When We Went Viral

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In case you missed the news, Phil and I got married at the beginning of July. I’m so very, very chuffed to be his wife and we’ve been having a great time as married couple. (And OMFG *I* have a husband?! Me?!) I’ll probably write about the wedding another time because I’m here to talk about what happened next, and what happened next MIGHT SHOCK YOU! Well, it shocked us.

We got back from our wedding on a Tuesday and set about attacking the post-wedding chores, including a very last-minute GP appointment because my eyebrow went mad. LOOK AT MY POOR FACE.

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We spent Wednesday packing for our honeymoon, ready for an early morning flight the next day. As we were heading off on our holidays, I manually backed up my phone photos because I’m secretly a little old lady who doesn’t trust “the cloud”. I was saving down photos when I found this, which I’d apparently taken back in April. 

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I showed Phil and we realised, aww that’s nice, the date on that tweet was nearly three years ago, so I found the original tweet and quote tweeted it. (Actually, I asked Phil if he wanted to tweet it, but he couldn’t be bothered.) The retweets and favourites started rolling in, more than my average tweet would receive. We were surprised, but ok? It was a nice story. Shrug. We can’t be totally sure of the chain of events, but evidently it was seen by J.K. Rowling, who hit retweet.

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As you can imagine, THE SHIT HIT THE FAN and things started happening. We appeared as a Twitter Moment and began getting contacted by media outlets wanting to know more about “our story”. All kinds of places got in touch, newspapers, radio stations, viral news sites and women’s magazines.

While this is all happening, we’re packing for honeymoon and preparing to be out of the country for a week. I actually forgot to pack my camera in all the furore… Well, I say furore, but it was really just us pacing the kitchen, wondering what kind of mess we’d got ourselves into this time.

The first couple of articles appeared that evening. We were both a little anxious by this point, our main concern was that someone might write something nasty, tainting our wedding and honeymoon. From what we saw, The Mirror article was one of the first to appear, and we were relieved to see it was positive.

The next morning, we got our early flight. When we landed at the other end, our phones went off like a plague of angry wasps, a stack of news articles had appeared while we’d been in the air. In the car to our hotel we drafted and posted this on Twitter, which helped to stem the flow of journalists contacting us.

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Early on, we decided not to speak to any media unless we were presented with a mind-blowingly incredible opportunity. Like what if MADONNA wanted to interview us or something!? Sadly, Madonna did not get in touch.

Besides, we were on our honeymoon for goodness’ sake. We thought about keeping quiet that we were abroad for a week (HI, BURGLARS!) but the fact we were on honeymoon was the ideal excuse not to speak to anyone. Perhaps we’re a bit jaded from having worked in radio, tv, social media and PR ourselves, but the thought of being interviewed just wasn’t very appealing anyway.

We didn’t feel bad for avoiding journalists because they didn’t really need anything from us; we’d already tweeted a photo of us on our wedding day and the story really spoke for itself. One journalist kept emailing me about his looming deadline, apparently trying to guilt-trip me into replying. Soz, not my fucking problem mate.

I also posted a (quite cringe) message on Facebook to ask our friends not to speak to journalists if they were contacted, more for our own peace of mind than anything else. We made a special point of telling our parents not to accept friend requests from strangers, or to speak to journalists. Perhaps it seems like overkill, but we were both receiving (and ignoring) quite a few messages from journalists at that point.

Weirdly, one thing that really helped our privacy was a decision made before our wedding even happened; we asked our wedding guests to leave off posting photos of us on social media. This was actually my call – it’s a pet peeve when the first photo of a happy couple to appear on Facebook is some crap, blurry, unposed snap taken by a guest. I see it happen to other couples all the time and I just don’t think it’s very fair. Obviously, we hadn’t planned to go viral, but this decision paid off; the photo that appeared on most of the articles was one we had chosen and posted ourselves the morning after the wedding.

A small number of outlets dug up older photos of us from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but it was all public content we’d posted ourselves so we couldn’t be too annoyed. However, I would have been really fucking peeved if a stack of wedding photos had been published all over the place. To me, this would have felt like a big invasion of privacy, so we were very glad that the photos weren’t out there to pillage.

We kept an eye on the coverage while we were away, but didn’t want it to take over our honeymoon. We couldn’t ignore it entirely though, that would be weird. Plus, the hotel had wi-fi and we had a very busy schedule of doing fuck-all.

While the stories appearing were generally positive and at worst tongue-in-cheek, naturally some commenters were assholes. I took the chance to reply to a couple – mainly to remind them that I was a real person who could read their words. I’ve done a LOT of social media work in my career which involves a lot of regurgitation of corporate messaging, so it felt good to be able to say what I damn well wanted. (In other words, politely telling people to fuck off, hurrah!)

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And inevitably, there were Angry Men commenting, because there’s no escaping Angry Men. Yawn.

