15 & Famous!
Teen bloggers are changing the world—and jump-starting their own futures by sharing their passions online.
Having fans all over the world, going backstage with your favorite bands, getting invited to the White House—the list reads like a dream diary. But guess what? These seemingly far-fetched aspirations all became realities for the teens you’ll meet in this story, thanks to the one tiny piece of real estate each of them occupies on the great big Web. Yes, blogging or vlogging—when you’re truly doing it to share your thoughts and passions with the world—can be a pretty powerful tool.
Ready to get started? Read on to hear from teens who have used blogging to find their voices, then get the advice you need to launch your own blog.
Justina, 15, from Sacramento, California, has hit it big with her style blog, A Bent Piece of Wire (www.abentpieceofwire.blogspot.com).
“I started blogging in November 2010, when I was 13. I had always been interested in fashion, and then I read an article about the ‘Big Fashion Bloggers’ like Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie. I thought, ‘Oh, I can do that!’ Tavi was only 14—and she was sitting front row at fashion shows! But I also wanted access to this larger world outside my house, full of kids who were interested in the same things as me. I’m from a small town that has zero fashion scene, and it can be hard to live life outside the standard ‘school, sports, parties’ routine. My blog is my outlet.
“I write about clothes that I like and why I like them, and I photograph my best outfits. I think I’ve been successful—and trust me, it didn’t happen overnight—because I write to my readers like they’re my best friends. I’ve also had so many unique experiences, like meeting and interviewing amazing fashion designers, and I’ve attended Fashion’s Night Out in San Francisco twice. But the coolest part has been making friends in Australia, England, and Lithuania—people my age who, through the Internet, are trying to get a foot in the door of a crazy industry. That’s why I would encourage you to blog. It’s an amazing way to get your words out into the world and find others who are interested in the same things.”
The Music Reporter
Millions log on to watch Jess, 19, cover the music scene on her vlog, Camera By Her Side (www.youtube.com/camerabyherside).
“When I was 14, I created my own YouTube channel called Camera By Her Side. I was going to so many concerts and spending so much money on tickets that I felt like I needed to do something other than just hang out. So I started taking videos of the bands performing, and I got so much great feedback that I thought, ‘Hey, I should probably try to interview them too.’
“It wasn’t so easy at first—bands don’t usually want to interview with someone so inexperienced. But I reached out to a local teen band called Meadowland. They were just starting out too, and I proposed that we pair up to help promote each other. They agreed, so I filmed some acoustic sets with them, and in turn, they told their fans about my YouTube show. Once they started opening up for bigger acts, like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, it raised both of our profiles. After just a few months, I was hearing from other bands that wanted to be featured! A year later, an editor from Seventeen found CBHS and asked me if I’d like to write a weekly entertainment blog for their website. When I was 16, I got to attend the Camp Rock 2 press conference and interview my favorite band, the Jonas Brothers. I still pinch myself about that day.
“My vlog hasn’t really changed: It’s still about letting fans see their favorite artists in a different light and giving a behind-the-scenes look at what they like to do outside of their profession. I spend at least five hours on it every couple of days—answering e-mails, sending out press requests, editing videos, posting on Tumblr—but without a doubt, it’s worth it. In the future, whether I’m still interviewing bands, writing for a magazine, or even hosting my own radio show, this will have been a great experience.”
Orren, 16, got invited to the White House because of his blog, Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs, about raising his 32 chickens, 4 ducks, and 250,000 bees (www.happychickenslayhealthyeggs.blogspot.com).
“When I was 9, I started raising chickens in my backyard and writing my observations about them in a journal. Everyone asked me what was in the notebook, so I decided to put my notes where others could read them—and that’s how my blog was born.
“To start, I was just writing down every little thing the chickens would do, and it pushed me to be more observant. For example, one was really fast, so I named him Zippy, and another was eating a lot, so I talked about how I thought she’d be really big. As I progressed, I didn’t just get more comfortable with blogging, but I also began to take a deeper interest in the issues surrounding farming and where our food comes from. So I started sharing articles about that as well, and now I’d say my blog has a real purpose, which is to get people interested in raising their own animals—and bees—which is my most recent undertaking. Honestly, keeping up with the blog can be difficult. I feel as if I need to put new information up there constantly so I don’t disappoint anyone, and sometimes that’s hard with homework and everything else. But I would definitely encourage other teens to do it, because it can help you connect with others who share your passions. Last year, I was invited to the White House to be part of a discussion on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which is all about local farming. I got hooked up with a tour of the inner workings of the White House, and we even went out to the front lawn to check out the beehives! But even cooler than that was getting to meet so many people who are involved with the issues I care about. I was the youngest person there by far, but everyone really respected me and listened to what I was saying. It was unbelievable.”