Diary of a Fangirl

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“Fangirls” often get a bad name, don’t they? They scream a lot. They’re “dramatic”. They’re obsessive. They like YouTubers and One Direction. They love posters and blu tac. The actual dictionary definition is “a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction.”

But all boiled down, what does this really mean? a female human who is often really madly into something (usually cultural or artistic) and isn’t afraid to show it.

I am fan girl.

If I like something, or someone, I will tell them a million times how much I love it. I will go up to them at a party and say I like it, I will Instagram a copy of their book with lots of heart emojis. I will tell all my friends to buy their thing. I will tweet them compliments. I fangirl at my friends and I fangirl at random strangers.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this piece on the Telegraph entitled “fangirling your heroes in cheap and childish” rubbed me up the wrong way. I really really like the author of the piece’s work, so it’s nothing personal. It just made me reflect on the term “fangirl” and gave me some fodder for a blog post, and that’s always a good thing!

On reflection and after reading this article, I realised I don’t care the stereotypes that comes with being a so-called fangirl. I get really obsessed with things I like. I play songs on repeat for months. I still rip out articles and stick them in a diary. I order five books by the same author all at once. I stalk people on social media who I admire. I write long emails to people to tell them how their movie had an effect on me. I get really into people, things, culture, art, writing, books, paintings, places.

A few months ago I found a book from the seventies in an old library and wrote a very “fangirl” blog post about how much I liked it. The author, who is now in her 80s found my blog and email address and sent me an email. She usually emailed me quickly while explaining she’d had to go, because she needed to take her sick husband to hospital for check-ups. It would really lift my mood hearing from her, someone on the other side of the world, who’s brilliant book taught me a lot of new things. The “fangirling” turned into having a new penpal. It was simply a way to connect. I’d made a new friend.

I don’t care how fangirling at people LOOKS to the outside world. I do it because I want someone to know I like it. Sometimes it’ll be a public shout-out, sometimes private, usually both. In a nutshell: I want just want that person to know they have a new fan.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I am quite picky with what I fangirl at. I don’t go around absolutely loving everything and everyone – quite the opposite. I don’t think the term should be palmed off as being just a “teenage trait” of being really “into” stuff. To me it’s just part of having the type of personality that gets really inspired by their surroundings. I don’t ever want to change that for the fear of seeming childish. I don’t want to hold back any excitement over the things that make me happy.

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The article argues that “before Twitter, regular people would usually only offer such praise if they really meant it – mainly because finding someone’s email address or writing them a letter took a lot more effort.” There’s definitely a truth in that – instead of a quick “OMG I LOVE YOUR BLOG POST” you could instead email that person and say “dear xx, your blog post was truly inspiring because etc….” But, social networking has made it easier to drop someone a little note to say: I like what you’re doing. It’s important to tell people when you like their stuff. It builds confidence. Everyone likes a little boost. Everyone appreciates a compliment. We all know that someone saying: “you look great today” automatically means you WILL have a better day. Sending a tweet is easier than an email. I don’t think it’s “laziness” I think it’s the fact that we are able to do it in between odd jobs at work or on the commute home, it’s making it less of a task to sit down and write people lots of emails full of praise. We shouldn’t feel ashamed or silly for sending a nice message, especially as the Internet has very dark corners to it. I think sending the odd tweet to tell someone you’re a fan is one of the most redeeming qualities of social networking these days.

 

Over and out,

FROM A BIG INTERNET FAN GIRL.

XOOX

My most recent Instagram fangirl behaviour:

THE PROOF HAS JUST ARRIVED IN MY HANDS OF ELIZABETH GILBERT’S NEW BOOK:

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The Diary Of A Teenage Girl: Film review

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Tonight the lovely Liv Purvis of the blog What Olivia Did invited some fellow bloggers along to Soho Screening Rooms to watch a film I’ve been dying to see: The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. As someone who a) used to be a teenage girl b) reads her teenage diary out loud in pubs as part of Cringe UK and c) is writing a young adult book, I was super dooper excited to see this, especially as the rating (18) has had some controversy in the media this week.

You see, the film is based on the graphic novel (of the same name) by Phoebe Gloeckner, which tells the story of a 15 year old girl called Minnie Goetze who has a sexual relationship with someone she probably shouldn’t. (I’m paranoid of giving away spoilers!). The reason there was some questioning over the 18 rating is because of that sheer irony; the fact the young teenage girls who this film is for, can’t even go and see it. This makes me feel like there is some shame around young females having sex still. That is not a great message. The main protagonist is fifteen, and yet fifteen year old girls cannot legally see the film. The same target audience who enjoyed the novel are “not allowed” to see the film version.

Riiiiight.

I read a brilliant piece on Indy Voices by June Eric-Udorie who explained the situation:

“this film – written, produced and directed by women – was refused a 15 certificate by an all-male panel at the British Board of Film Classification last week. The BBFC stated the 18 certificate was given due to “strong sex scenes including mechanical thrusting.”

