After months of preparation, designing, and figuring out website loading speeds, code, and everything in between, I’ve finally launched my website! It’s been a long time coming, and I’m really proud about everything I’ve achieved with my blog. Every new click or like on my website makes me so happy. So, if you’re reading this, I’m probably doing a little happy dance in my room right now because I’m so excited that someone out there is enjoying my blog!
Throughout this journey that started out with a simple Wix blog and ended up with a fully-fledged website, I’ve learned so many important things that makes me really glad that on one summer afternoon, I decided to start a blog about my journey as an aspiring biomedical scientist. Here’s the story of how my blog came to be!
How everything started
Even since I was really young, I’ve always enjoyed learning about medicine. I knew I wanted to go into the medical field, and science was my favorite subject at school. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I, like many other students, was quarantined at home. Even though my teachers tried their best not to let the pandemic change our education, school was significantly easier for me, so I decided to take a couple online courses about various topics, from American law to cancer biology to marketing.
While taking an online course about the cardiothoracic system, one student mentioned that they were running a medical blog and posting all sorts of topics in medicine and healthcare. I was immediately fascinated by his blog, since I didn’t know that students could start blogs on medicine. That afternoon, I decided to start my own blog on biomedical science, since it was what I wanted to pursue in the future and I’d never seen a blog quite like it, so I thought that maybe another student out there would be interested in learning about my journey as an aspiring biomedical scientist and maybe I could help other students by sharing the mistakes and things I learned along the way. I also wanted to work on my writing skills, since timed writings were what I struggled with the most in class.
The strange thing about me is that I’d much rather share my personal thoughts with strangers who don’t know me rather than people who know me well, so even though my personal social media pages still remain empty, I wanted to share my experiences with the world. With technology nowadays, it’s becoming easier to connect with people halfway across the globe, which is something I appreciate as a teenager growing up in an interconnected world.
The early stages of my blog…
While I’m not sure if it was some otherworldly signal for me or just Wix loving YouTube advertising (probably the latter), I took the dozens of Wix ads on my YouTube page as my calling and created a Wix website to start my blog. On my first day as a blogger, I was so excited to share the online learning resources that I had tried and loved during quarantine, since I had learned so much during quarantine and I wanted to share that with other students. It was exciting; I spent an entire afternoon writing the post and finally posting it onto my website. However, I still wasn’t sure what to name my blog, which turned out to be a major problem throughout the process of setting up my blog, so I went through many alternative names, which included a wide range of Latin words and medical terminology, before I decided on Lavender & Lab Coats.
For me, this name was symbolic because lavenders are my mom’s favorite flowers, and lavender reminds me of bumblebees in the summer. My grandmother’s name also means lavender or wildflowers, and I really look up to her, so that’s why I chose lavender to signify the personal aspect of my blog. As for the “Lab Coats,” I want to become a biomedical scientist in the future, so the “Lab Coats” represents the future of this blog, where hopefully I’ll be able to talk about my experiences being a real researcher! I’ve always been quite career-oriented, although I do have a wide variety of hobbies and interests, considering the sewing needles, yarn, paintbrushes, recipes, and skating equipment strewn around my room.
Fun Fact: Lavender + Lab Coats isn’t my first blog! I’ve started three different blogs, and worked on many others. For example, when I was 10, I created a blog called Roboaliens 101, which was about how if robots and aliens combined, they could take over the world. Another one was a blog about hamsters, since I was a hamster fanatic when I was younger. While I no longer own hamsters, I still love animals and I’m hoping to get another pet soon!
However, I began burning out…
During that summer, I spent dozens of hours every week researching and writing posts for my blog, as I posted three times a week! My friends and family likely got tired of me asking weird questions about biology and healthcare, as I kept asking for their opinions on whether or not paid organ donations should be banned or what they thought about embryonic stem cell research.
But despite the excitement of researching these topics and learning more about biology with every post, I quickly became burnt out. I began dreading having to write each post, since it was incredibly tiring to spend the entire day researching and writing. I wanted to quit blogging. It made sense that I was burning myself out though, since I was posting three times a week, which is a lot considering everything else I was doing at that moment. However, before quitting, I decided to take a break from blogging just for one week, and see if I wanted to come back to it after that break. And since you’re reading this now, I did.
