Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Podcasts for bloggers, social media lovers and solo business people

I have to admit to a bit of a podcast addiction. They are perfect for busy people because you can listen to podcasts while you're doing something else - like walking home after taking my son to school, or driving on my own, or even in the supermarket (I’m such a fan of self checkout at the supermarket because I can keep listening to my podcasts for longer!).

A couple of people have asked me lately for a few recommendations because they want to hop on the podcast train too, so here’s my answer. I definitely have cycles of loving particular podcasts and I need a decent amount of variety, but if you try a few of these you’re bound to find something you like.

(NB: If you’re not sure how to download and listen to podcasts, these instructions might help.)

My current always-listens

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins - he is truly a quality producer of content. This podcast is all about how to have a portfolio career - just like I do, for example, with income from my social media consulting business, my travel blog, my workshops at UWA Extension, some freelance writing … you get the drift. These podcasts are well thought-out and well produced, and always a pleasure to listen to.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - it helps that Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project and more) is a personal hero of mine, but also this podcast is produced very nicely with regular topics, a great co-host (Gretchen’s sister) and lots of practical, bite-sized ways to practice making your life happier.

Being Boss with Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon - these two fun American gals are all about helping creatives (designers, makers, etc) to run successful businesses and they have a lovely tone and great philosophy on life.



Social media podcasts

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield - it was actually her podcast which first introduced me to Amy P - and I used to listen avidly every time. Then I was a bit over it (and it got less interesting for a while), but in the last few months it’s got really useful again and I very often listen. Lots of Facebook advice as that’s her specialty but definitely goes beyond that.

Social Media for Small Business from the Australian Businesswomen’s Network - it’s great to have an Australian podcast on this issue and Suzi Dafnis and Cat Matson have been doing this one for a few years. Good solid info and interesting interviews.

Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner - he gets the big guns in and has a lot of functional, practical advice. It’s a bit overproduced in a somewhat cheesy way but still worth the listen.

Solopreneur, small business and creatives inspiration

This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt - he’s a real professional and has figured out everything about how to run a useful podcast. The topics are fairly wide-ranging and sometimes not relevant (eg they may be about leading an organisation sometimes) but skip those and listen to the rest.

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn - of course you already know how much I love Pat Flynn. Some of the most interesting episodes of this podcast are when he interviews “normal people” - ones we’ve never heard of - who are running a successful online business.

Ask Pat, also with Pat Flynn - this is a kind of spin-off of Smart Passive Income and is kind of genius in its format - listeners/readers call up with a question and Pat spends about 10 minutes answering it, and that’s an episode - which means one’s released every week day. I don’t listen to all of them but pick the topics that are most relevant to me, and it’s handy to have a shorter podcast to listen to, especially on the 15-minute walk home from school each morning.

1 Day Business Breakthrough with Pat Flynn and Chris Ducker - a podcast version of the mastermind days these two fabulous guys run, so each episode has one listener in the hot-seat and Pat and Chris give them a tonne of advice on how to improve their site/business or solve a problem they have.

Natalie Sisson’s Suitcase Entrepreneur - Kiwi world traveller Natalie talks about building an online business so you can be location independent (and is an excellent example of doing this). I went through an utter addiction to this one but perhaps I overdosed as I don’t listen as often these days!

Business Addicts with Loren Bartley and Fiona Redding - two Aussies who launched this podcast earlier this year but have already had great interviews with big names like Chris Ducker and Darren Rowse.


Other random podcasts that I rather like

The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary - this launched just last month, from Aussie blogger Brooke of Slow Your Home. It’s all about slowing down and living more simply and includes interviews with some really inspiring people. I always end up feeling more relaxed after I listen to this.

Two Fat Expats with Kirsty Rice and Sarah Derrig - two Aussie ladies who have travelled the world living the expat life and are currently based in the middle east, they cover all kinds of fascinating topics and are just a really fun listen.

Reply All with PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman - a professional podcast which is "about the internet" - meaning it covers all kinds of interesting topics and often really grabs my attention.

Your turn - let me know your top podcast tips


Which podcasts do you love listening to? I'd love to know so please leave a comment with some tips.








Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bloggers' Workshops for 2015 - all the details to keep your blog on track and network with fellow bloggers in Perth

This one's for all my Perth (and near Perth) bloggers, because due to popular demand I've set up a series of Bloggers' Workshops for 2015 so that you can all learn (or refresh) some important skills, meet new blogging friends (or see old ones again), and keep getting regular doses of input and inspiration so that your blogging goals stay well on track this year. Many of you who attended the "Get Your Blog Ready for 2015" workshop last year were asking for an opportunity like this, and of course, ask, and you will receive! (Well, sometimes, anyway!)



How will the Bloggers' Workshops work?

Workshops will run on Thursday mornings in North Beach, Perth. I have planned out 11 different workshops (see all the topics below) and each session will run for an hour and a half. Approximately the first 45 minutes will cover training for the particular topic, and the second half will run like a mini-mastermind format where bloggers can get help and advice about both the topic we've talked about and any struggles they're having with their blog.

You can sign up to individual workshops for $39 (via the Eventbrite links below), or you can buy a "five-pack" for $160 or a "ten-pack" for $300 - you can choose which five/ten sessions you want to attend (email me and I'll invoice you then send a link to pick your sessions).

Everyone who joins any of the sessions will have access to my new Bloggers' Workshop Facebook group where you'll be able to stay in touch with your fellow bloggers (and me) for support and advice throughout the year. Maximum group size for each session will be 10 bloggers - 12 was a couple too many at our Beach Boardroom (North Beach) workshops last year.

What are the Bloggers' Workshops topics and dates?

All the links here will take you through to the booking pages if you want to book an individual workshop or two - if you want to use the ten-pack option for $300, or the five-pack for $160, email me and I'll invoice you, then send you a link to pick your 10 (or 5) workshops.


Workshop 1: Big picture social media strategy for your blog

Thursday 5th March (9.30-11am)

Everyone knows that using social media effectively is essential for promotion these days, but have you stopped, stepped back, and tried to create a big picture strategy for how it can work for you and your blog (without leaving you no time to blog, eat or sleep!)?

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • A quick overview of which social media platform works best for what (including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram)
  • An audit of what social media you’re using now, and what would actually work best for your audience
  • Setting sensible goals for your social media use and figuring out your over-arching strategy
  • Planning out your social media promotion for the next month

Workshop 2: Making the most of Facebook for your blog (pages and profiles)

Thursday 19th March (9.30-11am)

Facebook is THE social media platform because it has well over a billion users - chances are very high that your target readers are on Facebook. It’s true that Facebook pages have faced some challenges in recent times but it’s still possible to reach your readers if you’ve got a good strategy and great content.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • The pros and cons of both Facebook profiles and Facebook pages
  • How to set up your own Facebook page, in brief
  • Using your Facebook page insights to improve your reach
  • Identifying what kind of content works best (for you) on Facebook
  • Developing the best plan of attack for promoting your blog on Facebook

Workshop 3: Reader avatars, surveying your readers and building community

Thursday 23rd April (9.30-11am)

Every blogger wants to have more readers. But do you know who your current readers really are, and what kind of future readers you’re trying to attract?

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • Ways to find out who your current readers are
  • Developing reader avatars - a profile of exactly who your readers are, or who you want them to be
  • Targeting your blog posts to your readers
  • How to turn individual readers into a community of readers

Workshop 4: Optimising images for your blog posts

Thursday 7th May (9.30-11am)

Gone are the days when beautiful words were enough to attract readers - today’s internet readers expect beautiful pictures as well. Images are also very useful for promoting your blog post on social media, as well as breaking up the text and making your blog post more readable.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • What kind of images would work well for your blog
  • Sources of images
  • How to use tools like Canva to create great images
  • Different strokes: tips on images for different social media platforms (especially Pinterest!)

Workshop 5: Sponsorship and advertising for your blog

Thursday 28th May 2015 (9.30-11am)

If your blog is more than a hobby, you’ve probably dabbled in sponsorship or advertising, or at least thought that you’d like to get some income for the many, many hours you’ve spent working on your blog. Fortunately, more and more brands are noticing just how influential bloggers can be, so the potential is really there.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • What forms of sponsorship, advertising or working with brands could work for your blog
  • Putting together a media kit (and making sure you’re keeping track of the right numbers)
  • Ways to approach a brand or company to work with your blog
  • How to be professional and successful on brand work

Workshop 6: Promoting old posts successfully - what's old is new again


Thursday 11th June 2015 (9.30-11am)

