The Secret To Keltie Knight’s Killer Career? 16-Hour Workdays
Isn’t it crazy how back in the day your mom told you to stop spending so much time on the internet, and now people are making a living from posting on Instagram and YouTube?
It can be tempting to start actually caring about your Instagram presence in hopes of becoming an “influencer” who gets paid to take pretty pictures, but unfortunately if you’re just starting, you have a lot of catching up to do.
The people who are really succeeding in the content monetization space are the people who have been spending time on the internet since before it was cool, like Keltie Knight.
“I remember being in convos with people and they’d be like, ‘what are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m writing in my blog,'” says Keltie. “They’d be, ‘what is that?'”
While she originally started a blog to document her move to New York City to pursue life as a dancer, Keltie is now a TV presenter and one of three hosts (and founders) of popular podcast The LadyGang.
We talked to Keltie about why she thinks blogging is dead, what she does in her 16 hour work day, and her advice for girls hustling for their dreams.
So you were a blogger kind of back in the earlier days before everyone was trying to have their own blog, and you kind of used that as a launchpad for your career now. Do you still think that’s possible?
I think it’s changed, I think blogs are sort of dead, unfortunately. The major sites of course still exist, but to launch a personal blog is really hard because why would people click through your social media sites to check out a blog when they could just see the pictures on your Instagram or Snapchat? There’s more of that 24/7 deliberate connection which I love, so I think people are finding new ways, brands are going with their apps, you know, that kind of stuff. It’s really hard and you kind of have to be the first of whatever you do. The YouTubers who are successful now were like the first YouTubers, I was the first person I knew with a personal blog on Blogspot. The first Instagrammers, the first Twitter people, you know I think you really have to be an early adapter to get success.
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It’s funny because when those things came out nobody really expected that to be a thing that would pay off, like spending a lot of time on Instagram or whatever.
Totally, you just wanted the filters!
How was blogging different when you started out?
Well when I started there weren’t really personal blogs so I remember being in convos with people and they’d be like, “what are you doing?” And I’m like, “I’m writing in my blog,” and they’d be, “what is that?” So there was this captivated audience because it seemed so new and fresh. I also think at that time it didn’t for me really set in that the internet lived forever and it’s so fresh and new you’re like, “Oh my God, I should share everything.” And now 15 years later, you’re like, “well maybe I shared a little too much” and there are things on the internet you’re kind of embarrassed about.
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What are some things you kind of wished you hadn’t shared back in the day?
I think I was like a 20-something and getting my heart broken and the disappointments of career setbacks and living in New York and all of those struggles, but mostly all of the horrendous pictures of my tiny little Pamela Anderson eyebrows. Do you remember when everyone over-plucked your eyebrows like a crazy person? I was one of those people, and you can’t live down those eyebrows, it lives forever now on the internet.
It’s funny because some people still have them! So in what other ways has your style changed?
Until a couple years ago I still wanted to dress as a crazy 20-something and be really, really trendy. I think that in the last couple of years I decided I wanted to have grown-up style, so I’ve been sort of watching the length of my skirt, and getting rid of my crop tops, sort of going for a more sleek editorial monochromatic vibe.
Do you believe there’s a right way to dress for your age?
I don’t think theres a right way to dress for your age, I think you have to dress for the job that you want in the corporate world. So, if you want to work at Vogue or you want to be a scientist, you can’t show up in your ripped fishnets. Like, that can be your weekend look. I think that people really do judge, especially women on what they wear, so I think it’s important to dress the way that you, you know, are gonna get that maximum respect for that job.
It’s funny because I live in California and girls are so casual here. Right now a lot of girls are just wearing lace bras that are shirts. When I see our interns that are in college come in and be wearing that in a corporate place, you feel like an old woman. But it’s true, especially at a young age you’re so smart and have so much to offer, but if they can’t get past the way you’re dressing, then you’ll never get the opportunity, you know.
So do you think because of social media even your weekend wear might be something that could be a detriment to your career advancement because your future boss could be looking at your Instagram?
