Have you ever met somebody for the first time and their personality was just so magnetic that it felt like you’ve known them for years? Not in a casual acquaintance sense, but like a “forget my sister, I feel like I should ask you to be my Maid of Honor” kind of way?
That is the best way to describe Emma Golden.
Emma may come off as a bubbly, friendly soul, but she is a force to be reckoned with. When she is not acting as the head copywriter of Match.com, she spends the other 16 hours of her day running her popular lifestyle and opinion blog, Emma’s Thing. Emma lovingly refers to Emma’s Thing as the Seinfeld of blogs – it is a blog about nothing, yet always manages to be thoroughly entertaining. Trust me, if you haven’t checked it out you should.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Emma’s blog posts and stories have been picked up, shared and even gone viral on big name sites including The Everygirl and Thought Catalog. Even Leandra Medine Cohen, the founder of Man Repeller, told her to her face that if she EVER stopped writing she would “stab her”.
So I guess you can say Emma is kind of a big deal.
Both at work and on her blog, Emma’s writing style features a unique voice that is real to the core. Her posts are lighthearted, brutally honest and conversational to a point where you find yourself feeling like her best friend (even if you’ve never met her). Emma also boasts an undeniably refreshing take on life with her genuinity; she is dedicated to staying unapologetically true to herself and her audience in a “like-for-like” and “follow-for-follow” filled, social media hungry society.
While her career journey has been nothing near linear, Emma is the poster child for the concept that everything happens for a reason and that you should always pursue your passions because you never know where will they will take you.
We sat down over a couple of boujee jalapeño and matcha cocktails and discussed all things copywriting, blogging and Nordstrom dressing rooms.
First things first, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got where you are today?
I graduated with a Journalism degree from The University of Kansas in 2009, and the economy was horrifying. So I took the first job that was thrown at me, I didn’t even have time to think about it. KU wasn’t really focused in the Journalism school so I didn’t know copywriting was a legitimate profession until way after graduation. I knew that I loved to write and had been writing forever, but I didn’t know how to make a living off of it and actually pay rent.
So I took a sales job, which I had no business doing at all, and about eight months into it I decided to start a blog because I needed an outlet. Back then blogging was not what it is today. You were on Blogger or Blogspot and it was just word vomit, they weren’t all these curated posts with professional photography. I just wanted an outlet to rant. Back then, maybe just my mom, sister and best friend read it.
By 2013, I had already moved on to another job in sales. I was about three years into blogging and I was like, “ok, it’s kind of now or never if I want to have a writing career,” but I just didn’t have anything to really show for it. I had my blog and I had a couple of very small freelance things around Dallas but as far as having a book or portfolio, I didn’t have that.
My sister is an art director and she told me, “look at three brands you really care about and we’ll come up with creative and make you a makeshift book.” So I had that, a good email that my entire family basically helped me write and my blog, and I started blasting it all out to agencies.
I heard back from a well-known agency the same day and they literally said, “you sound completely under qualified, but extremely interesting – let’s talk.” That’s how it began. My blog legitimately launched my writing career. Even though I felt like there was no direction and had no idea what I was doing, my future boss told me that my blog was so interesting with such a strong voice and that was what drew them in.
So that was my first agency job, and after that I hopped around agencies ever since. I finally landed at a job at an agency I loved for a while, but then the ex-writer of Match, who was a good friend of mine, called me up and said “I’m leaving, you are perfect for this and I want you to be my replacement.” And so it just worked out in the end.
Wow, that’s a crazy journey! But it seems like everything really ended up coming together.
It did. And when you are in the moment, you don’t see it that way. You sit there and think “nothing’s happening” and “why am I even doing this?” It just feels like it’s worth nothing and it’s not going anywhere.
But when I sat down today to write about my eight year blogging anniversary I was like, “wow, my blog literally got me where I am today.” Even though some people might not see [my blog] as successful because I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers, it still got me so far. You never know, if you just stick with it and put the time in, you don’t know how something like that could serve you.
What draws you to writing?
I’ve just always been a writer. Since I was young I would always spend my weekend afternoons writing chapters for novels. I was a bookworm growing up and I’ve always had a really big imagination. Not only that, my mom, Ellen, has such a big personality and always has a story so I got that from her.
I also think without realizing it. What really fuels my fire and keeps me going isn’t only connections, but just posting the ordinary. We are all living life, and we all have shitty moments, but with writing you can take a step back and make a story out of nothing.
That’s why Seinfeld was so successful, it was a show about nothing but still managed to create these amazing, entertaining stories. And that is how I try to see my blog. It’s kind of about nothing, but there’s so much going on and I’ve created these stories that people respond to and connect with. Everyone just wants their ordinary to be extraordinary, and I feel like the writing I do inspires people to think, “if she can write a whole post about something as random as that, then I have a story too.”
How do you go about balancing your full-time job at Match and your blog?
It’s a lot. I’ll admit that I didn’t really start treating my blog as a business until this past July. I did a rebrand and started taking it very seriously. But it is a beating.
Every second that I’m not at my full-time job, I’m working on my blog. It’s a commitment, and I don’t really know if there is a good way to balance blogging because inspiration will just hit you. It’s so tempting to want to stop what you are doing and work on it right then and there.
But I just try to make sure all of my full-time responsibilities are taken care of and in a good spot, so if those moments do pop up I don’t feel as bad for tending to them. I also do a lot of stuff at night and on the weekends. Sometimes on Sunday mornings, I will go to a coffee shop and just buckle down for a few hours.