All-male panel. Cool.

Quite simply, this film is for teenage girls and anyone who used to be a teenager (so: anyone). I felt tears welling up in the corner of my eyes because I felt sad for Minnie, like I felt sad for my 15 year old self. I suddenly had those teenage feeling come flooding back: being 15 was totally completely UTTERLY exhausting. I too stood in front of the mirror naked prodding at my lumpy bits. I too remember squabbling with my sister but then also running into her room crying and wanting a hug. I too thought that most things didn’t have consequences.

I really do remember the awkwardness of that age: like a time I was at a party with one of my older sisters when I was 15 and vividly remember saying: “I hate being 15. I feel like a no-one. I’m not young enough to be care-free, and I’m not old enough to be able to join in with grown-up stuff.” I felt old enough to wear crop tops and try my first cigarette, yet I wasn’t allowed to stay up partying with the adults, and was still treated like a child.  It was just a bit “meh”. I spelt a lot of time in my bedroom making things, a lot like the character in this film.

I love that this film has a strong central character; a girl who is in control of her life, even though she is full of teenage hormones and insecurities. She is more of an adult that a lot of the actual “adults” in the film. She is totally honest about the power and weakness of being a girl-not-yet-a-woman (ALRIGHT BRITNEY!) I like her progression throughout the film, she really does grow and by the end, you feel like she will be totally OK. She is creative, brave, dramatic, mature, baby-like, sad, scared, sexual, angry, hopeful: she is all the things that teenage girls are.

AND YOU DON’T WANT TO MESS WITH HER. :)

In a nutshell: definitely go see this film, especially as you get to see Queen Kristin Wiig in a more serious role.

The Friendship Massacre

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You are in your twenties. Each day you’re finding out more about how you are. You have more people to please than before. You accumulated friends like you accumulated expensive vintage dresses. A dream career to follow. You have a bit more growing up to do.

Basically, reaching this crazily busy age is a “like a friendship massacre. There is blood all over the walls” described by my writing hero Ryan O’Connell. He’s right you know. You cannot do everything you are doing and keep all of those friends you’ve accumulated from the last twenty years. It’s physically and literally impossible. Sometimes you don’t actually “throw them out” you just “forget to wear them”. Or they forget you. 

And I’m glad he plucked up the courage to say it. Because it’s true. When you start working in a strenuous, emotionally-draining job, especially one you love, time is suddenly way more precious. The weeks are long and busy; with a tiny slither of light that is used as one’s “spare time”. I’ve never been very good at Maths but what I do know is that you can’t fit a square into a triangle. Some things just won’t fit, however hard you may try. We only see the people we really have time for. And ironically the average person has 157 Facebook Friends in the UK.

I have a really vivid memory of being on holiday in Portugal, very young. At a restaurant I remember asking my Mum about one of her friends, who had two daughters the same age as me who I’d “made friends with” years prior (aka cut the hair off some Barbie dolls together, the stuff 6-years-old do to “bond”). I asked her why we didn’t see them anymore. My Mum replied that they lived very very far away and that they weren’t as good friends anymore. I remember being mortified. Being at school at the time, constantly surrounded by hundreds of friends every day I was baffled at how you could just casually not see someone anymore. At school, we never ever thought we’d ever be separated. Ever.

You don’t just lose friends, little-me would think to myself. Friends don’t just “come and go”. 

Except they do.

Now, I get it. You can have friends for a month, a year, two years, three years, because at the time you had lots in common and it was all rosy. When I think of friends I’ve made over the years, from school, university, work, it’s fair to say only a few really stick. It’s like when you throw pasta on the wall to check it’s cooked. Only a few will stay without falling sloppily to the ground. It’s half chance, half deep-rooted connection that your best friends with stay with you until the bitter end. It’s rare that friends also stick with you when you discover your different hobbies and beliefs.

You all get taken down very different paths, and yet expected to enjoy chatting for 3 hours on the phone every night. Lucy Mangan’s piece in this week’s Stylist was interesting; she said “when you first get married, you often find yourself gravitating towards your married friends”. This must happen when babies hit the scene too. How depressing. 

Sometimes you will be disappointed by friends who “you’ve known forever” but cannot see past their own reflection. Some will get boyfriends and go way past the excusable “honeymoon period” into just plain laziness to socialise, and some will have different, random priorities that you just couldn’t have predicted.

