Another year has flown by and just like each year, I’m amazed at how quickly it’s gone! I honestly feel as though I’ve blinked and the whole thing just whizzed by like a film on fast forward. 2015 has seen many highlights along with a few challenges! I wanted to document these things here, mostly for myself but also as a nice recap for the blog, something a little bit more raw and “from the heart” shall we say. I did this back in 2012 and it’s one of those blog posts I love going back to read as a nice reminder of how much can change and how much I have grown as a person. I’m not very good at blowing my own trumpet, so excuse me whilst I cringe and dry heave at my keyboard for the next couple of hours! Haha.
January started in Dorset by the beach with Alfie and his family taking long blustery walks along the coastline, chilling by crackling fires and eating all the pub food. To be completely honest January was a really hard month for me. I started the year feeling very suffocated by certain press, some other creators and just general negativity following the launch and success of my first novel. It’s very devastating to work hard on something, and for it to be twisted beyond your control and to feel as though the only thing you can do is crawl into a hole rather than try and stand up for yourself and to watch everyone else turn on you. It’s almost like it happened in slow motion and I spent a good portion of the first quarter of the year trying to find happiness online again. I contemplated stopping everything and the real irony in all of it, was that the main character in my book battled with nasty press and negativity so she decided to throw her laptop in her wardrobe and to shut everything out, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Although I always stress that Penny is not me, at that point in time, we were certainly sharing a lot of similarities. I felt as though the real purpose of my book had been completely buried. I wanted to shed light on real things for young teens to read through fiction. I wanted to spread awareness of anxiety, of gay teens struggling with how their parents dealt with their sexuality and hard friendships, amongst other things. Girl Online was my little piece offering to the world and I just wanted to make people feel something when they read it. As a teenager, I read so many books and learnt so much and I wanted to do the same for others, so to spend so long wishing it had never existed was completely heart breaking. Through that tough time however, I learnt who my true friends and supporters were. The people who stuck by me and supported me, the people that encouraged me to keep going and the people who offered everything they had to put a smile back on my face (you all know who you are). Although hard, January also saw me reach 7 million subscribers, a number I never believed was even achievable when I started back in 2009 and I was over the moon!
Although not really an achievement or a challenge, I decided to chop off my hair. I’d had long hair for over 7 years and I was bored with it! A couple of hours in the chair later, I felt like a new person with hair less demanding (I was so wrong, my hair is so thick that it doesn’t matter what length it is, it still takes the same amount of time to do anything with it haha). Then came meeting lot’s of you at Playlist Orlando. I decided I wanted to do something different, so laid out over 20 tables with balloons and sweets and joined each table for around 5 minutes to talk to you all. I absolutely loved it, it was so nice being able to get to know you, and so many of you got to make friends with the people on your table. Some even ordered pizza (they had it right). Since then I have done lot’s of low key meet ups throughout the year as well as my book tour! One of my favourite being my cupcake meetup, where a small handful of viewers decorated cakes with me. I love these slightly more intimate ways of getting to meet you. Having anxiety myself, meeting large amounts of people can be very daunting and often not as enjoyable as it should be, so I think through 2016 I want to try and do more casual, smaller and slightly more intimate meetups and afternoons together. Considering a lot of my audience also suffer with anxiety, it seems like a win win.
Although I had fun in Orlando, it was certainly not easy. My anxiety seemed to have gone up a scale during the start of the year, and I was having to learn in ways I’d never learnt before in how to tackle it head on! The flight was horrendous, and I returned feeling like I’d completely failed and told myself I would never get on a flight ever again because it just didn’t feel worth it. Thankfully, after weekly sessions with my therapist (who I still speak to every week – I urge any of you who are struggling to make it your mission this year to seek some form of help. It’s hard, but totally worth it) I was able to get a flight to and from Mykonos with Alfie and his family during the summer, it wasn’t easy but I did it! The holiday itself was so lovely. You know those peaceful, tranquil places where you feel like you can completely relax, that’s Mykonos for me. I’ve been 3 times now and I’m starting to think “should we try somewhere else or stick to what we know and love” for this years holiday? Haha THE STRUGGLES! Let’s be honest, I’ll likely end up going back. More recently, on my book tour for Girl Online On Tour, I also did two flights to Edinburgh and back (whilst being delayed for 5 hours) and I DIDN’T HAVE A PANIC ATTACK! I know for most of you you’ll be going “so what? Flights are easy”, but I forget to give myself a pat on the back when I do things well, so I’m writing this here “Zoe, well done on doing those flights, see, you can do it!”.
In September 2014, I took part in the British Bake Off For Comic Relief and in February of this year, it was aired. The Bake Off is one of my all time favourite programmes. I’ve been watching it for years and if I’m not online, I’m in the kitchen baking up a storm so when I was asked to take part for charity, I of course said yes. Standing behind my station in the bake off tent with Gok Wan to my left, Jonathan Ross in front of me and Abbey Clancy next to him I was an absolute ball of nerves. It was filmed over two days and I honestly had so much fun, beside the fact that I almost choked Mary Berry on my misery of a beach hut marble cake. I challenge anyone to attempt to make it any better than I did in 3 hours when you’re under pressure and the baking god & goddess are in the same room as you!
