Do your kids love reading blogs in their free time? Do they talk about how they want to start their own blog when they get older? Why wait? With your help, your kids can start blogging now. In fact, they could have a blog up and running in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Decide on a Topic
Ok, so the first thing that your child should do is decide what they’re going to discuss on their blog. This could be ANYTHING in the entire world. With that being said, picking a blog topic can actually be a pretty difficult decision. Some kids may have trouble deciding on ANY topic. Others may have so many things they want to discuss that they can’t narrow it down. So, to make it easier, let’s talk about 5 questions your child (or anyone) can ask when trying to decide on a blog topic. It may help to write these questions down on a piece of paper, one at a time, and have your child answer them as completely as possible.
What do I enjoy talking about or doing?
This is the most obvious (and most important) question that anyone starting a blog should ask themselves. If you’re going to blog about something, it should be something that you actually have a real interest in. It’s one thing to have to write about a topic that you don’t enjoy for school (or for work), but it would make zero sense for you to willingly talk about something that you don’t even care about. So think about those things that your child LOVES to do and that they could talk about for hours on end.
For example, maybe your child loves dancing or sports. Maybe they can’t get enough of reading Young Adult fantasy novels. Perhaps they find it fascinating to see actor play in several different movies together. Maybe they love cooking ot spend a lot of time gardening. Maybe they’re obsessed with science or math. Perhaps they love to play video games or learning about the latest technology. Write down as many things as you or your child can think of that they have a strong interest in.
What am I really good at?
I think that this is an important question to ask because sometimes we don’t really take the time to acknowledge our skills or our knowledge base. Or something comes so naturally to us that we don’t even think about the fact that we’re good at it. Write down as many things as possible that your child is good at. You may find that there is some overlap with things they enjoy doing, which is GREAT because things that overlap have a lot of potential as blog topics.
What do other people enjoy learning about or doing?
Lastly, you need to think about what other people want to talk about, learn about, or do. I know that blogging is a personal endeavor, so we should focus mostly on what WE want to blog about. However, if we want other people to read our blogs, we have to make sure we write about things people find interesting. The beautiful thing, though, is that you can actually find a market for just about any topic. It’s just about making sure you do what it takes to get your blog (or, in this case, your child’s blog) in front of the right people.
Ok, so now that you have a list of potential topics, it’s time to narrow it down. Although it can be tempting to try to blog about everything, it’s really better to narrow it down as much as you can. The goal is to find one topic that fits all three of the categories above, which are basically passion (what they love), strengths (what they’re good at), and public need (what people want to red about). Once you find that topic, you’re ready to move on to the next step!
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Step 2: Buy a Domain Name
This next step will require some creativity- and luck! Because there are soooo many blogs and websites out there already, it can take a bit of trial and error to find a domain name (the url address that will lead people to your blog) that your child can use. Here are a few tips on how to choose the perfect blog name:
Keep it short and simple
If torn between something clever, yet really long and something short and sweet, always go for short and sweet. Although, short and clever works as well.
Make sure it’s memorable
Have you ever read a blog and forgot to bookmark and then, later on, couldn’t for the life of you remember the name of the blog? Yeah…you don’t want that to happen to your child’s blog. Choose something that is easy to remember.
Choose something that is easy to spell
In addition to making sure that your child’s blog name is simple and easy to remember, it should also be easy to spell. It can be tempting to get creative with the way you spell something, but if that creative spelling will cause confusion, you may want to rethink it. This is also a good reason to avoid uncommon words and made-up words. Not to say that it can’t work. In fact, it could make your blog stand out. Just know that it can make it more difficult for people to remember the name, so you’ll have to come up with a cool way for people to remember it.
Make it unique
If you have the opportunity to pick a unique blog name that fits most of the other criteria – go for it! You should also avoid choosing names that piggyback off of other established brands or blogs. Especially if they are copyrighted brands. This could land you in legal trouble if you’re not careful.
Go broad or specific
I know this sounds like a contradictory tip, ut bear with me. As I mentioned above, it’s good to niche now down whenever possible. So choosing a really specific blog name can be a great idea. For example, www.wahm.com is devoted to helping moms make more money from home. It’s not about parenting or motherhood in general. They niched down to serve moms who are interested in working from home. On the other hand, you have websites like wwwMelyssaGriffin.com that cover a variety of topics. Using your child’s name or nickname can be a great solution if they want to blog about a lot of different things.
Buy it or get it for free?
You’ve probably already asked yourself how much it will cost to start a blog. The answer varies. It could be free or it could cost quite a bit over time. It all depends on your preferences and how good you are at finding deals. If you want to go the free route, you can choose free hosting (which we will discuss next) and get a subdomain through whichever site you choose. A subdomain would be something like www.weebly.yourblognamehere.com
Get Domain Privacy
A quick note about buying a domain name- pay the extra money for domain privacy. If you don’t, then anyone in the world can look up your blog URL on Who.is. While it may not be likely that anyone will look that information up, it’s better to take the precaution. An extra $10-$20 per year is worth the peace of mind.
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Step 3: Choose Hosting
Once you’ve secured your blog domain, it’s time to find hosting. If your blog name is like your address, then your hosting is like your actual house. It’s your space on the world wide web. Without hosting, you don’t have a blog. Now, the first decision you need to make when choosing the hosting for your child’s blog is whether you want it to be free or if you’re willing to pay for it. There’s nothing wrong with either option. In fact, each one has its own set of pros and cons
Free Blog Hosting
- It’s free. When you’re starting a new venture, it’s natural to want to save as much money as possible. Blogging is no different. Especially if you’re not 100% sure it will last very long. Going with free hosting ensures that you don’t commit to a financial investment.
