It's childsplay (or can be)...

49 replies
This afternoon I will be teaching my son (11) and his friend (12) how to set up their first blog and monetize it. It's a blog about a particular video game.

This morning I was thinking about what I was going to teach them. It made me realise that there really is nothing about this that they wouldn't understand pretty easily. Sure there are some technical things like hosting, FTP and DNS settings that I want them to understand from the get-go but it's hardly rocket science. They'll pick it up no problem.

Which led me to wonder why so many grown-ups tie themselves in knots and don't get off the ground.

A few things sprang to mind:

- doubt
- analysis paralysis
- looking for guarantee of success
- perception of poor technical skillset

...none of which I expect to find in the boys this afternoon. With a little instruction last week, but without me watching over them, they've already gone off, researched their domain name and registered it with a reliable registrar. They've also chosen a suitable WordPress theme and been instructed on the no-nos surrounding the use of other peoples' intellectual property.

The next thing (this afternoon) is to transfer the DNS to my hosting server, get Wordpress installed, set up the theme and add a couple of plug-ins.

Maybe I should have made a fly-on-the-wall webinar series out of this exercise.

Cheers,

Neil
#childsplay
  • Profile picture of the author MagicAce
    Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

    - doubt
    - analysis paralysis
    - looking for guarantee of success
    - perception of poor technical skillset

    Neil
    You are right with this! I think exactly all those things are holding me back! Thanks for reminding me :p
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  • Profile picture of the author King Shiloh
    Banned
    Maybe negative mindset increases with age. I don't really know if I'm right. Maybe we have to go back to childhood.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    That's probably got a lot to do with it because real life teaches you that not everything you want to happen will happen.

    You've also got more to lose when your actions have to produce food to put on the table.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    • Profile picture of the author paulie888
      Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

      That's probably got a lot to do with it because real life teaches you that not everything you want to happen will happen.

      You've also got more to lose when your actions have to produce food to put on the table.

      Cheers,

      Neil
      I think you're absolutely right about this point, Neil. While setting up a blog can be fun and rewarding in many cases, when money is on the line it causes all sorts of anxiety and analysis paralysis. People would be feeling immense pressure to get it perfect right from the get-go, and I think this factor is what causes them to agonize and fret over something that should actually be a simple and fun process.

      Paul
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  • Profile picture of the author thatgirlJ
    I absolutely think you're right. It is incredibly easy to earn money online, yet us adults find zillions of ways to make it difficult. This is an excellent reminder of that fact. What a cool story! I'd love to know if they keep going with it
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Hey Jenn

    What a cool story! I'd love to know if they keep going with it.
    Thanks - I'll keep you up to date.

    I don't plan on this being a multi-million-dollar project (although they think it is!) - I'm treating it as an educational exercise with benefits.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author jamjar919
    They will manage. I did
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Well done JamJar
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    I'm just setting up for this session.

    Quick question for Wordpress experts - what's the very best plug-in to keep out comment spam and other nasties..

    Thanks guys,

    Neil
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    • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
      Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

      I'm just setting up for this session.

      Quick question for Wordpress experts - what's the very best plug-in to keep out comment spam and other nasties..

      Thanks guys,

      Neil
      Honestly, I stick with Akismet. Comes with Wordpress.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
    This is a great idea. I discussed this same idea with a friend of mine who has a middle school boy that plays Xbox all the time. Told him to setup a blog and talk about why he likes/dislikes certain games. Monetize it and keep it rolling. My cousin did this when we were about 14 years old and his site grew into a huuuuge success. He was 16 years old making $1,000 a week off of ads. He received free video games, consoles, even a TV, and traveled out West to electronic conventions yearly (with his dad as a chaperon the first couple years! haha), all to review and all with a letter attached explaining not to send the products back. Keep them!
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Thanks guys.

    The lesson is over the the boys are over the moon that they now have their first live site/blog. I can hear them upstairs discussing the copy of their first post.