Whether you’ve been blogging for just a year, or for ten years, you will have some old posts that didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time. Many bloggers don’t realise that these posts still have plenty of potential.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover
  • How to identify past posts that deserve a second chance
  • Options for reincarnating old posts - editing, adding images, republishing
  • Using social media to revive old posts (including scheduling - this will touch on tools such as Hootsuite)

Workshop 7: Writing better blog posts

Thursday 30th July 2015 (9.30-11am)

Writing for a blog is different from any other kind of writing, and since blogs are relatively new, a lot of bloggers struggle to find ways to write their posts so that their readers are clamouring to see them.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • The characteristics of a well-written blog post
  • Formatting issues - why good blog post writing includes headings and images 
  • How to find your blogging voice
  • Tips for writing a post that your readers will want to share

Workshop 8: LinkedIn for bloggers

Thursday 20th August 2015 (9.30-11am)

A lot of bloggers think LinkedIn is only useful if they’re looking for a new job. Not true! Making all kinds of connections on LinkedIn, promoting your blog, perhaps even blogging on the LinkedIn platform are all legitimate ways to help your blog grow.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:
  • The basics a blogger should include on their LinkedIn profile
  • How to connect with the right people: readers, potential sponsors, guests and interviewees, and more
  • Using LinkedIn to promote your blog posts effectively
  • What LinkedIn’s native publishing platform is all about

Workshop 9: Using Twitter with your blog

Thursday 17th September 2015 (9.30-11am)

Twitter can be mystifying. It can also be fascinating! What’s more, you can definitely use Twitter to bring a multitude of benefits to your blog.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover
  • The basics of Twitter and some demystification
  • Using Twitter for networking and making contacts
  • Taking part in Twitter chats
  • Promoting your blog posts on Twitter

Workshop 10: Newsletters for your blog

Thursday 22nd October 2015 (9.30-11am)

Social media platforms are fabulous but things can change on them at any time. Getting the email addresses of your readers and being able to get an email right into their inbox is something you are more in control of. I’ll focus on using Mailchimp in this workshop but the principles apply to any mailing list platform.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover
  • The pros and pros of having a mailing list
  • How to get subscribers to your mailing list
  • Developing a calendar of content for your newsletters
  • Creating regular newsletters without giving up sleep

Workshop 11: Make 2016 your blog’s biggest year

Thursday 3rd December 2015 (9.30-11am) OR Saturday 5th December 2015 (10-11.30am)
Your blog won’t write itself … or promote itself, or get its own sponsors … it’s all up to you, the blogger! And the best way to make sure that 2016 is your blog’s biggest year ever is to have a really good think about how you can do that before the year hits.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover
  • Analysing how your blog performed in 2015
  • Using user audits to check the design and functionality of your blog
  • Setting some key goals for your blog for 2016
  • Brainstorming some completely new ideas and directions for your blog
  • Putting together a plan for 2016

FAQs

What kind of bloggers are these workshops suited to?
From beginners to intermediate bloggers, using Wordpress, Blogger or something else, and blogging on any topic.

Do I need a laptop computer?
Ideally, yes. We can use the Wifi at the Beach Boardroom venue and there will be sections at each workshop where you'll have a chance to do something hands on. It will often be the case that what we do works better on a laptop than on an iPad/tablet. If you want to borrow a laptop (PC), let me know as a I have a couple of spares.

Can I get a refund if I can't get to the course?
Full refunds are available up to two weeks before the date of the course, but not after that, I'm afraid, due to venue booking restrictions. Refunds for the ten-pack will generally not be given but I'll look at them on a case-by-case basis.

Got another question? Let me know and I'll add the answer to the FAQ.








Sunday, December 14, 2014

How masterminds and mentors made my 2014 WAY better (and why you should gather people around you, too)

For a couple of years now I've been listening to some of my favourite podcasters talk about the value of masterminds (Pat Flynn, Amy Porterfield and Natalie Sisson spring immediately to mind.). In fact pretty much everyone in the social media, solo-preneur or small business space goes on about how mastermind groups or accountability partners or mentors can make ALL the difference. I'm probably a bit slow but finally in 2014 I caught up with this idea and, not at all to my surprise, found it worked out SO well!

