I caught up with Caroline Millington, an award-winning journalist who is digital producer for ITV show, Loose Women. She works alongside producers and is responsible for all the viewer interaction. I hope Caroline won’t mind me saying so, but she’s very good at her job. In 2017, she was responsible for growing visitors to Loose Women’s website by 134% while digital video views increased by 69%. Video views across all brand social media platforms increased by 39%. I met Caroline at a book launch event earlier this year and we’ve kept in touch ever since. She’s got such a vibrant and positive personality, she was someone I wanted to find out more about her interesting career. I was so delighted to hear that Caroline has just published her first book ‘Kindfulness’ which is out in October 2018. It’s such a fantastic topic, I wanted Caroline to tell us how her book came to life and ask her why it’s cool to be kind.
1. Caroline, please start by telling us a-bit about yourself?
I’m a journalist, digital producer and now author. Isn’t it interesting that we always start by describing what we do for a living? With that in mind… I’m a proud auntie and godmother, avid reader, collector of rubber ducks, gin drinker and love to travel! I grew up in a village just outside Rugby in the Midlands and have lived and worked in London since 1999.
2. What inspired you to become a journalist or was that always your aspiration from school?
I remember doing a school assembly when I was about seven-years-old where we held up a painting of ‘What I want to be when I grow up.’ Mine looked like Toyah Wilcox – I was holding a microphone in the painting and proudly announced to the whole school I wanted to be a pop star. I am partial to karaoke but that’s as far as it goes. I always loved magazines and would buy Smash Hits, TV Hits and Big! every week, cut them up and file them under the artists’ name. And I loved reading, ploughing through 10 books a week from the village library. To be honest, I considered lots of careers and never really knew what I wanted to do up as a teenager. So I went to Loughborough University to study English. I was still obsessed with magazines and when I was about 20 called New Woman magazine and asked to do a month’s work experience over summer. They said yes and I fell in love with the story-telling and fun of the office. I wrote for the university magazine, did more work experience at Red, then applied to do a post-grad diploma at City University in 1999. After a year of drinking and lectures, I was offered a place on Emap’s Young Stars scheme and got my first job as junior writer at Smash Hits. So I didn’t become a pop star but did up interviewing a lot of them!
3. We know that many people have a mixed relationships with social media but we want social media to be used for the power of good. How can people cut out negativity on social media?
It’s been fascinating watching the explosion of social media over the past 15 years. I was an earlier adopter of Myspace, then Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While working at Woman’s Own from 2008 to 2012, I set up the brand’s Youtube channel and social media accounts. Back then it was all about promoting content from the magazine and chatting to celebrities we featured. Trolling was certainly a rarity. I think these days we have to take responsibility for what we see on our social media feeds. Ultimately, you are in control of the accounts you follow and friends you make. If you use social media mindfully, you’ll realise there might be people or brands that leave you feeling frustrated, angry or questioning yourself. It’s too easy to waste time scrolling and comparing your own life to people on Instagram who seem to be #winningatlife in ways that you’re not.
Remember, much of social media is smoke and mirrors – people share the best bits of their lives but we don’t see what people are going through 24/7. For me personally, social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends around the world, I get a lot of my news straight from Twitter and love the body positivity and general cheerleading on Instagram. But I am careful about who I follow and make sure that time spent on social media leaves me feeling inspired or motivated rather than envious and deflated. So be aware of the accounts you follow, how much time you spend on social media (it’s far too easy to waste hours scrolling before falling down a Youtube rabbit hole), and remember to check in with friends in real life with a text or phone call rather than assume their social media feed is all that is happening in their lives.
4. It must feel amazing to be called an author. Congratulations! What was the idea behind your new book, Kindfulness and what can we expect from the book?
Thanks so much! The first time I held a copy in my hands was a proper ‘pinch myself’ moment. Kindfulness was born out of the idea we should all be kinder to ourselves. I was pretty miserable a few years ago and couldn’t shift my low mood. Having experienced a period of depression at university, I didn’t want to slip back there and a friend recommended her therapist. Going to therapy was an act of self-compassion. I realized I was ‘people pleaser’ and so many of my decisions were wrapped up in guilt. I was overly self-critical and desperately wanted to be happy with my lot instead of chasing dreams society told me I should be desperate for. In the past couple of years, I’ve worked hard to be kinder to myself and that’s the basis of Kindfulness. How to put your own needs first guilt-free, cut out toxic people and manage difficult relationships, treat yourself with love and self-compassion, build body confidence and acceptance and be happy in the moment. I hope people who read it feel empowered, realise they are fabulous just as they as and start congratulating themselves for what they are achieving rather than beating themselves up over so-called failings. I’ve got some wonderful contributors and experts sharing their words of wisdom too.
