I’m engaged with life, and if something is there to enhance or have an impact on my life or the life of my readers, then I’m all for it.
Young, Fun and Type 1 is an honest, no holds barred health, lifestyle and wellbeing website focussing on young women’s issues like body image, self-esteem and the impact of popular culture. There is a particular focus on living life to the full while juggling other issues; in Jen’s case this is type 1 diabetes.
Tell us about your blog, how did you get started? Why did you choose your subject?
I’ve always loved writing and trained as a broadcast journalist. I started the blog when I decided to take control of my diabetes properly – I’d had OK control for many years but I knew there was more I could do to help myself live the full life I always have for as long as possible. The long-term consequences of bad control are terrifying, but they’re not inevitable. I chose to start a blog so I could be accountable for my actions – but I soon realised there weren’t many people out there tackling the issues I was dealing with in such an honest, ridiculous (!) way, and a following built up quicker than I could believe. Type 1 Diabetes has a massive impact on young people’s lives and a lot of the information out there can be patronising or confusing. It’s developed over time to address issues about health more generally – particularly the pressures young women are dealing with, and the way the media and the world around us shapes who we are. My blog addresses the issues of diabetics, of young people and 20-somethings in a real, honest way and I’m not afraid to talk about how frustrating it can be, but the underlying message is wholly positive.
How do you source content for your blog?
Everywhere! Initially the content was more of a diary, and that’s still at the essence of it, but I like to comment on the world around me as well, whether in relation to diabetes or something else. So a lot of it is experience, but it could be product reviews, things I’ve seen on Twitter or other online sources, on television or experiences my friends have had. Health stuff comes from products I’ve tried or my experiences with exercise. I trained as a journalist and work in online for BBC Radio 1 so this all feeds into the site.
Do you have a favourite post or one that best sums up your blog?
I’m still not sure how I managed it, but I did the quickest, most rushed three minute video interview with Este from HAIM, who also has type 1 diabetes. She epitomises everything the site is about – she’s honest, intelligent, unapologetic, relevant, she has type 1 and she absolutely rocks it. She’s a great inspiration to young girls, and I like to think that kind of essence lives in the blog too. These women are strong, determined and important – it can just take time for them to realise, as it did me. I’m trying to entertain and inspire these people. I also haven’t seen Este talking on camera in depth about type 1 anywhere else, so that was a proud moment for me.
Do you write reviews? How many people read your reviews?
I like to write reviews on the right things. I’m engaged with life, and if something is there to enhance or have an impact on my life or the life of my readers, then I’m all for it. The readers are the whole reason the site is there, so if I think it’ll interest them, then I’ll write about it. Getting engagement on Twitter from a company or a product I’ve reviewed also helps spread the word and reach new people.
How did you build a following for your blog?
It initially came purely from the diabetes online community, and I’m very grateful they’re there as there would be no blog otherwise. Other diabetics constantly inspire me with what they’re up to – the community on Twitter is very strong, which is a great thing to come of social media. As I’ve started to touch on more issues that following has broadened, which is exciting. I’ve never done any paid advertising, but I try to engage personally with everyone who reads, comments or emails as I still can’t believe they’ve taken time out of their busy day to read my waffle! Engaging with PRs in the past year has also helped a lot.
Are you a PR friendly? Do you accept contributions and content for your blog?
I’m definitely PR friendly! 20-something women are hugely engaged with the world around them, and PRs are so valuable in showing me what’s going on. I’m open to new suggestions as long as they completely fit the ethos of the blog, so if you think your product, person or event might fit then please say hello! I love pouring over stats that relate directly to the audience and their lives- particularly in regards to women’s health, mind and body image, so get them sent too! I’m always honest with my reviews and all of my content is originally written – I’m not about copying from press releases. Being emotionally charged and personally passionate about what you’re writing about is key – so press conferences, events and even parties place you in the moment first hand, and that’s crucial to the writing.
How best do you like to be approached by PRs?
Email is the best way, or say hello on Twitter @missjengrieves
What’s in store for your blogging career in 2014?
I hope to continue expanding the content into health and wellbeing more generally, and hopefully continue to write for other publications with the Young, Fun Type 1 ethos. I want to engage with as many young people as possible and make people feel empowered and positive about themselves – life can be hard but it’s also exciting!
You can find Jen tweeting @missjengrieves