Setting up your own mastermind group

Of course, if you sit around waiting to be asked to be part of a mastermind group, you might be waiting a long time. (Or not. But if you haven't been asked, do what I did.) I thought about a few people I knew who had a similar philosophy to me about running their solo business, and who I also knew had lots of motivation, great ideas of their own that would help me too, and were, of course, nice people who I would love to see more of. And then, with a bit of nervousness, I emailed them with the idea of forming a mastermind group.

Guess what? They said yes! So, since the beginning of 2014, I have had wonderfully inspiring monthly meetings with Natasha Lester and Anita Fredericks. We have a loose format to our meetings, which involves each of us reporting on what's been going well for us during the past month, and what our goals are for the next month, and asking for help and advice.



I'm sure Natasha and Anita would agree that our little group has been super-helpful this year. I love that we are all in different areas - Natasha is a novelist and teaches writing, Anita is in health and wellness and makes a ripper chocolate (healthy-style - perfect!), and I oscillate between being a travel blogger and a social media and blogging trainer. I think it helps that we're each interested in what the others do - I'm not sure I'd work well with a mastermind partner who sold machinery parts or something, for example! - but that we're different enough to be able to offer alternative ideas and approaches.

Just having that "pressure" (in a good way) of our monthly meeting, knowing that I'll be reporting back on what I have or haven't done, is a great motivator in itself. Being able to get advice and opinions that I value - especially in the new online world, since many people I talk to barely know what I do! - is fabulous. And Anita's chocolates are good too :-)



How do you set up your own mastermind? It's really as easy as asking. Obviously if you don't yet know the kind of people who you would like to mastermind with (I was lucky - Natasha and Anita were both former clients who I'd followed long enough to realise they would be a perfect fit) then you need to get involved with some networking groups, either in person or on Facebook, and find some people who might be "your" people. It might not work out the first time (I was lucky), but keep trying and it will. There is now lots of information online about mastermind groups - last year I remember sharing this piece from Chris Ducker which helped us decide how to run ours. I'm lucky (I think) in that we can hold our mastermind face-to-face - I think it works better - but I know other people who do them online using Google Hangouts and they love that too.

Chatting with a mentor or accountability partner

The other great thing I started doing this year (which was not my clever idea but I'm so glad it happened) was to set up fortnightly chats with a fellow blogger with similar goals to me who also knew where I was coming from. I met Dannielle Cresp (of Style for a Happy Home) online first - I'm pretty sure it was on Twitter (am I right, Dannielle?) and then we met in person at the first Problogger I went to in 2013. Dannielle suggested we keep in touch with some Skype chats (she lives in Victoria) and that has turned into regular fortnightly catch ups. (And a face-to-face catch up on the Gold Coast at the 2014 Problogger, which was brilliant!)



Dannielle and I don't have a specific format but we do talk a lot about our blogs and our work and try to set some accountability goals, stuff we'll have achieved before the next time we talk. I usually speak to Dannielle on a day when I don't generally book clients or workshops in so she's my only human contact that working day, and that makes her very important! Additionally I think of her as something of a mentor because she knows lots of stuff I don't - her technical skills with stuff like WordPress are way ahead of me, she has design skills, and of course she's my Pinterest guru (her Practical Pinning course dramatically changed the readership of my blog this year!). She also loves strawberry milkshakes, just like me. Perfect or what?

Why you should gather fellow online-type people around you, too

Whatever brings you to read my blog, you are probably involved with something - be it blogging or social media or online business - that not many people know about. Most people in my "real world" every day life don't have much of a handle on what I do ... "you're that web design person, aren't you?" (totally no skill there, I'm afraid) or "you do something with websites and training, right?" It helps enormously to regularly meet up with people who DO get what you do. When an online-type friend says to me, "You won't believe who just retweeted my blog post!" then I totally get it and celebrate with them.

On top of that, having to talk out loud, to people who understand, about your goals and dreams and hopes for your online work, well, this makes all the difference to how much you achieve. Writing down these plans is effective, but telling someone, and knowing you'll see them in another month and want to tell them you actually did it, well that makes it WAY more effective.

If I could suggest one thing you could do to improve your online work, it would not be to post more blog posts, or to use Pinterest properly (although both of these would be good too!) - it would be to get some people together and see them regularly. Whether you find a mastermind group, a mentor, an accountability partner, or even just a fellow blogger to catch up with in person for a coffee so that you know someone who understands the basics of what you love doing, I say: DO IT!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Who can write the most blog posts on the way to Problogger? Perth bloggers can!