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We appeared in over 100 articles in more than 23 languages. Our story appeared in Metro, The Independent, Daily Mail (bleurgh), The Mirror, Huffington Post, The Sun, Stylist, Refinery29, ThoughtCatalog, MSN, Daily Record, Cosmopolitan, Bored Panda, Mashable, A Plus, The New York Post, Men’s Health, Glamour, Woman Magazine and an absolute shitload more. We were mentioned on the news in the US, and were the punchline in a BBC radio comedy. The tweet that “went viral” has settled at 21,000 retweets and 64,000 likes, with impressions clocking in at a fairly ridiculous 5.6 million.

The buzz died down after a few days. “Going viral” was quite fun in the end, but it was certainly anxiety inducing. The last thing you want after the stress and the hassle of a wedding is to be ridiculed worldwide, so we were very lucky that majority of the articles were light-hearted, feel-good pieces. We also felt glad to have media experience through work, which helped to inform the decisions we made. 

So, what now? Well, 2017 has been INTENSE. I passed my driving test, got a car, had two hen parties, got married, had a honeymoon, a weekend narrowboating, two family holidays and OH YEAH went viral. Surely, SURELY, I’m allowed to sleep until Christmas now, right?

Why I’m a Freelancer

So you’ve already seen a thousand articles about freelancing, but I’m here to talk about me, me, me. How did I end up freelancing? Well, that’s very polite of you to ask and I’m so glad you did, because shit’s gonna get intensely personal. It has taken me over a year to work up the courage to write this, so please, be kind.


Before we start, I’m aware that I have fairly huge dollop of privilege. This is partly why this piece isn’t “how to freelance,” instead it’s an account of how things in my life unfolded over the space of a few months. I’m aware that just acknowledging privilege is not particularly useful and pushing back against it is what’s needed; this is something I’m trying to do more often. However, so many of the decisions and situations in this piece were assisted by my privilege that I had to at least mention it, I can’t pretend to be oblivious. This is something I’m still learning about. So, all that in mind, onwards.


Not too long ago, I was working in a job that was affecting my mental health. I never really wanted to admit that publicly, but there it is. I feel the need to tell you, the bald truth is that my job was fucking me right up. 

Early on, I’d had some misgivings about the role but was pretty much told to suck it up. Like many employers, they heavily leaned on the whole, “you’re so lucky, people would kill to work here” thing. Which was true, by the way. But I didn’t feel lucky; I felt miserable. Some colleagues thrived but I didn’t, and I certainly wasn’t the only one. The icing on the misery cake was that I felt even more miserable because I felt miserable. Thanks to a combination of several work-based issues, my anxiety levels shot through the roof, like a shitty glass elevator smashing everything in its path.

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The increased anxiety had nasty real-life consequences. To let you in on a huge secret, on a normal day, I have a bad phobia of heights and escalators. This is a laugh riot when you use the London Underground daily, believe me. I knew my levels of anxiety were approaching Distinctly Not Good when I couldn’t even get on the escalator at my home tube station.

I’d stand inside the ticket barriers pretending to check my phone, tutting as if I was reading an important email. Secretly, I would be waiting for a specific set of circumstances which would ‘allow’ me to board the escalator. My brain would whizz off into the distance like the rabbit at a greyhound track, too fast to catch and shake sense into. I couldn’t even focus on the words on my phone. I’d feel as though my heartbeat was visible through three layers of clothing, half convinced that my scalp and hair could expose my thudding pulse, giving away my secret phobia, my pathetic fear. Even now, I’ve got sweaty palms as I type.

The usual coping mechanisms stopped working. Panic attacks became ‘normal.’ It became ‘normal’ to sweat through my clothes and for the dampness of fear to kink my straightened hair. It became ‘normal’ to have my vision blacken at the edges.

Then, things stepped up a gear. It became ‘normal’ to take two buses to a different train station, where I felt able to board the tube without feeling like I was going to die. It became ‘normal’ to add an extra hour to my commute. I was doing my best to work around the issues, but I was a fucking mess and obviously, very obviously, this wasn’t normal.

After a few months on Super Mega High Alert, something snapped. Self-preservation? I don’t know. I did something I never imagined myself doing and handed in my notice without another job lined up. I’d finally realised that none of this was fucking worth damaging my mental health for, and I needed out. Now.

I was able to leave knowing I’d be ok without a job for a few weeks. I was lucky. My partner and my parents supported my decision with a smidgen of incredulity and a lot of kindness. I didn’t have a plan, but I knew I wanted a little time to myself, to sort my head, to calm down.

Then, as if I’d subconsciously sent a flare into the sky, the offers of freelance work started to arrive a week later. I didn’t even ask, they just came and I took them. Did I mention how fucking lucky I am? So that’s why I became a freelancer. While the route was terrible, I can honestly say that I’m still glad, because I would never have made the leap otherwise.

