With Millennials getting a pretty hard time in the press of late, I’m doing a series celebrating how AWESOME both millennials, and The Internet, can be. TAKE THAT, SIMON SINEK! So far, I have spoken with author Laura Jane WIlliams, beauty blogger Talonted Lex, and Josie, a disabled writer and story-teller who relies on the internet to stay connected to the world.
Next up, I’m talking to one of my all-time favourite bloggers, Susie Verrill. I actually did a small dance around my flat when she said she would be happy to take part (single dance parties are one of my guilty pleasures FYI, one that I advise everyone to do at least once a week). Susie first caught my attention with a hilarious blog post about being single, probably around 5 years ago. Her writing made me genuinely laugh out loud and I’ve been hooked on her acerbic wit ever since. It’s actually been really lovely watching her settle down with her partner (Olympic athlete Greg Rutherhood – that’s right, THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER) – I even remember her live tweeting one of their first dates (I think she fell down the stairs at Mahiki) and now they have their little boy Milo. It’s like following a friend, who I’ve never really met, but who I feel genuinely happy for when good shit happens. And isn’t that the beauty of social media?
Susie recently announced she’s expecting another baby (whoop!) and her recent blog post outlining the trauma of suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness) is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Susie’s work so much. I think it’s a masterful trick being able to describe something that sounds so very challenging, scary and upsetting, with such skilled honesty that retains her signature humour and lightness. Coupled with the fact that every single insta story is so bloody funny that I actually feel SAD if she hasn’t instagram storied that day, I think it’s fair to say Susie is one of my all time favourite Millennials. ALSO BECAUSE WE HAVE THE SAME NAME, duh.
Anyway, it’s time for me to stop being all weird and the interview begin!
Hi Susie! So, I have followed you on various social networks for years and I think of you in lots of different ways – a blogger, a mummy blogger, an influencer – I am really interested to hear how you yourself define your job?
It’s silly but when people ask what I do, I still get a bit niggly about saying ‘blogger’ to anyone over the age of 40. I worked for years as a social media expert and digital features writer so I tend to mumble something along those lines until people invariably look at me baffled. Most people tend to presume that means I just sit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram but obviously it’s a whole lot more than that. On a brave day though I do try to define it as ‘Mum Blogger’ and wait for the look of disgust to wash over the face of the person asking.
Ha! Screw em… what do they know?! So, in what main ways has the internet and social networking helped your career path?
Hugely. In 2010 I was living in Dover (my home town), in a relationship I hated with a job I hated even more. I joined Twitter when everyone around me was still stuck in to Facebook and ended up finding people I actually connected with and starting realising I needed to make some serious changes in my life. I sacked off the boyfriend, began writing for free for anyone that would have me and then a guy I was following and who I’m still friends with (hey Coffers!) worked for Nuts magazine and tweeted about trying to find a last minute intern; I applied within seconds. A freelance position at FHM was helped through friends I made online, my position at LOOK was created because IPC knew how important online content was becoming & of course nowadays, the reason my blog gets to as many people as it does is thanks to being able to share the content myself.
When did you start using the Internet as a career tool or was it more of an organic process?
My first (unpaid) writing role was for a site geared around women who enjoyed rugby; I interviewed premiership players and shared it over Twitter. I realised players were quite keen to retweet it themselves pretty quickly and with a small following myself at the time, I began tapping into that.
Smart move. So, being in a position where you use your social platforms for ‘work’ purposes and ‘personal’ purposes, what challenges do you find in the blurring of those lines and how does that impact a “work/life” balance?
When I was managing the social media accounts for LOOK magazine, I had to create spreadsheets on a Friday which covered every 15 minutes for the entire weekend. Believe me; once I left work, I didn’t want to crank open my own account (except maybe to moan about the aforementioned spreadsheets) and I tended to stay off until Monday. I’d say the biggest thing for me was trying not to be too judgemental about how other businesses and brands use their own social media; it’s so easy when you work in the field to write off what others are doing and have an opinion on it, when it’s very, very likely there’s just some poor intern manning the accounts who actually wanted to be on the art desk anyway.
