design, graphic design, social media, marketing, video editing, teaching… I like all of it, but it feels like I’m not as valuable anymore. I think I’m just overwhelmed with the responsibilities I picked up at the beginning of the year. And don’t get me wrong: I love my new position. I feel like I’m learning things every day, but I don’t feel like I have as much time to try new things and read up on what’s going on in the field. I have ideas and even things that *should* be getting done but I have a hard time keeping up. I would love to take David’s advice and just submit a proposal. But what would I do it on? I feel like I’m not on top of or even close to the trends anymore. I’m just hanging on to the technology-in-libraries life raft while the speed boat is jetting away ahead of me.

Anyway, I’m going to make a goal of investigating and implementing two new innovative technology things in my library over the course of the next five months. I will have been in this new position for 3/4 of a year, and I think that’s more than enough time to have gotten comfortable and regained my position as the driver of the aforementioned speed boat. I am, after all, the Innovative Technology Manager. It is time to better live up to that title.

Plainfield Library Arts Gala & How I Love Planning Events @ the Library

I’m super excited to be a part of this year’s Arts Gala at the Plainfield Library. Last year, the first year for the gala, I was on maternity leave, so I wasn’t a part of the planning or the actual event. I saw pictures and heard about it, and it really sounds like it was a magical event.

This second annual Arts Gala, entitled “Visions,” will be held March 21-23. The focus this year is on abstract art. Artists from Indiana and surrounding areas will display and sell their artwork at the library with the library receiving a percentage of the proceeds to fund the facelift the children’s room is receiving this spring. People who pledge to spend $50 are able to attend the exclusive Starlight Reception event on Friday, march 21, from 6:30-9:00pm. There are multitudes of local hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine as well as music and obviously the opportunity to be among the first to see and purchase the artwork.

I’m no art connoisseur, but I do love art and have a large amount of respect for artists of all kinds. I heard from my friends and coworkers who planned and attended the event last year that it was extremely fun. I can’t wait!

It’s currently being advertised on the Plainfield Library’s website, if you want more information, or (of course) I can pass along any information. It’s a great event that supports local artists and helps to plant the importance of art in the community, and it’s a super fundraiser for a wonderful cause: my favorite library.

 

One of my favorite things about working at this library is the opportunity I have to make my voice heard in program planning. We do all kinds of interesting and varied things for all kinds of audiences. Our programming meetings are crazy, because we’re all so amped all the time with excitement and creativity. I never know what’s going to happen. From discussing the possibility of a cardboard maze, to possible Post Secret events, to ways to market our resources and programs. 

Here is one of my favorite stories that illustrates my love for my job and my library’s craziness: When I was pregnant with Atticus last year, on Valentine’s Day, the Harlem Shake was all the rage. Everyone thought it was hilarious. We love making videos, and at a programming meeting that afternoon we all decided it would be awesome if we made our own version. So we did. Within the afternoon. I do some of the filming and all of the editing for things like that (it means I don’t have to be in front of the camera…) so we got a bunch of staff together in the work room in the back. I’m very short, so in order to get a good camera angle of everyone in the room, I stood on a step stool. I was 9 months pregnant. I looked like this:

Image

We shot the video, edited it, and posted it within 2 hours. Check it out here. And of course our patrons loved it. I went home, went to bed, couldn’t sleep, and headed to the hospital 12 hours later. A few hours after that I had a little baby named Atticus.

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I love my job.