We all know that there are different types of friends. There’s the:

a)     Best friends are just there all the time. You never leave each other alone.

b)     Mates that you love and will always be on any party invite list

c)     Coffee once a month friends who you both wish you saw more of

d)  Brand new mates who you are excited about getting to know

e)    People who get in touch when they want something

f)     The-Ghosts-Of-Friendship Past who only say “happy birthday” on your Facebook wall

g)      People who you bump into who say “let’s do coffee” and you know you NEVER will 

Being the social animal that I am. I like having friends and I like meeting new people. I love chatting to people at any time of the day, and going out and doing things. Weirdly, I’ve become more introverted over the years (picking a Sunday afternoon in my pyjamas over going to the pub) but all in all, I adore people. But, since moving to London and getting immersed in my job and having proper grown-up “responsibilities” I couldn’t help feel like my friends were dropping like flies. 

One of my favourite writers Ryan O’Connell wrote about the whole friendship thing in his twenties in Vice: “When I entered my twenties and the post-collegiate workplace, however, I was introduced to a variety of different definitions of what it meant to be someone’s friend. Apparently, being a friend now means meeting someone for drinks from 5:00 PM to 6:15 PM, or only seeing someone at night when you go to a party and get drunk and hold hands all night, acting like the best friends you will never be or maybe being nice to someone who you don’t like but have to keep around for professional reasons, whatever the fuck THAT means.”

What is that about? Friends suddenly being free for “ten minutes after work, sorry babe!”, or “I’ll pencil you for 26th July 2015” when you’ve quite clearly stated you’re having a nervous breakdown.

However, I’ve had an epiphany recently. And epiphanies take time.

I’m actually pleased that a job and a “busy life” filter out the good, bad and the ugly of the friendship world. A friend is NOT someone who shoves their busy diary in your face and “squeezes” you in. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, not really, who were the better friends. Or who would actually be there for me when I needed them. That was when our lives revolved around drinks and parties, of course you were inundated with socialising and group nights out. Everyone was free AT ALL TIMES.

But realising the rubbish ones are is hard. Losing a friend is hard. Ryan also calls this out in his piece: “We expect dating to be hard, we expect getting your dream job to be far-fetched, but what we don’t count on is having our friends no longer make sense to us. They were supposed to be the easy part.”  It’s like a break-up except you can’t appear to be too upset. You both move on. You have so many private jokes you can longer share with them. They get a new best friend and put it all over Facebook. You feel like you’re whole relationship was a lie. When you’re young you give so much more to your friends than a boyfriend, you invite them everywhere,  stay up all night crying with them, succumbing to peer pressure with them. It’s a properly “earnt” friendship. It’s exhausting. 

But, now, post-massacre, I’m glad that at the end of it all, that through the mystical strange world of being a 20-something and “figuring it out”, I’m happy that this natural friendship cull happened. Quality over quantity is genuinely better, for me, anyway.

The people that I meant to stay with you, will stay with you. And I’m so lucky to have them. Even if it’s still a frigging nightmare to book holidays off work all at the same time.

Image source: @girllostincity Instagram

Dear Twitter, I like you the way you are.

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Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same? Emma Gannon explains why this is a bad move

This article was first printed in the Independent

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, famously once said: “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” Twitter, however, is the opposite to this. It brings the world together.

On 14 February last year, as a Valentine’s gift to myself, I deactivated Facebook (I reactivated it three months later, but that’s beside the point) because I’d had enough of Facebook choosing what I should see in my newsfeed. The “most popular” posts would be at the top of my feed, which usually consisted of someone I met once, drunk at a party, posting her new engagement ring that looked like all the others.

This was shown to me because Facebook thought it was more relevant, because lots of mutual Facebook friends had “liked” it. But I also noticed that the algorithms had stopped me from seeing things which they deemed “irrelevant” – such as hiding my best friend’s status about her feeling upset, because she wasn’t as active on the platform.

Annoyed with Facebook’s algorithms, I hung out on Twitter more, appreciating that I could read updates in real time, with nothing edited out. So you can imagine my disappointment at the recent news that Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey is planning a big “overhaul” of the website. In short: a “reverse-chronological timeline, in order to ‘balance recency with relevance’.” (We’ve already seen some of this implemented with a new feature called “while you were away”, which groups together highlighted tweets from the people with whom you have interacted most.)

Sound familiar? So will my response. Namely: how have robot machines ever truly known what’s relevant to a human being? And on Twitter, the reaction to this news has been outrage. It’s much like when Twitter announced that it was changing the Direct Message functionality so that any Tom, Dick or Harry could send you a message. (Before, you had to follow each other for the privilege of being able to DM, one of Twitter’s iconic functionalities).

“It’s ‘Facebookisation’,” said one tweeter, employing the term used to describe the changes made to any social network that isn’t Facebook. Another said: “Twitter keeps trying to destroy Twitter, by changing the things people like about Twitter.”

Daisy Buchanan, journalist and Twitter addict, added: “I do think the magic of Twitter is its live, rolling, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-quality, where you can connect with anyone.”

Jess Commons, a culture editor, also makes a good point: “Twitter’s current timeline is what makes it so special. It’s what allows little-known people to make a big impact.” The overall message, then, from core users is: “We like it how it is”. But real hardcore fans, such as blogger Laura Williams, may differ: “Nothing could turn me off Twitter,” she wrote.

