HOW I MADE IT: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
The gig: Heather Cocks, 33, and Jessica Morgan, 36, aka The Fug Girls, creators of the popular snarkoblog Go Fug Yourself. It was among the first to skewer celebrities for misguided fashion choices (they translate “fug” as “fantastically ugly”). Go Fug Yourself has made the lists of cool and influential blogs by such arbiters as Time magazine and the Guardian, and Cocks and Morgan can now be found covering many red carpet events, nitpicking the starlets for NYMag.com.
Beginning to blog: One day at the mall, Cocks and Morgan began making fun of what celebrities were wearing in poster advertisements on the walls, and decided to start a blog for their friends. They had the snark down — both worked recapping television episodes for the website Television Without Pity — and cornered a new market in celebrity fashion. “We really got our foot in the door at such an early time in the blog phenomenon,” Morgan said. “If I were starting a blog now, it would be overwhelming — how do you make your voice heard?”
Making the jump: In mid-2005, the two were working as producers in reality television (credits include “Growing up Gotti” and “America’s Next Top Model”), posting in their free time, when they noticed traffic was growing. Sites started linking to their posts, and they began to make money after a friend suggested that they sell ads. Then, in 2006, they sold a proposal for a book based on the website and decided to blog full time. “We closed our eyes and did it,” Cocks remembers. “It’s a very scary thing to go from getting paid every week on your reality show to not knowing what you’re going to make.”
Separating themselves from the pack: There are hundreds of celebrity sites with more resources than Go Fug Yourself, which is written entirely by Cocks and Morgan. So how to keep eyeballs? “We’re not breaking news, so we have to rely on the loyalty of the readers. We want to make sure we’re still making them laugh,” Cocks said. This recent post is typical of their snark style: “Does Olivia Wilde think maybe she’s not getting enough attention? Because last I checked, she is amassing an Everest-sized pile of it. She’s not an attention-whore; she is the madam of an attention brothel. Now, I realize some of this is work-related — she is in Cowboys & Aliens, after all — but is there really any reason to wear this dress except to try and scream, ‘Look at me! LOOK AT ALL OF ME!’ Because honey, we can. And we are.”
Photo challenges: As amateurs, Cocks and Morgan weren’t familiar with licensing rules, and they posted some copyrighted images online, which earned them a cease-and-desist from Getty Images. But when the women began looking for an image provider, they found that photo agencies were unsure how to react to blogs. “We felt like the hooker in ‘Pretty Woman’ — we had the cash, and it was good cash, but they didn’t want to let us spend it,” Cocks said.
Two working as one: The women were already good friends when they decided to go into business together, which they say helped the website run smoothly. “It’s like a marriage,” Cocks said. “She was the first person to have a joint checking account with me. Like any marriage, you want to make sure you know who you’re getting into bed with.” Added Morgan, “Our friendship is more important that the success of the business.”
Off-hours: Though both women say they love blogging and writing, they don’t spend all their time snarking on celebrities’ fashion choices. Morgan roots for the Dodgers and the Bruins, and plays Scrabble — poorly, she claims. Cocks, who, with her husband, has 2-year-old twin boys, plays the piano and the Wii. Both are avid readers.
Moving off the Internet: This year, they added novel writing to their resumes, with the publication of “Spoiled,” a young adult book. “We’re huge readers, so we really wanted to write a book,” Morgan said. “That’s something I wanted to do before the Internet even existed.”
Advice for bloggers: The Fug Girls say that starting a blog is a good first step for aspiring writers, even if it doesn’t get much traffic. “It’s good to create a space like that, and to make yourself beholden to it,” Cocks said. “You feel a responsibility to fill it.”
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