I love Emily’s intro about her work and life so I’ve kept hers rather than me paraphrasing it!
Enjoy my interview with this inspirational blogger and author!
I started my blog, Pretty Normal Me in 2014 aged 20 – I didn’t know a huge amount about blogging then (still don’t really!) but I was always an incredibly passionate writer so I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise when I started out. I was trying my hand at marketing at the time but wasn’t really loving it and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Initially the blog started as a reaction to the fashion industry; were companies seriously getting away with not stocking anything bigger than a size 12 and passing it off as ‘one of those things’?! I was so angry that this was becoming such an accepted part of our culture and I wanted to start a blog for people like me, where we ’normal girls’ could call bullshit on this stuff and feel less alone in all areas of life. Since then it has grown and in 2015 I was asked by Simon & Schuster to write a book. In July this year it came out, it’s called Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? and is, I hope something that will help women and girls to feel less on their own. It’s fun and honest and feminist and has been a dream come true to write and publish. I am 23 now and live in London with my adorable dog and fabulously supportive boyfriend, still running the blog and loving every minute of it.
Describe a typical day for you?
Well I’m very much self employed and have lots of fingers in lots of pies at the moment so there is no one typical day. Having said that though I do have my office in my house and do do most of my work from there so a meeting-less day (ideally two a week) normally looks something like this:
I wake up at 7 so I can spend some time with my boyfriend before he heads off to work, we drink coffee together, have a bit of a natter and listen to the radio.
After he goes, even if I am just at home all day, I go upstairs and get properly dressed, do my hair and put some makeup on, I realised early into this freelancer malarkey that if you sit on the coach in your PJs all day you will not get enough done. Once dressed I stick on my headphones to listen to a podcast and take my pup out for 45 mins.
I come back home, make myself some boiled eggs, have another coffee (all the while checking Twitter, Instagram and every single news app I could fit on my iPad) and then head up to the office, The morning is normally spent dealing with emails, taking photos and making plans, at lunch time I take Boo back out for another walk, find something in the back of the fridge to eat and then write as much as I can in the afternoon.
Some days there are meetings, some days my podcast co-host Lou is over and we’re recording and some days Boo get’s very long walks because I have total writer’s block! No one day is the same work wise but I try and keep as structured as possible with the format of my day as otherwise I think I might go insane!
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I am very proud of myself for lots of things to be honest, not least of all admitting that- why are we women are so bad at being proud of ourselves?! The book has got to be number one though, I cannot BELIEVE that has actually happened and nor, I suspect, can any of my old teachers.
But it’s more than just having a book published, I’m very proud of myself for my entire career. I was very young when I started all of this and I think growing the blog into what it is now is an achievement that no one can ever take away from me. I have grown so much as a person over the last few years and now work every day at something that excites me and I take a lot of pride in that.
If you would have told 13 year old me that one day she would actually have her shit together, a book out and her own business there is no way that she would have believed you and it feels good to prove her wrong! I think my biggest achievement has been creating something that I love, that has made me love myself and my life.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
EVERYTHING. I’ve actually written a letter to the million and one things that live in my handbag in my book which was so fun to write, mostly because there is so much in there! At the moment though I have my notebook, my laptop, my charger, my phone, headphones, glasses, lipstick, house keys, poo bags, bank card, perfume, lip balm, a million pens and a lot of stuff knocking around at the bottom that I’m not proud of at all!!
Honestly I have the muscliest arms and everyone is always asking me how I got them, it took me years to work out that it’s probably just because I carry so much round in my bag all the while trying to control my puppy!
What are your ambitions in life?
Ultimately I just want to be happy, in whatever way I can be. There is lots I want to achieve work wise; I will keep writing and I want to run Pretty Normal Me for as long as I live, I can’t wait to work every day for the rest of my life to see what that will bring me. My book was great fun to write and I would love to do another one. Tackling issues that I am passionate about is just the most amazing job and to be able to help people with my work is jut a dream come true, if I can keep doing that on a bigger and bigger scale then I know I will have such a fulfilled life.
I’m quietly ambitious, I never expected a lot for my life when I was at school since I was not overflowing with confidence, but as I have grown and as my blog has grown, I am starting to want more and more out of life. It will boil down to happiness though. Whatever life has in store from me, both on a professional and personal level, I will work to be happy and ensure that the people around me are happy too- my friends, family and hopefully future children one day! That’s all a girl can really ask for right?
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That there is nothing more important than staying true to yourself. At the beginning, I think because I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was very keen to try everything. I didn’t know what I wanted and really what the end goal was so I did a lot of stuff that I wasn’t interested in and that didn’t suit me. It’s such a competitive industry and I was feeling very lost and like I would never find my way, I think I still feel like that a lot, but the minute I took a step back and looked at myself and worked out what I really wanted to achieve was when I fell into my stride.
Because I didn’t go to university I put a huge pressure on myself to get everything right and make a success of myself very quickly and I was totally wrong to do that, I now realise that everything happens for a reason and that where something like this is concerned, patience and integrity are the most important things.
Hard work will pay off and if you’re truly passionate you will be successful, I wish I’d known that! (I also wish I’d known a million other things, but I do know that it is sometimes our mistakes that make us into who we are, so just in case younger me is listening, I’ll keep quiet so that she can learn like I did!)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Doing what I’m doing. When I started PNM I had no idea what it would grow into and that wasn’t even three years ago. I have been lucky enough to make it my full time job and even have a book out, something that the me who was just starting out three years ago would never believe and I honestly don’t want to be greedy at this point, I just want to take it in and absorb it all one day at a time.
Having said that though, the fact that I have managed to achieve so much in what is actually quite a short space of time has probably whet my appetite for bigger and better things. There is SO much that I want to do but as long as it can all revolve around the blog and my messaging then I’m so happy to just see where I end up. Sticking to my guns and ensuring that I maintain my integrity is jut the most important thing right now, obviously if I can do that on a bigger scale and get my message out to more people that’s just a dream come true but I don’t like to make huge structured plans and promises because I just end up stressing myself to high heaven; I’ll just take it one day at a time and hope that I will be lucky enough to still be doing this in five years.
What advice would you give a budding blogger?
To stay true to yourself. I know this sounds so daft, mostly because none of us have the first clue who we really are, but it is SO important. A blog is so personal and it takes so much work. It’s like a diary except twenty million times harder because it’s not just a question of remembering to write in it every night, it’s editing and scheduling and tweeting and commenting and flat laying. There are SO many blogs out there and it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed when you’re just starting out and to feel that in order to ‘make it’ you need to just do what everyone else is doing: this is NOT the case.
If my Instagram had to have a ‘theme’ and my content all had to go out a certain time I think I’d fall out of love with it fairly quickly. That works for a LOT of people but it does not work for me and it might not work for you.
Blogs can make money and they can become jobs and open the door for so much but in order to do that the blogger has to really enjoy it- it should never not be fun. I love what I do so much and that’s because I have kept it as something that I like to do and that I need to do and that really shows ME. I don’t like to abuse the hashtags or beat the algorithms and that means my following is not massive, but the people that are there are so great and that’s enough for me.
If you have just started a blog or are thinking about starting one, the most important piece of advice that I can give you is: stay real and stay happy- the minute you feel like you are changing yourself in a way that you are not comfortable with to be a ‘success’ online is the minute you’ll start to fail. Love what you do with all your heart and you can’t go far wrong.
Finally, happiness is…
Not all the time, not every day. But sometimes it’s a decision that we get to make and that’s enough for me.
Emily’s book is out now: Can I Speak To Someone In Charge?