Why Isn’t Your Stuff Getting Read?

Are your library blog posts getting read? If not, here are some possibilities as to why:

Bad content. Simply put, your content might not be all that good to begin with. Maybe it’s stuff you’re interested in, but your patrons don’t share that interest. How to fix it – Why not find out what your patrons are interested in, then write about that?

Poorly written content. Maybe the topic is on-target, but your writing stinks. If your writing is hard to read, guess what? Your patrons probably won’t read it. How to fix it – Why not work on improving your writing skills? Go consult some of those “How to Write” books in your library’s collection. Let the good writers on staff write your blog posts. Use modern web-writing standards.

Your website looks bad. If your website site looks icky, people will assume the content is icky too. How to fix it – update that website. Use a modern CMS like Drupal or WordPress, and use a nice-looking visual template design (or find a talented graphic designer that understands how to design for the web). Make it look as professional as the rest of your library.

Your content is hidden. Is your content hidden under multiple links? Not pulled out in an obvious way so people can find it? If so, that could be the problem. Why? Because your customers aren’t going to hunt for it. How to fix it – pull that content out. Put obvious links on your library’s main page that lead to your great content. Make sure your site is easy to use.

You’re not promoting your content. Maybe your writing is good, the site looks inviting, and your content is easy enough to find – but you’re simply not telling your patrons about it. Instead, you’re playing that passive “oh, I hope How to fix it – promote your blog posts. Instead of making a nice mystery book display in the library, write some short, pithy book reviews. Post those. Then drop the link onto your library’s Facebook Wall, and ask for responses. Ask people to Like it, for their thoughts … which helps spread the joy of your writing into other people’s walls, potentially lead to other comments, etc. Then rinse and repeat.

What would you add?

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Librarians were trained to Write the Wrong Way

Just thinking about writing for the web. My writing developed this way: I went to school, and learned to write academic papers and speeches. Ok, I also took some poetry and creative writing type classes. And a couple of journalism classes so I learned the inverted pyramid thing.

But other than that, it was pretty much formal academic-type papers. I also learned highly useful stuff … like how to graph out a sentence to discover proper sentence structure. Yikes.

I learned to write in a way that required citations and quotations, which I refined in grad school (I even used one of my class papers as my first official published article). Then the web hit, and I had to learn to write in a new way.

So now, I work hard at writing like I speak. I try to “write it like I say it.” For some people, actually reading what they just wrote out loud can help develop that voice.

Why work at this? Because that type of writing is conversational, social writing. And that’s the type of writing we want on the web – especially in places we are looking for conversations (think blogs or social media spaces).

We are now writing out our conversations, and asking our patrons to respond. To continue the conversation.

How are you learning to write for the web? Have any resources to share?

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