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Lissa Explains it All -- HTML Help for Kids


The History of Lissa Explains it All

LissaHi! That's me over there, Lissa. Well, that was me at the age of 11. I was just 11 years old and in 6th grade when I started Lissa Explains it All. I'm 29 now, and still a junior in college.

I had no intentions of making an HTML help site when I began making my first page, I guess it just kinda happened. You see, I really desperately wanted to make a personal Web site. After months of begging and pleading and begging some more, my parents finally gave in and told me I could make a site. My first site was an eyesore. It was full of animated gifs, huge image file sizes that took months to download, and MUSIC of all things. All of the image files had the .art extension because I was using AOL, and only AOL users could see my images. It was a mess. I kept forgetting the HTML codes to change things on my site, so I started jotting down basic codes on a private section of my site that no one could see. I wrote things like "how do I change the font on my site, how do I add images..." until I got quite a list of instructions. I taught myself mainly by viewing the document source of many, many other Web sites. I was fairly persistent, so I learned a lot very quickly. People started noticing my little personal page, and the questions started coming. How did you do that on your site? Can you show me how to change my text? I decided, rather than try to answer all the questions, I would just send them that private URL with all my notes to myself. I got more and more requests for the URL, until I decided I should just make the URL public. I had so many visitors, I decided my little site needed a title. I called it "Lissa's HTML Help and Web Page Resources for Kids." I published the site first on AOL, and when I ran out of space I published it on Geocities. I borrowed graphics from a graphics site because I didn't know how to make my own very well yet. This is what it looked like. I had that orangey (is that a word?) yellow color that I still have to this day!

It kept growing and growing. I got e-mails from as far away as Australia saying, "I read about your site in our newspaper." There was even something published about me in FRENCH!! By the time I was 12, I had so many visitors I figured my little site deserved a better home. I started begging my parents again, this time for my own domain name. Since I was so devoted to my site, my parents told me it was fine, and they let me get my domain name. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to come up with a new title for my site. I decided finally on "Lissa Explains it All," which seemed very appropriate to me. I bought, and the layout looked like this. My site kept growing and growing, and my new host, who had promised "unlimited bandwidth," wrote me an e-mail saying "you have too many visitors, you need a bigger, more expensive plan." I was crushed. I knew my parents wouldn't pay $100.00 a month just for something to keep me busy after school and dance classes.

I needed to come up with a plan. A newspaper editor from Dallas had just done an article about this site. He mentioned that I could probably get advertising for my site since I had so many visitors. I wasn't sure if I could find someone who would want to put ads on my site, but I did a search on, found a bunch of advertising agencies, and started filling out applications. I got turned down left and right (NO one wanted to deal with a 12 year old), but finally one agency took me on board. I was so excited. I was soon making enough money to pay for my new Web space, and I was so happy that I could keep it online.

LissaI had kept the fact that I had a Web site from all my friends at school. I didn't want them to think I was a geek or anything, so I just didn't tell anyone. At that time I had over 500,000 page views a month. Then, when I was 13, I went to a computer convention with my school, and Sun Microsystems found out about my site, and that I was there at the convention. Sun Microsystems called CNN, and CNN came out to do a story about me and my Web site. Soon my whole school knew about it and I was SO embarrassed. When my friends found out I was making money, they were all impressed and I didn't feel so embarrassed anymore.

I decided to make the present layout for my site because of money issues again. I had a lot of graphics which were pretty, but cost me a lot in bandwidth. I made this layout with fewer graphics and my bandwidth use is down to a much more reasonable level now. Also, it's a little less girly than it used to be, which the guys really appreciate! This site has grown by leaps and bounds and now has several million pageviews each month.

My site has been featured in the Washington Post, and several other large newspapers here in the United States including the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.

And that's my story. I hope you enjoy my site!! Also, a big THANK YOU to those of you who support my site just by visiting, and for all the awesome comments you leave in my guestbook and on my forum.



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