Last week, after a beautiful Tuesday evening meet up with a bunch of Perth bloggers who are heading off to the big Problogger event next week, my friend Jo and I were standing at an intersection in Leederville, watching the pedestrian light cycle through green about twenty times because we couldn't stop talking.

Most of our chat was about our excitement about the pending Problogger experience although we did briefly complain that the plane trip(s) from Perth to the Gold Coast take a LONG time. But Jo and I are both pretty positive people, and when I mentioned that last year I wrote a crazy number of blog posts on my Problogger flights (yay for batching and no internet) we came up with the challenge:

Who can write the most blog posts on their way to Problogger?


Well, we Perth bloggers are definitely up for this challenge and have a big advantage of practically a whole day's travel time in which to do it in. At least four of us are on the same flights and although we won't sit together (hard to blog and talk, right) we will meet up in Sydney for a progress report.



But we're prepared to find other non-Perth bloggers who can be even more productive than us, so we are issuing this challenge Australia-wide - make that worldwide - and we're keen to hear just how many blog posts you can draft between your hometown and the Gold Coast.

If you're going to be at Problogger this year, please feel free to take up our challenge - leave a comment here and tweet me (@amandakendle) with your progress report. The winner gets ... lots of glory and a well-deserved blogging break thanks to getting a bunch of posts at least into a decent draft form!

PS: Do you know the Perth bloggers making the PERTH sign up the top of this post? You should! From left to right:
Happy blogging everyone!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to fall in love with Twitter again (aka how to use Twitter right, IMHO)

Twitter and I have an on-again, off-again kind of relationship. It took me quite a while to learn to like Twitter in the first place - I was "forced" to use it, initially, by a travel website I was working for! - and I still have waves of love and not-so-much-love for it. Just over a year ago I blogged about all the reasons I love Twitter and yet a few months ago I felt like I couldn't really be bothered again.

Now I'm back on the Twitter bandwagon again, and I wanted to tell you what got me back to happy tweeting. There's been a lot of discussion this year about how people miss the "old" Twitter - the Twitter of its first years where there was a lot of chatting between people, and a lot less of people just posting links to their blog posts or to other people's posts without much in the way of useful comment. And I realised that this was exactly the problem for me, too.

My tweets these days: links with comments, my thoughts, and discussions about wombats


How I solved my lack of Twitter enthusiasm

Once I'd realised that I missed chatting to people (one of my favourite parts of Twitter - not just "meeting" people but also getting involved in tweet-ups and tweet-chats) and I was sick of seeing endless links to stuff, then I decided on my solution. (Incidentally, I tried using Twitter lists as my solution, but this wasn't actually the answer I needed.)

I just had to go and unfollow a bunch of people.

So, over the course of a couple of months, I've been looking out for people who don't fit my requirements, and I've also used tools like ManageFlitter which can identify people you follow on Twitter who are spam, inactive, or various other undesirable categories, and my follow list has been cut down considerably. What a wonderfully cleansing purge this has been! Basically, I've unfollowed Twitter accounts which:

  • Only tweet their own blog posts (I like finding about your new blog posts. But not if that's all you tell me.)
  • Only tweet links - whether these links are their own or someone else's - and never have any comment to add to it. If you're going to tweet links, add a few characters so I know why I should read it.
  • Only auto-tweet stuff from Facebook. This is one of my true pet hates. If you don't have time to be on Twitter then don't be on Twitter! Facebook posts are so different to tweets.
  • Never have conversations with other Twitter users.  When I see a tweet that's just an unexciting link (especially if I suspect it's automated) then I click through to their profile - if their last few tweets are like that too, and no @ messages to other real people, then it's an immediate unfollow from me!
  • Barely ever use Twitter - because then they're unlikely to get involved "properly" too.
And it worked! 

The only problem now is that I am too tempted to spend too much time on Twitter, because it's so much fun. In particular, having nearly-live conversations with people (as in, you reply reasonably quickly) is fun. Fortunately I realised a quick way around this was to simply leave Twitter open in a tab while I'm at my desk, but click on the Notifications tab - then if I get replies a little number pops up, and I can hop in and reply when I have a spare moment between other tasks, but without getting drawn into the whole feed and discovering new conversations I want to have when I really should be doing something else.

