How Young is Too Young?
I started blogging at age 20. Glen, too, got an early start. Today, there are young bloggers who have their own websites and blogs. Some even boast high rankings and good sized communities. As someone who is nearing 30, I look at these younger folks and am really impressed with their accomplishments, and I especially admire these youngsters as they chase their passions and dreams and still have time to do their homework.
I contacted a handful of young bloggers, all under the age of 17, to get an idea of whether they see their age as a hurdle and what advice they would give to new bloggers.
Let’s learn more about the kids and teens behind the blogs:
Ben Lang will be 17 in September and based in White Plains, NY. Ben’s blog, which covers entrepreneurship and social media, is wonderful despite him blogging for less than a year (he started shortly after his 16th birthday!). In March, he came out with a list of social media blogs you should be reading, and no, I didn’t play favorites here; Techipedia is not included.
Adora Svitak is amazing. Her blog reads better than some blogs I’ve stumbled upon that are written by adults. Adora is actually known as a “tiny literary giant” and is a voracious reader. Would you believe that she’s only 12? Yeah, that’s right. She’s been blogging since she was 7 and currently resides in Redmond, WA.
Josh Budde is 16 years old and had been blogging for three years. In fact, since we last corresponded, Josh moved blogs from this one to this one. A resident of Western New York, he’s not just a blogger but a podcaster. Josh also enjoys writing crime and law stories and uses his blog to share personal stories with his friends.
Marly (right) and Ani (left) are sisters and have both been blogging for about a year. Now 13 and 10 (note: Ani’s URL is private; she is 10, after all!) and residents of Southern California, they blog about personal life and whatever comes to mind. Also pictured (center) is mom Ciaran Blumenfeld, who is also a blogger.
Gloson Teh is one of my favorite social media kids. I met him on StumbleUpon over a year ago and he is one of those kids who never ceases to amaze me; he totally understands social media and his 22 Reasons for You to Blog was even featured in my annual Best Posts of 2009 roundup. What’s more surprising is that Gloson lives in Selangor, Malaysia and is also only 12 years old. He started blogging at age 10 and says that his mother encouraged him to get into it because of his online gaming addiction. Now a blogging convert, he says, “Indeed, blogging is really more fun than online games!”
Shelby really liked the TV show Jericho, and at the age of 9, started a site called Jericho4Kids. A 12-year-old resident of Missouri, Shelby’s Jericho website features a blog and has turned into a social good campaign with her promotion of charitable efforts for US troops, and even includes interviews with the cast and crew of Jericho as well as with US Air Force Thunderbirds and Alex O’Loughlin. (And yes, she has taken a photo with Skeet Ulrich.)
Carl Ocab has been blogging in the “make money online” niche since he was 13. Now 16, he ranks on the first page for a super competitive search phrase (that even John Chow tried to seize once upon a time). And he’s been compared to some hugely popular bloggers. Carl lives in the Philippines.
Sean McGee is a huge U2 fan like his dad (yes, that Matt). He’s 12 years old and lives in Tri-Cities, Washington. His blog is full with regular small byte-sized updates about U2, sports, movies, and more. He also tweets regularly.
I asked two questions, and here are their answers:
How Young is Too Young?
Ben: There’s no too young! I keep hearing about 13 year old bloggers, 10 year old entrepreneurs, the younger the more impressive.
Adora: I wouldn’t say there’s a set age where you should or shouldn’t be on a computer (well, I wouldn’t quite hand my laptop over to a one-year-old); I think that kids should have some amount of computer literacy by the age of eight. One of the reasons I type so well today is because I started typing on a laptop when I was six, and really fell in love with it. Technology, and blogging, offers a lot to kids. At the same time, I think it’s imperative that kids, both my age and younger, get the opportunity to play outside and experience nature, family, and some good old-fashioned reading before they start using computers heavily. After all, they’ll be using them for the rest of their lives.
Josh: Anyone under 11 is too young to be blogging, in my opinion.
Marly: Nine! No, Eight. No. Haha! You can blog at any age. Anything that you want to do, to express – you can do that on your blog. You just need to get your parents help to make sure the stuff on your blog is ok.
Ani: If you can’t write you are too young! Any age is okay if you can write.
Gloson: I believe there is no age limit as long as the person knows the basics of internet security and can administrate and write the blog by himself.
Shelby: You are never to young to go after your goals, you just might need a little help getting them accomplished when you are younger. I was 9 years old when my web site went up, and it was my dream, but a lot of people helped me to make that dream come true, so as kids we might need a little help but we can still go after our dreams.
Carl: Possibly when you don’t even know how to type yet.
Sean: Anyone under the age of 8. If you don’t know how to type or just put something like, “cupcakes are awesome” then you’re too young.
What Advice Can You Give to New Bloggers?
Ben: Most importantly, be persistent. It took me 6 months to acquire a good amount of traffic and cultivate a community on my blog and the same goes for any new blogger. It’s impossible to do it all in one day, it takes time, providing new content consistently, maintaining your blog and networking with other bloggers.
Adora: My advice to new bloggers would be: don’t look at it as something that you have to update every day in order not to disappoint readers, or because you have to stick with it; rather, enjoy it as a journey and write about whatever interests you. That’s what they’re for!
Josh: Anyone who is thinking about starting a blog or podcast: First, find a niche. Second, podcast and write away… And finally, third, write about what you want to write about. You control your blog, not someone else.
Marly: Write something that you are interested in and that you enjoy and want to learn more about.
Ani: Choose something you really like and won’t get sick of because you’ll be stuck with your blog for a long time. People will get used to your blog and if you stop, they’ll get depressed and you’ll have to start all over.
Gloson: Firstly, you must be patient if you don’t get visitors immediately (I haven’t got my first comment until the fourth month I’ve been blogging!). Many bloggers give up too quickly because they feel that no one is reading their blog.
Secondly, you must be dedicated, because even if you’re patient, you won’t be successful unless you are dedicated too.
Thirdly, get social and join social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon to connect with people and make friends! Blogging is so much fun with friends! Social media is also a great way to promote your blog posts.
Fourthly, read great blogs to be inspired (like Techipedia)! And be sure you pick a topic or niche you are passionate about so you will stay motivated!
Last but not least, remember to give more than you receive!
Shelby: Really think about what you want to do, make a plan, and do it. I started wanting to have a web site when I was 8, I kept drawing plans for one. Then all of this Jericho stuff happened and I sat down and drew most of my site on paper. I asked for other peoples opinions too and added a page for my brother and for my dog Bailey. I wanted to be able to blog but to also have a web site, so my site is a combination of those two things and it works. The site looks A LOT like my original designs and that is because volunteers helped to make my vision come to life.
New bloggers should find interesting things to write about, do interviews with people who do the things they are interested in and most importantly they should use their site to help charities and our troops. We need to let people who need help or just need someone to say Hi and Thank you to them know that we really do care. Use your blog to do great things! Also, be respectful on your blog, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone all of the time, but disagree in a way that doesn’t make you look like the “mean blogger”.
Carl: Have a vision, plan then act. Top it off with a mentor and sprinkle Focus and you’ve got something cooking!
Sean: My advice to new bloggers would be, who cares if your friends think it’s dumb, just do it because you like it.
We can certainly learn a lot from kids. I know I’m learning from kids who aren’t even able to talk yet.
(Special thanks to Debra Mastaler for the inspiration behind this post.)