    We had an interesting discussion about keywords in relation to the title of the site, strap line etc and they're well aware of the importance of thinking carefully about the words they use in their posts.

    I've told them to think content and traffic and only when they have some of both will we consider the monetization side of things. On that, we discussed AdWords and promoting specific products and issues such as sending people off your site for a few pennies versus pre-selling on a product they're promoting.

    Technical note: I had to mess about with the source files of the WordPress theme they had chosen but that was no biggie. Everything else was off-the-shelf and straightforward.

    Thanks for your input. This is refreshingly fun

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
      Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

      Thanks guys.

      The lesson is over the the boys are over the moon that they now have their first live site/blog. I can hear them upstairs discussing the copy of their first post.

      We had an interesting discussion about keywords in relation to the title of the site, strap line etc and they're well aware of the importance of thinking carefully about the words they use in their posts.

      I've told them to think content and traffic and only when they have some of both will we consider the monetization side of things. On that, we discussed AdWords and promoting specific products and issues such as sending people off your site for a few pennies versus pre-selling on a product they're promoting.

      Technical note: I had to mess about with the source files of the WordPress theme they had chosen but that was no biggie. Everything else was off-the-shelf and straightforward.

      Thanks for your input. This is refreshingly fun

      Cheers,

      Neil
      This is really cool. Please keep us updated on the entire process! The boys will be thanking you down the road for teaching them a great skill set that they can earn money from for years to come. I wish someone taught me these things at that age!
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Please keep us updated on the entire process!
    Thank you - I will do that.

    At the moment, I'm leaving them to come up with the content of their first post. I'm then going to give them some tips on the wording and structure of it with regard to such things as SEO and site stickiness.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    This is a great project Neil and very inspirational!
    Thanks

    I wanted to post about it here to show that none of this is rocket science and to hopefully inspire some people to get started. If an 11 and 12 year old can do it, there's no excuse left!

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author dv8domainsDotCom
    Definitely Akismet for Anti-Spam and I am SO thrilled you are getting your children involved, I think it's a cool project and wish you well.

    Akismet will help (comment spam), but if you notice VERY nasty nasties, (since it is a Children's site/experiment) be aware you can also block based on IP. this is done using .htaccess (search htaccess block IP (or similar)). Most of the IP's you see will be common in like 90% of spam anyway, so akismet + IP block is amazingly effective. I hope this helps and please feel free to PM me if you can't find details, I can provide a simple sample if it helps.

    All the best in your experiment and I hope you and your kids have fun at it!
    -Kevin
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  • Profile picture of the author phpnetpro
    Excellent job Neil!

    I agree with the four things that you mentioned that stop people from being successful. In my early years (early 90s, LOL), I struggled with some of those same things.

    I liked this thread because it made me think of my own life. I have a 9 year old daughter that I would be teaching to make websites, except she has no interest in what I do - whatsoever! However, I get the feeling that my son is going to be just like me because I can't keep him away from my computers or get him to stop asking me questions about them (he's only 3 and a half too). He is playing computer games already (he can fly a helicopter shockingly well), so I'm looking forward to the coming years when I can teach him to do what I do. I bet he will have a monthly online income before he's a teenager.

    Let go of your worries everyone. You can be successful in this game, you just have to decide that it's going to happen to put the necessary work into it to get it to that point. Children shock us every single day with the things that they do and a large part of that is truly the fact that they are not hindered by their own mind.

    As Po from Kung Fu Panda said, "There is no secret ingredient".
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    So I had to fix some spelling, left align the whole thing and remove the 100% bold but apart from that, it was fine. I was quite impressed that they had several invitations for people to register and comment, inviting participation and building stickiness.

    The boys are over the moon.

    They're now posting a link to it on their Facebook pages to kick off the traffic because they've learned there's no passing trade online.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
      Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

      So I had to fix some spelling, left align the whole thing and remove the 100% bold but apart from that, it was fine. I was quite impressed that they had several invitations for people to register and comment, inviting participation and building stickiness.

