Blogging Ban Teaches A 9 Year Old About The Power Of The Internet

Martha Payne's cheeseburger lunch

Martha gave this cheeseburger meal a health rating of 2/10

A 9 Year is Banned for Blogging

I recently read about a blogging ban on a 9 year old on Wordtracker, by Andrew Tobert.  It is such a great story and has several lessons to teach small business owners reluctant to blog.  So, I thought I’d share it with you.

The short version of the story is Martha is a nine year old in the Scotland.  Her father sat up a blog for her.  There she would post a photo of her daily school lunch, rate the meal on a food-o-meter, give it a health rating and counted how many bites it took her to finish her school lunch.  She was attempting to raise funds for a food charity called Mary’s Meals to build a kitchen in Malawi for children.

Sounds pretty innocent, doesn’t it?

Well, it was until some people in the community started paying attention to Martha’s blog.  Namely, the local area newspaper.  It used one of Martha’s posts and suggested it might be time to fire the luncheon ladies.

The school officials reacted and asked Martha to stop her posting activity, which the dutiful 9 year was willing to do.

Enter Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef.  He heard about the ban on Martha and tweeted about her predicament to his 2.3 million followers.  Guess what happened?

School officials overturned the ban on Martha’s blog and she had raised in excess of £30,00 for Mary’s Meals.  I just read an update from the BBC (June 22nd) saying Martha has raised a total of £100,000.   Prior to the ban, she had only raised £2,000.  Pretty impressive.  Right?

Blogging Lessons for Small Business Owners

So what are the blogging lessons from a 9 year old for small business owners?

1.  Do It Your Way – Chances are you are not the only small business in your industry to share information online.  But you probably do have an interesting perspective that you should share with your readers so you can stand out from the crowd.  A perspective that is yours and yours alone.

Yes, it may be a little scary to take the path less taken and I’m NOT suggesting you say things in your blog you’ll regret once someone reads it.  But expressing your opinions in your own unique way means you are ‘adding’ to the online discussion and not simply regurgitating it.  Your perspective, your style is what your readers want to hear.  Don’t be afraid to give it to them through your blog.

2.    Make it simple  – Martha designed a simple daily blogging task.  Take a picture of her lunch, rate it and post it.  That was it.

Many small business owners complain they don’t have the time to blog about their business.  Yes, you do.  You just have to zero-in on a simple process of how to blog about your business.  Use Martha’s technique as an example.  Take a series of photos of your products each week and post about each one once a day along with the photo.  That’s it!

3.  Be laser focused – It is tempting to write about all of the new things that come down the pike.  In the process, you lose your focus about why you are blogging.  What did you want to accomplish through your blog?

Martha has stayed true to her objectives.  She is using her lunch photos and rankings to elicit contributions to Mary’s Meals.  That is it and it was working.

4.  Don’t hesitate to connect with others who have clout – Martha didn’t go out to connect with Jamie Oliver.  Rather Jamie heard about the blog banning through media coverage of the ban.  However, Martha certainly could’ve connected with Jamie Oliver since they are both addressing the same topic…school lunches – one from a chef’s perspective and the other from a child’s perspective. Jamie would have been happy to follow Martha’s blog and probably to have made a contribution to her cause prior to the ban.

The point is that small business owners should seek others in their industry with which to connect.  Ideally, some of those others will have bigger followings or a large fan base.  If you strike a cord with those who carry a lot of clout in your industry, it potentially can go viral and help expand your reader and subscriber base. If it doesn’t go viral, that’s okay too because you are still connected to an industry leader and that’s always a good thing.

What does Martha’s experience tell you about blogging for your small business?  Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Yes Martha could have had a nice #BrainDownload with Jaime Oliver. This is what I teach all the time with the radio show – it is not about following us- who have what seems to some “bigger than life reputations” – it is about talking with us and making a difference from it.

    How can you this week make a difference by connecting, talking and asking better questions that stimulates new solutions?

  2. Wow, Sheila, what an awesome and inspirational story from several angles. Kind of like my thinking, what I call reverse pyschology. Go ahead, ban me… when others find out, I will draw more attention. And that’s what happened to her. Again, some good stories in this one, even for those that are scared in starting a blog.

    • Jeff…again, thanks for your comments. Yes, it is interesting how the ‘establishment’ tends to think they can just ‘ban’ something and it will go away. Not so in today’s world. Bans tend to magnify this issue…not diminish.

  3. Great story, Sheila! It’s a shame that the nine-year-olds have to put the grown adults in their place when it comes to eating healthy. And the fact they still shut it down when it was for charity is absurd to say the least “/

    Nice post…inspiring :) And great tips of course for blogging.

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