First of all, I must confess that I am not the final authority when it comes to the subjects of the youth, blogging, and youth blogging. My own parents once remarked that I was “born old,” there are people out there who have more experience and skill in blogging than myself (and I shall be making use of their expertise for this post), and my interests do not conform to those people in my age range, hence my parents’ “born old” comment.
While I am clearly a hopeless amateur when it comes to the subjects of youth blogs and how to make them more attractive to young people (or more specifically, people ages 15 to 24 years old), I can call upon the data I have garnered from years of observing the target audience for almost two decades, which I will make use of in order to finish this work, thus fulfilling a certain class requirement.
Now then, suppose you want to make a youth-oriented blog. How do you go about making it attractive to the Filipino youth?
1. Listen to Sun Tzu.
“Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for a hundred battles.”
“To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
“The reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass that of ordinary men is foreknowledge.”
Blogging, just like a lot of other things, is like war. You, the blogger, are a general commanding a blog-fortress, and you are mandated by the Son of Heaven to defend the Empire’s borders from the barbarous hordes of readers. In this case, your enemies are the Filipino youth. Your enemies are numberless, remorseless and unpredictable. Plunging into combat without having any knowledge of your enemies can only lead to a crushing defeat.
As a blogger, the first thing you should do is to know your readers. Who are they? What do they want? What are their habits? What are they interested in? Once you know of that, you can amply prepare and write things that would impress them. As Sun Tzu said, the wise general conquers and surpasses ordinary men through the use of foreknowledge.
Forcing your target audience to like something because it’s in your blog does not work. If it does, then there would be no unsuccessful blogs and websites. The people of the internet has highly discriminating tastes, and a single lowly blogger such as yourself cannot change that. If you want your blog to be successful, then appeal to what your audience wants.
2. The KISS principle. I learned this principle from a book several years ago. K.I.S.S supposedly means “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” a statement which I believe requires no further elaboration.
Besides keeping your blog’s content simple, you must also keep it conversational and impersonal to the best of your ability. I have observed that Filipinos, especially the youths, generally prefer informal conversations to formal ones, and reading materials that have a conversational tone to them than more serious-sounding ones (Case in point: Filipinos are more aware of the existence of Bob Ong than of Jules Verne). It should be safe to assume that Filipinos would prefer more conversational-sounding blogs over preachy ones. A little humor may also go a long way for your blog.
Be warned, though: you can sound informal, but you must not sound too informal, which will distract your reader too much. All things in moderation, nothing in excess.
3. Keeping up appearances. You must also be careful about your blog’s design. Make your blog too minimalist in appearance and it becomes boring. Decorate it too richly and the readers might be distracted from what they are reading. You must keep the content as the central focus of your webpage’s design since content is what really matters in a blog (obviously).
Your home page is the public face of your blog. It must be attractive enough for the readers to want to look at the other parts of your site, but not too attractive or the readers will pay little to no heed to the content. The number of links and such things in a home page is also an important point to consider. Too little it would become difficult to navigate the site, and too much and the home page will look cluttered and it will also be too difficult to navigate the site.
Consider the following home page designs. The first one from the left has some pieces of appealing artwork, but unless they are links to different parts of the blog they are of little use to the site itself. If I were to visit the site that uses this as a homepage and those pictures are not links, I would stop to look at the pictures, look around for a while, then leave. The second one is a fine minimalist design that would keep my attention to the content, but it somehow lacks the links that would allow for easy navigation. The third design seems to strike that balance of design, organization and number of links, and the fourth one seems so cluttered that I cannot decide what link I will click first. While the fourth design would work for a gaming website (that’s actually a design for one), it cannot work on a blog.
Pictures are also an important part of your blog’s design. My observations suggest that people – especially young people – prefer blog posts that have pictures in them than large walls of texts. Pictures or links to such can also help you explain what you want to explain. In fact, I would put more pictures here if this computer I’m using isn’t throwing a tantrum on me. I would try to fix this as soon as I’m able.