      The boys are over the moon.

      They're now posting a link to it on their Facebook pages to kick off the traffic because they've learned there's no passing trade online.

      Cheers,

      Neil
      This is awesome!
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  • Profile picture of the author Rsberg
    I think what your doing with these boys is great! There are several life lessons to be learned here and along the way they might just find they enjoy it too...not to mention make a little loot down the road!

    When my daughter gets old enough I will certianly do the same, right now I have enough problems trying to keep the marker off her face so teaching a 2 year old how to upload WP and do keyword research might have to wait a few years

    Once again...great thing your doing here, please keep this updated!
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  • Profile picture of the author divx22
    - analysis paralysis

    to me that is the biggest one for us adults.
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  • Profile picture of the author Laura B
    I am helping my three nephews set up their own sites, too. They have great ideas. They're a little unfocused yet (twins are 10, other one's 11) but they're doing pretty well. We're anxious to get the sites to the point where a few commissions trickle in - the nice thing is they don't expect much at that age, so a couple bucks will be all it takes to get them excited!
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  • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
    Bump. Anything new on the site?
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Ha!

    Not yet - soccer and tennis today

    They decided to change the theme so I'm keeping an eye on that in case it's just tweaking for tweaking's sake. I want them to give me a reason for everything they choose to add or change.

    I want them to add some more content - maybe 2 or 3 more posts.

    Then I'm going to show them how to add tracking to the blog (free StatCounter will suffice) then we'll submit to Google and other search engines.

    Thanks for asking!

    Cheers,

    Neil
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    • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
      Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

      Ha!

      Not yet - soccer and tennis today

      They decided to change the theme so I'm keeping an eye on that in case it's just tweaking for tweaking's sake. I want them to give me a reason for everything they choose to add or change.

      I want them to add some more content - maybe 2 or 3 more posts.

      Then I'm going to show them how to add tracking to the blog (free StatCounter will suffice) then we'll submit to Google and other search engines.

      Thanks for asking!

      Cheers,

      Neil
      Sounds like a great plan. Small, methodical steps!
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  • Profile picture of the author kenny5
    That's awesome. Your kids are going to be set for life if they start learning this stuff that young
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Thanks Kenny.

    If anything comes out of this, I want them to know that they don't need to be office slaves if they don't want to be. That's my real goal.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Sounds like a great plan. Small, methodical steps!
    Thanks

    Very deliberate considering all the stuff you read on here about information overload.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author boo6204
    What a fantastic idea. I agree totally about your 'point's for us 'older' ones. I'm a newbie to all this but a terrible procrastinator so Im struggling with organizing all the info and getting going.

    I would love to have my 11 year old daughter try something like this but as I don't know what I'm doing myself I am not in a position to teach her.

    You should create a product especially for kids, targeted to them and include all the things you mentioned, especially like getting them to actually think about what they are doing and why etc. I would buy it. I think I prefer this idea to facebook altogether.

    Boo
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    This is great at their age!

    This is why I am enrolling my son (9) in an online school next year. Precisely because I want him to be surrounded by people his own age, doing things online. It costs quite a lot but all of the kids appear to be building websites, businesses, and learning things that could actually help them in life. When I saw it, I couldn't help think that the youngsters today that are learning how to be a worker bee, are going to be worker bees. They do all the normal school stuff too though.

    I taught mine how to make a basic website awhile back, and one of the first things he asked was how much would it would cost to get someone else to do this, and how much could potentially make. Music to my ears, but I am still making him learn everything to start with, as you will only know if people are doing things correctly, if you know how to do them yourself.

    Don't forget that if you can teach them to generate a few hundred a month, that is a fortune to them. This way they still have time to build their businesses up before they need to pay bills, and all the other negative aspects of life start kicking in, and slowing them down.

    Neil, I only intended to say "Well Done" but kind of went off on one. So well done, and I expect to see those kids on the WF within a few years, telling me how to improve me conversions LOL! I am working to keep mine off it until he is a little older, as he is too easily distracted at his age.

