The Story of How I Sold Myself on eBay, and Ended Up Editing Giz UK

By Kat Hannaford on at

OK, it wasn't as straight-forward as the headline implies, but this little-known (mostly because I lie) story describes how I got my foot in the tech-blogging door and ended up launching and editing the very site you're reading this on.

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Bored, and working for (an unnamed and now-defunct) phone network back in 2005, my colleagues and I would circumnavigate our locked-down work PCs with a stolen admin login so we could skive away the hours online.

One day the guy who sat next to me passed a link around to a story on a (now equally defunct) 'funny eBay auctions' blog, which described how an ingenious girl was 'selling her friendship' on eBay. Promising to write an email to the winning bidder every day for a month, it seemed to me and my colleague to be an easy way to make money and pass the time waiting for our 5pm release.

So what did we do? We sold our friendship on eBay.

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Of course, being the blagger entrepreneur that I am, I not only sold my 'friendship' to the winning bidder, but also gave second-chance offers to everyone else who bid on it too. Not that I wrote them bespoke emails each day – oh no, that's what ctrl+C and ctrl+V are for.

In fact, from memory I don't think I even kept up the emailing act for the whole month. Some of the guys (and yes, they were all male) were downright scary. I don't want to cast aspersions and rely on stereotypes though – it's not like they lived in their parents' basements. No, it was their parents' attics. (Honestly, one of them did.)

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So how did that land me, an unqualified, non-universitied girl from the backwaters of Australia, my dream job editing Giz UK? I figured that if that blog had written about the first ingenious girl to sell her friendship on eBay, they could damn well write about the second, too. So, after a few back-and-forth emails with the editor, I somehow must have impressed him with my writing ability, and he offered me some (unpaid) writing work on the site. In later years, he would confirm what I long-suspected: that I mostly endeared myself to him by name-checking The Smiths in the eBay auction as one of my favourite bands.

The issue of unpaid internships or freelance is an ongoing conversation in the media world. While most of the loudest voices decry such activities, there's no disputing where that hard graft got me today. I would never have got my foot into the industry if I wasn't prepared to put in the effort and make a name for myself, working all hours of the day penning snappy posts and slaving away at my full-time job. When the time came to jack-in the day job and become a 'bedroom blogger', the meagre earnings that I was making at that first blogging job, combined with the odd bit of temping work, only just covered my monthly outgoings.

As any writer will attest to, it was bloody hard, but in sticking it out and proving time and time again that if you don't ask you don't get (Giz's regular writer Chris Mills is a fine example of this), I bounded between various tech-writing jobs until I felt skilled enough to upgrade myself from "tech blogger" to "tech journalist". Don't ask me what the difference is, I still can't quite explain. There might be a direct parallel with the amount of free booze you neck at PR events, however.

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Nine years on from that first post for the 'funny eBay auctions' blog, and three years on from launching Giz UK with the publisher Future, it's come time for me to ride off into the sunset in pursuit of a new challenge.

Yes, I'll be quite literally swapping my morning Pret coffee for some fruity cocktail in a coconut. With one of those little umbrellas. And maybe a bit more gin, just a bit more...tumbleweed...yes, that'll do nicely thank-you.

After six months' backpacking (loose plans include India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, a month back in Australia, and then some travels around South and Central America), I'll be back in London jobless, homeless and penniless, but hopefully full of experiences. If I can also shake that twitching my fingers get if I don't check my phone every three minutes, I'll consider spending my house-deposit savings on this trip as a major win.

One thing that I know I won't be losing is Giz's fantastic community, however. While I don't plan on jumping into the comments field until I'm back in London in 2015, I'm strangely excited about going back to being just another tech-blog trawler, leaving idle snarky comments (new editor Matt better watch himself) alongside the rest of you.

Until then, thanks for all of the memories (and the gnome, Darrell) you've given me over the years. You've sometimes been the bane of my life, but I wouldn't swap you for anything. Well...except for one of these, as it transpires:

Kat Hannaford is the former senior editor of Giz UK and, from October, will simply have 'skint backpacker' as her job title instead. Follow her on Twitter here.

Spiels From “Them Below” is our series of columns written by “them below”: the thousands of readers who comment tirelessly, or tirelessly read, Gizmodo UK. Have you got something to lament? Extol? Ponder? Get in touch at matt.hill[at]futurenet.com, after reading the details here. Disclaimer: content in Spiels From “Them Below” doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Gizmodo UK or its editors.

Image Credit: Coconut drinks; backpacker from Shutterstock (featuring Chris Mills's 'Shoppery).