Raising a family today is very different compared to raising a family before the introduction of the Internet. I can remember going to restaurant as a child and feeling lucky if there was a place mat to color while waiting for my kid’s meal. Now, I see smartphones and tablets being passed to children to keep them occupied. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just different.
In this interview, NMX speaker Amy Lupold Bair talks about the challenges of raising a digital family:
Want more from Amy? Check out her 2013 NMX presentation, “Community Building Lessons from a Professional Twitter Party Host.”
Because children are so in tune with the digital world, I think we as content creators need to consider the entire family. Does that mean that a toddler is going to read the same blogs as his parents? Probably not. But there are ways to create content for the digital family that I think too few bloggers are considering.
Understanding Your Audience
First, do you even know whether or not your readers have children? Understanding your audience at this level is important even if your content isn’t about children. Why? Two main reasons (though there are others):
- Kids dictate how much free time a person has.
- Your audience will make different buying decisions if they have children.
Understanding how much time and money people have is key to tailoring your content for these people.
Let’s first look at the time aspect. One of the most common questions new bloggers ask is, “How long should my posts be?” and one of the most common answers I hear is, “As long as they need to be.” I’ve probably even given people this advice myself. But logically, even if your content is awesome, some people might not have time to read it if you post 1000+ words daily.
A few months ago my father was in the hospital. The drive for me was about four and a half miles one-way from my home, so I was spending a lot of time on the road. I continued to work full time, plus I helped my mom out around the house and spent lots of time with my father. I don’t have kids, but I do have a family…and family time meant I had little time for blog reading. Even when I knew a post would be awesome based on the writer, I often skipped it because it just looked too long to read.
Are your giving parents options? If your readers have family obligations, does your blog have a podcast option for their commute? Do you offer some shorter post options they can read during naptime?
And second, money. Overall income doesn’t matter as much as disposable income matters. Two people might both make $75,000 per year, but if one person is single and the other person is supporting three kids, the likelihood that they’re going to purchase your $500 product changes drastically. Again, are you giving parents options? Do you have a payment plan? Or do you have less expensive products? Do you entice with sales from time to time? When your ebook is up against putting food on the table, hungry mouths are always going to win out.
Content for the Whole Family
Considering the needs of digital parents is just the start. I also recommend that you start looking at kids, especially teens, as potential readers of your content. Children are spending more and more time online and unless you’re creating content for an adult-only industry, you want to start grabbing these eyeballs now. These are people who grow up to be truly passionate about a specific topic.
When I was 15, the Internet was still pretty young, but I can remember reading websites about writing. I loved writing prompts, writing tips, and information about how to get published, and I gobbled it up. Another friend of mine spent all his time online look at car-related sites. Yes, before he even had a license. Yet another friend liked finding recipes online.
These teens don’t sound much different from the adults who read your website, right? And maybe they don’t have the ability to make purchases today, but in five years, when that 15-year-old is 20, they will have been reading your blog for five years, and they’ll be much more likely to pull out their wallet to support you.
So how can you catch the attention of teens?
- Be where they are online. Most teens I know are on Facebook, but depending on the niche, forums might also be helpful.
- Produce content for beginners or tell them were to go. If your blog is advanced-level, at least link to 101-level information so that teens (and anyone really) can understand concepts that are new to them.
- Encourage your younger readers. Respond to their comments and help them as much as possible. Remember, you were once young too, so be understanding when someone asks a really off-the-wall question.
Depending on your topic, you might even want to volunteer with the Scouts or other community organizations to introduce them to your niche. If you’re a food blogger, have the local youth group over to your house to prepare a meal together. If you blog about sports, volunteer as a coach in your community. Blog about design? Teach a 101 class for kids at the local arts center. Be the person to introduce a new interest or hobby to a kid and they will remember that (as will their parents).
Not every blog has to directly create content for the whole family, from toddlers to senior citizens. But if you consider the role family has to plan in your readers’ lives and analyze how you can set kids on the right path, you might be able to grow your blog in entirely new directions.