Monday, April 1, 2013

Got Any Tips for Teens?

I’m teaching a workshop next week for teens called “HIVE Fashion Blogging: Getting Started” at the Brooklyn Public Library. I am both excited and nervous! Excited because I like teenagers (is it because I sometimes feel like a teenager myself? Or because I can still relate to so many of their dilemmas?) and enjoy hearing their ideas on things. Nervous because it will be the first workshop I’m leading. But when I think of all the things I’d love to tell the participants, I get excited again.

I wrote my workshop outline for teens new to blogging so tell me, what advice would you give teenagers about starting a blog? Pretend it’s mini-you, brand-spanking-new to blogging, or maybe haven’t even started the blog yet—what would wise experienced blogger you say to your younger self with little to no blogging experience? I would love to hear your advice, and I may incorporate it into the class!

And any tips on overcoming nerves, yes please, I will take those as well.

Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx, overcame stage fright, maybe I should channel her.

Detail of a 1965 Norman Norell “Mermaid” dress.

I’m going to tell workshop attendees that I started blogging to go to fashion exhibits and interview curators, which is true. (And completely unrelated side note, I still love this 1965 dress by Norman Norell, one of my all-time favorites from the many exhibits I’ve attended in 3 years’ time.)

I’m also going to tell them, among other things, to be true to themselves and have fun.

Let’s hear YOUR advice!


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Hi Jill, I teach this all the time...since I am a high school journalism teacher. I just got serious about teaching blogging with them in the last two years. One had a college dean of communications ask him, HOW DID YOU KNOW TO START A BLOG? He told the dean it was me...and the dean said, well that just gave you a competitive edge in our School of COmmunications. If you want to talk, email me and maybe this evening we could touch base by phone. I am in the Central Standard Time Zone. I tell them a lot that you have probably already covered, but I would be happy to brainstorm with you and tell you what I stress.

Linda said...

You will be great! The teens will want to be there and that's half the battle of teaching anything. What a fun experience it'll be. You come from a long line of teachers, it's in your blood!


Anonymous said...

My advice from far away Europe is to:

a. write only about you truly enjoy and
b. even better if you know a little about it
c. read other blogs - it will not only open your horizon and gain you knowledge, but you will meet lovely people from all over the world, with more or less common interest.


The best of luck with your workshop, dear Jill, I can't wait to hear your report on how it went! :-)

Take care and have fun! xo :-)

Anonymous said...

My advice from far away Europe is to:

a. write only about you truly enjoy and
b. even better if you know a little about it
c. read other blogs - it will not only open your horizon and gain you knowledge, but you will meet lovely people from all over the world, with more or less common interest.


The best of luck with your workshop, dear Jill, I can't wait to hear your report on how it went! :-)

Take care and have fun! xo :-)

Adrienne Shubin said...

That is great, Jill!

I have a teenager who has started two blogs over the last two years and both of them ended up dying on the vine. It's just not a priority for her right now. Although she likes the idea of a blog, the amount of work that goes into writing one and keeping up on it is not a commitment she wants to make right now. That doesn't mean that she can't try again down the line.
I would tell the teens to try it and see if they take to it. If it becomes a headache or something they feel they are too busy to do, take a break and come back to it later. Blogging is meant to be fun!
xo, A

Anonymous said...

This workshop sounds like a great way to encourage young future writers. I agree with what Claudia said about writing what one knows and is interested in because then blogging is more fun for the writer and her readers. Since I streamlined my blog into the interests I love best, blogging has become more enjoyable.

juli said...

For me the most important aspect is to keep the blog simple. Because likely you are going to attract readers with similar interests. If you blog about fashion, people interested in fashion start interacting with you. If your interests are wide spread, for instance fashion and playing violin and cross country skiing and water sports and crafting... terrific, just don't include all of them in one blog.

To me the most valuable "gain" in blogging is to connect with others and interact with others. If your blog is all over the place there is slim chance you'll find like minded readers.
I keep separate blogs for my diverse interests and hobbies. This allows me to channel the readers in a way that is beneficial for my development.

Does this make sense? In short, blogging is about:
* interaction and social contact
* opening up publicly a facet of yourself and nurturing that facet
* a blog will have a starting point and an ending point. The blog will come once your interests shift or changes happen in your life which is often the same thing.
* A blog is a terrific way to order your thoughts, much like a diary but with more interaction
* If kept anonymously it can be a helpful tool for soul searching and for dealing with your problems.

... did I say "in short"? my my...
regards, juli

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Wonderful!! I would tell them that firstly they must be themselves and do what they want to do. Many blogs follow others to get big, but you can't do that. You will burn out so fast. It's best to be you and be original and creative. Learn how to take pictures, design your blog (or find someone good to do it or help you) and then just post about your passions and life. Keep personal things to yourself, it's good to keep some of your life to yourself as some people end up wanting to know too much.Don't focus on how many comments you have or followers you have. Post content you are proud of and all of that will come in time!! Be positive and will to put in the hard work!! I hope you have a great time, it sounds exciting xx

gai said...