I often write about how important it is to take breaks, and I learned the importance of this when I took a break from blogging. I tend to focus on a task for long periods of time without taking breaks, since it felt like an accomplishment to feel completely drained after finishing the task, and I realized that as much as I felt the need to finish my task, it was important to take breaks to keep me from burning out.
Fun Fact: The post on paid organ donations was one of my favorite posts that I’ve ever written. At first, I was all for paid organ donations, I thought it was a great system that would save more people, but as I read more and more into the arguments for both sides, I realized that it wasn’t such a great system after all. To this day, I still think it’s a fascinating issue.
I started having issues with my productivity and balancing between work and life…
Around the time school started, I began having huge problems with my productivity. I first learned about the Pomodoro time management method, and even though I didn’t really have issues with focusing, I decided to try the method. I didn’t have much success with the method, since I just ignored the timer and kept working.
However, because of that I began naming my productivity issues “Pomorado,” since I had misremembered the name of “Pomodoro.” Ironically, my productivity issues weren’t with being unproductive, but with working too much and never being able to take a break. Whenever my mom told me to take a break, I told her that Pomorado kept telling me that I was being unproductive, so I had to keep working to please the Pomorado. This unhealthy habit of working caused me to work for much longer for 12 hours a day, and I found it amusing that many online tests called me a workaholic, which I was becoming. The Imposter Syndrome made me feel that everything I was doing wasn’t good enough and I needed to do more, which drove me to becoming an extreme workaholic.
Eventually, I broke down from the stress of working all the time, and I began thinking of the previous summer, where I had been much happier because I was productive but also took breaks. I began having a much better relationship with working and taking time for myself, so I was much happier once I could get over the overwhelming feeling of Imposter Syndrome.
But I wanted to turn my blog into something bigger…
However, I’ve always had lofty aspirations, and I knew that I wanted to do something bigger with my blog. While browsing through the internet, many people suggested that I move my website onto a different platform other than Wix, since other platforms had more professional features than Wix, and I could have my own domain which I thought was very cool. To pay for the expenses of starting a blog, I began tutoring younger students in math and English, which was a valuable experience all on its own, but I eventually made enough money to pay for hosting, a domain, and everything I needed to start a professional blog. It took a while though; While I had paid for hosting and began to work on my blog, I still couldn’t decide if I wanted to keep the name Lavender & Lab Coats. But in the meantime, I started working on designing my blog. I was absolutely shocked by what I saw after signing up for hosting, it was a very technical page full of website-building jargon that I didn’t understand, and a very un-user friendly interface.
However, I soon realized that I was on the wrong page, which was a huge sigh of relief that I didn’t need to know what all of those abbreviations meant. Since I couldn’t afford the beautiful themes I saw in those fancy theme directories, I began searching for cheaper options. At first, I started with a theme that had a beautiful preview and it looked just like I wanted, but I realized that I could barely customize anything, and the website looked awful. Many people who know me know that I’m a sucker for well-designed items, which made having an aesthetic and customizable website of critial importance. After days of frustration with the theme where I couldn’t customize anything, I wanted to give up on using the new platform and just go back to using Wix.
But with all the resilience blogging has taught me, I decided to consult the trusty internet again, and sure enough, the internet had answers. Here’s a tip for any aspiring bloggers out there: If you love designing things to look aesthetically pleasing like me, choose a customizable theme instead of one that looks great in the preview. It’ll save you a ton of frustration when trying to customize the website to your liking. From designing my website, I’ve realized that there’s so much you only notice after you try doing it yourself, since now I often go onto websites and think, “This website has a great design and a fast loading speed, nice.”
Blogging isn’t without the technicalities of maintaining a website!
Most people don’t start blogs to learn the technicalities of maintaining a website, it’s just the byproduct of starting a website. I didn’t either. Not at first. However, managing my website turned out to be one of my favorite things about blogging, and I loved continuously finding ways to improve my website.
