Although they’ve never met IRL, Kylie Thompson and Nona Raybern are online besties. These two hilarious women “met” through the comments section of a blog that they were both into and became modern-day pen-pals, writing back and forth from their respective coasts. When the blog started to go downhill, they decided they were going to do something about it.
The result is Daily of the Day, an aggregate site of funny/interesting/informative content that they’ve pulled from the “underbelly of the web.” It’s basically a rockin’ procrastination tool, spinning you further and further into the depths of the interwebs, so be prepared: when you click on that link, you’re gonna have a hard time pulling yourself away.
Both ladies chatted with KillerStartups about their experiences as new entrepreneurs and I have to admit, this is the funniest interview we’ve done in awhile…
How long have you been involved with the internet? What were your first steps?
Nona: The internet and I have had an on-off relationship for the past few years. We’re like a high school couple, really. I’ve had a few blogs here and there that were mainly blogs about my jobs in the beverage service industry. On my barista blog, I had a few hundred readers in the year that it was up, which I thought was so exciting; however, this is the first aggregate site that I’ve ever done.
It’s really interesting to feel like you’re constantly looking at the underbelly of the Internet all the time, watching the process of story popularity happen in front of your eyes and trying to determine the right formula for picking the right stories. It’s a fascinating process that I’m still trying to figure out.
Kylie: I remember using WinMX and Internet Explorer to download anime pictures when I was in 5th grade. (It was just a phase, I swear.) I remember my friend and I would shuffle to school every day with our floppy disks full of pictures of our favorite cartoons and we’d exchange them. (IRL P2P) Ever since then, I’ve had a pretty unhealthy relationship with the internet (minus the anime thing) and always loved being the first one to discover the newest internet thing.
What time do you usually start work each day?
Nona: I wake up around 4:30am and check out Google Reader really quick. Then, it’s off to work at my coffee shop (I’m a barista by day still) at around 5am. While I’m there, I’m on the computer during slow times and breaks reading, [staring at] Reader, writing and trying to get as much done as possible. I get home and finish up that day’s postings, then get started on pre-posting for the next morning/afternoon. I’m usually done by around 11pm/midnight.
Kylie: I have about an hour and a half commute to my full-time job every day, so I set my alarm for around 3:30-4:00 AM. I listen to public radio on my way to work and since I’m, very fortunately, three hours ahead, I’m able to send Nona a quick message of some stories that have been released overnight. I’m sure she loves getting messages at, like, 3:00 AM from me.
Do you have an office or work at home?
Nona: HAHAHAHA, OFFICE.
There are three places that are my ‘office.’ 1. My coffee shop, where people peer at me curiously when I burst into random laughter after a funny video. 2. My bed. If you’re my chiropractor, STOP READING NOW. 3. The bar. Any bar. It doesn’t matter. As long as you serve beer and have wi-fi, I will be there with my laptop, annoyingly asking you if you have any outlets because my battery is about to die.
Kylie: For my day job, I work in an office environment. I don’t have a window, but we do have awesome clouds painted on the walls, so, I guess that counts for something. For DotD, I usually do most of my work at Spro, my absolute favorite coffee shop in Baltimore. (Psst, try the Iced Americano with a bit of sweetened condensed milk. OR, Monica’s iced cappuccino with coconut milk). And also my bed because that’s the best office of them all.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the office at the end of the day?
Nona: I go to the gym. It’s the only time I get during my week to have some alone time, with no responsibilities. I get on the elliptical and spend the next hour and a half trying to literally work my ass off while I watch Battlestar Galactica. What? Nerds work out too. Sheesh.
Kylie: I drive two hours home. Traffic’s usually a bitch and a half. And then I’m back on a computer. I also do illustrations on the side, so if I’m feeling particularly motivated, I might break out the paintbrushes or something. I tell myself I’m going to start exercising next week and then it’s back on the internet.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? On your third beer?
Nona: My best ideas always come to me in the shower, where my not-waterproof laptop is always just out of reach. So, I spend a lot of time in the shower repeating sentences to myself so that I won’t forget them. I probably look and sound like a crazy person in the shower. This is why I most likely have never been spied on in the bathroom through a peephole. Because even peeping toms are like, “Wtf is wrong with that broad?”
Kylie: All of my stories start out as: “Soo… I was driving the other day, and I got to thinking…” I’m not saying EVERY idea I formulate while I’m in my car is a (totally) brilliant one because they usually pop up in between me practicing my rock-star skills and coming up with awesome one-line zingers…
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
Nona: Pillows, sheets, a comforter and two pit bulls, staring at me to get off the computer and throw their ball already. There might be an empty wine glass too.
