Journaling with Grace

TOWAMENCIN — Junior Grace Kim is like any other North Penn High School student. She attends school from 7:21 AM to 2:12 PM, does her homework and extracurricular activities, and browses Tik Tok during her free time. 

But when she opens the Tik Tok app, she doesn’t go on to just scroll through her For You page. Instead, she enters full content creator mode, posting new Tik Toks, replying to comments, and pre-recording videos on her creative journaling account.

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Kim had always been journaling about her day ever since she was young. It wasn’t until the start of quarantine, however, where she began experimenting with creative journaling, a type of journaling that allows for artistic expression through drawing, painting, and collage making. Some might also use it to create to-do lists, brainstorm ideas, and keep themselves organized.

“When I was younger, I loved stationery or just crafting itself, but I was always like, ‘I’m not creative enough.’ But I really liked doing it and I thought it was really cool. I started [creative journaling] and then I would post it on Instagram just for fun, and it got a lot of feedback,” Kim said. “A lot of my friends on Instagram that do journaling had a Tik Tok, and I was like, ‘I don’t really want to do that,’ but then I just randomly decided to start a Tik Tok, and then it blew up.”

Most of her spreads are based on the things she loves, her feelings, or video requests. She usually goes on Pinterest or looks at other Tik Tok accounts for inspiration on the design and layout. She’ll also follow trends, do spreads based on certain aesthetics like cottage core, boho, or indie, among many others, or do ones based on shows or songs. Her favorite spreads are ones that are more colorful or vintage-like.

Kim’s Tik Tok (@journistic) currently has 265.9k followers and 4 million likes. Creating content can take between 10-30 minutes, but editing can take hours, which she usually splits up over the course of a few days. She films whenever the sun is out to ensure she has the best lighting and some days, she’ll film multiple videos, so she has enough content for the week. She’ll also take some pictures to post on her Instagram page. Her most popular Tik Tok was a ‘study with me’ video that received 3.5 million views.

Kim did not expect her page to blow up upon starting it. Like most teenagers, she created it just for fun, yet her account has grown tremendously over the past few months.

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“I was so shocked. It didn’t even feel real because it’s just all on your phone. Filming a video was so random. I didn’t even expect anything. I knew during my first week, I didn’t blow up like crazy, but it blew up to a certain extent like it first only had 10 likes or 20 likes and then the next day, I had a couple of 100 likes. I kept posting every day and some videos got 100,000 views or something.” Kim, whose videos now receive between 30k views to over a million views, said.

Journaling Tik Toks have gotten popular due to its therapeutic and satisfying nature. When people go on Kim’s account, they’re immediately mesmerized by the relaxing sounds of crinkling paper and pen writing, as well as the pleasing spreads put together.

“I’ve gotten all kinds of comments like, ‘This is so therapeutic and so calming’ and ‘This really helped my anxiety,’” Kim said. “People also go on my account for inspiration. It’s really cool when people would use me for inspiration because I just randomly do it.”

Her large following has allowed her to collaborate with brands. At first, she was the one to reach out to companies asking if she could promote their product. Most of the companies she reached out to in the beginning did not directly pay her, but she got discounts, free stationery, and commission payments through affiliate links. Eventually, companies like Speechify started reaching out to her for sponsored videos. She also worked with a brand called The Washi Tape Shop, which offered to pay her to make videos for them on their account.

“For each commission, it ranges from 5% to 10% of the orders, but I have this one video that blew up like crazy. It was just on this one product and I would make $15 based on each order. On some videos, I’ve made $200, just from people buying through commissions, but from ads, it ranges from $100 to $300,” Kim explained on how much money she makes for some of her Tik Toks.

“I was super excited,” Kim said on how she felt once she received more offers for sponsorships and collaborations. “I saw that if I put a lot of effort into something, I could keep improving. I thought it was really cool and something I could do when I’m older. I’m not sure what I want to do when I’m older, but all of my friends said that I could do something with social media.”

I was super excited. I saw that if I put a lot of effort into something, I could keep improving.

— Grace Kim - NPHS Junior

In addition to having a social media platform, Kim also has an Etsy shop where she puts together journal kits to help those who want to start journaling.

“In the summertime, I really wanted to start an Etsy shop just to make journal kits for people because people are always asking, ‘Where do you get this stuff’ and ‘Where do you find this’ and ‘How can I get started with journaling?’ My Etsy isn’t huge. It’s just a thing I’m doing on the side, but it’s fun because I like to give things to people,” Kim said.

However, Kim expressed that you don’t need specific stationery for journaling. When she started, all she had was a notebook, old magazines, and construction paper. For Kim, you just need to think outside the box and be creative. 

Kim never expected to gain a large following on Tik Tok, nor did she expect to inspire others to follow her footsteps. Regardless, within the past few months of having her account, she’s managed to learn the ins and outs of social media, make some money on the side, and most importantly, share her love for journaling among a community of people.

“It makes me happy that people appreciate the things that I’m doing and that it makes other people happy,” Kim reflected. “It’s a little space for people who like the same thing.”


Tik Tok: @journistic

Instagram: @journistic_

YouTube: itsgracekim

Etsy: journistic