Nor, probably, me – so long as they don’t fiddle with it too much. As Eli Pariser says in his viral TED Talk, “The Filter Bubble”, “invisible, algorithmic editing of the web” can have a bad effect on us social humans. If we stay within the confines of a relevancy algorithm, we’ll never discover anything outside of our “interests” or comfort zones. And as a regular Twitter user since 2009, I remember the first reasons why I fell in love with using it as a tool. I’d watch live tweets from a country thousands of miles away, and I could decide what to retweet – which meant that I was organically sharing information.

Twitter educated me about things that I would never have otherwise discovered, and I love it for that. I love that anyone’s tweet can fly and make an impact. I found my job and some of my best friends on Twitter, and I’ll never swap that for the closed walls of Facebook.

Facebook makes me lazy with my real-life friends, who I should be phoning or texting more, but Twitter just makes me more adventurous.

I don’t want to live in a filter bubble.

#GirlBosses: A thank you

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I guess this is a weird love letter to the good female bosses I have been lucky to have had randomly allocated to me in the past. Thank you. Thank you for teaching me that you don’t have to “beat the men” by being harsh, brash or a mean girl in the office. Thank you, for teaching me the power of a healthy working relationship and the power of the sisterhood. Thanks for teaching me that you can get that corner office and also push forward your fellow females. Thank you for teaching me that clashing egos is not a good recipe for getting anything done.

You see, I’ve had my fair share of good and bad female bosses. My closest bosses over the past five years have coincidentally all been women, which is why I can compare and contrast their different approaches and subsequent effects on me. While there is a big difference from the impressionable, early days of my career, to now, where I’ve learned to guard my feelings better, there is one thing I know for sure: An unhealthy relationship with a female boss can very easily slip into becoming more about the relationship and less about the job at hand — and that can be damaging, both professionally and personally.

Read the full article here on The Liberty Project.

Podcasts That I Love

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I bloody love a podcast. Nothing beats a rainy weekend cooking or blogging or curling up on the sofa and putting on a really good podcast that you can just float away with. I always learn something new from the people/podcasts I listen to – so I thought I’d make a list and share them all with you. They are mainly ones about creativity, which I’m really into. Let me know if I’ve missed any – these ones are more industry-led I suppose, for media professionals or anyone who is interested in storytelling. But I’m interested in others, anything to do with learning something new…..

Magic Lessons With Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a brand new podcast, there are three available right now. They answer questions from writers struggling to get on with their creative work, and she has amazing guests like Cheryl Strayed who pop on the line for a chat and to give some advice. You can listen here.

Dear Sugar Radio 

Talking of Cheryl Strayed, this is her podcast, with other fellow “Sugar” Steve Almond. They were both writers for the Dear Sugar column for the Rumpus, and after reading Cheryl’s book Tiny Beautiful Things which was an amazing compilation of all her columns, it’s so brilliant to have another portal for Dear Sugar, right into our ears. If you’re looking for brutal honesty, you’ve come to the right place. You can listen here.

Filler Podcast 

Filler Podcast is for the creative industries hosted by Matt Shore and Harry Hitchens, brought to you by little coffee shops. Both hosts are very talented young creatives who are up to all sorts of things including this podcast. They host really interested people on here, such as successful bloggers, YouTubers, designers at Facebook, editors at magazines. This is totally up my street. You can listen here.

Longform Podcast 

This is described on the website as “a weekly conversation with a non-fiction writer or editor on craft and career” hosted by Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff. They host guests such as Anna Holmes (founding editor of Jezebel, currently at Fusion) and other writers or big names at the New Yorker, or Grantland for example. Each episode is about an hour long. You can listen here.

Not Too Deep 

This is hosted by YouTuber/TV Presenter Grace Helbig and is what it says on the tin: not too deep. She interviews fellow YouTubers and authors and it’s just a bit of FUN. You can listen here.

Desert Island Discs 

OBVIOUSLY I HAD TO PUT THIS ONE ON HERE. It’s favourite one. It doesn’t need any introduction. This podcast has got me through some DARK TIMES. I really recommend diving into the archives, they go back to 1940s. Thank you DID. You can listen here.

Great Lives, BBC 4

When I got through the many archives of Desert Island Discs and needed some else, I downloaded Great Lives to see if it offered anything similiar. It’s a much different layout, but I really like it. I especially enjoyed the ones on Nora Ephron and Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopez. You can listen here.

The James Altucher Show 

I read James’ book a while ago called “Choose Yourself” and I found it to be the world’s biggest pep talk. So it’s great to listen to this podcast if I’m ever lacking inspo. I guess it focuses mostly on “entrepreneurship” and has guests like Seth Godin, Neil Strauss, Maria Popova (found of BrainPickings). You can listen here.