Something that almost makes me want to do a happy, ugly cry whenever I think about it is my surprise birthday party that Alfie threw for me. I’ve never had a surprise like that before and I’m totally the sort of girlfriend that knows EVERYTHING that Alfie is planning or buying me for a present. I’m too much of a detective, it could be the anxiety in me and the fact I like nothing to be sprung at me out of nowhere but I did NOT see this coming and it completely shocked me. I had everyone there that I loved and I was so touched that people had travelled to be there on my birthday. Alfie had rented a room in a beautiful manor house and organised afternoon tea for all of us! Whenever I watch people jump out and shout surprise in one of the many vlogs that was filmed that day, I tear up and realise how lucky I am to have such amazing friends around me and a boyfriend who will go above and beyond to put a smile on my face.
This year also saw Girl Online On Tour become a best selling novel and after the success of the first book I was very nervous about people enjoying the sequel. I had weekly meetings with my editor Amy for six months where we would sit planning and writing. I wanted this book to focus on Penny becoming more independent, the main storyline is encouraging young teens to follow their own journey. Far too often the “love interest” becomes the hero, but I didn’t want that. I wanted Penny to find her feet, discover the things that made her tick and overcome hurdles on her own. I wanted the book to be empowering and to remind people that things worth fighting for are never easy. Amy has been an absolute rock through 2015, she brought me back up when I felt I couldn’t do it, she encouraged me and taught me so much and became an amazing friend. I would send off my chapters and she would go through them with me, polishing off punctuation and helping me make sure everything flowed nicely and made sense. Fun fact, we actually changed who “TheRealTruth” was around 3 times before deciding on who it was. It was so much fun writing Girl Online On Tour, it’s the most rewarding thing. Once I’d finished it was like holding my baby in my hand and I actually forgot it then had to go on to be proof read and eventually be in peoples hands, that’s the scary bit. Thankfully so many of you absolutely love it, and it sold 58,000 copies in the first week!
Other things released this year were additions to my “Zoella Beauty” products in Superdrug. The “Tutti Fruity” collection that broke records for the fastest selling collection in Superdrug (crazy), new additions to the classic collection and my Christmas collection. If someone had told me even 2 years ago that I would have my own best selling beauty range in Superdrug, I would have slapped you with a wet fish. It still astounds me every time I nip in for some concealer or deodorant and I almost have to pinch myself. More recently over Christmas, seeing how many of you opened your presents and received something from my collection made me so happy and emotional. Another crazy thing that happened this year was that myself and Alfie were asked to be wax figures in Madame Tussauds at the request of the public. FREAKING WAX FIGURES! And although slightly creepy to have been immortalised in wax and knowing I have something that is pretty much me sitting in a set up bedroom in London, it’s so damn cool. Definitely something to tell the Grandkids and hopefully putting Team Internet on the map a little more.
I was very lucky in the fact that I got to do quite a few cool photo shoots in 2015, one of which was with one of my favourite people, Tyler Oakley for Seventeen magazine. In April of this year, I also hit 8 million subscribers, followed in September by 9 million subscribers which is completely mind blowing. I won a couple of awards, one being the Nickelodeon kids choice Award for Best Vlogger and the other was a Teen Choice Best Beauty Award. Let’s also not forget I was named FHM’s 34th Sexiest Woman in the world (laugh with me…still laughing? Yeh me too).
Another personal highlight for me was attending the wedding of two of my best friends in September. It was so magical and intimate watching Tanya & Jim say their vows in front of their closest family and friends. I cried and cried and cried, then I stopped and saw someone else crying, and cried again. It was absolutely perfect and so much fun. Tanya looked incredible and seeing Jims face as she walked down the isle was one of the most precious moments. I am so incredibly happy for them and Tanya and Jim, if you’re reading this, I love you both so much and I know you’ll both make each other happy for a lifetime.
On a little more of a fury note, Nala also turned one this year. I’ve never had a dog growing up, in fact I’ve never owned a pet larger than a guinea pig, so when Alfie and I decided to extend our little family by adding a puppy, I really didn’t know what to expect. In complete and total honesty, the first few months were REALLY hard. Nobody can quite prepare you for the fact you cannot concentrate on anything else. You’re constantly watching, waiting for them to poop or pee on the rug, hoping they won’t chew your cushions and removing every little thing found in the corner of every room from their mouths. You don’t get much sleep as you lie awake listening to your puppy cry downstairs, hoping in the morning you won’t come down to an empty bladder on her brand new bed. It changes the dynamic of your relationship, all of sudden it’s not just the two of you, there is something else you both have to look after and lie ins just don’t happen anymore. A few people told me a puppy would be a good introduction to being a parent, although I can’t compare the two, it certainly was an eye opener. That being said, I honestly cannot imagine my life without Nala now and I struggle to remember what it was like before she was in our lives. She has such a distinctive, strong character and is the most caring and beautiful little natured puppy. She of course has her mischievous moments, but I wouldn’t trade picking up her sneaky poops off the rug for anything.