    Cheers,
    Colin Palfrey
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  • Profile picture of the author zengetsu
    I know of a few reasons why some people are like this. I have been working online for about four years now. One thing that discouraged me when I was starting out was that I over thought things. I made some of these things too difficult than what they were. Once I got over that and put my mind into making money online things became more simpler. I go my one motto "Do what you can, make things simple".
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  • Profile picture of the author Audrey Harvey
    Great idea Neil, my two (aged 8 and 11) started their own blog a month or so ago, with similar intentions, but their interest waxes and wanes. They're planning on getting it moving a bit more when the school term is finished, and we have more time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Hey Audrey

    It will be interesting to see if their interest keeps up. That's another of my reasons for drip-feeding them the info. My son's friend has always shown money-making tendencies so I think he'll want to keep going as soon as he sees that first sale coming in.

    It's great to hear about other peoples experience of doing this. If these difficult times have taught me anything it's that self-sufficiency is a skill worth having.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Just a quick update for those who wanted to follow the story.

    The boys have been adding keyword-rich posts for a week and yesterday we submitted the blog to Google. I've told them to wait a couple of days then search on Google for some of their terms. They can't wait to see their site in the results!

    In the meantime, they've also decided that they want to learn PHP an MySQL and have already written their first "Hello World" progam.

    Next weekend I'm going to show them how to set up a local web server (WAMP Server) to do their development on and set them a task or two to work on over the next week.

    I'm delighted to see that these boys have the "golden" combination of technical ability, commercial awareness and entrepreneurial spirit. That's powerful in any area of business.

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author profitsforall
    I think the main difference between children and adults :

    Children you have to give them reasons not to do something, they don't see problems or obstacles.

    Adults see nothing but problems and obstacles and use it as an excuse not to do somthing.

    For example, as a kid I loved fairground and amusement park rides. The thrill of it was amazing. As an adult you won't get me near one, I worry aout missing bolts, stressed metal and mechanical failure.

    However - I am forging ahead with my online site building and will not let anything stop me.
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  • Profile picture of the author aizaku
    wow that's a great angle. It's so easy a child can do it. I hope you post updates on your son's success
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  • Profile picture of the author Laura B
    Good for them! Sounds like they are apt pupils.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rsberg
    I really look forward to reading this thread and think what you're doing with your son and his friend is GREAT!!!

    Thanks for the updates!
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  • Profile picture of the author TristanPerry
    That update is great; congrats that they're started early

    I was around 10 or 11 when I started online too hence I feel that I can understand the thoughts you express in your OP.

    I think that the main problem that adults have is that they expect a certain rate of return based on the time they put in. Putting in (say) 10 hours of work without earning money would be unthinkable to some adults because - after all - they'd get $100+ if they put in 10 hours of work into a 'standard' job. This expectation is the downfall to many adults, I feel.

    Warning – Read This Before Starting An Online Business | Financial Freedom Ideas explains this concept very well, so I won't reinvent the wheel.

    Anywhoo, with children (indeed, as was the case for me), this expectation isn't there - thankfully. Hence at that age, there'd be no problem with putting in many hours without any/much revenue in return.

    This was the case with me. I started working on a website and self-teaching myself everything from HTML/XHTML+CSS to PHP/MySQL and was happy to put in plently of hours. After all, I found it fun. And (thankfully) had no expectation of earning money.

    When I was 10-16 I had no problem with putting in anything from 1 to 8 hours per day of self-teaching, making websites, mucking around with code (etc etc) and I learnt loads.

    I didn't make too much money (mid-high $x,xxx maximum; never anything close to a full time income despite me messing about with websites for 6+ years), but making money was never my intention:

    I just found it fun, was happy to learn, and so any income received was an added bonus

    As a result, by the time I was 17, I knew XHTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, various other web design and development skills, and I had a fairly big website which ranked #1 for a fairly competitive keyword (a one word keyword with 50k exact monthly searches). I had also got into domaining when I was 16 and made a decent amount of money ($x,xxx). So all in all that was a pretty good time.

