Friday, March 10, 2017

Save Hours Advertising Programs: The Beauty of a Template

It took me four years into my previous position to realize that I was advertising my programs all wrong. It was standard at that library to make a flyer for every upcoming program, so I followed it. And for each of these programs, I would make a brand new flyer.

I loved being creative, so it was one of the fun parts of my job. But it was hard to always come up with a great professional design -- and it was time consuming. When I started to try to find ways to be more productive, I realized that I needed to let go of my desire to create and make a template.

Art design was not my specialty, so it took many attempts to come up with a template that worked for all of our programs. Then we realized we needed a logo for our library (which I am proud to say that I did design with the help of my husband) and then my director hired someone with art skills who made an even better template than I did.

An amazing thing happened-- four, actually:

1. I Saved Hours of Work

There are people out there who can whip up an awesome flyer in no time, but that wasn't me. I can make a decent one but it required lots of creative energy and some trial and error until I came up with the perfect design. But with our template, I could make a new flyer in minutes and know I would immediately be happy with it. That's a lot of precious time saved!

2. Everyone Used the Template

With the new design, my coworkers were able to easily use it, too. Now everyone, even those who felt they didn't have any artistic skills, could make a flyer for their own program. (Or I could easily delegate this project to someone else who needed something to do.) There were a few hurdles for us to jump through (I did teach some of them how to use our art program) but the end result was something with which we all could be happy. And I like teaching, so I didn't mind those sessions at all.

3. We Advertised More

Having a template and an easy way to make flyers meant we could bang them out quickly. We also made a template for our website slider, so it was really easy for us to constantly update the website with the current information. Before, we had to constantly change our design to fit whatever medium we were using, but with these templates, it was easy to adapt the designs accordingly.

4. We Established a Professional Library Identity

Once we had a great template and used it consistently, we realized we had established an identity. There was no question what was a library flyer and what was a community flyer. We also gave a united front -- every department used the same template in the same artistic style, so we were providing the consistent message across the board.

Template Example

Below is an example of the template we used at my previous library. The top always began with a short title in the same font. Below it was the date and time. We included an image of what the program would be about, then a short description. In the bottom header is the library location and contact information. I no longer had to worry that I forgot something essential because it was standard on all our templates.

Do you have any templates to share? We would love to see them in the comments.

Like this post? You might want to check out:

     Catch Patrons' Attention with These 7 Easy Flyer Tips
     Canva: Make Easy Designs In Little Time
     5 Secret Tricks to Using Canva like a Pro!


  1. 2 of us spent the first half of our shift yesterday working on 4 flyers for spring break events at our library. When it was done we asked - why does this always take so long? :) I'm going to suggest we give this a try - Thanks! PS did you just use Microsoft publisher to create your template?

    1. Hi Laura, thanks for commenting! We did use Microsoft Publisher because it was the program most of our staffers were comfortable with. If you want to go a step up, I highly recommend Canva ( It isn't as complicate as Adobe (I found it really easy to use) and it is free. They also have a Canva for Work version which is free to non-profits (public libraries do qualify!). The work version allows you to upload your own fonts and put together a color palette (and "magically" changes your design to any and all social media's dimensions at once) and you can put together a team of 7 staffers. If you make a template, we'd love to see it! :-)

  2. Hi Jess! Would you be willing to share your template?

    1. Hi Amy, sure. Just email me at Jess[at] and I will send you our Publisher File.

  3. Ok, now I just need a template for the conversations that come with proposing new things at work!

    1. Templates are a glorious thing for anything that follows a specific pattern. :-) Amazing how it cuts down on time and pulls all the necessary information together. Good luck!