Going from Nala to blogs, not such a smooth transition there. I re-designed my blog a couple of months ago and decided I wanted to get back into it. I love my blog, but as I’ve always said for years, it’s a very love hate relationship. I find it quite hard to juggle so many different social media outlets. If I’m posting a lot on one medium, it’s likely I’ve stopped using another. I fell out of love with it, possibly because I was writing the book I just felt like I didn’t want to sit down and write this, or maybe that I was sharing so much through my vlogs I didn’t know what I could share here but I missed it. I’m really happy with it now, and last month it saw 11 million page views so I’m REALLY happy so many of you are enjoying it, and what’s even more refreshing is that I’m enjoying it so much more too. Blogging was the first I started out doing, it’s where I feel most comfortable, it’s where I feel I can write whatever I want, whenever I want.
I also just want to add how happy and proud of so many of my friends I am for their achievements this year also and give them all a little bit of the promo they deserve. Alfie has released Pointless Book 2 and numerous monthly merchandise including my favourite, a Nala Christmas jumper. Joe with his graphic novel “Username:Evie” and his DVD with Caspar “Hit The Road”. Louise for her book “Life with a Sprinkle of Glitter” and her 2016 diary. Anna & Jonathan with their family calendar and Anna’s incredible new necklace line. Troye with his EP “Wild” and his debut album “Blue Neighbourhood”, Tyler with his book “Binge” and his documentary “Snervous”. Joey with his incredible book “In Real Life : My Journey To A Pixelated World”. Gabby with her adorable range in Primark, Caroline with her Cult Beauty Boxes, Dan & Phil with their book “This Amazing Book is Not On Fire”, Marcus with his book “Hello Life” and teaming up with Niomi to create “Sourced Box”, Emma for landing her first book deal (so excited for it this year), Tanya for her amazing product launches & “Love, Tanya”, Jim with his Stationary line “James & Friends” & hosting numerous premieres, Poppy for launching her amazing blog, Mark for reaching 70, 000 subscribers, Connor with “A Work In Progress”, Colleen with “Selp Helf” and so many other amazing creators who have done such amazing things in 2015. Can you actually believe ALL those things were done this year? Isn’t just SO amazing. The internet is taking over, and I’m definitely okay with that.
So in a nutshell, what can I take from 2015 into 2016? I’ve learnt that press is a machine that needs to churn out something for people to read, whether its factually correct or not it doesn’t matter. Whether that’s at someone’s expense and can cause a whole host of negative effects on that person. Don’t get me wrong, there were also absolutely lovely articles amongst them, but It definitely taught me to continue to spread positivity in the way I love to do it. I don’t like to bring people down for my own benefit or for views and it opened my eyes to the nasty corners of the internet and made me happy that my little corner of the world wide web isn’t that. I can come away from my laptop at night feeling fulfilled and content with everything I have put online and knowing that I’ve made others happy, not sad. It’s something I’ve spent 6 years building up, a place of positivity, realness & mundane ramblings and this year has made me really proud of that. I’m so happy that so many of you find comfort in the things I write or say, and that’s what makes all this so worthwhile for me. All I’m doing is being me, and 2016 will be the year I care less about what others think and focus more on things that make me happy. I don’t want to feel silenced by people, or unable to express the things I feel very passionately about or unable to have a little moan every now and then. Because guess what? I am a normal human being, with normal emotions and I think that’s sometimes easily forgotten. I also learnt that no matter what others may think of you, may advise you or tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing, it’s all down to you. Nothing and nobody else matters when it comes to the things you do or the things that make you happy. Whether that’s the content you create, the things you believe or the way you do things. I also feel like I’ve firmly solidified my friendships and I’ve come to appreciate how others make me feel. In 2016 I’ll be flushing out the people that don’t bring out the best in me or who have a negative effect on my life or wellbeing and focusing on those who make me laugh until my sides hurt. After all, life is too short for anything less. I’ll also attempt to drink more water, do squats until my bottom resembles Kim Kardashian and remove my makeup every single night, but we all know those things will roll around to 2017 too and I will probably fail miserably! Haha
In a world that can seem so crazy, I just want to thank you. Thank you for always knowing, thank you for always offering your support, thank you for reading, for watching, for commenting, writing letters, meeting me, using my beauty products, reading my books, but most importantly thank you for accepting me for me.
So here’s to another year of challenges, picking up dog poo from the rug, friends and happiness.
Love you, I really mean that xxx