Many Months ago I reached out to someone who I started following on social media about 3-4 years ago, this is someone I have grown to know to I’d say well, even with never having met each other yet and I am there is still a lot to learn and talk to each other. I highly recommend you check him out at CraigOnToast .
This is going to be a long post between the amount of questions I asked him and the time and effort he has put into his responses which I really appreciate. I understand most people don’t want to read more then like 500 words but I highly recommend you read this from start to finish because I really feel everyone can take something out of this.
So lets get straight into it, Interview style baby!
What inspires you to keep coming up with new content?
We’re actually surrounded by inspiration. From a song lyric to a colour, a memory, an idea, event, product, passion, challenge, person, conversation, personal change or realisation or even just a sunrise – there are things to be inspired by all around us. We all have a different perspective on life too, which means there are infinite stories to tell, and ways to tell them.
I’ve worked out that i’m not very good at sitting still and relaxing so I’m always looking for activities to do, stories to tell, , things to learn – although i’m overdue to really challenging myself with something, new side hustles to take on or even just selfies to take (lol). That people find some of what I write and do interesting and helpful also inspires me to do more.
I think William Blake said it best, inspiration is:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
William Blake, The Auguries of Innocence
Sometimes inspiration comes quickly and I’ll smash out a piece in hours, other times it’s a slower burn and I’ll sit with an idea for months before knowing what to do with it. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, just look at what can happen in one second.
How did you get into the profession you’re in?
Which one? Lol. I think I’m up to 7 at the moment. They all mostly relate to one of two things though – Social Media and mental health.
I found my way into social media after 8 years in Learning & Development ( corporate training). I loved the communication and creativity but was bored and wanted new challenges and to achieve more. I just didn’t know what that meant or looked like. Turns out being made redundant was a great thing for me, it was the kick start I needed to find out. A few years of study, sweat, tears, and a lot of fucking learning I’m now the Head of Social Media at Colloquial, a Social Media and Content Marketing Agency. Being a lover of a good side hustle and I’m also a blogger, influencer, model, speaker, freelance social media guy and copywriter, Social Media lecturer at Macleay College and volunteer social media manager at TEDxSydney.
On the mental health side I’m an Ambassador for suicide prevention charity R U OK. Mental health is such a complex and emotional subject and its hard for people to talk about. I’ve been managing depression since I was a teenager and have attempted suicide 3 times, which is why I signed on with R U OK. September 14 is R U OK Day and we spend the day talking to media and anywhere from primary schools and corporate events to mine sites, sharing not just the R U OK message but our stories and simple conversation tips and ideas.…We actually do these things all year round though because every day is a great day to have a conversation that could change a life, and we all need to be encouraged and helped to have them. If you want to know more about R U OK and why I’m an Ambassador check out my blog Why I became an R U OK Day Ambassador/
The 2018 campaign kicks off on August 1 and the Conversation Convoy spends 6 weeks driving all around Australia. Here’s where you can find the 2018 Conversation Convoy Roadmap
Any advice for someone wanting to get into social media or something like blogging?
Most people don’t understand how diverse, fast and ever changing social media is. My jobs have me doing everything from responding to people on social to developing strategies, creating content, researching trends, analysing data and running ad campaigns.. and that’s on a slow day.
Getting started in social is a bit like starting anything – you just have to grab the #hashtags and run with it. Take some time to research and read up on what social media really is, how it works, what it can achieve, and what a day in the life of a social media person, or blogger, is really like. Then pick up a short course, follow sites, blogs and leaders, start your own blog, practice your creative skills and experiment with what you learn.
Just please never call yourself a social media ninja, guru, jedi, king, queen, magician, ring master or any other title from Narnia and beyond
To practice your skills and build portfolio you could treat and develop your own social media or blog as if it were a business, pick a cause to support or place to volunteer – charities are a good place to start. You could also approach businesses or agencies to see what roles or internships they have open.
(and know why likes = awesome personal goal but awful business goal )
Are you hiring?
I wish! I mean personally I need a PA really fucking badly but not even I think the pay is worth the work haha. I’m not hard work (most of the time anyway), but my inboxes, phone and diary are demanding bitches.
How do you take such great photos?
Ah Thanks, i’m glad you like my style! I’ve always been fascinated with visual communication and storytelling. I went to 3 high schools and in all of them I was the nerd found in the arts studio, photography lab, music room or hiding somewhere, day-dreaming or writing. Visual comms was also a huge part of my performing arts and media comms degrees.