4. What does that have to do with me? This is the question that any youth-oriented blog should keep answering in their posts if they want to keep their readers’ attention to them.
Whether the Filipino youth want to admit it or not, in general they are more concerned with their personal needs than to the needs of their society as a whole. Therefore, if you want the youth to listen, tell them that what you are saying is relevant not only to society, but to their lives and that of their families as well.
Generally, the Filipino youth can also empathize with others of their age group as well. Putting the experiences of other youths in your posts from time to time could lead your readers to keep returning to your blog for more.
5. No, the OTHER youthblog.com. Most of the time, people will get to know your blog through search engines or social networking sites. This means that giving your blog a generic-sounding name will lessen the chances of people finding out about it. Your blog’s title itself should be unique and interesting-sounding, which would attract people to it. The tips listed here might be useful.
Along with an interesting title, interesting design and content may also help improve your blog’s discoverability. If your blog’s design is appealing enough and your content is interesting enough, then your readers will likely want to share your blog with their peers, allowing your blog to be known with minimal effort on your part. This technique is called viral marketing.
6. We are Legion. The youth – not only those in the Philippines, but young people everywhere – seem to have an insatiable need to interact with other people, especially other people in their age range (hypothesis: this phenomenon has a biological cause). A smart blog creator can exploit this by allowing the readers to interact with each other and with the blogger. Things like chat or comment may go a long way to the blog’s success. In fact, giving the readers some space to write on in your blog (like a comment box in every article or a chat box if you’re sure it won’t distract your readers) may form a community of your readers, which would result lead your readers to visit your blog again and again.
When dealing with the Filipino youth, it would be safe to assume that the more interactive your blog, the better, as long as those features do not distract the readers from your blog’s content. Once again do I say to thee: All things in moderation, nothing in excess.
Now then, let us take our thought experiment to its next stage. Suppose I were to make a blog directed toward the Filipino youth. These are some things I would do:
– The blog will focus on one or two things that the young people are interested in. For instance, I was informed that the young people of today are interested in news about the newest gadgets, music, sports and video games, so I will concentrate on at least one or two of those, like combining news about gadgets and video games. If I am not familiar with what I am writing, I would do in-depth research on the subject. For instance, if I were to write about a video game, I would make sure that I actually played said video game so I can write about it effectively.
– I could also discuss more mature things like politics and the economy in a youth-oriented blog, but I will do so from the youth’s perspective. In fact, I should make a sample of a political article told from the perspective of the youth in a future post.
– To sum up what I want to put as the content of my youth blog, let me enumerate all them again: things the youth are actually interested in, articles whose content are verified by research, and analyses that take the perspective of the young people themselves.
– Since my blog is directed at the youth, I will take their thought process into consideration when writing my blog posts. If I want to write a blog about opinions on political issues, I would keep my language informal and conversational and I would look for the opinions of other young people and add them to the blog so that my readers will know that other people from their age group have opinions on that issue, which means that they should too.
– I would keep my posts concise and straight to the point, which let the readers read them with little to no distractions. I could also allow people to comment on my articles and show their opinions on the issue I posted about. My articles will encourage discussions among my readers. They can also contact me after every article and I will respond to them as often as I can.
One particular youth-oriented blog that I found quite effective is There is no fear in love by someone who calls herself Jee Geronimo. It is about religion, which ensures that it would have a steady stream of viewers (religion and the religious is quite a permanent society after all). Its blogger has broad knowledge of what she’s talking about, based on the content of the blog’s posts. The blog itself has a minimalist design that keeps its readers concentrated on the content. It has a unique name as far as blogs of that sort goes, which means it can be easily discovered. And its many re-blogs and followers are proof that it has quite a community centered around it. In short, it is very effective in what it does.
Now that I finished writing this, I just realized the most important resource any person who wants to write a youth-oriented blog should have: time, lots and lots of it.