Having the Twitter Notifications window open saves me getting lost in the Twitter stream
You can see in this little screen shot that the number of notifications shows up in the tab, so I don't even need to waste time clicking their to check - it automatically refreshes.

How are you going with Twitter?

What's your current relationship with Twitter? Do you love or hate it - and which bits do you actually like? Is there a way that you can set it up to only find the bits you love, like I have?





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thoughts on blogging after nine years of my travel blog: why you should or shouldn't start a blog

Last week my first blog love, my travel blog Not A Ballerina, turned nine. Yep, nine whole years have passed since I first sat down at my little desk in my flat in Germany and started a blogspot blog, not really having any clue about what it was all about, and even less clue that I'd still be doing it nine years later and that it would be starting to make an income. It was a big month for my little blog because apart from having a birthday, I also (finally!) had it moved from the Blogger platform to WordPress.

Back when I started, I hadn't even heard of WordPress, yet know it's the absolute platform of choice for serious bloggers, and I had been putting off this move for years. There are a bunch of things that I can do now that I couldn't do in Blogger (although, to be fair, Blogger has become much more robust over the years I've been using it) and I knew that it was really time. The blog got to have a bit of a spring clean redesign at the same time and I'm super-grateful to Kelly Exeter at Swish Design for making the change so much less scary than I'd expected!

The new look of my travel blog, Not A Ballerina

Blogging has changed SO much in these last nine years. It was really just a hobby for pretty much everyone when I started, or at most a place to showcase your work or create a bit of a portfolio. Now it's a whole profession. It's amazing! It's also one of the most exciting things I've ever had the chance to be involved in.

But of course, people still come along and ask me why they should start a blog. There are a lot of reasons to start one, but it sure isn't for everyone. Here's my take ...


Why you SHOULD start a blog


  • You are crazily passionate about a particular topic (and it doesn't matter if there are already heaps of blogs on your topic - in fact it's probably a good sign)
  • You quite like writing. It's easier if you LOVE to write, but not minding it at least is a good start.
  • You have some ideas for photos or other images you could use in a blog. These days a blog can rarely afford to be words alone. (PS: check out a site like Canva if you think you can't make cool images.)
  • You have or can create a few spare hours a week at least. Blogging is a relatively time-consuming hobby. (On the plus side, it's a relatively cheap hobby, so that's something.)
  • You can sit down and write a list of at least 20 topics for individual blog posts without thinking too hard. 
  • You have a plan: if you're hoping to turn a blog into a business, then you need to have a good think through before you start. Rather than, like me, blundering along for seven or eight years completely randomly before trying to be more strategic about it! (Better late than never, of course.)
  • And mainly: because you might really, really love blogging, get to meet lots of great people because of your blog, and have a true feeling of satisfaction and pleasure every single time you hit the Publish button.

Why you SHOULDN'T start a blog


  • You really hate writing. It is a real slog to write a blog (ha! that rhymes!) if the words part really doesn't come easily to you at all.
  • Just because someone advises you that you need a blog to help your business. Yes, a blog will very likely help your business, but not if you just get it set up and then rarely post there. You have to really want to do it.
  • You want to write down heaps of stuff about your family and friends. This will end in disaster. Blogs are meant to be personal, yes, but that doesn't give you a licence to divulge all the personal experiences of other people.
  • You think you can generate an income from a blog pretty much straight away and without too much hard work. You're better off just buying lottery tickets!
  • You have no spare time at all.
  • You don't even like using a computer very much.


Do you blog? Do you want to start one?


Bloggers: what do you think of my list? Knowing what you know now, would you still go back in time and start the same blog, or would you do things differently?

Non-bloggers: are you tempted? Do you have any questions about the blogging life?

Let me know in the comments!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Social media for parents and teenagers

Social media workshops with parents and teens

I used to run a course on social media for parents at UWA Extension. It used to really bug me that there was always someone in the workshop who would ask, very early on in the day, if I could teach them how to spy on their kids on Facebook.

Obviously, my answer was NO! My approach to this was, still is, and even when my son reaches his teenage years, will still be, that parents and children/teenagers have to work together on this stuff. My course was largely focused on teaching the parents how to use the main social media sites themselves so that they could talk with their kids about them with a degree of understanding.

What social media platforms are teens using?

