Emma is a Founder/Director of Strategy & Blogger
Emma Loggins talks about how she started her blog FanBolt, becoming an official blogger for TV shows, creating client relationships, and much more!
• Starting FanBolt
• Blogging for the official site of The OC
• Using FanBolt as a portfolio piece in college
• Establishing friendships with clients
• Celebrate what makes you different
• Why both an organization and the individual play a part in work culture
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Welcome to Episode 381 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. It’s out now.
The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading the book and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Emma Loggins. She’s the director of Strategy and founder of Excite Creative Studios in Atlanta, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s Business Daily. Now she’s with me here today. Emma, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Emma: Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John: This is going to be so much fun. I’m exhausted just reading all of the things that you do, and I have a podcast, so, good for you.
Emma: Thank you.
John: That’s very impressive and really, really cool stuff that we’ll jump into. First, I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Emma right out of the gate here. So, seat belts on, keep your hands inside the car at all times, here we go. How about a favorite color?
Emma: Emerald green.
John: Emerald green. Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?
John: Yellow. Interesting. All right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Emma: Oh, gosh, that’s so hard. I’m going to go with my favorite Disney animated movie, Oliver from Oliver and Company.
John: Okay, all right. Nice. I haven’t heard that one before. That’s very good, very good. All right, how about a favorite actor or actress?
Emma: Favorite actor would be Viggo Mortensen. Favorite actress, oh, my goodness, that one’s really hard. We’ll go with Sandra Bullock.
John: Oh, classic. There you go. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Would you say more of an early bird or a night owl?
Emma: Early bird.
John: Oh, this is a tricky one, talk or text.
John: Text. The podcast is going to be really hard. We’ll get through it though. We’ll get through it. How about for puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword, yeah. All right. Here we go, Star Wars or Star Trek.
Emma: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too. Me too, easily. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: Mac. Oh, yeah, the creative side of you. There you go. I’m not even allowed in the Mac stores, I don’t think. They’re like, you wait outside. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Emma: My favorite all-time was one called Heath Bar Crunch by Ben and Jerry’s. They don’t make it anymore.
John: Oh, no.
Emma: I still talk about it daily. So good.
John: That sounds amazing.
Emma: It was.
John: Yeah, and we need to get them on that. Oh, favorite day of the week.
John: Friday. Okay. All right. How about chocolate or vanilla?
John: Chocolate. There you go. How about a favorite number?
John: 13. Is there a reason?
Emma: I’ve just always really liked it. It might be part of just the genre geek in me, like Friday the 13th or just the mystical nature that surrounds the number 13. I’ve just always been very drawn to it.
John: No, I love it. That’s awesome. How about books, audio version, Kindle or the real book?
Emma: As of lately, probably audio book.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah, because people kept asking me and I was like, wow, I didn’t know people did that so much or wanted to hear my voice. I was like, all right. It’s out now, everybody. There you go. How about a TV show you binge watch?
Emma: Oh, my gosh, I binge watched so many.
John: Right. You can do more than one if you want. You don’t have to limit it.
Emma: I’m re-binging Friends now because my husband has never seen it from beginning to end, but my favorite series I’ve ever binge watched, I’ll do two. I’ll say Lost and then Community.
John: Oh, okay. Very different but good shows.
Emma: Very different shows.
John: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Two more. Rain or snow.
John: Rain. Okay. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Emma: Oh, my goodness, my favorite thing that I own. You know what, for keeping it short and quick, I have a baby Yoda statue. We’ll go with baby Yoda.
John: That’s awesome. I saw it in the background as we chat on the video for this. Yeah, I was like, that’s clearly in the top five.
John: That’s very cool. Very cool. So, let’s chat blogging, especially for FanBolt. How did you get started with blogging? When I was in school, I had enough writing assignments that I didn’t want to write more. You were like, you know what, I’m taking this next level. How did that all get started?
Emma: I always was a fan of writing. I would write stories constantly when I was a kid. When I got a computer and started spending time online and exploring what it meant to have a website, I had a front page For Dummies book that I remember I had that I looked through, and I had a GeoCities website. I was in seventh grade or something. It was very early days of everyone having access essentially to the internet. It was still dial-up, but it was widely available.
I just started playing around with making sites and then writing about things that I loved on those sites. That’s really how FanBolt came to be. I started that site in 2002, after I’d made a series of TV show sites where I had written about my theories or things that had happened in various episodes or what my thoughts were on them. Then those shows would get canceled or they’d come to an end. I built up this following and put so much time and effort into the site, and now the show was done. It was like, well, this sucks.
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Yeah, so I was like, you know what, let’s just start a general kind of geek movie, TV show site where I can talk about everything. When one show ends, there are still other things to talk about that would be relevant to people. Yeah, that’s how it all came to be. I started the site in March of 2002.
