Go Fug Yourself is one of my favorite websites that is not this one, so I was tickled to find that Anne Helen Petersen at The Hairpin had done an interview with founders/ proprietors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan:
AHP: Can we go back a little? I want to talk just briefly about how you two started your blog, and what the dynamics were then. What kind of blogging software did you use? Did you pay for image rights? Who was your intended audience?
Jessica: Heather and I were friends who’d known each other for a long time—we’d met originally working at Television Without Pity—and we started GFY as, essentially, an in-joke between the two of us. And because we never intended for it to be a business, we didn’t really think any of that out. The only audience we expected to get was our friends, really. We were on Blogger for a while, because it was free, but we moved fairly quickly over to Typepad because it was a more reliable platform. We were using watermarked Getty Images photos for a while, out of ignorance. It was 2004, and we sincerely thought that because the watermark was on the photo, we were okay to use them. They disabused us of that notion, and we’ve paid for image rights ever since.
Heather: Our first banner was a dinky little cursive thing I did on Photoshop. If we posted once or twice a day, we felt like it was a success. Blogs hadn’t really proliferated yet. Defamer and Nick Denton’s whole media empire were just getting off the ground, so the concept of posting as often as we do now—much less as often as most blogs do now, which is a lot more than we do—wasn’t really established. We didn’t feel like a business; we felt like an after-school activity, or something. I guess you could say the audience was ourselves. So people like us, with similar senses of humor, are the people who helped it grow through word of mouth, and the resulting readership I think probably has a very similar core of what makes everyone laugh even if all of us as people are wildly different….
How do you deal with the assumption that your job is easy or silly?
Jessica: Luckily, I don’t think anyone who actually knows me thinks my job is easy, per se, in the sense that I think they all know that it requires a lot of hours of work. But when it comes right down to it, compared to so many other people, my job does not truly require that much heavy lifting. We get emails sometimes from readers who are like, “I’m in Afghanistan and your website helps me not to feel too homesick,” or oncologists who read us on their lunch break to cheer themselves up, and we always say that our job is to create procrastination material for those people—the people with actually hard jobs. I think that’s important, and I’m proud of what we do, but I can’t get too worked up about it if people decide to be dismissive about it. No pun intended.
Heather: I tend to get a little prickly if I’m being treated like I don’t have a real job. Like I am sitting around on my couch twiddling my thumbs all day, with endless time at my disposal, just because I don’t go to an office. We are a two-person show, so blog-plus-book-plus-columns for New York magazine’s web site… that’s a lot, and then you add my kids’ needs, and it’s not simple to juggle. I certainly do not complain about the fact that those are my jobs—I love them all—but when people give me a look like, “Seriously, you can’t go out day-drinking,” or “REALLY, you don’t just go to the movies all week?”—yeah, I get a little crusty about it. But I agree that we definitely can’t get defensive about the importance of what we do. I mean, we’re not saving lives; we’re blogging about dresses…