Plz Advise 

Molls podcast! I just like listening to Molly McAleer’s random thoughts and controversial opinions and random musings. She’s a co-founder of HelloGiggles website for millennial girls and her guests included people like Catfish’s Nev Schulman. You can listen here.

5×15 Podcast 

I often go to the IRL talks and I loved them. So it’s nice to have it on my iPhone too for whenever I want to just dip into an inspiration talk. People like Jon Ronson, Germaine Greer, Matt Haig. You can listen here.

This is one of my favourites from the podcast.

Ted Talks, Ideas Worth Spreading

I love Ted Talks (who doesn’t) so I like having this podcast on my phone too, in case there’s one I want to re-listen to, or discover new ones. You can listen here.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

This is Gretchen’s podcast that talks “my experiments in the pursuit of happiness and good habits”. She discusses things from creativity, to how to get over failure, to positivity. You can listen here.

The Moth Podcast

I LOVE THE MOTH. I’ve written about the Moth IRL story slams for the Independent, and for my blog lots of times, so obvs had to include this podcast here as one of my FAVES! You can listen here.

Radiolab 

This podcast is amazing – each episode is an hour long, and covers a broad range of really interesting topics, including “thought experiments”. They describe themselves as: “generally try to shake up your universe.” You can listen here.

Reading Lives 

I found this one via Ashley Ford (if you don’t follow her on Twitter, GO DO IT). Reading Lives is an interview podcast with interesting people who love books, hosted Jeff O’Neal from BookRiot.com. You can listen here.

Please send me any that I’ve missed…xoxox

33 Things I’ve Learned This Year (So Far)

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It’s the end of July. WHAT?

I wanted to do a six-month reflections blog post as we’re half way through the year (already, wtf). In December which wasn’t all that long ago, I wasn’t feeling great. I was feeling VERY “meh”, very strange; just very confused. So I wanted to share the things I’ve done, as little messages that in hindsight, helped me. Of course, they are quite personal reflections so may not apply to everyone.

1. While everyone else is fighting on Twitter, do the stuff YOU want to do. While everyone else is being angry and shouting at people, you can do amazing things.

2. If you’ve had a hard day, have some wine. Or a bottle. No one will judge you.

3. The time spent offline with loved ones IS the best time. Two week holidays are recommended so that you can actually have a chance of switching off.

4. Don’t judge people for what they do at work. We do stuff sometimes that isn’t our vibe. Everyone has to pay their rent/mortgage.

5. Have a side-hustle that you love, whether that’s your blog / private writing (enter passion here) and it’ll always save you.

6. If you turn your hobby into a full-time job: WELL DONE! And prepare to nurture a love/hate relationship forever.

7. Say no more. The more you do, the more people always want from you.

8. Perfectionism is procrastination. Don’t let it stop you.

9. Tell your story and do NOT ever be silenced. Women have been told to “ssssh” for years. Don’t.

10. Be self-aware, and aware of the changing world around you. You’ll avoid offending people by accident.

11. Fight for your issues but always be aware of other people’s too.

12. Don’t listen to people when they sound like they’re trying to force something upon you.

13. Don’t be surprised when people respond angrily if you are angry.

14. Be calm whenever you can. You’ll always have a better conversation that way.

15. If you’re feeling blue, there’s lots of free stand-up comedy on YouTube.

16. Yes, life is short and yes, it’s already going quite quickly. BUT we all still have so much time to do what we want to do. So much time.

17. If you think about the same thing over and over again, it’s confirmation you want it. Go get it.

18. Friends-who-aren’t-your-real-friends have probably disappeared by now. Hang on to those that are always there.

19. Cherish the real small happy moments. The smallest of things.

20. If someone gives you advice, be grateful. But, you don’t always have to take it.

21. Books and podcasts will save you.

22. You know that thing that’s keeping you awake at night, worrying? One morning soon, you’ll wake up, the sun will be shining, and you just won’t care anymore. As if by magic.

23. The people who are happy for you: squeeze them and never let them go.

24. You’ll never be finished with education.

25. Go to the cinema on your own.

26. Money can be easily wasted. Every time you buy that dress you don’t need, you’re powering someone’s private jet. Maybe just double check you really want it. Or go to an Independent shop.

27. You’re doing WAY BETTER THAN YOU THINK. WAY BETTER.

28. Always use other people’s success as an inspiration, never a set-back. Because it doesn’t work that way.

29. If you like someone’s work/project/thing: TELL THEM. They might be feeling anxious.

30. Hold back X amount of time for yourself. Don’t feel bad about it. DO YOU.

31. Always be honest. Even if it’s painful.

32. Remember: success means different things for different people.

33. Don’t read lists.

5 Things Content Creators Can Learn From YouTubers

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I’m not the target age to be loving YouTubers. I’m 26, and I’m not that into beauty tutorials (actually I’m not into them at all), or watching people dare each other to spray whipped cream into their mouths. I don’t like listening to someone tell me about everything they’ve bought that day either via a “haul”. I get a bit bored after five minutes of even my best friend’s or family telling me what clothes they bought tbh, let along a stranger.