Ha! That’s important to remember. It’s the same principle when you ring a company to complain I think – they’re just people on the end of the phone, not the whole company.
Do you find it easy to “switch off”?
I wouldn’t say I struggle with it; if I’m busy and out and about then I don’t need to have my phone in my hand all the time, but if I’m at home then it’s definitely a bit of a reflex, I just flick on to the apps without even thinking. However I do find that because I work from home I do work each day, even if it’s just a little bit; maybe that’s where I can’t really shut off.
Yes I think not having the distinction of ‘office’ and ‘home’ can make it really tricky to differentiate between them. Does that ever lead to you doing a detox from your social networks – or have you ever found your use of them to be problematic in any way?
Not especially. Sometimes I find them a bit negative and take a step back (I’m doing this with Twitter at the moment, all the Trump stuff was starting to overshadow any good) but other than that I just try to take what I can from it and use it as a tool to stay in touch with people I don’t get to see in person. A while back I had a ‘troll’ (not a fan of that term) who threatened to kill me on my way home from work and sent emails to my superiors, but that was handled by IPC and police.
Jesus. That sounds scary. A real problem for the internet generation, I guess.
How do you feel when people from an older generation have negative perceptions of Internet use or describe millennials as entitled or lazy?
It’s a bit of a tough one. I think in some ways they’re probably right; I despair when I’m forced to watch even a few seconds of reality TV and think it’s no wonder some of the older generation have a negative opinion of us. Or, when you see selfies taken at Auschwitz and posted on social media, you just want to hand over our entire generation to another planet and camp out at an old people’s home. Then, in other ways I wonder how they’d cope juggling everything we’ve got going on. Take motherhood for example; my mum and her mum were both largely housewives and care-givers. Now, women give birth and are asked pretty quickly when it is that they might be returning to work or expected to work from home around ensuring the house is clean, children are well looked after, clubs are attended, financial pressures are dealt with and some sort of social life is met. It’s not OK to be defined by one thing any more, you need to be great at everything all at the same time. I do wonder whether we get enough kudos for trying to do just that.
Goodness, I so agree with that. We have to be amazing at everything and look amazing, and have the things and the best relationships and the best clothes, and sometimes it all just makes me want a nap!
Is there anything that you just wouldn’t share and where do you draw the line?
I don’t like to share anything which other people may not want to see in their timeline. I’m aware images and videos just crop up/begin nowadays and I’d hate to upset someone, even if the consensus was that it ‘needed to be seen’. I don’t agree in laying out brutality in order to believe what’s going on around the world, we can all be news savvy without throwing it in each other’s faces. Other than that, I often disagreed with the brands I was managing getting involved in viral videos (think Harlem Shake) if I felt like it had run it’s course. Often in these situations, you’re approached by a superior member of staff who hasn’t really got their finger on the pulse and asked to join in weeks after it’s even popular; I would never have allowed whoever I was looking after to take part if it wasn’t beneficial or relevant.
And finally, what advice would you give someone trying to follow in your footsteps in terms of how they present themselves online?
I would say to do your research. Each tone, audience, voice is different when it comes to who you may be representing and you need to go in knowing how to make your mark without upsetting the apple cart. On a personal level, I’ve never tried to water down who I am, but I’ve been fortunate enough that my work hasn’t in turn been compromised. I think you can be yourself while still being mindful; for instance, I never swore or said anything which I knew to be controversial, but in turn never shied away from being blunt or having an opinion. It’s just about balance. You need to show you’re interested in what’s going on without being seen as a ticking time bomb.
Amazing advice. Thank you SO much for taking part. You can follow Susie (and you most definitely should, right now) on Twitter @susiejverrill AND Instagram (@ susiejverill)
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
Thanks for reading guys! To see more of me, follow me on Twitter @susieblues and on Instagram @susiebluesyy – I am extremely thirsty for followers.