I generally know how I want something to look and what story I want it to tell. That makes working out details like the design, colours, layout, framing, filtering, scripting (which for videos on my own socials is basically made up as I go #sshh) and editing so much easier – but after so much fucking study and interest, you’d hope so right.
When it comes living the selfie life, it’s all about having a laugh.. And Madonna says it best- strike a pose… and ok, maybe there’s a trick or three. @Sarah_Ray once stepped me through her selfie editing process and it puts mine to shame – but that’s probs one reason why she has 1.3M followers and I don’t.
People hate on and over-analyse selfies way too much, it makes me laugh. Sure some people live with a Kardashian inspired narcissism but for me – they’re just a bit of creative fun or a great memory of good times. To the haters I say, just chill the fuck out and #vogue.
Anyone can take great photos, paint incredibly and tell great stories visually though. The best thing about creativity is that even the most basic conventions are for breaking sometimes… it’s all just practicing, experimenting, finding your style and having fun as you play.
A great way to experiment is to join or start a photo challenge. There are so many to join or take inspiration from like Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag Project #WHP, @FatMumSlim’s Monthly Challenge or @Sigma Photo Australia’s Monthly Challenge.
To keep creating great pics simple, these are my top 8 tips
- Have an idea in your mind of the image you want before taking the shot.
- Check everything – from your clothes to your background to your shadows.
- Use your self timer for selfies
- Video can be even better ( and easier) for catching the perfect pose/s.
- Always take a few shots – and try a few different angles, framing, poses, faces etc.
- Filtering – I prefer a light touch, but how you filter is up to you. There are also more ways to filter than Instagram.
- And personally, I hate Facetune. It’s bad and obvious – delete and avoid.
- Experiment and try new things.
My favorite photo and editing apps are:
- Photo Editing – Instagram / IG Stories, Snapseed, Afterlight, PicBlender;
- Typography and Text – Typorama, Canva, Legend, Picsee, Font Candy;
- GIF and meme making – GIF-X, GIF Maker for Boomerang, Mematic, Meme Maker by pIZap.
- Collage – Instagram / Layout, Fotor
- Video Editing – iMovie, InShot
- Personalised Emoji Characters and Avatars – Bitmoji, Emoji Me Facemaker
There are some top picks by the experts though:
iPhone Photography School – 10 Best Photo Editing Apps
Photo Wondershare – 10 Best Typography Apps
Digital Trends – Best GIF Maker Apps
Jumper Media – 15 Best Instagram / Vertical Video Editor Apps
What has been your favourite campaign to work on?
This is such a hard question to answer! I actually have 3 favourites and picking just one is impossible. They were all awesome experiences for such different reasons.
Splendour in the Grass for Spotify ( 2014)
In 2014 I was running Spotify Australia’s social media, a great gig in itself! My first job was to cover Splendor In Grass for them. 5 days at Splendour running from campground to the stage media pits to interviews, and everywhere in between, with just my iphone, media pass and creative eye to bring the event to life and a fuck load of portable chargers and coffee to keep me going through 14-16hr days.
As a main sponsor everything had to look amaze and I’m not going to lie – being the sole amateur with my iPhone, surrounded by professional photographers with professional gear working for great music media and brands was a little intimidating, but fucking cool – and so were most of them once we got chatting.
That gig was a once a lifetime, rock star photographer dream – and Spotify rated top 5 in event coverage. #win
Weight Watchers Healthy Life Awards ( 2014)
At heart I’m a storyteller, and I love telling stories that make people glow with pride, and have the power to inspire or motivate others. That made my job as the Social Media guy for Weight Watchers Australia ( my first social media role) a joy. The Healthy Life Awards used to be held each year to celebrate not just people’s weight loss ( which was sometimes what I weigh) but also changing themselves and their lives.
Being part of the judging and selection process, spending time with the finalists, sharing their stories and bringing it all to life in different ways was great experience for my social media, agency and talent management, storytelling, content production, strategic and creative skills. More importantly though, the joy and pride of the finalists was both infectious and inspiring – and that made me want to push harder and do better than my best for them all. It was a unique environment with an energy and impact that is impossible to replicate. I’m still friends with many people I met through the awards ( technically WW customers), and they still inspire me today.
If you know and are a fan of TED Talks I probably don’t need to explain why I love being part of the TEDxSydney social media team. They are events that are difficult to fully describe, but a day of dreams, adventure, tears and inspiration is how i described my first event with them.. And every event since.
A bit like Spotify there is an unexplainable buzz, and unique challenges, from running social media live from an event, especially big ones. I wish I did more live event social media to be honest, I love it! We have a big social media team and we’re learning and tweaking how we promote and bring the event to life each year, and our goals – so from speakers to social strategy, TEDxSydney is just all personal growth and fun.
Do you have any goals for the future?
I’m not great at long term goal setting to be honest, maybe it’s a challenge i should throw down for myself again. Every year I work to a different theme though, with different goals to achieve and live to. 2018 is the Year of the D.. let’s check in later in the year, scoring a D the end of it would be a bit of a Debacle
Would you ever live somewhere else in Australia? or the World?
Many places! I live in Sydney but was born in Melbourne and grew up in Coffs Harbour. I lived in Perth for a short time, but the pace was a little slow for me. I tried living in London, but I think throwing a summer baby into a London winter for my first move out of home was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t last long but would like to try it again now. New York would be my first choice but places like Finland, Berlin, Vancouver, Japan and Spain intrigue me too.
I’d actually love to participate in a program like Remote Year for 12 months.
Would you ever be someone’s mentor?
Yes absolutely. I’m a big believer in paying it forward and helping others if and when you can. I was a social media tutor at Sydney University last year and actually hired one of my students when she graduated. It’s wonderful watching her grow in skills and confidence.
I’ll be teaching again at Macleay College later in the year and really looking forward to it.
If anyone would like to have a chat about mentoring, feel free to get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you recommend studying for your profession? And if so what course?
Social media, digital, content and marketing all change so rapidly that the best experience and learning you can get is on the job. I personally don’t believe you need a degree to work in social media but there are definitely some fundamentals you need to know and like any career, if you want to grow and progress, you have to be constantly learning, whether it’s formally or informally.
I have a media comms degree but a cert IV in digital marketing is a what kick started my learning. If you’re considering study ADMA, General Assembly, Academy Xi and Macleay College have a great range of short and long courses.
Would you recommend creating a Facebook page for your blog or work?
The key to making social media work is understanding your audience, what they want and where they are. I’d recommend using at least a couple of the main social media platforms, because they have such large and diverse audiences. That makes reaching and targeting them easier, and more cost effective, than anything else. Facebook is generally a safe place to start, but whether you’re best to be on Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest, Twitter and Messenger or any other combo depends on where the right audience for you is.
To get the best out of any of them though you need to go in with a strategy, purpose and a budget to promote and advertise, even if it’s just a small one. Anyone who tells you that organic reach is alive and well on social and digital, is just rolling and smoking organically grown.
How do you deal with social media trolls?
Urgh, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a troll or waste their lives getting off on tormenting others for laughs.. I mean, I know why they do it and the psychological kicks they get out of it, I just think they’d be better off with a psychiatrist and a real hobby.
As individuals, the only thing you need to know about trolls – is simply not to feed them.
Always remember that whatever they are doing, it’s to engage, annoy and torment you – so just don’t feed the trolls. If for no other reason than you have much better things to do with your time and energy than engage in pointless online conversation with a probable stranger.
When it comes to trolls – Block, report, move on.
The Office of the e-Safety Commissioner is tasked with protecting our online safety. If you ever feel threatened, unsafe, at risk or even just concerned by someone’s behaviour, i recommend reporting them to both the social media platform and the Office https://esafety.gov.au/ for investigation immediately. It’s unlikely you’re their first, last or only target so you’d be doing a bunch of people a favour.
If you feel that the situation may escalate, stay a step ahead of them. Let your work , kids school, orgs you volunteer with anywhere you think they may attempt to contact know all the details, including their name. I have a couple of regular trolls and that proactive approach not only gave us all some protection but saved us a lot of time, pain, effort.
For brands it’s a little more complex though. The best approach for managing trolls depends on the reason for and volume of the complaints and trolling, and history with those doing it. A brand receiving a high volume of complaints and trolling during a PR crisis is probably reasonable and should be handled very differently to an individual or small group trolling a brand because they don’t like a campaign or some news or a consumer trolling loudly on your account because of a bad experience.
The key is to always anticipate trolling, and always have a plan and some responses in place before going live with anything new.
Single, Taken, Looking for Love?
Single as fuck. I’m sure that will probably change at some point but it hasn’t been on the priority list for a long time.
What do you do in your down time? If you get some?
Down time? I thought that was a myth. Can you hook me up?
Honestly though, sometimes I just stare at the walls and think of puppies or watch angry goat videos on YouTube ( highly recommended for laughs).
Comics, sci fi, lego and colouring books are all great escapes and although it’s technically work, I sometimes count writing as down time because it feels like it.