But, I am huge fans of YouTubers and the industry they’ve created for themselves. The reason I am pro-YouTubers isn’t necessarily just because of the content they create – although I can totally understand why younger viewers enjoy it – it’s more because I admire their entrepreneurial mindset and the way they have been in charge of their own editorial and made a name for themselves in a new, exciting way. Anyone that does something that bypasses “the old way of doing it” totally gets my vote. So many companies are becoming stale because they refuse to wake up to how quickly the Internet changes month on month and how people consume things.

They have single-handedly created a new phenomenon, a new way of being away to build huge personal brands and be able appeal across platforms, from YouTube, to mainstream mags, to book deals. It’s not weird for Oh My Vlog to exist because these personal brands don’t just live online anymore, they just started off there and it continues to be the main platform. We don’t find printed TV guides weird when they talk about what’s on TV, and we don’t find the Radio Times weird when it talks about the radio. A mag about YouTube is no different to this. It’s just another way of letting teenagers keep up with what their favourite online celebs are doing (and who doesn’t love a poster).

I find it quite frustrating seeing so many journalists poo-poo these YouTube careers, when ironically these journalists are constantly (and often desperately) trying to build their own profiles on Twitter (and other networks) which is the same sort of thing. Most people are using a social platform to build a personal profile in order to get more career opportunities.

That is just how it works. You cannot hide the fact that having a bigger personal brand is a good thing, if this is the industry you want to be in. 

YouTubers are the kings and queens of personal online branding. They have bothered to create content for years on end, building up a community of people who enjoy watching their videos and blog posts and tweets. People that slag off YouTubers are often not bothering to look at why this has all happened and kicked off. Instead they are too busy focusing on how “silly” and juvenile it is that they vlog from their bedrooms, instead of understanding the reason why the format is addictive and interesting to viewers. You might not like the content, but it’s important to understand the shift in digital content and how people consume stuff. You cannot control the fact that young kids like watching YouTube over TV. You cannot ignore that people that have a fanbase will get noticed. It’s not rocket science and yet people keep thinking YouTubers will just one day go away. They won’t go away. People use platforms (and it’s not just YouTube) to CREATE things. Bigger companies who don’t bother experimenting are automatically  behind.

Instead of “feeling old” and “not getting it” I think it’s best to understand why they are getting more clicks, more views, more followers and frankly more online LOVE. They are filming, writing, editing, recording, creating assets, coming up with ideas, working with brands,  publishing their own material. I think that’s more impressive than working for an establishment that is stuck in their ways and frightened of change, quite frankly.

So here are some things that content creators can learn from YouTubers:

1. The amount of content produced

These YouTubers release their content extremely regularly and they let their viewers know when it’s coming and how they can view it. They keep people in the loop at all times, instead of just randomly firing out content whenever it suits them. They are very good at teasing out something, whether it’s an announcement video about something they’ve been keeping a secret, or something they’ve been talking about all week. We all know the “press release” is dead – and they use their video channel as the main way of “announcing” big news. They have such a personal relationship with readers that people know that on Sunday at 6pm (for example) they can settle down with their laptop and catch up on a video. They have regular slots – for example Zoe and Joe’s #SuggSunday. You know, every Sunday without fail that they will have uploaded a new video. They get their viewers into a routine.

2. Native Advertising

This is what everyone’s interested at the moment and it’s clear why: it actually works. Brands now want to work with a publisher in a way that capitalises on the form/function in which that platform is built. Facebook has been “natively advertising” things in our newsfeed for years (we all know some are better targeted than others) and online magazines are starting to build some brilliantly editorially-led ideas where the reader will enjoy the feature and the advert will be weaved in naturally and authentically. The piece will still highlight that it is an “ad” but the way it is presented means it’s more likely to be read and consumed. These editorial collaborations are better for both the publisher and the brand because they get to create something they are both proud of, and it will often perform better (in terms of engagement) than a big banner shouting ‘PLEASE CLICK ME I’M A BIG ANNOYING ADVERT’ that we’ve all learned to ignore, or click the ‘x’ on.

3. Cross-promotion

These big personal brands all collaborate with each other. This is the oldest and best trick in the book for making sure viewers cross over and they each gain new followings. YouTubers do this extremely well. They will film a video where both YouTubers appear in it, then one of them will put a video on their channel, and the other person will upload the “bloopers” version to their channel, for example. It means they both get a piece of content that will work really well, but it will drive followers from one channel to another, or just capitalise on their combined following meaning the video is more likely to get more views. Individual brands or company brands should team up with like-minded people more often so instead of competing your collaborating. Win win situation.