This week I'm running a parents and teens workshop again and as it's been over a year since I last did, I've been diving back into the current research and thoughts to see what's changed. There are definitely a few new risks around, like "disappearing" message apps like Snapchat which give teens the feeling that their messages and pictures aren't permanent, but of course anything you send to anyone can be copied (in that case, screenshots taken) and sent anywhere. Facebook is being used less, but not non-existently - a teacher friend of mine told me at the high school she works at, pretty much every kid there is active on Facebook, yet at another school down the road nearly nobody does - it might be a matter of following what your friends are on. This infographic from Bright House gives a great overview:



Staying safe on social media

Using social media safely is a combination of common sense and making sure you have the appropriate knowledge and skills. To be honest, in previous parents and teens workshops I've run, it is often the teens who know the right privacy settings to use and have to teach their parents all about it. Of course, I'd prefer if everybody knew it! My main rules for playing the social media game safely (no matter what your age) are:

  1. Think before you post. This is the most important one. Be aware that anything you post on social media (or any message you send a friend or even just any photo you take) could end up public. You never know what someone you trust could do with it. So - think! There's so much in our lives we can share without risking sharing something that could be embarrassing to us, to others, or create conflict.
    Would you say this out loud to someone?
    Would you show your mother or father this?
    What if my future employer saw this? 
    Think before you post!
  2. Don't post personal information. This includes your email address, your phone number, your home address, and so on - if somebody needs this, send them a private message (and then only if you really trust them). You also need to consider what other kinds of information you make public: for example, when I'm travelling away from home and I know my home will be empty, I don't post about this until I'm back - I feel like I'm giving burglars an open invitation! I haven't posted my address online, of course, but who knows who will read what I've posted and what they'll do with that information - it just takes a computer left open somewhere or someone using a public computer not to log out of Facebook or something.
  3. Turn off location services as a default. Make sure you disable location services on your smartphone and only enable it for apps that are strictly necessary (if you're using a map app, for example, to find your way somewhere). There are some social media apps which are location-based and people you don't know can find where you're physically located - these can be easily abused so be hyper-aware of these!
  4. Don't share your password (except with your parents). To me, this sounds obvious, but I've heard of kids and teens "selling" their password for $5, or performing a dare to get access to their friend's social media.
  5. Consider the privacy settings. A platform like Facebook has pretty decent privacy settings (but you should still be wary about what you post). Other platforms are totally public - remember that when you use them. And parents - be aware that your kids might be communicating with others on something you don't consider to be social media - such as messaging via the Minecraft game.
  6. Be wary about meeting online friends in real life. Nobody (sensible) is going to tell you to never meet someone you've met online in real life. I've done it any number of times - and made some amazing new friends in the process. But remember that it's easy to pretend to be someone else online. And that some people are really good at pretending. Make sure that you tell someone you trust about where and when you're meeting that someone - or take someone with you when you do - and be sure to meet them in a public place where there'll be other people around. If your online friend doesn't understand why you want to do that, they aren't someone you want to be friends with.
  7. Report/block/tell someone. If someone sends you messages that aren't OK, or take it as far as cyber-bullying, figure out what your first step is basedon the platform you're using - nearly all social media platforms these days have good mechanisms for reporting abusive messages, and for blocking people so that you never have to hear from them again. Tell your parents or someone you trust as well so they can help you make sure you're covering all bases. Head to the Cybersmart Teens page to get more help and info.
  8. Parents: set up rules at home. You have to figure out what works for your family but it's common for parents to limit device usage to the living room or at least to "public" areas of the house; others will turn off the WiFi after a certain time in the evening. 

And for the infographic addicts (oh yes ... that's me!) this one from the British Council gives a good summary of the basics:


Having fun on social media

I worry that all this talk of safety on social media turns it into a negative thing. Yet there are so many amazingly positive things that can come out of using social media. While people tend to worry that those who spend a lot of time on social media are "dumbing down" their face-to-face social skills, research has shown it's the opposite - teens who spend more time on social media are more likely to have close "real life" relationships and more social opportunities. I can say from my own experience it's the same for adults!

Social media also gives teens the chance to connect with people who share common interests (no matter how obscure) and can give them another "tribe" to belong to where they can really be themselves. That can't be a bad thing, right?

More reading on safe social media use for kids and teens

There's so much more sensible and useful information out there these days - there's really no excuse for parents not to get a handle on social media and help their kids to use it well! Here are a few especially useful links:



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