John: Wow, that’s incredible, 19 years. That’s impressive.
Emma: I know. It’s an adult. That’s how I look at it. I’m like, an adult.
John: Right. Yeah. I was like, graduate high school already. That’s amazing. I’m catching the theme between the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the TV shows that you had websites for you. I feel like this is the last episode of the What’s Your “And”? podcast, everybody. This is the end of the road for — no, I’m just kidding.
That’s such a great idea of why not make it a bigger community and a bigger thing. Even myself, I think that something’s a big idea, and it’s like, no, there’s something bigger out there. Good for you for pushing through that a long time ago. You were way ahead. That’s really cool. Have there been some rewarding benefits from this or cool stories that have happened because of the community that you’ve built over time?
Emma: Yeah, absolutely, so many cool stories. When I started it in 2002, the message board community was really the beating heart of the site. I would blog about a number of different things, but there was a really robust community at the core of it. At its peak, I think we were just over about 200,000 members on the message board.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: It was insane. There were so many cool stories over the years. I had a group of maybe about, we’ll say 13 because it’s my favorite number, of core members from the very beginning. It was definitely between 10 and 20 of them, and they were located all over the world. The ones that were located here in the US, if I went to New York, I would see a couple of them. We’d hang out and go to dinner. It was so much fun. I had two members that actually met on the site and got married.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: Yeah. There’s a ton of cool community stories that were there. For me, I think the coolest thing still that happened, I was living, always have lived in Atlanta, Georgia and was running the site from Atlanta, Georgia, really before Atlanta became a big player in the film industry. Film and television wasn’t really a big thing here at that time. I was blogging about a show called The OC, and I got this email randomly one day from Warner Brothers saying, “We saw your site. We’d love for you to come and blog for our official site for the show.”
Emma: I was, what?
Emma: It was crazy to me because that was Hollywood reaching out to me, and it’s just not something I ever had planned for or a goal that I had. It just fell into my lap, and it was just the coolest opportunity. So, I blogged with them on the official OC fan club site for three years until that series ended, and really used that opportunity to network my butt off anyone that I could talk to, connect with.
I started getting opportunities to do interviews and set visits. All of it just growing really at the same time that social media was just starting to become a thing. It was a very interesting time to be in that world and get to travel and meet people that I’d looked up to and I’d idolized, get to interview them and share that on social media and then share that on the site. It was just so many, so many really cool experiences.
John: Yeah, because then you get to see the behind-the-scenes of what it’s really like on set and what actually happens when you’re there and what the people are actually like, not the characters that they’re playing on the show or whatever.
John: Yeah. Wow, that’s awesome. That’s really, really cool because you just started it as a fan of these shows. Now you’re on set and then they reach out to you. Good for you. That’s really awesome.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah, if you didn’t throw yourself out there, then that never would have happened.
John: That’s really awesome. Do you feel like any of those blogging skills translated to your career, if you will, at all?
Emma: Absolutely. I had already done a couple of like freelance sites for just random businesses in the community by the time I had started FanBolt. I was going to school to get my — I got both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree in Computer Arts and Media, so it was a strong focus on web design and kind of bigger picture of multimedia in general, with audio and video thrown into it. I would always turn FanBolt in for my school projects just so I could — you know, two birds, one stone, it was —
John: Might as well.
Emma: Yeah, why not?
John: Right? Get new ideas from the professors. It’s like, oh, yeah, I never even thought about it. Okay.
Emma: Exactly. It was so much fun, and being able to try things out on FanBolt, looking back at the design evolution of the site and really seeing my design skills grow. So much of what I do now with Excite is building communities for people. Organizations will come to me or sites that want to have a community its core. FanBolt’s the number one portfolio piece that I have for that. Same thing with Women’s Business Daily. They’re both sites that thrive off of the community that’s built on them, and they’re both set up in a way with search engine optimization to rank highly for keywords that are relevant to that audience to bring people in organically. All of that is something that I’ve had the opportunity to learn, explore, test all of that with FanBolt.
John: That’s such a great point because you have this prototype, if you will, but it’s actually live and going. You can be a little more forgiving to yourself on that, but then when you have a client that’s actually paying you, then it’s like, well, yeah, I’ve got all these skills because I’ve been exercising that muscle, if you will, over here on FanBolt. That’s cool.
John: Is FanBolt something that comes up with clients or coworkers, throughout your career?
Emma: Absolutely. Most of the clients that I have, they’re clients, but they’re also friends. We spend a lot of time working and collaborating together. I love it being that type of relationship. It’s always something where, when you’re able to bond over something outside of just work, and you’re able to see each other as humans and not just service provider client, I think it really enriches the overall relationship and the kind of working culture between you and someone. I always point out that I brand myself as the geek girl. I’m very passionate about geek culture. If you have any questions about Marvel or Star Wars, I’m your girl.
