Somewhere along the way during the past four years, I’ve gained a slew of new followers. Many of them fall into a group I call “baby bloggers.” Not only are they new to blogging, but they are new to life. They are children. Teenagers as young as 12 or 13 years old for some obscure reason actually follow me. Some are girls and boys who want to be writers or photographers– which makes a certain amount of sense. Others aren’t sure what they want, but have discovered blogging and follow me, hoping I’ll follow them back.
If blogging had existed when I was a teen, I’d have been doing it. For a creative kid, blogging is a godsend. So much better than keeping a diary which you have to hide under your mattress so your mom won’t read it, but she always finds it and reads it anyway. Or just writing stuff no one ever reads. When you blog, even if you don’t have followers, you can be pretty sure someone will read your stuff. Eventually.
It’s hard to get a blog off the ground. There are weeks, months — even years — before it begins to come together. So when these kids ask me if I’ll follow them, I try to at least give them a read, a “like,” a comment, and some encouragement. I’m already following more blogs than I have time to read, so something has to really grab me to make me sign on.
Some of these baby bloggers are surprisingly good. Others — not so much. Some young photographers need to learn the rudiments of composition and stuff like focusing the camera.
In the writing department, many youngsters need to understand there’s a difference between writing and texting. For the wannabe writers, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice:
- Use real words, not internet abbreviations
- Check your spelling. Spell checkers are one of the premium inventions of the past century
- Write in sentences and paragraphs. You can break the rules, but first understand them
- Leave white space on your pages. Too much text and graphics looks cluttered and is difficult to read
- Punctuation is not optional. Discover how exciting commas and periods can be
- Do not end every sentence with one or more exclamation points!!! Really, just don’t!!! If you do that all the time, it makes you sound hysterical!!!
- Use emoticons sparingly 🙂 😦 😀
- Contractions require apostrophes. In other words — don’t, not dont, can’t, not cant
- Use black text on a white background (not vice-versa) if you expect anyone over 40 to read you.
If you want grownups to read your posts — by which I mean people other than your texting pals — you will have to write in a way we old people can understand. It’s not just the words you use. It’s also subject matter. I’m mildly interested in what’s going on with your generation, but I’m way past makeup and gossip. If you are going to write about things that only interest your high school friends, your only followers will be your high school friends. Fine if that’s what you want … but … if you want a broader audience, you’ll have to find other topics.
Most importantly, make sure that you write in a real language, not text-speak. Texting abbreviations are not English. They are something, but I’m not sure what.