The new buzzword at museum conferences across the country is blogging. Many museums are already on board with the idea, but surprisingly, not everyone has embraced this new – and easy! – technology yet.
For smaller museums without a website, starting a blog will give you a presence on the internet – for free! These days, if you aren’t online, you don’t exist. Even if you don’t think your site is not “important enough” to attract visitors from far flung areas of the country, you might be surprised who is out there looking for what you’ve got.
Here are some questions you might have before launching your own blog:
What should I write about on my museum blog?
Use your blog to announce special events, give people behind-the-scenes tidbits about your site, or to re-cap programs. It is relatively easy to get the media to report that your event is coming up, but it is much tougher to get a reporter and/or photographer to come to your event. So take some pictures yourself and let people know how many people came on your blog!
I have used my museum blog to talk about what my volunteers are doing, plans for upcoming events, and new donations. Sometimes I take pictures of exhibit installations in progress – it might be “run of the mill” work for you, but people don’t get to see that, and are intrigued by it! I’ve even just typed up my “to do list” so people can see what I’m working on!
How much time will this take?
It doesn’t require a huge time commitment to write a blog. It takes about 10 minutes to post, and you don’t have to write every day. You should try to update it at least once a week. People might forget all about your blog if you wait too long between posts.
How can I get started?
I’ve found the easiest blog program out there is blogger.com. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to get set up. There are lots of pre-made templates to choose from, but you can customize your blog’s appearance if you wish.
Blogger has more than enough room to hold your photos and videos. I have been blogging for a little over a year, and I post lots of photos. But I have yet to hit even 10% of my storage space.
How can I let people know about my blog?
Make a small flyer to hand out at your admissions desk, at special events, or out in the community. If your museum has a website, create a link to your blog directly from that. Write a press release and send it to your media contact list. Publish an article in your next newsletter.
What else do I need to know?
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have tons of hits at first. It takes time to build up a readership. Keep at it, and you will reach more people.
If you are interested in tracking visitors to your blog, I use StatCounter. It is free and invisible on your blog. It shows you how many people visit your blog daily, what keyword searches brought them there (which is always fun to analyze!), where visitors have come from on the internet, and even where they physically were when they visited your site. It is fun to see how far away people live who stumble upon your blog somehow!
We have also recently started using Constant Contact to keep in touch with our members between newsletters. I have a button right on my blog so people can sign up for the e-newsletter. I have sign up sheets available throughout the museum too.