Emma Norris has turned her childhood passion for writing into a full-time career as a copywriter and journalist. She recently left the magazine world behind to start her own venture, A Girl in Progress, a blog that celebrates the ordinary woman.
“I started writing pretty much as soon as I could read,” Norris tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB). I would scribble these crazy little stories about ghosts and fairies onto pieces of paper, staple them together and force my poor parents to read my ‘books’.
“When I started school, it quickly became clear that writing was my strength and that I was rubbish at anything that required the left side of my brain or physical prowess or coordination. Growing up, I wanted to either be an actor or a writer — those were the only two options, as far as I was concerned.”
Embarking on a journalism degree, Norris got her foot in the door in the industry by interning and writing free articles for popular websites and magazines. After leaving university she began her foray into lifestyle publishing. It was whilst attending industry launches and events surrounded by leggy models and perfectly coiffed and accessorised patrons that Norris first began to seriously contemplate providing an alternative to traditional women’s publications.
“Working in lifestyle publishing, I often found myself at events with influencers and bloggers. While most of the time they’re perfectly lovely, I’ve always felt really out of place,” she says.
“There they are – six-foot-tall with perfectly tanned skin, contoured makeup, a designer handbag and not a hair out of my place. Then, there’s me. Pale and five-foot-two, with hair that I’ve air dried (what’s a hair straightener?), in jeggings and sneakers. I’ve never been glamorous and have certainly never been the ‘cool girl.’ But at the same time, I’m not a total slob. I work out five times a week and would be considered pretty fit and healthy. I’m also a total go-getter when it comes to my career.”
So why was she feeling so insecure? Norris realised there needed to be more stories celebrating women who aren’t 100% perfect and polished but are working to become the best version of themselves.
“When I realised the profound impact that being constantly bombarded with images of the ‘perfect woman’ has on the average woman’s psyche, that’s when Girl in Progress was born,” she explains.
“We’ve all had those days when we’re actually feeling good about ourselves, then stumble upon a photo of an Instagram model with shredded abs, flawless makeup and a seemingly perfect life. Don’t get me wrong, I admire their dedication. But it can leave you feeling like total crap. It’s something that most of my friends, who are gorgeous, successful and otherwise confident women, deal with on a regular basis. Even my partner’s sister, who is only 20, isn’t immune to the social media comparison trap — and that worried me.
“How are young women meant to feel like they’re enough, when they’re constantly being told that they’re not? I wanted to create an antidote to those so-called perfect influencers who leave you feeling deflated and instead, create a resource that would leave women feeling inspired and motivated.”
Norris describes the content on A Girl in Progress as raw, real and relatable.
“The advice on the blog is never preachy. We’re not telling you what to do, just sharing what we’ve found works for us. A Girl In Progress is equal parts self-development and self-acceptance, and I feel this is something that not many bloggers are doing.
She tells KBB A Girl In Progress isn’t simply her own musings and self-examinations but offers features and advice from contributors around the globe.
“My articles aren’t just personal rants about what I had for dinner or the guy at the post office who pissed me off. I have contributors from all over the world, from many different walks of life. They are creatives, doctors, nutritionists, makeup artists, small business owners, career coaches — you name it! And they all have something unique and valuable to bring to the table.”
She hopes anyone visiting Girl in Progress will leave feeling inspired, entertained, educated and empowered.
“Preferably all at the same time! I also want them to feel like they can take something away from each article and put it into action in their own lives,” she explains.
Having forged a career as a blogger in a field she’s passionate about, Norris has encouraging words for anyone wanting to follow a similar path.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to find a point of difference. It’s such a saturated market that you really need to take a unique perspective to stand out. For example, if you want to be a style blogger, your niche might be ethical European fashion. The other thing would be to have a strategy in mind for how you’re going to drive traffic to your blog. It’s all well and good to have a fabulous blog with great content, but unfortunately, it’s not going to go very far if nobody is looking at it! There are so many amazing channels for generating traffic these days that it simply wouldn’t be possible to use all of them. But it’s worth doing your research to find out what’s going to be worth your time and effort and build a strategy around that.”
You can check out Emma’s blog at www.agirlinprogress.com