2016 began so happily and so well. As I nearly always do at the start of every new year, I remember feeling incredibly optimistic and had made lots of resolutions whilst busily planning and filming videos for my channel. I think we had around 35,000 subscribers then, and I knew YouTube was one of my biggest loves of my life.
Will and I had travelled all over the UK together but we hadn't yet been on a trip that involved a plane, so at the end of January we packed our bags for a city break to Budapest. In a word: magical. I've always been a real homebody and it ignited a spark inside me. I caught the travelling bug after just one trip, and I seriously can't wait for more adventures in 2017 with my favourite person!
Ever heard of a little thing called MTV? Well, they rocked my world in January by naming me as one of their 16 Up & Coming YouTubers Set To Do Big Things In 2016. Quite the title! After working so hard on my corner of the Internet for little over a year it was a real honour to be included in the line-up, especially as I was in the company of some of my favourite creators. Please put '"Meg is so lovely and wise" - MTV, 2016' on my gravestone, thanks.
As I'm typing I'm remembering the beginning of 2016 as pretty negative despite all of these lovely things happening - good one trying to do this without a plan, mate - but that was down to me having a period of being really unwell and unable to function 'normally'. In my head I've built this up as me taking around two months off YouTube, but I've just checked and in reality it was about three weeks... maybe it felt like months as I wholeheartedly love making videos and not being able to for reasons beyond my control was torture. May 2017 be the year of good health and all the productivity!
My wonderful cousin gave birth to a baby boy, and he brought sunshine into all of our lives. He's so cherished in our family and I feel so lucky that I get to kiss his chubby cheeks and watch him learn how to laugh and crawl and stand. In March I attended the 'Build Your Channel' bootcamp at the YouTube Space in London and 'graduated' feeling so inspired and recharged. It makes you realise what a crazy, fun ride it is to be making content on YouTube and fills you with excitement to know that everyone who works there is really cool and genuinely cares about creators and their audiences.
Over the next few months I worked really hard on everything Meg Says - I built a media kit, put my all into creating main channel videos and vlogs and blog posts, showed up to events and focused on positivity. So many amazing things came from doing that; working with some of my favourite brands, being offered presenting jobs, meeting a Kardashian (!!!), travelling for press trips and becoming self-sufficient. I'd thrown myself into this whole online world in 2014 and had quite happily plodded along, navigating the blogosphere as someone who was 'doing it for fun' alongside being a social media manager for a brand, and 2016 was definitely the year where I realised that I could totally ~girlboss it~ and create my own career that was inline with my own morals and my own passions.
July saw me travel to Italy with a group of the loveliest guys ever, and something great happened: I accidentally left my phone in my brother's car when he dropped me off at the train station before flying to Rome. Initially I panicked, yes, but minutes after we arrived I felt like I'd unchained this anchor from my leg and could freely float in the Mediterranean. I'd actually 'unplugged' for once! If I'd had my phone with me you can bet your bottom dollar that I would've been refreshing my emails and having a quick scroll through Instagram when I should've been getting stuck into a good book by the pool surrounded by a tanned Will and friends, so it's pretty great to look back and know that I had a PROPER HOLIDAY. I made a nice video of our trip here that I just love and will watch back for years to come.
Post-holiday I got straight back into Work Mode and marvelled at the things I was able to do thanks to that cracking decision of starting a blog aged 21. As I'm extremely picky and protective of my channel and my lovely audience, I was waiting for the right job came along and finally I worked on my first sponsored video, the payment of which I partly saved and partly invested into an iMac. For me, it was a significant purchase as it was purely to continue building my business and create better content for the people who support what I do, and it makes me proud every time I walk into the office and see it.
August hosted Summer In The City 2016 and after watching from the sidelines for so long, it was a real pleasure to be able to attend as a guest and meet some of the lovely people who watch my videos. I feel like we interact so much online that it's just the best thing in the world to be able to hear your voices, see your smiles and give you a big hug. It was a special experience made better by special people and I can't wait for SITC 2017.
By this point in the year I was working with brands as much as, if not more than, I was making YouTube videos. Some of the biggest names in beauty like Superdrug, Look Fantastic and P&G were hiring me to present and model, and I had more than a few moments of gratitude where I'd sit in an Uber on the way home from a shoot feeling incredibly grateful that I get to do what I love for a living. Waking up knowing that you're going to Paris for the day as part of your job isn't something you should ever take for granted!
In the month that I turned 23 years old we hit 60,000 subscribers on YouTube and it made me overwhelmingly happy, as did finally being able to announce that I was the winner of InStyle's Project 13 Award for 'Rising Star'. Even being nominated was dizzying enough, so to know that an incredible amount of people had taken the time out of their day to vote for me was really humbling. I wish I could thank everyone individually, and stepping onstage to accept my award in front of some of the industry's most influential names as 'one of them' is a memory that'll stay with me until I'm old and grey. As will my award, which is going to sit proudly on my desk as a little reminder that I can, and I will.
In November Will and I attended the first ever BONCAs Awards and it was pretty crazy. Everywhere I looked I saw my YouTube idols who I've watched for years (and years and years, seriously since I was like 14) and it was one of those moments where I just thought, '...who let me in here?' The funny thing is I've started to be recognised by the creators I've looked up to, invited to their parties, called over for a chat - and you know what? It's the nicest thing in the world to know that they're just like me. That's one of the things I've learnt in 2016, actually: people are just people. We're all the same. I feel very, very normal and it's cool that most others are normal as well. Not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever, but I love that striking up a conversation with Kourtney Kardashian or Joey Graceffa is natural and down to earth and easy and they're friendly and it's lovely. LOVE IT.
With the end of the year came the biggest opportunity I've been offered thus far in my online career when the BBC asked me to present at the Team GB Ball and interview our British Olympians. It was the first time this particular division had done anything with a YouTuber before and despite it being incredibly out of my comfort zone, I said yes and I am so insanely pleased with how it went. In the summer I'd been watching these athletes from the sofa whilst eating Coco Pops in my pyjamas and then all of a sudden I'm in Tom Daley's private Winnebago, vlogging us as he says we should do a YouTube video together whilst being filmed by the BBC crew. I discovered a natural ease (dare I say talent?) for presenting and felt completely at home interviewing stars on the red carpet. I threw myself in at the deep end and didn't drown or flounder, I did the flipping butterfly stroke. Not only was the footage on YouTube and the news and iPlayer, but the actual BBC on the actual television on New Year's Eve. Seriously, could someone please pinch me so I stop dreaming?
So, that was 2016. Scrolling back and having a quick flick through everything I've written, it was a stellar year. On the inside it wasn't quite the same story - despite achieving quite a lot I spent most of the year feeling inadequate and even crippled by self-doubt. There were points where I had absolutely no confidence in what I was doing and I think that showed through inconsistent YouTube uploads and being absent from social media at times. I'm sure I'll talk about this in more detail in a video at some point, but for now let me just say that I'm beyond determined to turn that mindset around in 2017 as clearly I'm doing an okay job and I truly need to give myself more credit. Onwards and upwards, starting right now!
I really hope 2016 was a happy, healthy year for you and I'd like to take a second to thank you so much for any support you've given me. Whether you've been watching my videos since that awkward first upload or your friend recommended me to you last week, it honestly makes me do a little jiggy happy dance every time someone joins our Internet family and I wish only the best for you all in 2017. All my love!