5. Caroline, you are an expert in all things digital. Building a profile or a brand on social media can be long and hard but the rewards can be great. Do you have any top tips for those trying to raise their profile online as a brand, blogger or an influencer?
The word ‘authentic’ is used a lot nowadays but for good reason. There have been terrible moments when an influencer has been pulled apart over a sponsored post which is just doesn’t ring true. Although I’m not a mum, I follow lots of wonderful women who keep it real: @susiejverril @mother_pukka @mrsgifletcher @mother_of_daughters. I also think that even if you have a niche online, don’t be afraid to share other parts of your life as well. Bloggers and influencers should be 360 and always ready to add new things into of their regular content. @gillyferg and @hannahfgale are great examples of this. Use your platform for your passions and only work with brands you would use in your everyday life, otherwise it looks clunky. Be totally transparent about gifting, sponsored posts and ads. Followers don’t mind if the content which supports them is true to your regular posts. Have a clear manifesto of what you are trying to achieve and who you’re looking to attract with your account. And finally, be aware that not everyone will agree with your opinion or posts – of course, they are free to unfollow if they object to your content and I would suggest you tell them so politely! Social media should be for fun, inspiration, community and sharing stories and knowledge, not arguments, trolling and negativity.
6. Please can you share your top tips for writing great content either online or offline?
Oh blimey. 1. Have a cup of tea or coffee at your side at all times. 2. Know what the purpose of the piece is. Whether it’s 280 characters or a 2000 word blog, there should be some sort of structure or goal even if it’s ‘this is just for fun’. 3. Typos. Avoid them at all costs. I’m not the greatest speller but I triple check and check again. 4. Write about your passions. If it’s something you love, there’s bound to be someone else who loves it too. Be true to yourself and don’t try to emulate others. 5. Snacks are good. 6. Who are you writing for? Either write all content with someone you know in mind – your best friend maybe – or create your target market and give her a name and back story. That’s who you’re writing for. 7. Try to get outside and don’t spend all your time cooped up indoors. 8. Don’t take yourself too seriously. 9. Reward yourself when you hit a deadline with an episode of your favourite TV show but don’t get sucked into a Netflix binge.
7. You must meet so many different people and personalities. Who have you met who you have either been really impressed by of just been completely star struck!
I’ve been lucky to meet so many incredible people over the years. Interviewing Dame Helen Mirren was nerve-wreaking. She’s a total goddess. Joan Collins was the personification of glamour. And I met Professor Stephen Hawking at the Pride of Britain awards one year. It’s easy to become blasé about meeting celebrities in this industry but for me it’s meeting inspirational people who have become friends like the wonderful Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, who was a Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer and is now a life-coach and meditation teacher in LA. And I have a huge girl crush on Katie Piper too – our paths keep crossing and we keep in touch.
8. In this busy world we live in, do you think we sometimes forget the simplicity of being kind? Some of us might go for days without thinking of a little act of kindness. Why do you think this matters so much?
For me, kindness falls into two categories: being kind to ourselves and being kind to others. It’s so easy to get to the end of the day and self-flagellate over what we didn’t cross off our To Do list rather than what we did. I don’t know one parent who doesn’t constantly feel guilty about their abilities rather than giving themselves a break and recognising the amazing job they are doing. So the concept of Kindfulness for me is so important – taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others. Making yourself happy motivates you to make others happy. So it’s win-win really. And showing kindness to others – friends, family, work friends and strangers – is contagious so if we all do something nice for someone every day we really are spreading happiness!
9. What little ritual can everyone follow every day to remember to be kind?
Two things: at the end of the day, no matter what went wrong or you didn’t manage to do, think about the things you did achieve. Sometimes I’m just grateful to get through a day without spilling food down my top. Writing gratitude lists is a great way to focus on the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. Every day, message a friend of family member and tell them you’re thinking about them. Just being told you are loved and in someone’s thoughts can make someone’s day and costs nothing. It really is the little things that count the most when it comes to kindness.
10. And finally, what’s next for Caroline Millington?
I’m now working on my second book, The Friendship Formula, which will be published by Head of Zeus in spring 2019. It’s been a super busy year juggling a full-time job with writing so I’m looking forward to a solo trip to Bali in the new year to recharge. And then we’ll see what next year brings! Thanks Caroline. Please share your social links with us so we can find you online.
Follow Caroline on Twitter and Instagram – @showbizmillie
Kindfulness is published 4 October by Head of Zeus, £10.
Link to buy Kindfulness: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindfulness-Caroline-Millington/dp/1788545389/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8