Anyone can blog, but it takes skill and sheer dumb luck to make the leap from person with a WordPress site nobody reads to a bona fide professional.
Lainey Gossip: Considered by many to be the true tour de force of online celebrity gossip (sorry not sorry Perez), Elaine Lui’s site has broken several exclusive stories while retaining a no holds barred approach to dissecting the well-oiled PR machine behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. On top of blogging, Lui now works on TV in Canada and her first book was released to surprising acclaim. Readers of her site will be familiar with the Squawking Chicken, Lui’s nickname for her mother, and her biting words of wisdom. Lui’s “sort of memoir” Listen to the Squawking Chicken shares moments from her childhood and takes on the Tiger Mother stereotype of Asian women with Lui’s trademark humour.
Kelly Oxford: Oxford epitomises a relatively new trend in pop culture – the Twitter celebrity. With fans like the late Roger Ebert sharing the blogger’s tweets regularly, commenting on everything from the Kardashians to her own children, Oxford’s writing career took off in a way that it hadn’t before limiting your jokes to 140 characters became a thing. On top of her semi-autobiographical debut Everything Is Better When You’re a Liar, which became a New York Times best-seller, Oxford has also sold screenplays for film and TV productions, although none of them have made it to the screen yet.
Jenny Lawson: Better known as The Bloggess, Lawson’s irreverent and brutally honest writing has garnered a large and extremely loyal fanbase who have latched onto her unabashed dedication to being a damn proud misfit. On top of her personal blog that documents everything from her periods of illness to getting Wil Wheaton to send her a picture of himself collating paper (just go with it), Lawson got her start writing for the Houston Chronicle and as a columnist for SexIs Magazine. But it was her own life story that catapulted her to literary stardom. Her memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, which gained comparisons to David Sedaris for its demented but affectionate portrayal of Lawson’s family,was the subject of a two day auction among 12 publishing houses. Upon its debut, it immediately made the New York Times best-seller list.
Suri’s Burn Book: Writing a blog dedicated to celebrities’ children from the point of view of Suri Cruise isn’t what immediately comes to mind when one thinks of how to create an online sensation. Yet Allie Hagan, the mind behind the site, has managed to do just that and land a book deal as a result. While some have questioned the ethics of essentially roleplaying as a young child in order to mock other children, Hagan insists that the blog is a critique of the celebrity obsessed culture that sees offspring as a cool accessory and something to gain profit from, thanks to magazine deals for exclusive photo-shoots and “Who Wore It Best” style contests involving toddlers. It’s a fine line to walk, and it’s definitely ground ripe for mockery not that the spawn of the famous has become an economy all unto itself, but debate remains as to whether Hagan pulls off her satire successfully, especially given that much of it centres on mocking little kids.
Go Fug Yourself: True story: I recently ended up watching Fashion Police on E! one night while channel hopping. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea to have it on in the background while I did other things. It was not a good idea. What proceeded was roughly 40% body shaming, 40% baseless and cruel mockery of celebrities (almost entirely women) and 20% actual fashion talk. By the end of this train-wreck, I was reminded just how skilled Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, a.k.a. The Fug Girls, actually are. Their wildly popular sartorial snark blog Go Fug Yourself manages to be hilarious and informative while doggedly refusing to fall into tropes of nastiness. Cocks and Morgan, who met on that great bastion of the internet Television Without Pity, have written several books together, from The Fug Awards to two well received YA novels, Spoiled and Messy. They’re currently working on an adult novel inspired by Kate Middleton entitled The Royal We, which I am far more excited for than I should be.
Tavi Gevinson: Gevinson became a media darling at the tender age of 11 when her fashion blog Style Rookie went viral, and quickly became the toast of the town at New York Fashion Week while rubbing elbows with sartorial deities like Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Now a seasoned 18, Gevinson has hung up her style goggles in favour of Rookie, an online magazine dedicated to the teen perspective with detours through pop culture and literature with a side order of guest spots from people like Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling. Rookie Yearbook was published soon after, with year two following, highlighting Gevinson’s remarkable maturity and authorial voice. The Jill of all trades also acts and gives talks around the world, so there’s even more reason to feel incredibly inferior around her.
Dooce: Heather Armstrong was there at the start of the dot com boom that saw unknowns becoming internet famous. Back in 2002, which is decades in internet time, she made the headlines after satirical pieces she had written on her blog about her workplace led to her being fired from her job. Since then, Armstrong has stood the test of time and her series of brutally honest and humorous blog posts, (a combination that has proven successful, as this list shows), on subjects ranging from her Mormon childhood to her struggle with depression to unusual sexual encounters, gained enough traffic for her to turn blogging into her full time job. Armstrong has published several books, the second of which made the best-seller charts.