    When I started getting older though - especially after selling my fairly big site when I was 18 - I did (unwittingly) fall into the trap of believing that if I put work into a project, I should see success fairly quickly. (After all, I thought, that's what happens with my friend's [part time] jobs. - sound familiar? ) I did start to become a bit of a WF hopper (i.e. starting up numerous projects, and thus seldom making much money from any of them).

    Now I've thankfully (re-)realised that the trick to making money online is truly to have no expectations of quick revenue, and instead to know that it takes hard work for little reward: at least, for the first 3/6/12 (etc) months.

    Anywhoo, apologies for the long post. Congrats on the boys' early successes; it'll leave them in good stead for the future. Especially if, as they get older, they don't start believing that success can be gotten with little work

    I feel that this is the #1 barrier that most adults face (even if - like me - this barrier only exists in their subconscious). Thankfully I did realise this and so I broke this barrier.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
    Excellent! Thanks for the update.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Here's an update for those who are interested.

    Things have moved on since the blog got set up.

    We had a bit of a break over the Christmas period and now we're back into it. We've decided to spend 2 hours on a Sunday evening on our project. We go to my office, the boys set up their laptops on the meeting table and we make good use of the whiteboard for brainstorming.

    So they've now decided what sort of site they want to build and, with a bit of help from me, have settled on a business model that's both do-able and should actually make them some money. They've realised if they can make this work, they could avoid the newspaper delivery rounds and supermarket shelf stacking that some of their friends are doing.

    We discussed the various ways that money can be made online - selling products and services, membership sites, advertising etc. What they settled on was a cool way of bringing buyers and sellers together, sort of like ebay but without it being an auction.

    They are targeting young people with the site and realised that they don't have credit cards. While they realised that their parents mostly do, they wanted to find a way to charge their customers without having to reply on their parents - and they did - using mobile phones.

    During our discussions, they realised the power of giving a lot of their service away for free and charging for a crucial element after their user got "hooked" on the service.

    On the technical side, on Sunday evening they got a crash course in 12-15 of the most common HTML tags. Using PHP and WAMPServer on their laptops, they got stuck into creating some simple PHP programs using the newly learned HTML tags and were stunned at how easy it was to create paragraphs, headings, lists and tables. One thing that came out of this session was the requirement to be VERY precise when coding - browsers are unforgiving animals if you get the code wrong!

    Before our next session on Sunday, they've been tasked with researching a domain name, listing categories for their buyers and sellers and also laying out in a bit of detail the first page of their site - the home page.

    I have told them not to worry about the branding - I will get a professional to put that together for them - a lesson in sticking to what you can do and outsourcing where necessary.

    On Sunday, they'll be learning about the basics of CodeIgniter - why using a PHP framework such as that makes life a lot easier. We might also do a little jQuery so they can see some of the bells and whistles that we'll be able to add to their site. We'll then get CodeIgniter installed on their laptops and set up our first "Hello World" program using it. I'll also explain a little bit about the MVC (Model View Controller) methodology that's used by CodeIgniter and is so prevalent in today's web development circles.

    The following Sunday we'll get stuck into their first MVC view - the home page that they've sketched out.

    Lots of fun and lots of learning to come!

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author Shazia Mirza
    I'm proud to say that my son built his first website from HTML scratch when he was 11 years old.

    So blogging is more than possible.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    That's absolutely true.

    The did a bit of blogging last year but quickly decided that it wasn't quenching their thirst for knowledge.

    I remember that feeling well - at the age of 15 being simply amazed that you could make a box of electronics do exactly what you want it to AND maybe even make money from it!
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  • Profile picture of the author Eko Ventures
    What a great story! I'm looking forward to hearing how their new venture turns out.
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  • Profile picture of the author NateRivers
    Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

    This afternoon I will be teaching my son (11) and his friend (12) how to set up their first blog and monetize it. It's a blog about a particular video game.