- There are a lot of options to choose from, including Wix, Weebly, LiveJournal, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, and (of course) WordPress.com
- You get a free domain name. When you sign up for free blog hosting, you get to pick a free domain name as well. Woot woot, right! Two birds with one stone.
- They are fast and functional. Free hosting sites are often user-friendly with low learning curves. This makes it easy for newbie bloggers to get up and going quickly.
- By not making a financial commitment to the blog, it can be easy to just let it simmer on the back burner- perhaps just for a little, but often forever. Investing in something often means you have “skin in the game” and will stick with it.
- You’re stuck with a subdomain. Instead of having www.YourAwesomeBlogNameHere.com, it would be www.YourAwesomeBlogNameHere.FreeBlogPlatform.com. Although it’s free, it doesn’t look as attractive. And, sometimes, appearance is everything. Plus, the URL will be longer to say and spell out, which can make it difficult for people to remember.
- Your control is limited. With free hosting, you may have very little control over your blog. You may not be able to choose any theme you want. You may not be able to control who can read your blog. You may not even be able to control what you blog about (there are definitely stories of people’s blogs being shut down unexpectedly). You’re also less able to monetize on free hosting. Oh, and let’s not forget that free hosting will often mean you have to put up with ads on your site that you have no control over. Gross!
- It will be harder to be found on Google. Let’s face it, Google prefers paid hosting, so blogs in your niche that have paid domain names will almost always be listed before yours.
Paid Blog Hosting
- Paying for hosting requires a commitment. Perhaps knowing that you shelled out some of your hard-earned money to help them start a blog, your child will have the extra motivation to get on their blog regularly and create content. It may also motivate them to learn as much as they can about blogging so that you get a return on your investment.
- There are many solid, reputable options that lend your blog credibility- such as Hostgator, WordPress.org, BlueHost, GoDaddy, Siteground, and SquareSpace.
- Your control is almost limitless (especially if you know coding). With paid hosting, you’re in control of just about everything- from how your blog looks and is organized, how it functions, who can read it, what you can say, and how you choose to monetize it (including which ads, if any, you choose to display).
- You have a professional-looking domain. As mentioned above, with free hosting, you’re stuck with subdomains, which can look less than credible depending on your content and audience. With paid hosting, you’d be getting a regular www.YourBlogHere.com domain name.
- You’d have more control over SEO. As mentioned above, Google prefers paid hosting, so it will be easier to have your site found in search engines.
- It’s not as expensive as you’re probably thinking. If you do a bit of price comparisons, you can easily find solid hosting that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
- It requires a financial investment. If you’re penny-pinching or have a shoestring budget, paid blog hosting can be more of an investment than you’re willing to make.
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Step 4: Customize the Blog
Once you’ve gotten your domain name and hosting taken care of, it’s time to customize the blog. Some people want to keep it simple by just choosing a free theme, playing around with the templates a little, and calling it a day. Others may want to buy a more customizable theme, play around with it a lot, download a bunch of cool plugins to improve the blog’s functionality, create headers and logos, and all types of other creative things. It’s totally up to you!
Picking a Theme
More than likely, the hosting platform that you chose will have tutorials available on how to customize your blog. For example, if you choose to go with WordPress, which is the most popular choice, you will find a ton of beautiful WordPress themes that your child can browse and use. In fact, you will find over 2,000 professionally designed, customizable themes (both free and paid), so you’re likely to find one your child loves. However, if you want to check out other themes, you can head to sites like Themeforest, Elegant Themes, Thrive Themes, A Prettier Web, and Creative Market.
Plugins are a great way to make a blog more even more functional- not only for the blogger, but for the reader. There are a ton of really cool and helpful plugins that you can add to your child’s blog. However, when you’re just getting started, you may want to stick with the essentials. Below are the plugins that will get your child started on the right foot.
This plugin includes a pack of features that help with security, traffic growth, appearance, performance, image optimization, and so much more.
This anti-spam plugin will scan your comments and flag any that seem to be spammy.
This plugin helps protect your blog from hacking attempts.
This plugin makes it easier for you and your readers to spread the word about your blog by allowing you to add icons for over 200 social media platforms, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. It also allows you to add icons for email, RSS, and custom designed ones.
This plugin will automatically create real-time backups of your child’s blog content. That way, if anything ever happens, you can restore their hard work with one click.
These are just a few plugins you can add. There are a ton of WordPress plugins available, so don’t be afraid to explore and try them out.
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Step 5: Start Writing
Ideas for First Blog Posts
At this point, the only thing left to do is start writing! If your child needs some ideas for those first blog posts, here are some they can write to help them become acquainted with the process- and to find their writing voice.
This would be a great post for your kids to introduce who they are, why they started their blog, and what they hope to accomplish with the blog. It’s a great way to establish themselves as being open, honest, and eager to do something important.
This could be a post about the 5-10 reasons they want to blog within their niche. Not only can this let readers know about your child’s interests, it can also help your child to gain even more clarity.
My Favorite Things
Your child can invite readers to learn even more about their interests outside the blog by sharing 10 of their favorite things. They can be books, movies, hobbies, foods – anything your child loves.
Once they’ve written their first few blog posts, your child will be ready to dive into their niche by creating an editorial calendar and really learning about how to write great blog posts. To learn more about that, check out my other article in this series, “How to Use Blogging As Part of Your Homeschool Writing Curriculum”.
Well, I hope that this article on Kid Blogging 101 has proved helpful and that your child is now well on their way to being a blogger. If they’ve set up their blog already, I’d love to check them out. Comment with their blog URL in the comment section below!