I was a very frequent visitor on Pingdom Speed test and Google PageSpeed, as one thing I was very concerned about was the speed of the website. To improve my page loading speed, I began testing various image optimizers, trying out all sorts of caching methods, moving my website to a CDN, everything. However, my website began to glitch, which was frustrating to me, but I wasn’t about to give up. I tested each variable one by one, and eventually I realized, with three caching softwares, I ended up minimizing my css/html files three times, no wonder my website was glitching!
This was far from the only issue I had during the process of setting up my site, I had software that slowed down my site, caching issues that would cause the old version of the website to be displayed (which ended up with me clearing the cache of every single electronic device in my house, and my parents weren’t too pleased with having to login to everything again), and changing nameservers and DNS records and all the things that I had to learn slowly. I’ve realized the internet is truly your best friend, as you can learn basically anything from the internet. Recently I’ve been trying to do all sorts of things that I never thought I would be able to do, like setting up a website all on my own for one, and the internet has helped me so much in figuring things out.
If you’re trying something new or difficult, don’t give up!
Take advantage of the resources available to you, such as the internet, online forums, or ask experts in the field such as teachers or professors. I’ve had pretty lofty plans, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with those plans just by searching around and asking for help. One resource that I’ve found helpful, especially for science students, is Science Buddies Ask an Expert forum, which is a website where you can ask experts in the field of science for help on science questions. There are online forums for a variety of topics and interests, from website hosting to hamsters, so you can find the answers to nearly anything nowadays with the help of the internet. Even though learning how to build a professional website was confusing and difficult at times, I still found it exhilarating to be able to continuously improve my website and design it exactly like I had imagined it, like it was an actual dream come true.
Fun Fact: Despite my parents’ suggestions, I never learned how to code past basic html and making crude drawings of penguins, nor do I want to learn how to code. However, managing the technical aspect my website turned out to be one of my favorite things about blogging, since I love finding efficient solutions to a problem! It’s definitely not glamorous though, trying to figure out a difficult concept can be extremely frustrating, and obviously, a lot of website design involves coding so I had to learn a lot of things!
I began marketing and promoting my blog…
However, no blog is complete without loyal readers. When searching up the best ways to market a blog, the social media sites that were most frequently mentioned were Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Every day, I would make tons of Pinterest posts, Instagram and Facebook posts, and tweets for Twitter. While it was tiring to make so many posts every day, every link click or Pin save made me so excited that someone was interested in my posts, especially as one day I noticed that I had multiple saves on a post announcing the official launch of my new website. That day was a great day; I was so happy that people liked the idea of my blog, since in the beginning I wasn’t sure if people would be interested.
My mom suggested that I start a mailing list since she wanted to get notifications whenever I posted, so that began a long search for the perfect email marketing tool. I thought that finding an email marketing tool would be easy, after all, there’s usually a popular tool that everyone recommends right? I ended up spending a couple days just testing out various email marketing tools, creating test accounts just so I could see if I could customize the subscriber forms to my liking. I’m extremely particular with the design of my website, so customization was a huge consideration. Eventually, I settled on MailerLite because of the number of features for an affordable price, and of course, I could customize it to fit the design of my website. After hours of debating over the designs, here’s what I came up with!
I would love for you to join my mailing list, I’ll be sending out emails with important updates, resources, and reminders about new posts!
In total, here’s what I learned from being a high school blogger…
This blog has been incredibly valuable to me in terms of personal development, through all the research and writing and marketing, I’ve learned so many valuable skills from blogging. Most importantly, I encourage everyone to start making progress towards whatever you’ve always wanted to do, even as crazy as the idea sounds. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to have my own blog or YouTube channel, but I never imagined that I could’ve gotten as far as I have with my blog, especially with the busy schedule of high school.
With school closing down and leaving me with more time on my hands, a closed door leads to a new opportunity. I really appreciate every single person who read my posts and supported me throughout this journey, so thank you so much for being here and reading my blog! Since launching my official blog, the journey has just begun. The number of ideas I have for future blog posts are only growing as there are so many topics for what I want to write about. As a high school blogger, I’ve learned so many things, but the most important thing is, don’t be afraid to do something that you’ve always dreamed of. You can do it!
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.”Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone