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Switched on Seniors

Australians are a relatively plugged-in population. We spend an average 6.8 hours a day online, with smartphones being our primary point of connection, research shows. And it isn’t just the younger generation switching on to technology. The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016-2017 Household Use of Technology report shows just over half (55.2%) of people aged 65-plus are internet users.

The top reasons for seniors to jump online include:

• entertainment,

• banking,

• making purchases,

• social networking.

Digital connectivity can help bridge the gap between human contact and isolation and can offer seniors a way to feel part of a community, learn new things, access services and stay in touch with family and friends.

In fact, research by National Seniors Australia found that for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, digital literacy prevents social isolation. “Being online allows them to find and connect with other people of similar backgrounds, to share their stories and experiences, as well as staying connected with family and friends near and far through the likes of Skype, Facebook and email,” a report into Bridging the Digital Divide explained.

What are the benefits of blogging?

One digital form of connection (and entertainment) is blogs, which are conversational webpages created by either a person or a group and updated regularly.

They usually have a following of interested readers whom enjoy the writing style, themes and topics, and some people even participate in the blog’s associated online community.

There is opportunity to keep informed and entertained, relate to someone else’s journey or step into someone else’s shoes to understand their point of view. It has benefits for both the blogger and the audience.

Sixty-one-year-old Brisbane-based blogger Sue Loncaric launched her blogging journey four years ago after taking early retirement to spend time with her husband.

However, after one year in she found it hard to settle. “I had worked full time for most of my life [and] felt I had lost my purpose and was floundering. I needed something for me to put my energies into” Sue explains. “I knew I was passionate about living a healthy and active life, so I decided to start my blog to encourage women over 50 to embrace life with an ageless attitude. I wanted to inspire them to focus on enjoying their life rather than their ‘number’ and to realise that retirement only means retiring from work, not life.”

Her creation, Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond is the end-result and is all about making the most of this “fabulous time of life”. The blog attracts around 6,000 visitors per month, predominantly from Australia, USA, UK and Canada and she has over 2000 followers on Facebook and more than 1500 on Instagram.

Blogging through life changes

Another successful blogger, Chris Herrmann from Western Australia, has been writing about his travels since embarking on what he dubbed his ‘senior gap year’.

After losing his wife to cancer, the realisation that life can change in the blink of an eye encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone and travel solo.

While backpacking around the world, Chris documented his journey in his weekly blog myseniorgapyear.com, inspiring many with his experiences.

Positive feedback from his readers encouraged him to grow his blog posts into a book, which was launched earlier this year by the federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt.

How to launch a blog

If you are considering starting your own blog, it can be a steep but rewarding learning curve. There are many online tutorials and programs that take the complicated work out of blogging and free sites to get you started without upfront payment.

“If you want to be serious about building your readership, or to gain affiliates or make money from your blog, you need to put the time and effort into producing quality writing about topics of interest and, most importantly, reply to comments left on each post.

You are building a relationship with readers and this takes time,” says Sue. Now, she spends up to 15 hours a week on her blog, which includes topic planning, writing posts, which she publishes three times a week, replying to comments and commenting on other blogs.

Sue says the blogging landscape has also become easier in recent years. “There are many sites that just concentrate on teaching people how to set up a website and of course analytics such as Google Analytics are very helpful to gain an insight into who your readers are and what they like to read,” she explains.

“Setting up a website is much easier these days, as you can use a free design to start with that has all you need without even having to be tech savvy. If you want something more you can purchase a website for as little as $50.

You just type in your website name basically and away you go.” As for the personal benefits that come with running your own blog, it has been a pleasant surprise for Sue. “My self-confidence has grown, I’m connecting with fabulous women over 50 who, like me, aren’t giving up on life because they are ageing, but rather starting new careers or taking new directions in their lives.

“I have also found the self-confidence to become a guest speaker and I’m in the process of starting a life coaching business. The connection with others has been one of the benefits of blogging and when someone writes that I have inspired or motivated them, it makes my day.”

Original article from Chapter Magazine.

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