Today I’m excited to participate in a features swap with GenTwenty, an online community where twenty-somethings can write about the issues that speak to us. Admittedly (and ironically enough) I am not always a big fan of online spaces for twenty-something because the behemoths such as Thought Catalog and Elite Daily have given these sites a reputation for ejecting vapidness and absurdity into the Internet world. However, GenTwenty manages to overcome that generalization and produce thoughtful content, with Seattle-based freelancer Nicole Booz, co-founder and editor-in-chief, at the helm of the website. Learn more about Nicole, how she has monetized GenTwenty and what is next for the site.
And, to check out my feature today in GenTwenty’s “Conversations With A Blogger” series, click here!
How did you come up with the name GenTwenty?
When my fellow co-founder (Gina, who is no longer with GenTwenty) and I first began discussing GenTwenty and what we wanted it to be, we knew we wanted to write about Gen Y and well, our lives. Having recently graduated from college, we were both nervous and excited about our twenties and the uncharted adventures that lay ahead. We decided to merge the two and GenTwenty was born.
What distinguishes GenTwenty from other websites targeting millennials?
Personally, what I think makes GenTwenty stand out from the crowd is our diverse group of contributors. I’m fascinated by other people’s stories and I love having the chance to share them.
We also have some fun features like the Book of the Month Club, Generation Social – our social media column, A World of Wanderlusting, and a dating column written by the anonymous Jane. We try to do things a little differently than everyone else is doing them.
I think your twenties are a really crazy time in your life where you aren’t really sure who you are yet and you’re asking yourself a lot of questions that will help form what kind of person you really want to be. The GenTwenty community recognizes that and expresses it in nearly all of our work. We talk about the topics a lot of people want to avoid, especially in a public setting. For example, we just published The Fear of Not Being Good Enough.
I recently read an article called “Generation Whine: Self-Pitying Twentysomethings and the Boomers Who Made Them” where writer Laura Bennett says, “ ‘Take my experiences and make them yours’: This could be the rallying cry of this school of urban twentysomethingdom.” What is your response to people who dismiss or mock the concerns of twenty-somethings?
I just have to say – that article was a wild ride from start to finish.
I suppose they should dismiss their own concerns in that case. We all have struggles and they are all legitimate, even if someone else won’t recognize them. It’s a little naive to say that twenty-somethings are a whiny generation. I think we have just as many complaints as any other generation, we are just more vocal about them because we know we aren’t alone in our feelings. We aren’t at a point in our lives where we think our fates are sealed and we may as well accept it; we still believe that change is 100 percent possible and we actively seek that change.
I think we are in a perpetual state of “There’s got to be more to life than this.” Not a single twenty-something I know is interested in being with the same company thirty years from now. Many of our parents and role models ended up in that position and are unsatisfied. We refuse to settle for that. And honestly, I hope we are still not settling when we are fifty-somethings.
How have you implemented a sustainable model to monetize GenTwenty?
In June we launched our Official Partnership Program to work with bloggers and small businesses. All of the money gets funneled straight back into GenTwenty. It goes into site maintenance and advertising on other sites which helps build readership and increase page views, which is great for our sponsors because it means their ads are viewed more.
Who is GenTwenty’s ideal reader?
Our ideal reader is the one who seeks to consume the wheaties content and not the cotton candy (words from our very own Mara Johnson who included it in her application and a description that has not left my mind ever since).
I think there are a lot of site and blogs out there that cover the latest trends, outfit ideas, and list-type posts, favorite items, etc. – which definitely have their place, but are a dime a dozen on the web these days. So much of that done before. Sites like Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed are relatable and hilarious, but I want to dig deeper past the superficial stuff.
We seek to connect with those who are interested in deep, thought-provoking topics, those who have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to share them, those who need a little reassurance that things are going to be OK, and those who are mature enough to see someone else’s point of view. Self-awareness is also a big part of our ideal reader, people who see themselves as constantly evolving.
How do you maintain a sense of community at GenTwenty with many different voices on the site?
It’s difficult, I’m not going to skate around that. To have 25 different voices on one site is a complicated thing. I encourage our contributors to write in the first person – I think sharing personal stories and anecdotes helps keep us all connected. My goal is for readers to feel as if they are chatting with friends over a coffee. It’s a tough dynamic to achieve online with multiple contributors and it’s always a work in progress, but that is the ultimate goal.
If a reader is new to the site, what message do you hope they receive from the writing?
I hope when new readers come along, they catch onto a thought or a feeling and relate to it. I hope they gain a new perspective or understanding. I don’t want them to cry necessarily, but a strong emotional reaction is preferred.
Finish this thought: Twenty-somethings are ____________________
… just getting started.
What is next for GenTwenty?
Moving forward, I hope to refine GenTwenty’s voice into what sounds like a conversation between friends. I’d also like to publish an ebook within the next year and grow our partnership program. We’ll see!
Nicole is the Editor-in-chief at GenTwenty. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland and considers herself to be a full-time creative. In her free time she enjoys exploring local markets, planning her next vacation, scrapbooking her adventures, and reading any book she can get her hands on. Connect with her on Twitter: @nicolebooz. Check out GenTwenty at www.gentwenty.com and follow them on Twitter at @GenTwenty.