John: Right. That’s awesome.
Emma: Yeah. It’s been a huge, I think, just relationship-building tool, having that site and being able to say — because everyone geeks out over something. Whether it’s Star Wars or cooking or travel or whatever it is, there’s something that every single person on this planet is a geek about. It’s this one kind of beautiful thing that can bring people together.
John: It’s so true. Yeah, it’s all under one umbrella. It’s like, well, what do you geek out on? That’s basically what What’s Your “And”? is, is what do you geek out on?
John: For different people, it’s different things, but when they talk about that thing, they just light up. Their eyes get big. The tone in their voice is different. You can’t shut them up. It’s just non — and so it’s cool to have that energy between you and a client. It’s cool to have that energy in the office. If someone works in that kind of a setting, then why not have that energy and that kind of tone to that relationship? You’re around them a lot of times, a lot of hours.
John: I love that. Yeah. Maybe this is the geek out podcast now.
Emma: There you go.
John: What do you geek out on? That’s my second book. No. One’s enough. One’s enough. I guess one thing that, just to circle back on quickly, was you said how it just creates a better relationship with your clients. I guess, just, in what way? Just for people that are out there that are like, that’s way too off the reservation for me. I only talk about work and no work. Maybe if you could describe, rather than me telling them, it’s better in your words of, how does that relationship different or benefit from knowing?
Emma: It’s hard to describe. I definitely think has made the — when a client is trying to decide what web designer they’re going to go with or what agency they want to go with, they see me in a different light. I’m able to use that to separate me from the others. I’m not this corporate buttoned up girl. I’m wearing jeans and a Marvel t-shirt, and I’m going to knock out your website and have fun doing it. I love what I do. I think showing people how passionate I get about geek culture, and technology is a huge part of that. I love building things. I love designing things. Seeing that passion in me for what I do, I think just puts me in a different context in their mind. I think that’s one of the big ways that it sets it apart.
I also like to know that too, just about my clients, because I feel like that personal connection, knowing what makes someone tick, it’s going the extra mile to get to know someone and meet someone where they are and not just, I’m here to do a job, let me get it done. Yes, I’m going to do the job, but I also want to know who you are as a person, what makes you tick, and how does that influence your business and what you do?
John: Yeah, and you could do it much better because you actually — they come to you asking for something, and you’re like, well, what if this? Because after getting to know you, this is a huge part of who you are as a person or who your business is, you’re completely leaving this off the page. What if we did that? They see it. What? That’s awesome. So, you’re able to provide better service.
Emma: Absolutely. I think every business or every service provider out there is looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competition. By celebrating what makes you different and shining a light on that, I think is a really great way to do it.
John: Totally. It’s your differentiator. Why would you not put that top of the page? It’s so funny. We want to hide the one thing that differentiates us. Let’s maybe not even put it on the resume, or let’s not even put it on the website. Let’s not even put it on the About Us page or at the very bottom in super small font. It’s, no, no. That’s the only thing that makes you different. Everyone else is doing the exact same —
John: So, that’s super cool that you lean into that, and that you encourage your clients to, as well. Because it creates that safe space where, hey, Emma just showed up in that Marvel t-shirt. I’ve got one. I’m going to wear it to the next meeting, type of thing. All of a sudden, now we get real people showing up to meetings instead of automatons.
Emma: Exactly, exactly.
John: How much do you feel like, for an organization, and maybe ones that you’ve dealt with because in your case, it’s different, but how much is it on the organization to create that culture where it’s okay for people to share their “and”? Versus, how much is it on the individual to maybe just create that little small circle or be the change that they want to see in the world type of thing?
Emma: I think it’s up to both parties. I think that a company needs to create a safe space in which employees feel comfortable doing that and expressing themselves and celebrating what makes them them, but individuals also need to feel comfortable in doing that as well and putting that out there, putting themselves out there and trying to build those relationships and celebrate what makes everyone different, but also celebrate things that we have in common.
That was really, when I first started FanBolt, obviously, as I said earlier, it was to celebrate fandom, but I also had a very quintessential high school experience where I was bullied. I didn’t have a safe space to celebrate what I loved because I was made fun of for it. So, in starting FanBolt, it was such a passion of mine to create a safe haven where people could come and celebrate the things they love or the things that they didn’t have anyone else to celebrate with.
That’s the really amazing thing about geek culture. You can be 70 or seven. You can be any nationality, any gender. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like. We can all be a fan of the same thing. Star Wars fans look like everyone. Right?
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Disney fans look like everyone. Every single show or movie or piece of media property has a fandom behind it. You get to see different types of people come together, forget their differences and celebrate something they love and still be different. It’s such an interesting concept to me, and I love it. That’s what I love so much about fandom is the safe space that it creates for people to celebrate who they are.