I mean, there is no one that I either have looked to hire or I am interviewing that I don’t check out their social pages before I go meet them. I think people like authenticity and being real, but you know, the sexy pictures of you getting out of the shower or whatever is getting this viral attention really quick and fast. Our generation is sort of addicted to [it]. In the long run of things, I always think, “What do I want my in-laws to see?” It’s hard because sex sells for a regular person and all the celebrities too. So you see all these women putting themselves out there, but you know, we’re not all Emily Ratajkowski, our careers are not being hot, so it’s a tricky thing.
So what are some things or red flags you have come across on social media for potential employees?
I think for me, when I hired my assistant, I was looking for someone who had a real keen photography edge. So just crystal clear pictures, proper grammar, a sense of fun, and just having like a collective understanding of what the world is. I don’t need someone who has a ton of followers, but I need someone who has a grasp to what that world is, because it’s very important to what I do.
Going back to when you started blogging, what else were you doing at that time and what were you blogging about?
So when I first started I was actually a professional dancer in New York. I had just moved into New York and my blog was called “High Kicks and High Hopes.” It was all about a small town girl move to big city, and what it was really like to go out there and chase your dreams. It was a lot of disappointments and a lot of realness and a lot of you know, hard truths learned.
So I was kind of blogging about that, New York City, rejection, and figuring out how to like yourself in your 20’s. And then also all my fun dance jobs. I specifically remember one time I was dancing for Taylor Swift, and I had mentioned on the blog, “I’m dancing for Taylor Swift on the MTV awards, I’m so excited, I’ll keep you posted on all the behind the scenes photos.” And then I got a call from the boss who was like, “Uh, you’re not allowed to post behind the scenes photos on your blog,” and then I got in trouble. That’s when I realized that a lot of people were watching me and I had to be a little careful about what I shared.
So how did your podcast, LadyGang, get started?
After dancing, I moved into a television career, and TV is even harder than the dance world. It is so crazy cutthroat. I really lived every day of my job scared that I was going to get fired that day. Becca [Tobin] and I were hanging out and operating on our sites together, and we were like, “Let’s create something that we can’t get fired from, that we own ourselves.” We were inspired by the Gwyneth Paltrows, and the Honest Beauties, and the Sophia Amorusos, and all these ladies that have grown and had success in other areas, but then had built their own brand that could be their own thing.
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So Becca had the name and we were looking for the third girl and we had known Jac [Vanek] and she was the coolest in the whole world. I was like, “I have gotta have a cool girl, ’cause I’m such a nerd,” and I thought it was a really nice balance. It started as a podcast, then we launched the site, then we launched our subscription box series, then we launched merchandise and so it just started growing. We just shot a TV pilot, so it’s just a lot going on for the brand. Girls getting it done for themselves, I like it.
Yeah and I feel like that’s something a lot of young girls want. Something they can’t get fired from where they can do what they want. But obviously you have to put in a lot of work before you see results. How did you keep yourself motivated working through the TV industry even with your blog and everything?
Yeah, I think everyone wants to have their own thing, but I think it’s very important for you to be a minion and at the bottom of the barrel and have some tough bosses in your life first. I think it makes you a better employer and [makes] your work ethic harder. You know, I’m so glad I had nasty bosses, and I’m so glad I got fired from jobs because it just makes you so strong. I also think that working in the corporate world or arts or whatever, when you’re young you look at people and you think, “Oh, I want to do that,” and then you do it for a bit and then you move on for the next thing.
I think it’s cool to experience life a little bit at first. The reason we didn’t give up on LadyGang — we worked on it an entire year without getting paid, at all, not a single cent. I had a full time job, Becca had a full time job, Jack had a full time company that she runs, so it’s exhausting. Everyone wants to have their own thing until it’s 2:30 in the morning and you have to be up in three hours for your regular job and you’re still working on stuff. It’s so much work, but I was really inspired personally by the instant reaction. I mean, the first episode we launched we had phone calls coming in about TV projects. By the 10th episode, we had doubled our listeners. By the 25th episode, we had blown our listener count out of the roof, we’d gotten written up by magazines, then girls started coming to us saying, “I’m obsessed with this.” We’d done no advertising, it’s all word of mouth, and it grows and grows and grows every day. So that’s kind of what inspires us now, that we can just see there is such a need for this honesty in the world and we’re just putting it together.
