How to Start Your Own Publication in High School

You spend every free moment you have reading The New York Times and dream of becoming a journalist. Or maybe you love Vogue and want to be a fashion reporter. Maybe you’re in love with The New Yorker and are already working on your first novel. Whatever the specifics, you just know you love to write.

Whether you want to write for a hard news website, a lifestyle magazine or a literary journal, it’s never too early to start practicing your craft, and there’s no better way than to start writing for your high school’s publications. But, if your high school doesn’t have one, that’s even better—start one!

Not only does having writing experience in high school look great on college applications, but it helps you improve your writing skills and figure out exactly what you want to do. High school publications are generally small, so you’ll get to try your hand at a lot of different roles, especially if you’re one of the founding members. Even though it may sound daunting, starting your own school publication can be a lot easier than you think.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Figure out what type of publication you want to create

It’s likely that you’ll have to go to your school for your paper to be authorized, or to get funding to create the paper itself. Simply pitching a “publication” won’t cut it, so make sure you have a solid idea of what type of publication you want to create. A literary magazine and a newspaper are very different, so figure out which one interests you more.

Once you have that down, create a mockup of your magazine or paper and have a general plan for how you want to run it. Figure out what topics you’re interested in covering, how many writers you want to have, how often you’ll be releasing new content or editions of the paper, etc. If you have a solid idea, you're more likely to get approval for it.

2. Find a teacher or adviser to help you

Once you get approval from your school, getting a teacher to help run the paper is definitely a plus. English or journalism teachers are often more than willing to help their students gain experience in the field, so ask your favorite one! They probably have previous experience working on papers or magazines as well (whether in the professional field or during their time in school), so they have a lot of knowledge to share.

Depending on your school, though, you might be required to have a faculty adviser to start your own publication or club. So if this is the case for you, just switch the order—pitch your idea to an adviser first, and then the school.

Related: 7 Pre-College Programs You Can Join in High School

3. Recruit writers

You won’t be able to release a publication if you don’t have writers, so find like-minded people to join the team. “Make flyers and such to get students interested in joining,” suggests Elizabeth Berry, a sophomore at Connecticut College. “Everything is easier when you have more people who want to write and edit.”

If you’re creating a newspaper, find people to be in charge of each potential section—think arts, sports, pop culture and opinion—both as editors and writers. If you’re making a literary magazine, find people who are interested in all different types of writing—short stories, poetry, cartoons and even music!

4. Work on getting it into print or creating a website

This is probably the hardest part: actually publishing your magazine or newspaper. Sarah Lynch, a sophomore at Marist College, suggests making sure you find a reliable printer service for your paper (if you’re going into print). “For my high school newspaper we used School Paper Express, located in Wappingers, NY. They probably have the most outdated website you've ever seen, but have reasonable prices and are always quick to deliver,” she says.

If you’re going to be publishing your paper online instead, Sarah says you should invest in a website service to help you create the best website possible. Her school used School Newspapers Online: “They can make your regular WordPress site look outstanding and even help you create a mobile app to go along with your paper,” she says.

5. Get the word out

Once you start producing content, make sure you get people to read it! Get the word out by having a launch party for the first issue or the day that your website goes live. Invite friends, family and other teachers at your school. If you’re in print, see if you can distribute your paper around your school or at local businesses, and if you’re online, definitely post links to your new articles on social media so everyone can see your work.

Once you get the word out and have a publication that’s released regularly, Sarah suggests submitting your work for competitions and awards. “Look for awards in your local area and at the national level to submit your work to. The Quill & Scroll is a great one, and you can even induct members into their honor society (great for the resume!),” she says.

6. Don’t get discouraged

Started your own publication is hard, and it’s going to be a lot of work, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while. You might have a tough time finding writers, getting your idea approved, or even physically creating the publication. Also, don’t be surprised if you get some annoyance from already-established publications at your school. If there are already newspaper or literary journals there, you might face some heat as the new competition. But don’t worry, all the difficulties will only make your publication stronger.

Whether you’re on the fence about taking on the responsibility of creating a publication from scratch or you’re more than ready to dive right in immediately, just remember that it’s one of the best things you can do to help kickstart your career in writing (and you’ll have a great time doing it!).

“The most important thing is to be enthusiastic and passionate about the [paper] and soon people will feel the same way!” says Elizabeth. If writing is something you’re passionate about, your paper or magazine is sure to be a success.