Lockdown changed everyone. Some people changed in ways they never noticed, while others underwent changes that weren’t so subtle. I changed too—I went from being an average high schooler, happy with myself for getting good grades and having a few extracurriculars, to being someone who felt like she just wasn’t doing enough.
All around me, my peers—and people even younger than me—were volunteering for zillions of hours, fighting climate change, and starting their own initiatives, while I was doing… absolutely nothing. Everyone around me was a leader, the main cast of the show, while I wasn’t even in the end credits.
So, like people always do for most of their problems, I went to Google for help. I searched up some variation of “What can teenagers do during quarantine?” and what do you know, a million articles showed up!
And every single one I looked at said the same thing: Especially during quarantine, one of the easiest and most rewarding things you can do to gain experience in leadership and add to your college application is to start a blog.
To me, the idea of having my own blog was exciting but mostly scary. I didn’t have anyone who would be interested in joining me, so I would have to do it all alone, which made me incredibly nervous. In contrast, right now, running my blog doesn’t make me nervous at all! In fact, I’m always eager to improve and advance my blog (and perhaps even share it with the world someday).
I think the main reason I’m no longer nervous is that even though it has only been three months, I’ve figured out the basics of starting and running a blog. I have categorized those basics into 5 simple steps, and in this article, I will talk about the process of starting your own blog and the difficulties I faced along the way.
Step 1: Picking a Topic
This step is fairly easy if you know what you are passionate about. I’ve always been interested in learning about the technical side of grammar (such as grammar terms), so I chose to create a grammar blog.
If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, your blog can just be a way for you to write more often and to communicate your general ideas with the world. You can talk about your daily experiences, important things that happened in your life (like vacations), and pretty much anything else. You can make it a diary of your life, and you can make it as personal or impersonal as you wish.
However, these are just some ideas—if you need more, this link is pretty helpful!
Step 2: Creating the Website
The first step was to create my own website, and as I didn’t know a thing about coding, I would have to use a website builder.
I decided to look at other youth-led blogs’ websites and noticed that every one of them was built from a premium membership to some popular website designer, such as Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace. As a result, they looked sophisticated and professional.
I chose to create my blog with WordPress (it was an arbitrary choice), but as I went through the process (picking a theme, a name, a domain, etc.), I felt like my website’s appearance would never live up to those created with premium memberships—this fact was one of the contributors to my original nervousness. And I have to admit: Even today, I still find it hard not to compare my website with others.
If you, like me, are working off of a free membership to a website-builder and you feel like it isn’t good enough, my solution is to avoid looking at others’ websites. This might be an unconventional workaround, but in my opinion, when there are things to compare, comparing them is human nature.
I don’t have an eye for design—I’m not the artistic type—but I played around with my website until I thought it looked good, and then I moved on to the next step.
Step 3: Making a Logo
Originally, my logo was this:
I think my biggest problem with this logo was that it didn’t say anything about the topic of my blog (one comma and one exclamation mark don’t do justice to the vast field of grammar).
So after one month of having this logo up, I made two other logos: The first one I didn’t end up liking, so I threw it out. As for the second one, I asked my sister (a design major) for input before making it, which made a huge difference! Finally, I had a logo that I loved (I guess third time really is the charm!):
Step 4: Setting Deadlines/Schedules
The third step of the process is to determine how often you’re going to post on your blog. Keep your short-term and long-term goals in mind when setting deadlines for your website. For example, though my blog was primarily grammar-related, I also wanted to use it to improve my vocabulary. I decided I would post a daily word and a weekly grammar tip, and to date, these “deadlines” work perfectly for me, so I never had to change them.
Step 5: Marketing
Finally, I had to figure out how to market: This was the part I was most hesitant about. What’s funny is most people are nervous about showing strangers their work, but it doesn’t bother me if people I don’t know judge me. In fact, I’ve always been most afraid of letting people I know see my work (perhaps because I see them regularly, so their opinion matters).
Another problem I had with marketing the blog immediately was that I’m not great at committing to myself (in other words, if I don’t have to answer to anybody else, it’s likely I won’t ever do the work). I was unsure if I was passionate enough about grammar that I wouldn’t just drop the blog two weeks after starting it—and if people knew about my blog when that happened, I was worried what they would think.
Based on all that, here is my advice on marketing:
Sometimes, marketing is necessary because the website’s success depends on many people seeing it. Examples of websites that require marketing include tutoring websites, organizations that help de-stigmatize mental health, or businesses of any kind.
However, if you don’t need to market and you don’t want to either, don’t.
Remember, your website does not necessarily exist for other people, and this is especially true with personal blogs. Your website’s purpose might look something like mine: To improve my writing skills and my knowledge of grammar while also providing grammar tips to anyone who needs them. Because I created my blog mainly for me, I knew I did not need to market.
This does not mean I will never tell anyone about my blog—the very fact that I’m writing this right now means I might be ready to market soon. But my purpose in narrating this part of the story to you is just to say that you may feel pressured to market, but it’s okay not to if you aren’t ready yet.
Even if nobody ever sees your blog, you will still get 3 important things from it:
Satisfaction/Knowledge: My blog has only been up and running for the past three months, but I already feel immensely satisfied because I have gained so much knowledge in that time.
Experience: If there are others involved in running your website, you gain leadership experience from it. If not, you still get tons of experience in maintaining a website, managing time, being creative, etc.
Something to put on your college apps: Everything you learn through your website—be it soft skills or hard skills—is something that will enhance your college application.
Overall, creating my own website has been such a great experience, and I would definitely recommend doing it! Apart from gaining so much knowledge and experience from it, you will also enjoy having a platform of your own to share your thoughts on subjects of your choice. Moreover, there is a whole community of teenagers out there who have started their own blogs and businesses, so you are not alone.
If you want to start a blog, the time is now!
Update: I decided I was ready to market my blog, so I created an Insta for it. (The Insta handle is @grammarrules101.)