What to do when you kids want to start their own blogs
We have two teenage boys and they have their own social media accounts and online presence. With this site, they also have an opportunity to express their opinions on a site that they assist in controlling. They choose what to publish and when it can be edited or deleted.
So, our mission, whether we choose to accept it or not, is to guide the boys with their blogging activities without cutting into my our blogging time too much and ensuring that it is a positive experience for all.
The prospect of more time with the boys, teaching them the ways of the web is exciting, but at the same time intimidating. I got to thinking about the simplest way to teach them the ropes. They’re intelligent, creative, eager and young.
“Hey! I’ve got an idea!” (I said to myself). It’s not that different to explaining what the Internet and blogging is all about to an adult starting out. I’ll just have to be more concise, more accurate and focus on particular areas more than others. Also, being at the same physical place, I can monitor their progress and politely help them make adjustments where necessary.
So, here’s my attempt of what to cover – to help our kids follow in our footsteps – and also help out the bigger kids starting out as well (maybe you?).
Becoming a Young Blogger
There are a few things that kids need to be aware of before they get started. Kids, like adults, also need to be reminded of some things that are easy to forget.
What you need to get your website started
- Domain name – grab a .com domain name if possible. This will cost about $10 a year.
- Web hosting – make sure you get a package that gives you WordPress – the best blogging platform in the world (IMO). This will cost about $100 a year.
- WordPress and a theme – you can get free themes and premium themes.
- FREE WordPress website – if you don’t want total control over your blog and you don’t mind the headache of converting it into a self-hosted (where you pay for hosting) blog later, start out with a free WordPress blog.
- With a free WordPress blog, you don’t have to worry about buying a domain name or website hosting. A perfect solution if you aren’t sure if blogging is a long-term hobby or future business for you.
- Internet access – hopefully you already have this. If you need adult supervision to use the Internet (my children do) then plan a convenient time for everybody.
- Access to a computer – for writing, researching, saving images and links to great websites.
- Be healthy – Make sure you have a comfy chair and that you have lots of breaks, drink lots of water and blink your eyes regularly. Don’t work for longer than an hour at a time without getting up and moving around.
- Remember that the outside world (not electronic kind) is important and you can’t give up exercise and fresh air just because you are a blogger.
- Website planning book – probably a large A3 scrapbook – to capture your great ideas, drawings, scrapbook articles from magazines that you like, etc.
- Plastic flip-book – this is great to store important papers like your domain name registration papers, usernames and passwords, screenshots of your website over time to see how it’s changed and how great it looks – even when you don’t have the computer turned on!
- Keep anything important and special in this flip-folder that you want to look at or refer to often.
- Time – anything from zero to 6 hours per week (if you do an hour each day and rest one day a week). Or you may do intensive website sessions a few times a week.
- Patience and understanding – you will need help from adults who know what they are doing (or learning along with you).
- It will take a while to get going.You will change your mind often about how something should look or read.
- It’s okay to change your mind – but don’t get bogged down with too many little details when you get started – you can always come back to them and fix them later.
- Do write them down so you don’t forget!
- Gratitude – what you are doing is a privilege. Some kids don’t have computer, a safe house to work from or parents that have the skills or willingness to help.
- Goals – What is it you want to do? When do you want to get it done by?
- Plan – How are you going to do it?
- What are you going to do? By when? With who’s help?
- What else do you need to achieve your goals?
- Are you going to keep it a secret from your friends and family until it is ready to launch?
- And other questions – do some brainstorming.
Rules and Reminders
You need to understand some basic rules – some are below – your adult helpers (call them your ‘web minions’) may have others.
- Care factor – it is important that you realise that you expect people to want to visit your website and read your words and look at your images/artwork.
- If your website is not the best you can make it, do you think people will come back a second time?
- It is better to do one thing really well than do many things that are dodgy.
- Your website is a reflection of you. If you want others to think of you well, then do your best to make your website a great place to visit.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – for many kids, they will just jump in and do their best, not worrying too much about what it looks like, just being happy that they are getting pages up onto the Internet.
- But, there will come a time when you will develop personal standards for your site and you will be unhappy with your earlier efforts.
- It is important not to delete your earlier work. Your early work proves that you got better at it and that you have grown into a valuable member of the Internet community.
- Everyone has to start out – everyone improves – everyone feels good about improving. Don’t let the past worry you – it is done, gone, history!
Rules – writing and using images
You can’t just do anything. You need to follow some rules, including:
- Don’t use other people’s words or images unless they give you permission.
Tips for finding and using free images…
- Click on this link to Flickr – it will take you to the search results are for “kids blogging” in creative commons.
- All of these photos are okay to use for free. You just have to leave a link to the image somewhere in your post, preferably on the image so when somebody clicks on the image they jump over to the Flickr page it appears on.
- If you want to search for something else, just replace the search term. You can then use any picture that comes up.
- Beware – check the creative commons usage terms in the right-hand sidebar every time before using the picture – just in case there are exceptions.
- You can choose the size of the image, download it and upload it into your post.
- Another great place to look for images – a really cool place – is Deviant Art. This is where I found the image of the fractal wolf.
- If you use somebody’s words or images, make sure you add a link to their web page where you found it.
- Add a link to their site when you add the image. Below is an example of what it looks like in WordPress to add an image.
If you can’t get permission to use somebody’s words but think they are awesome and you must use them, there are different rules.
There’s something called copyright law. Bloggers can use a few words off somebody’s site or out of their book if they follow these guidelines:
- reword it – a lot.
- only use a small number of the words – say 20 words or less.
- don’t use the main idea or secret of the book – especially if this is 20 words or less and you don’t reword it
- make sure you attribute the author – which means recognising the author by quoting their name and if you have it, a link to the website.
- If you are referring to a book, then you may want to include the title and author.
- You could even insert an image of the book using code from Amazon, like the one below.
- It isn’t that difficult to learn how to do but you will need an adult’s help getting an account.
There’s more to making sure you don’t break the law, doing your best not to make other bloggers angry, etc. You will have many discussions with your adult minions over the years and other bloggers. These are just a few basic rules.
Reminders & remarks before you go and get started
- Learning how to blog is awesome. I have had so much fun over the years and learn something new everyday. I get to read other people’s blogs from around the world, leave them comments and read their replies.
- By learning to blog you will learn life-skills that you will eventually learn about in school (or maybe not learn about).
- Either way you will be ahead of others in achievements, skills and reputation.
- The planet Earth is networked by computers and other electronics that take a certain information technology understanding. By learning about blogging you will think faster and probably solve problems others will get stuck on because blogging is all about creativity and problem solving.
- Be careful. There are some not so nice people out there. You may want to use a pretend name instead of your own (something cool like ‘Draco’) and not use images of yourself. Talk with your adult minions and make a decision.
Our family does use our real names on our family blog – but it’s personal choice.I’d love to hear your thoughts on kids blogging. If you have written anything on this topic or know of some great sites, leave the link in the comments. I will check them out and add the good ones to the bottom of this article over time.