Something that has helped me immensely with the balance is creating a content calendar. I always had a million ideas and was just flying by the seat of my pants, but sitting down and actually putting together a content calendar has been a complete gamechanger. I can see what I want to do with the month and even if things switch around, I still know what I’m going for. It gives me the chance to start working on things way far in advance.
You obviously do a lot of writing and put yourself out there so much, how do you go about turning off and giving yourself some alone time?
I think social media makes it really, really hard to turn off, but you just have to be very cognizant of that. There will be times where I always want to answer people’s questions right away. I want them to know that I’m there and I’m involved.I want to talk to them but sometimes I have to take a step back from social media.
Once I write a post, it’s easy to set it and forget it, but with the “always on” nature of social media it’s hard to balance. So really the only way I can decompress is to step back and set my phone down. Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the messages and basically don’t look at anything. That’s really the only way.
I’m also trying to practice mindfulness. When you are creative and you have this desire to create and put yourself out there, it’s such a high when it’s done. And even though it is difficult, you should be able to sit back and think, “wow! That was such a great post/picture,” and relish in that before moving on to the next idea.
What has been your most memorable blogging moment thus far?
I’ve always had a really big issue with the Nordstrom dressing rooms. I just don’t understand how it is such a well-established, wonderful department store, yet they can’t get their dressing room situation on lock. And I always thought that I was alone in that. But back in 2014, I was feeling so inspired after my last trip to Nordstrom that I wrote a blog about them.
It was one of my first letter format blog posts, and it was “Dear Nordstrom dressing rooms”. I wrote this open letter telling them I loved them so much, but I literally never felt worse about myself than when I leave their dressing rooms.
It went really well just on my own, and then I pitched it to Thought Catalog. They picked it up and it went VIRAL. It went viral to the point that even the head of Nordstrom experience emailed me and she was like, “I came across your blog. I’m so sorry we’ve disappointed you.” It was wild.
Do you have any advice for aspiring copywriters?
Copywriting is a hard gig and it doesn’t get the kind of respect that it deserves. People just don’t value writers like they should.
To be a great copywriter, you should be really good at stringing just a few words together.
You’ve always got to stick to your guns. Whatever you are working on, be sure to try to hone your voice, own it and understand exactly who it is speaking. If you have that, that’s half the battle.
What about aspiring bloggers?
Similar to copywriting, voice is key. You have to know your voice, tone, and angle when going into blogging and don’t stray away from it. Of course you’ll want to try new things and throw shit at the wall to see what sticks, and that is great and part of the process in finding what your niche is. But once you find what works, stick with it, because that’s where you’ll always feel most like yourself and most comfortable. Anytime I try to stray away from my voice or niche, I feel so uncomfortable and my posts don’t do well because my readers aren’t there for that.
Consistency is also key. Don’t post three times in one week and then go dark for three weeks because you are out of ideas. Always try to set deadlines and be serious about it. I wasn’t consistent for years, I would just write whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and post it at any time or any day. And it just doesn’t work. It’s also better for your mental stability and sanity to have that organization, because your readers and followers get used to what to expect from you and when.
And the last thing, again, are content calendars. It’s so fun to fly by the seat of your pants, but you just need to have some sort of loose plan. It keeps you focused and helps you knock out even greater creative.
You always have a tendency to approach life with a hilarious, authentic and lighthearted mindset. How do you go about keeping that voice and that positivity going, even during hard times?
It’s not always easy, I actually have horrible anxiety. But I’ve just found that being honest and open like that helps so much.
With how blogging is now, I feel like social media has become so curated. People are growing tired of it. There is a movement going on right now with getting back toward authenticity and posting real shit. People relate to that, because that is real life. Real life is not fashion bloggers who pose in a bathtub with their sunglasses on.
So I get through those hard times by talking about it. It’s so weird because I don’t owe my followers anything and I don’t know them personally. But social media and the internet is a very strange place and I have formed so many connections and over-the-airwave friendships that I can depend on. I feel like every time I’m open like that, the response is insane. Because that’s what they want, they want to know you are a real person.
But on the other end, when it comes to being real you have to be tasteful about it. You don’t want to become caricature of being authentic. Like, “oh, look at this ugly, ugly picture! Ew, I’m so gross!” and you look nothing close to gross at all. Like if you are gonna be ugly, just be ugly. Post with confidence, but don’t be ashamed to introduce your followers to the massive zit on your forehead that you named Rebecca.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Know your worth.
My dad is a businessman, he was in sales his entire career. He made me have a lot of uncomfortable conversations with employers that I would have never done on my own, like asking for more money, negotiations, and snapping back when you know something isn’t right. He instilled that in me, and even though it was awkward and uncomfortable for me at the time, I am so grateful he pushed my sister and me and equipped us with what it takes to move up.
My dad always told me, “there is always more money, they just don’t want to give it to you.” And you need to find a way to stand up and tell them, “No, I’m f**king worth more. I’m going to do amazing work for you and amazing work is valuable. So do you not think I’m valuable?”
Finally, what’s next for you?
Emily, I don’t know. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m at a point that I’m ready for a big change and I don’t know what that is, I don’t know what it looks like, and I don’t know how to get there.
In a perfect world with endless possibilities, I would love to become a personality. I grew up in theater and I enjoy being in front of cameras so I dream of having a show like Seinfeld 2.0, a show about nothing in 2018.
But the thing about life is you never know where it will take you or what opportunity will pop up tomorrow.