    This morning I was thinking about what I was going to teach them. It made me realise that there really is nothing about this that they wouldn't understand pretty easily. Sure there are some technical things like hosting, FTP and DNS settings that I want them to understand from the get-go but it's hardly rocket science. They'll pick it up no problem.

    Which led me to wonder why so many grown-ups tie themselves in knots and don't get off the ground.

    A few things sprang to mind:

    - doubt
    - analysis paralysis
    - looking for guarantee of success
    - perception of poor technical skillset

    ...none of which I expect to find in the boys this afternoon. With a little instruction last week, but without me watching over them, they've already gone off, researched their domain name and registered it with a reliable registrar. They've also chosen a suitable WordPress theme and been instructed on the no-nos surrounding the use of other peoples' intellectual property.

    The next thing (this afternoon) is to transfer the DNS to my hosting server, get Wordpress installed, set up the theme and add a couple of plug-ins.

    Maybe I should have made a fly-on-the-wall webinar series out of this exercise.

    Cheers,

    Neil

    I agree. In fact, it wasn't until I embraced the "simple and boring" stuff like content and list building that I started seeing results.

    That's a great idea to teach your kids how to do this.. they'll be IM rockstars by the time they're in college.... so maybe they won't go
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  • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
    Hey guys

    Another weekend, another update.

    So last night we spent 2.5 hours in my office with laptops on the table and lots of scribbling on the whiteboard.

    Some interesting stuff came out of it.

    We started by going over the tasks I had set them from last week, namely:

    1. Find some suitable and available domain names.

    2. Research 3 competitive sites and list out their strengths and weaknesses.

    3. Do a rough sketch of their site's home page.

    On the domain name, they came up with some great ideas that I would never have thought of. As their site is focusing on UK kids and teenagers, I asked them to find some available ".co.uk" domain names.

    If you do the same, it's worth checking out the ".coms", ".nets" and other variants because you might find some sites that are less than suitable for your target audience who could stumble upon them when they're looking for your site. That's what happened with their first choice so we eventually settled on one where we could secure the .co.uk and also the .com for ourselves.

    Problem solved, and an added benefit was that the domain name has a very strong theme that we can extend throughout the design and copy of the entire site.

    One rule of thumb for choosing the domain name was that it could be given to someone on the phone without having to spell it out or explain hyphens or digits. Preferably 2 syllables, 3 at most. We want kids in the school playground to talk about it so it had to be one that was very easy to remember and pass on verbally.

    Looking at competitors' sites also threw up some interesting points. The 2 or 3 "big" competitors in the UK have definite and similar downsides that the boys spotted, giving them a couple of great USPs (unique selling points) for their own site.

    Their competitors really had complicated things so KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is something they now know they need to focus on right through development because that will immediately give them one of their competitive advantages.

    On the layout of their home page, we looked at the various elements they had come up with.

    One of my own design requirements is that every single pixel on a site must have a business reason for being there. So we had some interesting discussions about their home page and soon homed in on the elements that should be there and those that could either be moved to a less prominent part of the site or bumped completely.

    On the technical side, we moved onto looking at the MVC (Model View Controller) programming methodology that we'll be using for their site. We're using the PHP CodeIgniter framework which hides a lot of the "low level" coding that every dynamic site needs for input processing, database storage, security, templating etc.

    Specifically, we looked at all the "bits" of their site that they had come up with and talked through whether each of them was a model, view, controller or something else.

    We then sketched out an outline of their site's template which will form the basis of every page on the site.

    Next week we're getting stuck in to the coding and by the end of the session they'll have coded the base template in PHP, HTML, simple CSS on CodeIgniter and it will then be a case of building it up one "feature" at a time.

    Fun times :-)

    Cheers,

    Neil
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  • Profile picture of the author TheGrooby
    Keep it coming. I'm lovin' it.
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