Music gives me life – all types for all moods.
I hit the dance floor, and probably do a bunch of stuff that makes good stories, and some people blush – or jealous or curious lol.
Exercise gets the blood pumping and i love cooking and cleaning, I find them both therapeutic.. I have a Netflix watch list that goes from Grand Designs to Drag Race, take cheeky tumbls through porn hub
..and selfies.. So many selfies.
I’m one of these extreme all or nothing freaks.. I’m either doing 15 things at once and sleeping 4-5 hours a night or I’m passed out in bed for 3 days and trying to order burgers from Netflix …
down time is something i need to take more often though.
Have you ever had your heart broken? How did you deal with it?
yes of course, we have all had our hearts broken haven’t we? How have i dealt with it? As well as any of us I guess..
Making myself feel better by burning all of their clothes, maxing their credit cards, replacing their exfoliating moisturiser with Ajax and their toner with nail polish remover, reporting their car stolen, changing the GPS to speak Latvian, pranking their doorbell on the way home at 3am, glitter bombing the apartment while moving out – these are all great ways to work off some of the built up “energy” that can help stitch that broken heart back together. ( *Never do any of these by the way – Karma is a vengeful elephant, and she will find you and repay you. I’ve not even tested them so they may not even work.)
I think part of bouncing back after any major life change or event is allowing yourself time to go through all the emotions you need to, and understanding that they are all ok. Self acceptance, self forgiveness, embracing and owning the vulnerability, and understanding that while the pain, doubt and lost feeling may be a scar that you have for life, as consuming as they are in the moment, like all emotions they’re only temporary. The future is on the other side of it.
As you’re doing all that you can start to reflect on who and where you are and want to be. From there you can start creating new goals, habits, plans, ways of thinking and rediscovering or redefining your vibe, to rebuild your new spiced up single lady self.
I’m literally just making this the fuck up though, you may do all of this and still have a hole in your heart, or it may heal faster than you imagine.. Go on a holiday, fuck and party the pain away, see a therapist, cry into pizza with friends, take up yoga… Find what works for you and do that, just keep the focus on you and your future… not on buttering their car windscreen with duck fat.
How do you find dating in the Gay Man’s world?
“dating” is actually my idea of hell. Like I’m pretty sure some fucked up season of the Bachelor that never, ever ends is waiting for me… I’ve also only had one serious proper relationship in my life, and that wasn’t because I was looking. It was genuine and wonderful and loving and fun for years.. until we both slowly disfigured it into something that wasn’t. ( we’re great friends now though)
I don’t think I’m anywhere near qualified or experienced enough to answer this question but, unlike dating, I’ll give it a go.
Look we all deserve and want love. Dating takes effort and time and vulnerability and putting yourself out there and although it can be hard it should have some sort of focus or interest at some point in our lives. But I also think we all get too hung up on the whole “without love and a partner you’re an incomplete person / life” thing. It just isn’t true.
A partner shouldn’t be there to overcompensate for or fill whatever gaps you think need filling ( umm, well ok maybe there’s a couple of gaps they can fill like no one else can… but that’s for another story), they should be beside us, growing and changing with us, touching our butts, doing nsfw things with us, fighting, shopping and cuddling and telling us we’re as cute, funny and awesome as they think we are and that’s why they love us – and we should be doing the exact same thing for them.
I hate dating, am terrible at relationships and am basically undateable, and even to me that sounds amazing.
We probably make dating more difficult than it actually is because of things like fear of rejection or hurt, trying to tailor ourselves to what we think others want, not accepting others for who they are – or sometimes ourselves for who we are, being overly protective of ourselves, having unrealistic expectations – or none, judging people based on assumptions and pre-concieved ideas or other people’s opinions- judging and dragging on others is a classic gay move that gets in the way of so many things, wondering what’s an appropriate time after a date to message, worried about looking too keen, not looking keen enough and generally getting in our own way.
What I think would make dating easier is if we just lived our authentic selves and our own dream.. Take a risk if it feels right, ask the question, send the message, give it a go if you want to, don’t take no personally, wonder if you like them as much as you wonder if they like you, be respectful, have fun and know that while it’s not always going to go your way… that’s actually a good thing because not everyone is made to fit together…
Somewhere in this big gay world there are guys who have your glass slipper, so when you’re ready go find them…and have fun trying all the shoes you like on your search.
First of all a big Thank you to Craig for participating and being so honest and open with his answer and I know how much effort he put into his responses.
You should all head over and check out his blog and check him out all over social media.