Dan, 31, staff writer, Buzzfeed
Sooo, you read BuzzFeed, right? I mean, what do you do in your office? WORK? Ever wondered what it’s like working there? It’s not all cats and gifs all day long, but it sure sounds fun.What’s your job, exactly? I’m a staff writer at BuzzFeed. I essentially get to write about whatever I want, and what I think is going to be popular. I often write about books, movies, culture, London, and sometimes Yorkshire, where I’m from. We have a meeting in the morning to discuss what we’re going to work on, and people might say it’s a good idea, or suggest another way to frame it. But no one has to sign it off.
Do you have to produce one piece every day? That would be the average but there’s no quota, we’re not judged on that, as long as we’re always working on something and it doesn’t take 6 months to do. Depending on the kind of things I write, it might be 3-4 pieces a week as sometimes they can take a bit longer on the design or on the writing. Some people work very quickly and will do more.
What were you doing before? Before this I was in Sydney, Australia, and I was Head of Content at We Are Social, looking after the strategy and content for brands like Sony and Adidas. At a marketing agency, the money’s good, there’s always something new to work on, budgets are huge, but the work never stops.. I missed working in editorial and writing my own stuff.
What was your first ever job? It was cleaning out horse stables. I used to help look after the horses in exchange for being able to ride them. I was 10 or 11. Either that or babysitting.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I wanted to play basketball. I had some England trials and played for a junior national league team. There was no way I was going to get a scholarship for an American university but for years, that was my thing. That dream died horribly after A-Levels, I realised I probably had to apply for a UK University. I worked out that what I really loved to do was write. I took a gap year, went to work at a summer camp in NY which was wonderful and I found myself writing all the time. I figured that if I enjoyed doing it in my spare time, maybe I should do that for a job.
What did you study? I studied creative writing at Leeds University. The thing is, I never wanted to work in journalism. I always wanted to write fiction and I thought working in journalism would get in the way of that. So when I finished University I travelled, I moved to LA and then Australia, doing odd jobs. I was writing the whole time. It wasn’t until I moved back to London in 2008 that I started thinking about my career. I went for a week’s work experience at Empire Magazine. They offered me a junior writer position which I held for 6 months until the recession hit. I then went to work for Total Film for 3 years. I was the Digital Production Editor, helping edit and produce the website and run the social media. When I moved to Australia, I used my digital and social media content skills to move to a social media agency, and spent three years on the dark side.
Is there anyone whose career you really admire? Maybe Charles Bukowski, who worked in a post office his whole life, even when he was publishing things. That’s a career I admire because he served his writing. He worked at a post office to make the money to still be a poet and be able to go home at night and write really angry, sad poetry.
Do you have plans for the future? I want to continue the kind of work I’m doing while also publishing books. That’s not a side project, but more like a second career. I feel like I have two full time jobs. I have a novel finished that is under submission with a few places at the moment. I also work on short stories.
What’s your work schedule? For Buzzfeed, I work 10 to 6. I’m not a morning person at all. I’m more of a night owl, and tend to be most creative between 11pm and 3am. Some nights I don’t sleep because I’m up writing. I try and set myself a goal of one hour of writing in the evening but if I manage an hour, I’ll do a little bit more. On the weekends it’s the same, I might have friends to see and things to do but I try and get an hour done on the weekends. It all adds up. You don’t have to sit down and write a novel in one evening.
When you write articles about films, like your Watching Harry Potter for the first time series, do you watch movies in the Buzzfeed office or at home? For the Harry Potter series I watched most of the films at work, but I’ve done both, because sometimes I work from home. I find open plan offices can be quite difficult, so if I need some space I’ll work from home.
What do you wear to work? It’s very casual, jeans and a shirt. Sometimes my BuzzFeed hoodie. *LAUGHS*
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a job? When I worked at Total Film, we did a shoot with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from Shaun Of The Dead. We all got dressed up as zombies. Great fun. The picture is still floating around somewhere.
Who should I speak to next? My friend Rachel who’s a photographer [Ed. note: coming soon!].
Follow Dan on Twitter here.
Read all of his Buzzfeed posts here.