WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS - From Twitter to the NY Times

WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS - From Twitter to the NY Times

By Lara Schoenhals

Lara Marie Schoenhals is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. She is the co-creator of the twitter feed @whitegrlproblem, which she later developed into two books: the New York Times Best-Seller, White Girl Problems by Babe Walker, and the sequel Psychos by Babe Walker. She is also the host and creator of Pumped (a podcast devoted to Vanderpump Rules), and the brains behind the Instagram @cosmosextips


Five years ago, there was a turning point when a Twitter account called @whitegrlproblem that my writing partners and I had started as a joke became way more serious. In the span of one day our follower count jumped from 80-something to over 1,000. In today’s social media world that’s nothing. I mean, Katy Perry has over 65 million followers so I get it if you’re like, “IDGAF about your 1,000 follower boost.” But back in 2010 it was major because those 1,000 followers meant we’d somehow hit a nerve that allowed us to accrue a small, (but engaged) audience who appreciated our content. 


@whitegrlproblem started as me and my writing partners tweeting various “white girl” grievances with the hashtag #whitegirlproblems at the end of each tweet. 

As our audience began to grow, we were able to observe the amount of interactions we’d get per tweet, and that quickly informed us as to which jokes were working and which jokes fell flat. This knowledge gave us the power to craft content that we knew our followers would go crazy over, which helped us gain even more followers. Eventually it became clear that the followers were responding best to a specific type of voice. At the time we didn’t know who it belonged to, but we did know that it was a post-college, twenty-something girl, so we honed our tweets to fit this style of humor. A few months later, we went a step further and developed that voice into a character we named Babe Walker. 


The birth of Babe allowed us to get even more specific with our jokes and also go an additional step and figure out how to take our ideas beyond Twitter and into new mediums. Babe Walker was the perfect storm ofa character because our followers both related to her and wanted to be her, but because she was fictional, writing a book in her voice made the most sense. So we continued to tweet and build our online following while we worked on a book proposal for Babe’s memoirs. We ended up selling the proposal to Hyperion in January 2011--less than a year after starting the Twitter account. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker came out one year later and was a New York Times Bestseller.




We couldn’t have accomplished this feat if we hadn’t allowed our content to evolve. Our idea for a Twitter account about white girl problems was funny, but it was building on that idea and shaping it into a character that allowed us to take it one step further. When it comes to embarking on the journey of a new project, you must have an “If you build it, they will come” mentality. If your content is strong and consistent, you will be able to establish an audience that will help it evolve into something even more powerful. Figure out which social medium works best for what you want to put out into the world. Five years ago, Twitter and Facebook were the only social media outlets, but now with Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc. there are so many ways to reach people. Get strategic and know which audience will best appreciate what you want to do and just go for it. You never know where you’ll end up. //