It’s not completely idyllic though. Work isn’t consistent so I’ve cut my outgoings. I’m fearing my tax bill. I still feel residual anger over the job I left, mainly with myself, despite the fact that I had very legitimate issues with the place. Sometimes I get horribly lonely during the day. If I’m really busy, I might not leave the house for a few days straight. Small things have changed, I go through more toilet roll and teabags than before and my gas and electricity bills have increased. I miss being in town. There’s no sick pay, holiday pay or pension, and naturally I worry about where my next job will come from. Imposter syndrome still exists.

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But all that said, the flexibility afforded by freelancing came at the right time. I can see more of my family; I stayed with my sister during her maternity leave, so she wouldn’t be alone if labour kicked in. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible people like Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and David Bowie’s producer, Tony Visconti. I worked at Latitude Festival. I’ve worked with some of the UK’s best commercial radio brands. I can do errands during weekdays, as well as my laundry. I’ve met really talented people and worked on interesting projects. And most importantly, more than anything else, I’m much less anxious.

I’m sure I’ll want to return to a full time role eventually, but now I’m enjoying spending my time on my terms. I feel so lucky and grateful for every damned thing in my life these days, and perhaps that’s been the biggest benefit and the biggest surprise. I’m generally a cynical and grumpy old boot, so when I began feeling this way, it confused me. I thought something was going wrong, like an errant chemical imbalance was causing me to feel excitement and joy bubbling in my chest daily… but no, it’s something far less interesting. I’m just happy.


It would be remiss of me to write this whole bloody thing then not tell you what I do. If you want to hire me, hit me up for copy writing, social media production, management, strategy, digital content management, curation, community management and so on. I have experience in all kinds of things and have the capability to do more.

Edit: The follow up post to this post

How To Be Happier Online

I’m going to impart some fresh unasked-for life advice, because I’ve found how you can have a happier life online. 

Aside from the standard advice of avoiding the Daily Mail website because it affects your mental health, there’s one particular website which should be avoided.

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I am, of course, talking about Pinterest. 

In essence, Pinterest’s insidious evil is virtually the same as the Daily Mail’s; it has same power to undermine your self-confidence and self-worth. Pinterest will have you sat there for hours, fermenting in your pyjamas with unwashed hair, pinning picture after picture of delicately arranged plates of food, beautiful bright airy homes, sculpted bottoms and toned midriffs, simple craft projects and no-bake cakes.

What’s running through your head as you pin? “I WILL, I CAN, I’LL USE ALL OF THIS! THIS IS AMAZING INSPIRATION! THIS WEBSITE IS THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE REAL ME!”

It seems so good at the start- all pretty, foody and lovely. So many interesting ideas! So many projects! Soft pastel tones. Vintage. Cute handwritten fonts. Gorgeous women. Teacups. Boys who bulk in the right places (MUSCLES, you fool.) Diamonds, gems, lace. Heart-shaped marshmallows. Models strutting along grey inner-city streets in sharply tailored outfits, or posing up a tree while barefoot with a man’s white shirt, rolled up jeans and tousled bedhead hair. Embroidery. ‘Reclaimed’. Lavender Earl Grey Iced Tea Lattes. Lots of melted cheese. Mason Jars. Bunting. Chocolate. Pinecones. Typographically overwrought inspirational meme phrases, printed and framed. Cookies with cookies as an ingredient. Burlap. Celebrities laughing. AW 2015, SS 2016. Geometric jewellery. Eating clean. Cake. So much fucking cake.

You pin recipes, hairstyles, outfits, wedding cakes and wedding dresses (I’m not even getting married, where the fuck are these all wedding pins coming from?) There’s workout plans! Spiralising! Fitspiration! Easy games for my fictional, unconceived children!

After a while, you realise. Wallowing in this sea of aspirational inspirational BS doesn’t make you happy. It makes you pissed off and sad.

Pinterest is the stuff you can’t afford time or money to make. If you do try, it’s more than likely going to go wrong. Hairstyles that end up looking like an intricate pubic sculpture. Interior design that would never work in most of our homes, because we don’t live in some huge barn-like space. Oh what’s that? You can have your things custom built to fit your tiny home space? Get a fucking grip. Trim, athletic bodies you’ll never have. Clothes you’ll never buy. Food you’ll never make. I BET YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE ZUCCHINI COURGETTE.

Pinterest breeds envy, then guilt that you’ve not tried hard enough to get all those lovely things these other people have. It hammers home, over and over, the things you could and SHOULD be doing. If only you only did a 10 minute workout every day, YOU could have a beautiful peachy backside too. It’s your fault if you don’t. See what you could be achieving, if only YOU JUST TRIED HARDER WITH YOUR PATHETIC LITTLE LIFE. If only you were just a bit better. 

In summary, I don’t like Pinterest.