Heads Up! Let your library director know about the Connections Summit Conference coming up in June. It’s online and it’s free. They’ve got it divided into three days of short sessions for different kinds of libraries and… I’m speaking on Tuesday, June 11 in a session called What Every Library Director Needs to Know About Marketing, featuring the answers you sent to me! You can send your library director this link to sign up for the session that suits his or her library: http://www.sirsidynix.com/connections-summit-conference.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately! Library marketing often means cranking out text for a variety of promotional pieces. Sometimes it’s a long form article. Sometimes it’s a few lines in an email. Sometimes it’s a speech. Sometimes you’re trying to convince the public or lawmakers to give you more money.
Writing is hard. Writing for a lot of different audiences is hard. Cranking out text on command is hard. Library marketers are always crunched for time. Sometimes we’re so exhausted that our creativity is nowhere to be found. But we still need to make sure the meaning of our text is clear and emotional.
That’s where online writing tools come in handy. They can help your writing have more of an impact. They can help you craft sentences that are clear and concise, even when the subject matter is not! They can help you figure out a headline that will draw readers in. They can help you discover just the right word to make your meaning clear.
I use writing tools Every. Single. Day. Here are my favorites! They’re all free.
Before You Write
Blog About: Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is coming up with an idea! This site has thousands of fill-in-the-blank prompts that can help you brainstorm your next topic. It’s a great place to visit when you’re suffering from writer’s block.
Ubersuggest.io: This site was created by Neil Patel, who is somewhat of an internet marketing genius (subscribe to the podcast Marketing School to see what I mean). This tool helps with keyword suggestions, content ideas, and back link data.
Neil just added a new feature that lets you search your competitors to see what they’re doing! I was able to search some neighboring libraries to see how much traffic is going to their sites and what keywords are driving that traffic. Then I decided to check out the information for my own library. I can use that data to insert keywords into our blog posts that will continue to drive traffic or bring new visitors to our website!
Atlas: This website presents you with research and data which you can use to back up any claims you are making in your writing. It’s easiest for me to explain by showing you. I did a search for “libraries.”
The results come up in chart form. Cool, right?
Now, there are limitations. For one, all the data comes from one source, Quartz Media, so the charts only pull data from their publications and media properties. You have to attribute your charts to Quartz. And they have a lot of holes in their research. For instance, when I searched “hunger” and “childhood literacy,” I got no results. But they do have a lot of info on a lot of other topics that might be of interest to your library marketing audience, like careers, reading, and publishing.
HemingwayApp: I use this text editor all the time! You can either write inside the program or you can copy and paste your draft into their site. Then you get a ton of suggestions on words to change or cut to make your writing clearer and bolder. This is great if you don’t have a person serving as your editor.
The Up-Goer Five Text Editor: This is a fascinating tool. Its basic premise is that, in order to write clearly, you should try to only include the ten-hundred most commonly used words in the English language.
Here’s how it works: You copy and paste a bit of text, or type directly into the tool, and then hit enter. It will point out all words you should change to be more conversational. For fun, I pasted in my first-draft version of a paragraph from earlier in this post: Writing is hard. Writing for a lot of different audiences and cranking out text on command is even harder. Library marketers are always crunched for time. Sometimes we’re so exhausted that our creativity is nowhere to be found. But we still need to make sure our words do exactly what they’re intended to do.
Up-Goer suggested I replace these words: AUDIENCES, CRANKING, TEXT, COMMAND, LIBRARY, MARKETERS, CRUNCHED, EXHAUSTED, CREATIVITY, NOWHERE, INTENDED.
Why does this matter? It helps you to write more conversationally. It will help you to review the language you are using so you can really make sure your writing is going to make sense to the average reader.
Obviously, you don’t have to change your text based on every suggestion. I changed several of the words in that paragraph for the final draft of this post and ignored the rest of the suggestions. I like it because it forces me to rethink the way I write. It makes me consider whether my words are truly the best way to express my thoughts and feelings to my library marketing audience.
Grammarly. It’s not a substitute for a human editor but it’s a great way to give your pieces a first look for spelling and grammar errors, sentence structure problems, run-on sentences, and punctuation issues. You can add words using the personal dictionary function, which is helpful for those quirky instances that may be part of your library style guide. For instance, my library always capitalizes Library so I’m constantly fighting other apps over this randomly capitalized word in the middle of a sentence!
Cliché Finder: This tool is pretty self-explanatory. It highlights clichés in your text so you can avoid overused expressions. If clichés are your pet peeve (as they are mine), then this tool will be your new favorite!
Before You Publish
LibreOffice: I recently discovered this free, open-source software extension. It’s like Windows, but prettier and easier to use! It’s compatible with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. Once you get your actual writing done, this software will help you to organize your documents, add charts, and beef up your presentations so they look more polished.
Sharethrough Headline Analyzer: This is my new favorite headline tool. Type your proposed headline in. You’ll get a score, and tips on ways to improve your headlines. Every headline on this blog since the beginning of 2019 has been polished using this tool. I believe it’s one of the reasons traffic is up on my site. I use it for headlines on my print publications for the library as well.
Note: I’m taking a little mid-year break to refuel my creative juices and work ahead on blog posts for the summer and fall. (Read why I think creative breaks are essential for library marketing.) My next blog post will be published in two weeks (June 17). We can still connect on Twitter. I hope everyone’s summer reading programs get a great start. And as always, thanks for reading the blog. I really do appreciate you, my friends!