Kylie: Oh god, my desk is a mess. I don’t even want to talk about it. I will say, there are SO MANY EMPTY COFFEE CUPS.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumping away to house music or is it more traditional?
If Nona and I would happen to bump into each other, that would be very alarming since we are 3,000 miles apart.
Favorite movie? Band? Vacation Spot?
Nona: Movie: Gladiator. It was the first movie I’d ever watched with that much gore and violence and I was entranced like a fat kid on a piece of cake. That and Joaquin Phoenix is creepy as shit in it.
Band: Right now, my favorite band would have to be The National. Oh god. That makes me sound like such a hipster, doesn’t it? NEVERMIND. My favorite band is… is… oh, whatever. I like all music.
Vacation spot: VEGAS. I LOVE VEGAS. I don’t care how shallow people say it is, it’s so wonderful and sparkly and I LOVE drinking on the streets out of giant plastic receptacles. Vegas… where it’s totally okay to be drunk in front of a toddler, without being judged. That should be their new motto.
Kylie: Cat Stevens has been my ALL TIME favorite singer since I was a kid. No, seriously, I can sing “Oh Very Young” in its entirety right now. Word for word. I also love Frank Zappa. I try to keep up with music, so I’m constantly listening to something new. From klezmer to jazz to indie to electronic, it’s all good.
Vacation? WHAT IS THAT? I haven’t taken a vacation in over 6 years.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
Nona: Skydiving. The day before we started this site, I went skydiving for my 29th birthday. I wanted to start life with a clean slate after a pretty hellish year and I think it worked. It gave me the courage to jump into this project and say to myself that I was good enough to do this.
I had been writing stories, short essays and blogs for years and had people tell me that I was a good writer, but I never took them seriously. I never thought that people would want to read anything I wrote. After skydiving, that all changed. If I can fall from the sky at 14,000ft, I can do anything I want. So I did. Luckily, Kylie came into the picture and took over the technical aspect of things because, as far as tech stuff goes, I’m kind of challenged.
Kylie: I’m not as much about confidence as I am tenacity. In person, you’d probably think I’m a little but shy (or snarky), but I make up for it with determination, guts, and the desire to realize my dreams. Fortunately, when Nona and I started this, we discovered we work exceptionally well together. It’s so funny because we had absolutely NO idea how this was going to start or what would happen once we got going. We let it roll one Sunday night and haven’t stopped since. Seriously.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Nona: Take advice and critiques from others openly, but never compromise what you are trying to accomplish or what you believe in. It’s okay to rely on others when they offer their help, but make sure that you are ultimately in control of your business. And remember that saying “No” is an artform. Perfect that artform, use it and don’t get in over your head by saying “Yes” all the time.
Kylie: Learn how to prioritize but know when to step back. Sometimes, if you get over-involved with something, you forget what it’s really about. Letting your ego take over is the absolute worst thing that can happen, and if you can sense that tension, pull back. Just taking a break from work occasionally is all I need to clear my head.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
Our readers. We owe everything to them. Without their input, ideas, story suggestions and constant critique and praise alike, we would have nothing. They are the very backbone of DotD. There are a handful of readers who have stuck with us from the very beginning, promoting us every chance they got, particularly one named LL who was initially a huge source of traffic for us. We owe her a fruit basket or something. Maybe an Edible Creations Bouquet.
Nona: My only regret is not having been the first one to think of the idea for an aggregate site. And that I haven’t invented time travel yet.
Kylie: I don’t believe in regrets. Though, I did eat a giant cookie earlier that I feel kind of bad about. Actually, nah, I take that back. It was totally worth it.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Ultimately, we see Daily of the Day turning into a site that’s a complete, one-stop resource. We’d love to have a music off-shoot, where young music writers can get a shot in the journalism world and bring a fresh perspective to local/major music acts. We’d love to have a sports writer, a tech writer, a political writer, etc. And we’d love to have it be a site where writers don’t have to censor themselves or hold back from interjecting personal experience, while still being a reliable source of daily news stories. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned, it’s that there needs to be a healthy balance of professionalism and general badassery, or people will lose interest. You can’t sound like a robot, but you also can’t sound like you write for the National Enquirer either.
Finally, we want to continue developing our community. We try to be involved with what’s going on in the threads, but allow commenters to put a totally different spin on whatever content we present to them. The diversity of opinions in the comment section is what makes DotD such an enjoyable part of peoples’ days.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
DotD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DailyoftheDay
DotD Twitter: http://twitter.com/dailyoftheday
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Nona’s Personal Twitter: @nonareneemusic
Kylie’s Personal Website/Twitter: www.kyliethompson.com, @kylierosetypo