If you have enjoyed connecting with family members through Facebook or family websites, you may want to consider starting a family blog. You can tailor a blog to fit your particular needs and tastes, and you can control whether it is private or public. There are, however, some issues to be considered before you join the ranks of grandparents who have family blogs.
At the end of this article you will find links to articles that will walk you through the technical aspects of blogging. Blog-hosting services generally are easy to use, but they can't help you answer the tough questions, such as how much of your family's private information to reveal.
The Family Conference
Before you start a blog, you'll need to meet with those family members who might be featured in your blog. These topics should be discussed:
- Should the blog be public or private?
- Should the blog writer be identified or use a pseudonym?
- Should other family members be identified or referred to by pseudonyms?
- What subject matter is acceptable?
- What about photographs, particularly photographs of the grandkids?
- What's the procedure if a family member is made uncomfortable by a blog post?
If you don't have a clear understanding of how your family members feel about the idea of a blog when the conference is over, put off the decision until it can be discussed again.
Writing the Family Blog
Once you have the go-ahead and it's just you and that keyboard, what do you write? If your blog is to be private, just think of what your family would like to know. If the blog is public, your standards will be a little different, but you have some idea what you want to write about or you wouldn't be reading this article. Every post doesn't have to be about family. If you have a job, pastime, hobby or cause that you are passionate about, it's fine to post about those as well. When it comes to family, never use your blog to deliver a message that should be delivered in person, or to take a pot shot at some family member.
Some Writing AdviceThe same advice that all bloggers are frequently given applies to family bloggers as well:
- Write regularly. You don't have to have a schedule or a minimum number of posts, but keep your blog fresh with frequent posts.
- Rewrite for brevity. Few people have time to read long, rambling blog posts.
- Don't try to be funny unless you have reason to think you actually are funny. If in doubt, find a critic who will be honest.
- Write from the heart, but learn the difference between honest sentiment and schmaltz.
- If you have problems with grammar and spelling, find a friend who will be your proofreader. And use single exclamation points, not triple or quintuple.
- If you use photographs, make sure they are properly exposed, clear and well-cropped.
- Learn to use hyperlinks. Don't borrow anyone else's work, and link to any piece that you use as a source.
A blog should be informal but not sloppy. Use the hints above to prevent sloppiness, and then concentrate on developing your own voice.
Finding an Audience
If you want to widen your audience, one of the best ways is to find like-minded individuals. Visit their blogs and leave thoughtful comments, and you'll probably be rewarded with return visits. This list of grandparenting blogs is a good place to start. From visiting other blogs, you'll also learn what makes a blog enjoyable to read. Do resist the impulse to mimic a favorite blog. Your blog will be successful only if it is uniquely your own.
If you're like most people who are considering starting a blog, another thing you want to know is whether you can make money with your blog. The answer is yes, but for most bloggers, the income is going to be small. Most family bloggers should keep their focus on the fun and the family connections. That's where the big payoff is likely to be.