There’s been a bit of controversy over under-age bloggers this year, particularly focused on Carl Ocab. Let me get my bias out right from the beginning – I’m all for kids starting blogs and trying to make money from them.
Blogging is a very accessible way for kids to get experience online, learning as they earn (or don’t!) with real, immediate feedback about what makes good content, and what drives traffic, and how to build relationships. The “real world” of adults will judge them purely on their results – a consideration that’s actually hard for kids to get in the physical world. The verdict of the blogosphere might be harsh, but it will be accurate feedback in exactly the way that school reports aren’t.
I was tickled when I Googled “Carl Ocab” today and found a gorgeous guerrilla marketing blog post about Carl from a 10-year-old blogger was in the first page of results (monkeylime3tc.wordpress.com/*carl*–*ocab*/). Way to generate traffic! Leveraging off someone else’s controversial blog. Full marks to James Brennan. (Although he will probably have to up the ante on quality content to retain any of that traffic!)
We get the kids in our Cash-Smart Kids program into some form of online activity from their first month, and blogging is a vital promotional skill, even if your core business is selling pink meringue elephants. Google loves blogs, so if you’re interested in using organic search or PPC to drive traffic, there’s no escaping the blog!
I’m going to swing out here and make a prediction (you heard it here first!).
More and more kids are going to start taking blogging seriously as a money-making activity.
This will impact YOU.
1. More traffic for everyone
As these kids cruise around looking for ideas to copy, affiliate links, and freebies, they will boost everyone’s traffic numbers – but will they distort the demographic of the visitors who currently click on your PPC and affiliate ads?
2. Growing centres of gravity in the kid blogosphere
Let’s face it – kids have more surfing time than most adults. If Ashley Qualls (age 17, making $70,000+ per month from her site) can pull the traffic numbers she pulls for WhateverLife by giving away My Space layouts, then there are many, many blogging niches which could pull way more numbers than yet another blog about “How To Make Money From Blogging”. But who is best placed to be creating the compelling content for those niches?
3. What happens when you have four million kid bloggers all having flame wars in their posts …. and linking to one another?
Sure, none of us may be interested, but the teen and tween demographics are utterly immersed in “who said what about whom” for their every waking moment – blogging is just another medium for that. And with all that traffic and all those links, the serious adult blogs are potentially going to drift downward in the “Top X” lists.
So, what can you do to protect your ranking and revenues?
Only slightly tongue-in-cheek here – get a kid.
Seriously, if a kid has a huge readership, and you’re quoted in every third post as their mentor … ka ching!
Or, use a popular kid as a guest blogger, or start a parallel blog in the kidosphere and have a panel of kids you consult about whether your posts are “lame” in their eyes … or blog about how awful some of these kid bloggers are and then leap to the defence of others (in the spirit of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”).
No matter how you respond to the challenge, the kids are here to stay – and I say, let’s celebrate the great leveller that is the Internet, where a 12-year-old can write or speak and have their ideas taken seriously on their merits. We have long underestimated our kids, but the likes of Ben Casnocha, Ashley Qualls, and the legions of less high-profile under-18 internet entrepreneurs are proving that kids can do anything an adult can do.
About the Author: Jenny Ford is an expert in educating children about business and wealth creation. She is one of the founders of www.Cash-Smart-Kids.com, and her blog can be seen at www.RaisingEntrepreneurs.org. She holds an Honours degree in Psychology, a Diploma in Training and Assessment Systems, and an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. She is the mother of three young entrepreneurs, all of whom started successful businesses when they were nine to twelve years old.
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