I know nothing about blogging, except that I enjoy reading them. However, as a public speaking teacher I would proffer 2 tips: 1) know your subject matter, and the organization of it cold. That way you can just talk about it, rather than being married to reading a script. 2) have a conversation with your audience (one sided, in that you're doing the talking, but the tone should be conversational) It helps that you genuinely like your audience demographic. Nothing more boring than being read to--especially for that age group. Just talk to them, engage them with examples from your life (or others they may know) and let your like for them be apparent.

Grunge Queen said...

Congrats, Jill! So exciting!!

I'd agree with all of the above, but I'd also add these thoughts:

Teen bloggers may not know what the heck they want to blog about, so I'd suggest not worrying about a focus at the start as they can always experiment and try new things out on a blog without really publicising the blog. If whatever they do doesn't work out or needs refining, or they want to go in another direction, they can always delete the blog and start over.

Once they have honed a focus, I'd suggest they really think about what their goal is with the blog. Is it to express themselves and connect with a like-minded community, as many of us old-timers do? Or is it to promote themselves and connect with brands, or something else? I sound old, but the younger generation is so adept at self-branding and understanding the power of 'the brand'. If their blog is something that connects them to the consumer landscape, will they accept swag in exchange for a (fully disclosed) review? Will they look for sponsors or allow ads? I find a lot of 40plus bloggers in our sphere are generally anti-ad or sponsorship, but we can't assume that's the case with the younger generation. I'd also add if brand alliances are important to them, to make sure they go about forging these partnerships with integrity. The big controversy in fashion power blogging these days is bloggers who buy certain brands and pass them off as swag, to heighten their status among followers or the fashion blogging elite.

Take photos to accompany their text, and learn to take great photos. I don't know about you but I tune out when photos are lacking or crappy (and I have been guilty of the latter myself).

Don't feel obliged to connect your blog to every online application out there, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Their entire online presence does NOT have to be a seamless brand if they don't want it to be (though many blogs out there assume the opposite). This can be a personal choice: decide what you want to be public, and decide what you want to be private.

My personal pet peeve: LEARN the difference between ITS and IT'S (and possessive vs. plural!) and make sure autocorrect doesn't change one for the other. Too many bloggers make this mistake, even ones who pass themselves off as writers. It may not be part of their goal to come off as writers, and yes, we all have different styles - but a bit of correct grammar never hurt anyone, whereas a jarring mistake could mean the difference between a sponsor or not (assuming the sponsor knows the difference, lol). Ok, rant over.

Decide if they will allow comments, and if so, if they'll allow comments from anonymous readers or ask readers to register. I did the former and now it's too late to change to register-only as I have a few loyal anonymous readers from Toronto that I don't want to put off. So, to avoid excessive spam and moderating every spam comment I get, I've had to resort to the dreaded word verification, something that's caused at least one reader to not comment any more on my blog. :(

Blogging can be treacherous. Some bloggers have waged full-on blogger war with other bloggers whose opinions don't mesh with theirs. It's a tricky subject as there are some wackos out there, but I'd always try my very best to be respectful when expressing opinions or commenting on others' blogs.

I could go on and on. Blogging evolves, and we learn and make mistakes as we go. That's something they should be prepared for, and embrace.

This was fun! Thanks for letting me ramble. You've made me think of many things I've learned and observed in the blogosphere.

As for you, Jill: good luck with the seminar! Will it be interactive? I love public speaking, but if you're nervous, imagine every one in clown suits. :) Let us know how it goes! Xoxo

Grunge Queen said...

P.S. Don't be long-winded! Haha.

Anonymous said...

How exciting! I'm sorry I don't have any tips being such a newbie myself and not really a blogger as such - has a loaded meaning of late, so that's my only comment. I just wanted to wish you all the very best - it's bound to go well when you speak from the heart :-)

Cloud of Secrets said...

Wow, this is a fascinating project, Jill! There's some great advice above, and my comment may be too late...but I would caution teens against "oversharing." It's an easy thing to do in this age of public information, but there are stalkers, pedos, thieves, and just plain idly malicious people out there who will abuse photos and text that reveal too much. Physical details about oneself, or information about one's family, one's valuable possessions, or where exactly one lives, goes to school, goes shopping...

jill815 said...

Thank you SO MUCH for such great advice. I have been editing what I want to teach based on the things you ladies have said! And Sarah, yes yes yes, I so agree with you about oversharing! I know it will probably make the kids roll their eyes but I am having a whole section about maintaining some privacy and selecting a pen name in order to keep important details to themselves. In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter I wonder if it will make an impact? Thanks again to everybody for such thoughtful comments and tips. You are all the best! XO, Jill

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