Interview | Emma Gannon

Mia Holt Girl lost in city

Credit: Emma Gannon –

I can remember the first time I came across Emma. I was searching for women in the media industry to follow on Twitter a while back when I found myself on her feed (@GirlLostInCity). I’ve been hooked on it ever since. It’s always full of industry insights and observations, a passion for all things social media and digital journalism and amazing supportive tweets of other women. She is a powerful women herself, and an inspiring one too, juggling being the Social Media Editor of Glamour Magazine, with running her successful blog (Girl Lost In The City) and writing her first book. (Keep an eye out for Ctrl; Alt; Delete – a memoir for young adults about growing up with the Internet, which will come out next year. FYI it’s supposed to be hilarious according to Commissioning Editor Sara Cywinski). She’s pretty much a digital superwoman.

I’m incredibly proud to introduce Emma to those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering her, and also to delve a little more into her life and career for those of you who already admire and follow her work. So here it is, my little interview with Emma Gannon:

Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember ever thinking I wanted to be anything else! It’s all I ever wanted to be. When I was much younger I would sit in my room just scribbling in my diaries (which I often now read at the Cringe UK nights in London pubs) and actually enjoying my homework if it had anything to do with me telling a story. I remember getting my best grades in all my drama essays, script-writing and English exams, and failed miserably at everything else. My poor mum would drag me to after-school Maths tutoring, I was so, so bad at it. I remember thinking: “Well it looks like I’m alright at writing” so I thought I’ll try and do that, and people around me gave me the confidence to keep on trying and improving.

Who influenced the decision?
I don’t think I was influenced by anyone in particular. Maybe one of my English teachers called Dr Le Gallez who was hilarious and such an inspiration to me at school, always on my side and tried to bring out my best work when I was a teenager. None of my family or friends were particularly into writing, I had no connections to the writing world or anyone who could help me out when I moved to London. I just had to hustle. There are people who influence me now though, from Roxane Gay to Lena Dunham to Brené Brown, to Elizabeth Gilbert. I am constantly inspired and feeling so excited all the time, especially now thanks to the Internet we can share our ideas whenever we want and for free.

Ernest Hemingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – what does the process of writing an article feel like to you?
Oh I love this quote. I have to really really believe in what I’m writing about, otherwise I can’t write it truthfully and it sounds insincere. I’ve turned down commissions before because I didn’t believe in the topic or the angle of the story and didn’t want it to be in portfolio or following me around on the Internet. I have those moments where I get an idea and literally have to race home to my laptop and let it pour out of me. That’s what happened when I got the idea for my book proposal.

Yes! As well as being a freelance writer and social media editor, you’re also writing your first book. How is that going? Can you tell us anything?
I finally can! My non-fiction book called Ctrl; Alt; Delete will come out next year, with Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House. I’m so excited. (You can read what Emma has to say about it on her blog here.)

Are there any names in the industry that are catching your eye at the moment? Or any personalities you’ve met or interviewed that have really impressed you?
I am totally impressed with Rosalind Jana who is a young writer studying at University and has also written a book on the side which blows my mind. Louise O’Neill I’m obsessed with at the moment after reading her novel Only Ever Yours, a dark fiction that comments how women are treated in society. Also Katie Oldham from the blog Scarphelia, when I read her writing it is like listening to music.

On your blog, you cover everything from social commentary to travel, where do you find the time to fit it all in and how do you keep your creativity flowing?
I love having my blog because I use it as a place where things spill over into. For example if it’s a review that the mag doesn’t want, I’ll do it for my blog, or if it’s someone I’m desperate to interview informally it’ll make sense to post on the blog. Often I’ve had a piece edited down for print so I’ll post the longer unedited version or the “scraps” on my blog. Or for example, I’ll have an idea for an article but I don’t want it to be edited so I’ll blog it because I want it to be a bit more of a rant than a fully thought out piece. That’s the beauty of a blog: no rules! Many PR agencies organise blogger travel trips now which is nice, it’s the same as a press trip but I get to meet new bloggers as opposed to mainstream magazine journalists.

In your article “A millennial goes offline” you put your phone out of sight for 48 hours. Be honest, has it changed the way you interact with your phone since?
Not AT all. I’ve definitely gone straight back to my old ways. I hated going offline. I love my iPhone apps, Twitter, my blog, my online pals!

When you’re not writing, you’re a social media editor. How do you balance being in charge of a brand on social media and still maintaining a strong voice on your own?
In my day job I am being paid to grow a magazine brand so that is my only focus from the hours I am in the office. It means doing some early starts if I want to bash out a blog post, and weekends are quite antisocial at the moment because I am finishing writing my book. The reason I make it work like I do is because I love every aspect of my job so much. I love working for a magazine, I love my blog AND I love writing my book. I honestly love the mixture of them all and I think it makes me better at doing each of the individually because I have to juggle and learn new skills all the time. Having a blog and working with brands makes me more savvy commercially in all of the things I do, and being a social media editor of a big brand helps my own personal brand too.

When it comes to social media management, do you prefer to plan ahead with scheduled content or go rogue day-by-day? What do you think works best?
A bit of both! We plan ahead in lots of ways at GLAMOUR so I always know what’s coming up in weeks and months ahead, but at the same time we need to be flexible and creative and timely each day. We cannot predict the news!

Are there any trends in social media that we should be keeping an eye out for or do you have any forecasts?
Ha, good question. I think native advertising is only going to become bigger and better. I think advertising full stop is going to go through this massive change because most ads just aren’t working at the moment. People skim and hide ads in their social feeds because brands aren’t being targeted enough and their campaigns are just too dull. I think something will have to change there, and social experts will play a massive part in helping brands be WAY better at how they advertise in a way that is INTERESTING and informative for people.

To finish, what’s the most important life lesson you can pass on to us?
Oh gosh I have loads. At the moment I’m going for: stick up for yourself and don’t apologise for who you are.

You can find Emma on Twitter at @girllostincity & remember her book is out next year so keep an eye out! 

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