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, Josie, a disabled writer and story-teller who relies on the internet to stay connected to the world, awesome mummy blogger Susie Verrill, social media director Teague Emery and Queen of Joe Biden memes, Mollie Goodfellow.
Look, I’m on an absolute roll when it comes to speaking to smart, funny and accomplished women on my blog, and I ain’t stopping today.
The lovely Daisy Buchanan has agreed to be grilled by me on her path to success. WHAT A DREAM.
I followed Daisy years and years ago (humble brag) and have watched her write amazing articles and books, do radio and TV appearances and expertly grow her audience – I am 50% in awe, 50% sick with jealousy (which, since you’ve asked, is the perfect, healthy ratio).
With a new book out, (How to Be A Grown Up) – it seemed like the perfect time to speak to Daisy about her secrets to success, her best and worst experiences online and her take on the Millennial Generation.
Hi Daisy! I’ve followed you online for actually YEARS but can’t even remember what first prompted the follow – probably a wonderful article, but I’m so interested to hear a little about your career path. When did you start writing and what was the catalyst?
HAHAHA! That sounds deliciously creepy. I still remember reading a blog post you wrote a longggggg time ago and thinking ‘this girl is amazing!’ (Omg, MANY THANKS!)
I started writing for a ‘living’ (or some money, anyway) when I was 23 and became a features intern at the teen mag Bliss. I was promoted to staff writer and stayed for four years, when my editor suggested that I go freelance. (I thought this would result in me living under a bridge within about three weeks). In my last year of Bliss I was moonlighting at a website called Sabotage Times, writing sex features that I wouldn’t have been allowed to pitch at my day job, and a very silly Made In Chelsea catch up blog. I wrote for the student paper at uni, and when I was in my teens I wrote sketches and plays. I have always, always wanted to make people laugh, and writing seemed like the best way to do it. (When I was in my teens I was obsessed with Victoria Wood. I still am.)
How would you define your role now? Do you see yourself as journalist, author, influencer … something else?!
Oooh, I would say, at the risk of sounding horribly pretentious, author or writer. I definitely was a journalist, and although I still write a fair bit of comment/opinion, I find myself doing fewer investigative features than I used to.
That doesn’t sound pretentious at all – you’re safe! In what main ways has the internet and social networking helped your career path?
All of them! I’d been a journalist on a magazine for four years when I went freelance, and being able to share my work on Twitter made it much easier for me to meet new editors and secure commissions. Also, following editors and writers I admire is a great way to network and find ideas!
When did you start using the Internet as a career tool or was it more of an organic process?
I joined Twitter in 2009, and I think I vaguely hoped that someone would see my tweets and think ‘she’s really funny, I’m going to hire her!’ it was definitely a bit more organic than that – I didn’t really have a strategy other than making stupid jokes.
It’s worked very well for you! 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?
It’s really difficult, I’m still working it out. The more I do and the older I get, the more aware I am of how important it is to hold something back. I’ve just become a double auntie (!!) and I have the most adorable, amazing niece and nephew. Being with them and with family makes me feel as though my real life is very separate from my social media one, and I think this is brilliant. At the moment I don’t post pictures of them on social media because a four week old child isn’t able to say whether they’re comfortable with this or not, and deciding not to do that has forced me to be a bit more strict with myself when it comes to what I choose to share.
That’s a really interesting point. And I now feel rising guilt about posting a picture of my niece and nephew….
Moving on, do you find it easy to “switch off”?
Right now I would say no. I have been promoting my new book How To Be A Grown Up, which you can buy from all good bookshops – please do!!! I’ve been so lucky because my publisher Headline is really supportive and has done a brilliant job when it comes to spreading the word. Also, lots of readers have been really generous and shared some kind words about it. But I am always worrying that I’ve forgotten to do a vital RT or say thank you, and that someone hates me because I’ve missed something. So I try to put my phone away after 9PM, but I end up having a few sneaky peeks before bed.
This extends from that, but do you ever detox entirely from your social networks / have you ever found your use of them to be problematic in any way?
The week that a horrible right wing “journalist” (and I used the word in the broadest sense – his name rhymes with Cod Piddle) wrote a Spectator column slagging off my Guardian column, and then someone from Gamer Gate made a video about me and somehow set it up so that I got a Twitter notification every time someone watched it – that was pretty grim. It was weird because when something happens to you, whether it’s bad or good, you want to tweet about it, but it seemed strange to share my feelings in the space where everyone was being shitty. I still remember the follower who said “just ignore it!” and I still fantasise about seeing them stepping on an upturned plug. So I locked, stopped looking and went to the seaside for the weekend.
Oh my god that sounds horrific. Is it just me, or are people The Fucking Worst sometimes?! Blimey. I’m glad that’s over now, and I’m so sorry you went through that.
Do you have a hidden personal account account for more private content?
I briefly set one up on a day when an old boss was being a nightmare, and I wanted to rant, but I don’t think I’ve used it since!
How do you feel when people from an older generation have negative perceptions of Internet use or describe millennials as entitled or lazy?
To be fair, I think that this view persists in the media when I personally know LOADS of 50+ people who think Millennials are ace, and genuinely doing our best when the odds are stacked against us. But I do find that, broadly, it’s the Millennials who are much better at managing themselves on social media than older people. I’ve heard fascinating dinner party stories about whole streets that have decimated themselves on Facebook, especially newly single people who could out Kardashian a Kardashian in terms of sharing vicious gossip and nude photos! But tell me about a Millennial who is ‘lazy’, and I’ll show you 500 who are working their arses off. Everyone is being creative, everyone has side hustles. Because it’s so hard to get a job in the traditional manner, we’re inventing our jobs – it’s exciting, but I do appreciate that if you’ve worked in insurance all your life it’s hard to get your head around the typical of a 20 something whose work involves the word ‘vlogosphere’.
Haha. I kind of hate the vlogosphere too, even though I have truly pledged allegiance to the internet. So, what advice would you give someone trying to follow in your footsteps in terms of how they present themselves online?
Have a voice, be opinionated, but also be kind, positive and interested. I think that it’s very easy to get attention online by being a dick, but people will remember and they will be upset – it’s important to focus on the positive and celebrate what you love, and sadly I think that quality is becoming rarer. Share your work, curate the work you love, tell loads of jokes and if you see something that looks like a willy, always take a picture and post it.
EXCELLENT advice! Thank you so much for your time and wise words today, Daisy!