It’s tough to express an opinion or tell a story in just 140 characters or one square (oh wait…not anymore!) picture. There’s always Facebook for those longer messages, but you’re too cool to still be actively using that. So what’s a verbose adolescent to do?
Three words: start a blog.
Gone are the days of the late 90s and early 2000s when online blogging was an awkward collection of bland, underground websites that only people with extensive knowledge of the interwebs could access. Now, lots of people have blogs.
There are whole communities of bloggers who support each other and produce quality content that often gets picked up by major news companies. Many people have even made careers out of their blogs, earning fame and fortune just by writing about stuff they’re passionate about. It’s certainly become a popular pastime in the digital age.
Whether you want to get famous and write for money or you just want to get your thoughts out there, blogging is a very constructive way to spend your time.
Israeli researchers found that teens who suffered from social anxiety became more self-confident and active in real life if they regularly wrote on online blogs. Having a blog, they said, creates a space for self-expression that’s also interactive.
It doesn’t matter if people actually read your blog—just the act of putting your writing in a public environment will grow you as a writer and a thinker.
There are lots of other benefits, including but not limited to:
- Calling the shots about everything pertaining to your blog: from its design to its content, no strings attached
- Getting practice with deadlines
- But still having flexibility when you’re busy
- Taking a small corner of this huge thing called the internet and making it completely and unapologetically yours
- Writing about what you love and nothing else
- Being the editor-in-chief, publisher, and owner of your own ‘media company’
Starting Your Blog
First, think of a theme or topic for your blog—anything you want. Have you always wanted to write about food? Maybe you’re into basketball or politics. You can get as niched or as general as you want, as long as it’s something that you’ll be able to talk about a lot. You can recap every episode of Phineas and Ferb. You can review every single restaurant in your city. You can write poems and stories. Or you can just talk about your life in general.
The possibilities are endless, but the more specific you get, the less likely it is that someone else will be writing the same thing as you.
Once you’ve established your theme, come up with a name for your blog. An alliteration of your name and some adjective (e.g. “Ecstatic Elizabeth” or “Zany Zeke”) has probably been done already, so come up with a title that represents you and your chosen topic.
Now it’s time to create your actual website. There are oodles of free and paid services that can host your blog. Blogspot, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress are among them.
Personally, I think WordPress is the best option; it’s user-friendly and it’s used by a lot of legit websites (like The Prospect and Time Magazine). It digitally separates your blog’s content from its your physical design, so you can easily edit posts and manipulate your site’s logical structure without worrying about screwing up the placement of a text box.
Once you’ve created your blog and claimed a domain name (which will usually be something like (yourdomainname).(yourservice).com), start making it look pretty by customizing a theme. If you’re an artist, why not draw or design a logo for your blog?
The first thing you should write on your blog is your “About Me” page. Just tell the digital world a little (or a lot) about yourself. Next, make your first post. It can be a short “Hey, what’s up? This is my blog” kind of thing or you can dive right into writing about your topic. Again, it’s all up to you.
My blog (shameless plug: asfarawayaspossible.wordpress.com) focuses on all things travel, and I write about my life through a lens of discovery and exploration. Ignoring the fact that I’m thirsty for page views, I recommend you check it out if you’re new to blogging. While it’s nowhere near perfect, it may give your new blog some inspiration.
That brings me to the next step in starting your blog: follow and connect with as many other bloggers as you can. Subscribe to blogs that pique your interest—you’ll be inspired by a lot of what other people have created, and they’ll be inspired by you in return.
Keeping It Up
OK. You’ve started your blog—yay! Now how do you keep it up when the tidal wave of homework and extracurriculars washes over you once school starts?
Set posting deadlines for yourself on the weekends. Mark it down in your calendar for every week (or every two weeks). And on Saturday or Sunday, instead of going on Twitter or checking the Gram for two hours as a study break, why not crank out a little 300-word blog post?
A great way to make sure you don’t get bored every week is to create a series of posts. For example, on my blog I used to do a segment called “Pipe Dreaming Saturdays”, in which I would talk about a far-flung destination I’ve always wanted to visit and how it could be substituted by a trip closer to home. Every Saturday I’d have one of these posts due, and it was great practice for researching, keeping up with deadlines, and keeping consistent with a specific theme.
So if you’re into foreign news, maybe you could do a weekly download of the most pressing stories from abroad every Saturday. Or if you’re a foodie, you could review a new food truck for dinner every Friday night (oooh…I might steal that one).
So there you have it: a crash course in starting your very own blog. It may seem like a daunting, unnecessary undertaking on top of all the other stuff you probably have to do, but trust me: everyone needs some “me” time, and a blog is one of the best ways you can do it.
Go ahead, write; explore; learn; uncover. Let your voice be heard—the world is listening.