FAQs

I’m only a person, not a brand or a celebrity or a household name. But nonetheless I get the same questions allllll the time, enough that I’ve put together this FAQ to answer them without me typing the same thing ten times a week.

Question not on here? Tweet me and I might add it.

You have pet cats AND birds? How does that work? Don’t the cats eat the birds?

Surprisingly, no, I don’t just buy new pet birds every week to replace the ones my cats have turned into lunch. That would make me a pretty terrible pet owner.

My two cats, Mawri and Moose, are very well trained with the birds, and know not to get too close or attack them. Nonetheless, I never ever leave them alone, because you don’t tempt fate like that. When I have birds in the lounge with me and the cats, either in cages or flying around, I keep a close eye on the cats and use a water spray if I think they’re getting too close. They also get put in time-out if I think they’re eyeing the birds too keenly, but that doesn’t happen often because they really hate the water spray.

We also have a bird room where the cats aren’t allowed. Most of the birds spend most of their time in here, flying free and unencumbered by fluffs.

The cats mostly just nap anyway.

You’re a freelance journalist! I would like to do that! How do I do that?

I got started by going to a Guardian Masterclass about freelance journalism. I’m not sure if they still run it but taking a short course is usually a good idea, just make sure the people running it know what they’re talking about before you hand over any money.

Also, if you don’t already have writing samples, start a blog and create some. Most commissioning editors won’t take a punt on you if they haven’t seen some of your writing already, so if you think you can write brilliant stuff, don’t leave it inside your brain — get it on the internet so you can prove it.

How do you have so many Twitter followers? How do I get more?

  1. I’ve been on Twitter a really long time and tweet a lot
  2. I have a good username that a lot of people find by accident
  3. I follow a lot of people (I recommend private lists to split them out into useful timelines on different topics)
  4. Like money, the more you have, the easier it is to get even more. It gets faster and faster as your following grows, because if you tweet something golden with 500 followers, it might go nowhere, but with 50,000, it’ll get noticed.
  5. Be real. Use your name and photo if you can. Tweet the good stuff as well as the bad. Don’t be a PR machine pumping out your work and your successes and nothing else — would you talk to that person at a party?