4. Authenticity 

The other day I overheard a small child say that she would be “more excited about meeting Zoella than Taylor Swift” when asked why she replied “because I feel more connected to Zoella”. This means that the fact that they are SO personable means people feel closer to them online and thus will follow their every move religiously. Gone are the days that you follow a random celebrity just because they’ve got a film out, young people now what to follow someone who is constantly available on social media, who’s oversharing their lives, and replies every so often to tweets so that you feel involved and part of the gang.

5. Crowd-sourcing ideas

It’s not new, but these guys ask their viewers opinions on stuff all the time. Whether it’s a simple #Ask[Enter name] hashtag that people use to ask loads of questions, or whether they ask “what type of stuff do you like seeing on my channel?” “what’s your favourite type of video?” “who shall I collaborate with next?” – all these questions are vital to knowing what people want, without having to guess and get stuff wrong. Obviously they can see from their analytics too what does well and what doesn’t – but the idea that they talk directly to people is a winning situation. Being too far removed from the people reading/watching you can mean you will never know if people are dropping off, or becoming uninterested in the stuff you’re producing.

I think YouTubers are extremely clever and impressive people, and to ignore what they are doing (even if you don’t directly enjoy the videos yourselves) is the worst thing you can do.

Image source: We Heart It

 

 

Life news: I’ve got a book deal!

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I can now share the *official news* that I am writing a REAL LIFE BOOK with my dream publishers Ebury Publishing,  the imprint of Penguin Random House that publishes Caitlin Moran and Mindy Kaling (OMGZ).  It’s called Ctrl; Alt; Delete, and it’s a memoir for young adults about my life growing up with the Internet from the nineties up to now. I cover all sorts of topics very close to my heart, from online dating, to learning how to Photoshop my prepubescent body, to teenage self-esteem issues to cyber-bullying to blogging and working in online journalism, all told through personal experiences.

You can read all about it on the Bookseller website here.

I’ve had the best fun writing it (digging up old diary entries and cringing at episodes from the past). Anyone who knows me or even just follows me on Twitter knows that I am a total bookworm and the idea that I will have my own book to hold and place on my bookshelf is a total dream come true. I can’t wait to start working on what the cover is going to look like with my incredible editor at Ebury called Sara. We already have some very fun ideas.

I have my agent Robyn at Diane Banks Literary Agency to give a huge huge thanks to. Once I had the idea I felt like I had to get it out to people as soon as possible. I suppose my inkling was “what are you waiting for?” because it felt quite timely. But I needed to work with someone who totally understood the idea. Back at the beginning of the year I was speaking to a few agents, testing the water and getting to know some people in the industry because I had no idea how it all worked. I even met up with people who didn’t necessarily work in the right department to be able to directly help but they would still chat through my proposal and give me some feedback which I couldn’t have been more grateful to them for. So many people were lovely to me and we went for coffees and chatted and I spoke about my vision for the book.

I had the book all planned out in my head and I knew exactly what each chapter would consist of from start to finish. The idea for the book came to me on a plane journey to Australia fully-formed, and I had to immediately write it all down in chronological order before I forgot any of it. I’d had ideas for books before (I had lots of half-formed ideas that would frustratingly sort of just evaporate over time) but this one just felt really right. I emailed a few friends about it and the response was different to usual, instead of a politely supportive “that sounds cool” it was more like “Emma, you have to write this. This is the book.” I have so many other writers to thank for publishing their stories and giving me the courage to tell mine. It was like I was almost waiting for permission to write it.

When I met up with a few different agents I felt it was almost like going on a series of blind-dates. It wasn’t just about them liking you (even though I hoped they would) but it was my chance to ask myself who I liked the best. When I met Robyn for the first time I knew almost immediately that I wanted her to be my agent. I’d met with a few others before hand who were lovely but I didn’t come away excited, I came away feeling anxious, because even though many of them did want to work with me they were already pulling it apart and suggesting huge changes. I didn’t mind the feedback of course, but it unsettled me.

But with Robyn I could just be myself. I actually felt it from our initial emails, it sounds cheesy to say we “clicked” but we genuinely did, and I felt really relaxed in her presence and that she ‘got it’ right from the start, plus I just really really liked her. I came away from our meeting feeling so excited I could burst. I think one of the important parts of the agent/author relationship is trust. I knew I could trust Robyn to be supportive but also she totally knew her stuff and would give me her honest opinion if she thought a sentence sounded a bit weird or it wasn’t quite clear enough what I was trying to say. I never felt like anything was being pushed on to me, and she never made me felt like we had to change something if I didn’t want to. She made me feel like I was in control of the book, but she worked her absolute magic on making the proposal into what it was. The stuff I was oblivious to: the selling; the formatting and advice to add in or take out certain bits here and there and explain exactly why. I could not have got this book deal without her.