John: I love that so much. On a slightly shallower level is what I feel like the What’s Your “And”? concept is, is professionals are, maybe bullied is too strong of a word for it, but they’re gently persuaded to behave a certain way and act a certain way. If you even have a hobby or an interest outside of work, I don’t know what you do, but even if you have it, don’t talk about it, that sort of mentality. So, creating that community where it’s like, no, no, this is normal. You’re not the only one. There’s all of us out here. I love the power behind that. That’s so cool to hear, what you’ve been able to do on a much, much bigger level, which is really cool.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe feels like, I’ve got a hobby, or I’ve got a thing that I geek out on that no one’s going to care about, or it has nothing to do with my job?
Emma: I’d celebrate it. Celebrate what fuels you. At the end of the day, we don’t live to work. We work to live. We want to be able to celebrate the things that make us happy. It’s amazing when you can tie those things together. You truly love your work. That’s fantastic, but your hobbies are something that brings such joy to you. You shouldn’t put them on the back burner. You shouldn’t put them last. They need to be a priority to you because that’s what fuels you and motivates you to keep going and be happy. There’s enough sadness in the world already. Be happy. Do what makes you happy.
John: Right? Totally, and that energy you can then bring to work. Unfortunately, one doesn’t always pay the mortgage where the job does, but that enthusiasm and fuel, as you use the word for, is bring that fuel to work and have that joy there. I love that. That’s super awesome.
Well, before I wrap this up, it’s only fair, since I rapid-fire questioned you right out of the gate, that we turn the tables. This is the first episode of the Emma Loggins podcast. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate you booking me. Actually, I booked myself but anyway, I’m all yours.
Emma: Let’s see. Let’s start with favorite movie.
John: Favorite movie. All right, I’ve got a couple. There’s going to be Rudy because Notre Dame football. That’s what I geek out on. Dumb and Dumber is always good, no matter. You can start the movie at any point, and there’s going to be laughter. Probably Good Will Hunting is a really good one too. So, probably those three.
Emma: On that note, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon?
John: Oh, you know in that movie, I love Ben Affleck’s character so much. When he goes into the meeting with his white tube socks, and he’s negotiating this contract with — he’s just like, that’s not good enough. We’re out of here, whatever. It’s so funny to me. That movie is just, it’s so deep, and the characters in it are really rich. Robin Williams’ character, man, it just… It’s a good movie.
Emma: It is. It is. Favorite superhero.
John: Favorite superhero. Well, I don’t know. Iron Man’s always cool. I don’t know if that counts.
Emma: That counts. He’s a superhero.
John: That’s a good one. I’m also a big fan of Spider-Man who’s super — if you ran into Peter Parker on the street, there’s no way that dude’s a superhero. It’s always at night, and he’s not getting all the attention. It’s just like, I just do what I do. No one’s needs to know about it. Superman always is seen. No one sees Spider-Man. It’s just all in in the night. So, those two, I would say.
Emma: Spider-Man is a great choice, but Iron Man is just really cool. You could have so much fun playing with all the technology that he has.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s the part of it. Spider-Man with the technology, I would be in heaven right there.
Emma: I know you said earlier that you are a Star Wars guy, not a Star Trek guy, so, favorite Star Wars character.
John: Favorite Star Wars character. When I was younger, the Ewoks were like the bomb, just the bomb. They were hilarious, but they could kick ass at the same time. That was always fun. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess I’ll go Ewoks just because it’s such a random answer.
Emma: The Ewok’s a good answer.
John: Also, I’m just really big fan of the original three. I have yet to venture off the reservation much because I haven’t heard great things, necessarily, so I don’t want to ruin it. Yeah, that’s why I’m still on the old school original.
Emma: I will say that The Mandalorian is fantastic.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s the new show. Disney Plus, right?
Emma: Yeah, yeah. It’s not just because of baby Yoda, but baby Yoda is a huge part of it.
Emma: But it’s really well-constructed. They did such a fantastic job with the story arc, and now that Disney owns it, it’s really cool to see how everything is coming together from all of their different properties, from Clone Wars, the original films, Mandalorian, all of these things, how they fit together in this giant Star Wars universe. I geek out over it. It’s really cool.
John: That’s awesome. No, that’s cool. Finally, someone’s bringing it together.
Emma: Yes. Disney owns all of us, but it’s cool to see what they’re doing.
John: Right. Exactly, exactly. Do something with this. This has been so much fun, Emma. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Congrats on all your success and, yeah, I just look forward to staying in touch. Thanks for being a part of this.
Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.
John: Totally. Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Emma or connect with her on social media or get the link to FanBolt.com, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.