Are you new to blogging, or looking for some ways to spruce up your existing blog and share the unique stories within your collection? Richard Moss, Editor of Museum Crush, has written up some ideas to pique your curiosity and send you down the long road of blogging.
So you want to blog?
The likelihood is you have already talked with your colleagues, researched audiences, thought about all the nice pictures you have and rationalised where your blog sits in relation to your museum website and social media outlets.
Now it’s time to think about what you want to write about and how.
There are many ways to tell a story and several formats you can try:
- The personal: a blog post with an informal chatty style that eschews curatorial in favour of a personal perspective. (For example, your story might begin with: “Our archaeological collection is eclectic and varied ranging from Palaeolithic hand axes to Egyptian mummies but my personal favourite has always been a simple…)
- The episodic: a series in which you explore different objects from the store room – but try to avoid the ‘object of the week’ route as there will inevitably be weeks when you can’t do it and eventually it will grind to a halt or you will be inclined to fill the slot with substandard content when you are pressed for time. You want content that lives on the web forever.
- The timely: look at anniversaries and current events, but try not to make it time specific – for example if you are blogging in support of an event, think about ways in which the content will live on when that event has finished.
- The listicle: Make lists. Pile them with nice big pictures. For example ten of the best, most arresting images from an old Victorian photo archive. Ten beautiful pictures from your hand axe collection.
- The call to action: Perhaps you could blog about a photo collection and invite your local audience to help you interpret it better.
- The useful: A lot of bloggers talk about useful content – and that’s certainly a good pointer if you have a commercial offer, but it is also good advice for the museum sector. Just like a shop or business you have an offer and a brand that you are trying to sell – so why not take some time to think about writing useful content that does just that? Create blog posts that explain something or help people understand something. Not only do these act as a guide to a topic they also cement your reputation as a place for knowledge and expertise. Google likes them too. For example: how to spot a real Victorian dress, ten things to look for in Jacobean silver, how to spot a genuine cap badge, five things to remember when buying Victorian glass display domes etc.Alternatively think about local history guides – perhaps a tour of the old town, of course weaving in a visit to the museum or references to the collection. As well as showing yourself to be useful and knowledgeable and therefore a must-visit, Google loves content like this. Google bots are always on the look-out for what they deem to be useful and unique content. The more useful, authoritative and well-informed it is, the higher it will climb the Google greasy pole.
You don’t have to write it all yourself. If you have the time why not interview one of your curatorial team? Or even better get them to write something? Remember a blog is often by its very nature informal and could begin with something simple like this:
- We have been cataloguing our collection of taxidermy weasels and we came across an interesting selection of…
- An interesting acquisition came into the museum last week, a collection of highly unusual and rare…
- This simple object might not look like much, but behind it lies a tale of love, loss and redemption worthy of a Jane Austen novel
- Our collection of child’s shoes spans the last two centuries but there is one that is…
- One of the most famous local inhabitants of Oxdown is Old Bob the postman, but his story conceals some surprising secrets…
Whatever you do, try and keep it informal.
Don’t forget a compelling headline after you have made all that effort, written something that responds to audience demand is useful and uses sensible keywords don’t let it down by giving it a boring headline.
But before you write anything, return to the fundamental question: “Who is this for? Who is the audience for what I’m attempting to write”?
Finally bear these content groups in mind:
The bizarre. The unusual. The Visual. The human. The historical. The esoteric. The useful.
As museums you are sat on a treasure-trove of stories and resources. Have fun and share them.