I’ve been working on the book with Robyn since March and it feels surreal writing it all down on this blog now that it’s properly happening. I feel like the past five years of non-stop writing has led up to this point, and it’s all very exciting indeed.

It’s always been my dream to write a book. My house is full of them. I’m obsessed with reading. But writing something that is much longer than an article or blog post has been a brilliant experience for me. I’ve enjoyed the feeling of holding back pieces of writing as I’m so used to the immediacy of online publishing, having the time to finesse, being able to mull over an idea for longer and having a much bigger word count. In a world with very tight deadlines and short word counts it’s been amazing to be able to write something I can really take my time over and edit edit edit (with Sara’s wonderful help, of course) to create something I’m going to be proud of.

I can’t wait for it to be out there in the world (Spring 2016), and thanks to everyone who’s supported me. I have a lot of people who I am so incredibly grateful to know and I really really hope you like it.

20 Immediate Thoughts After Watching Magic Mike XXL

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1. Genuinely, am I allowed to like this? And *whispers* can I still call myself a feminist? *hides behind a tree*
2. The best thing about this film might just be Jada Pinkett Smith
3. Imagine if Jada Pinkett Smith was your mum
4. I mean, I wonder how Willow Smith is feeling right now
5. Why is Amber Heard pretending to eat a whole red velvet cake? It reeks of “The Cool Girl”. Gillian Flynn is watching you
6. Oh my god it’s Andie MacDowell from Four Weddings and a Funeral playing a cringe Mum with a weird accent
7. Channing Tatum referencing Downton Abbey is the sexiest bit in all of this
8. Woah. They are really really f*cking muscly
9. Do these strippers think they are therapists? There’s a lot of “healing” and “fixing you” chat going on, you are not Chris Martin
10. They magically end up from a broken down truck to luxury pool parties. As if by magic
11. Alright alright alright, I miss Matthew McConaughey
12. I feel so uncomfortable at this weird 50 shades of Grey homage
13. How old is Joe Manganiello? Actually I don’t care
14. When can I watch it again?
15. Matt Bomer sounds like Matt “Boner”
16. I wonder how much money Genuwine is getting for this constant re-play of Pony?
17. How are they all keeping a straight face?
18. Can I be bothered to write a think-piece on this?
19. I feel exhausted
20. I’m glad it’s nearly finished but I do want to watch it again when drunk.

A sunglasses obsession.

I have a sunglasses problem, it’s official. I’m sorry.

Massive thank you to Sunglasses Shop who sent me the 8th ones down (spotty white and black) they are VERY much statement shades and love pairing them with a simple outfit. <3 The glasses above this sentence also were sent by Glasses Direct and they are so amazing, I get complimented on them all the time because they are so retro-looking and a bit different – they are the London Retro Retrosepctiv collection.

If you, like me are obsessed with sunglasses then you can get a 10% discount code on Le Spec and designer sunglasses with the code sgswelcome via this link HERE.
If you’re in need of some new specs for your dodgy eyesight then Glasses Direct are your friend and offer a free home trial  on designer glasses. I LOVE the London Retro Retrospectiv glasses which you can see right at the very bottom of these photos.
OVER AND OUT X
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Writing for you, and for me, and for no one

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I once read somewhere that when writing a book, or a blog or a [thing] it’s good to have one listener, or person in mind. I also heard Elizabeth Gilbert (god I love that woman) in an interview say that when she wrote Eat Pray Love she had:

“one very specific person in mind [..] my friend Darcy [..] this book became an extended letter to her.” 

This is how the book sounded so personal, like you were sat at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee between you both. This meant that the text was consistent in tone because she was writing a letter for just that one recipient and we were all eavesdropping on the story. I take onboard advice all the time, but for me, I’ve realised how tricky I find this. Who would my one person be?

There are so many different sides of my personality; I feel I am a different person to lots of different friends. I have different things I want to say for different reasons. I am puzzle pieces even to myself and I cannot write this [thing] to one person because I feel it would mean missing some bits out. I feel that this is also no bad thing; I like being a social chameleon and be able to change my tone to suit different arguments or ideas. I like to write for myself, too.

Geminis are only meant to have two sides (my main two I would say are crippling insecurity vs total unwavering confidence).

And if I wrote [it] for my mum, it would have no rude bits and my life would be depicted though a rose-tinted Instagram filter. If I wrote it for my best friend it would be a series of private jokes that would of no value to other readers. If I wrote it for my boyfriend it would go easy on the in-depth sexual references to any other man from my past and I would erase any dating stories of Teenage Past for ease. If I wrote it for the haters I would fear sharing my true self. If I wrote it for the people who think I can do no wrong I would take a tumble. All I can do is write my truest truths for all to read, and for no one to read. The reader is in mind, but I don’t know him or her, yet. I can only write from my heart, and try and summon up the [thing] I wish I could have read when I was younger to let me know everything would be OK.