So you said today was a chill day, what does an average day of work look for you?
I normally come into work at 5:30 in the morning. I wake up at 5. I come in, I go through hair and makeup, I go on my computer look at all the news for the day of what’s going on. I’ll work with the team here at the show to see what’s going to be in the show, I’ll work with the writer of the show to sort of write my parts of the show, I’ll work with the director of my stories. So if I’m interviewing Ed Sheeran, or if I’m working The Bachelor, what we got from the interview the day before, how we’re going to write it. Then I’ll get dressed, I’ll go to the stage, I’ll tape the show, we’ll tape live hits for our station all over the world, I’ll go to the voiceover booth, then I take all my makeup off and do a 30 minute work out, then I’ll come back and put my makeup back on, then we’ll make changes to the show over the next hour or two. Then I head out to the world, which could be a sit down interview with someone, it could be a movie premiere, it could be a screening of TV show, it could really be about anything, and I usually get home at about 9:30 at night.
Oh man, thats a long day.
Yeah, it’s so funny because people are like, “Oh my god, I worked 10 hours today.” And I’m like, “10 hours for me is a short day.” My normal work day is about 16 hours, at least 12, possibly 16. It’s kind of crazy, and that’s what’s so funny cause everyone is like, “Oh my God, I want to be you so bad,” and I’m like, “do you though?” It’s so much work, but again, it goes along with the “you have to start at the bottom” [thing]. As the correspondent, I’m the one that has to always be out on the field doing all the work, and you know one day I won’t be that person and you just work to that goal.
Did you ever see yourself getting into TV back when you were dancing?
Yeah, I started making YouTube videos, and I’ve always been a Chatty Cathy, and always inappropriate. So for me, I’m actually just mad at myself that I pretended that I was a dancer for so long, cause I was an underdog dancer. When I started in TV, the doors literally started flying open and I find it so easy, like it’s something that isn’t hard for me. Like sitting down with Oprah is like a cakewalk compared to auditioning for a broadway musical, that was such a struggle. Talking to people and interviewing, and telling these stories comes really naturally to me.
Thats awesome that you found that, I feel like everybody has that struggle in their early 20’s. What are some common mistakes you see people make either with their blogs or podcasts?
I think the biggest mistake is [not] doing it every single week at a time when people are expecting it. It’s consistency, you’ve seen it a million times. Everyone is like, “I’m starting a food blog,” “I’m starting a fashion blog,” and they do it for like two times a day every day, and then they start posting once a week, and then six months go by and they’re like, “I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’m back!” Same thing with podcasts, like we release a new LadyGang every single Tuesday. When you get into your car on the way to work, on the subway, on Tuesday you know you can listen to us on the way in, you’ll always have a new episode. So people come to expect it, they get excited, if they miss a week they’ll know they have two [episodes]. It’s like appointment television, and I think blogs and podcasts and social media is the same way. You have to be consistent with feeding the brand.
Definitely, that makes sense. I feel guilty myself with doing that with blogging.
Everyone has, and when you stop doing it, it’s a good indicator that shows that it’s not your thing. And that’s okay. When you’re writing for the site that you love or you’re doing a YouTube or video project that you’re obsessed with, you will be so happy to do it every week. When you start something because it’s a good idea and you lose interest, that’s okay, because it’s just a hobby, it’s not a job.
Any new projects you’re working on that we should know about?
Just keeping The LadyGang alive, we’re about to hire our second employee which seems pretty cool. We have trademarks for “LadyGang” all over the world so we’re searching the internet and seeing people making cheeky “LadyGang” jackets and being like, “I don’t think so!” We’ve been working really hard on this TV project, we have a really good idea of what we want to put out into that space. We’re just trying to build up the community and it’s crazy that in the last year it’s gotten so big that we can’t do it all ourselves.