I met Wendy/Xiaxue in 2005 for a TV show I directed called “Girls Out Loud”. That was the start of an eventful 7-year journey with her, documenting her life as part of my work and gaining a friendship along the way.
I’ve captured the most significant moments in her life on a show called “Xiaxue’s Guide To Life” that has been running for over 122 episodes and counting. Over the years, I’ve been there for her first tattoo, first driving lesson, nose job, surprise wedding proposal, wedding ceremony, her first home, and will be there when she becomes a mom. Sometimes I feel like an older sister, who just so happens to exploit her life events for public entertainment.
Wendy and I at the Istanbul airport en route to an Internet TV conference in Georgia
I’ve seen her grow from someone few could take seriously, to a respected influencer that turned blogging into a full-fledged (and lucrative) career. Sure, she does have her detractors, but I don’t think anyone can deny the incredible influence she has with her social media arsenal. (If they do, they’re probably just not very clued in.)
Person who lives under a rock
So how did Wendy do it?
1. She is shamelessly honest.
How many of us are willing to share our lives so openly to the public? Wendy is VERY comfortable being herself and putting her life on show.
She loves the attention and makes no apologies for who she is. She’s real, doesn’t self-censor, is able to laugh at herself, and isn’t afraid to expose her vulnerabilities.
By being so, she has made herself relatable and her fans grow attached to her because they feel like they know her.
She wears her emotions on her sleeve and what you see is really what you get with her – whether in person, online, in front or behind the camera.
This kind of authenticity is very hard to come by.
Wendy sans makeup right before her nose job
2. She is professional (in general and just enough).
She is one of the biggest procrastinators I know and is horrible at meeting deadlines for her blog advertorials (sorry Wendy but you know this is true).
However, when the advertorial draft comes in, it is never a half-assed job and I’ve never heard a client complain about her work. She has many repeat clients, and even more new ones, because at the end of the day she always delivers results.
Outside of her blog, she has proven to be dependable and consistent over the years. I know I can always count on her to execute what I need on camera. Come to think of it, I don’t think she has ever had an “off-day” – maybe just not as lively when we have early morning shoots, but she always gives me plenty of good material to work with.
3. She is a lot smarter than she looks.
She may not have a university degree and is interested in frivolous things, but she’s a lot smarter than most people give her credit for.
One of her greatest strengths is that she’s an excellent judge of character. This has helped her cut through the bullshit, troublemakers, and time-wasters.
She surrounds herself with people that are good for her, thus minimizing negative drama in her life. It’s easier to get ahead when the road is smooth.
Cried when she got new highlights? Guess she must be a bimbo then.
4. She understands how to communicate in this medium.
Being funny, authentic, and having natural writing talent definitely help. But social media is a different animal altogether. Wendy knows how to write in a style that’s easy to read and digest. She writes in short sentences, uses simple language and tone, and is able to articulate herself in a clear and relatable manner.
Just like there’s a skill and science to writing a movie screenplay, the same goes for writing in social media. A lot of it comes naturally to her, but I think she has also subconsciously honed her craft over the years.
5. She is a positive and happy person.
We all have ups and downs in our lives, but I’ve never seen Wendy get upset for long. She doesn’t have the best life, but is thankful for what she has and makes the best of it.
I’ve always believed that positivity attracts success. It also surrounds you with like-minded people that will further amplify your success.
6. She treats people right.
Is she a bitch? Yes she can be. She used to shoot her mouth off a lot more when she was younger, but I think she has mellowed somewhat with age.
If you piss her off, she won’t hold back – you (or someone) will know about it.
BUT, she’s also the type of person who will be nice to you if you’re nice to her. To put it simply, she knows how to 做人.
Wendy may be fiery, but she’s not a loose canon.
Outside of work, she’s a fiercely loyal and protective friend.
7. She is consistent.
You can’t expect to be an overnight success, and Wendy has stuck it out for many years to get to this point. (She started blogging in 2003)
Also, her persona has been consistent, because she has always been herself – nothing more and nothing less.
8. She works very hard for what she wants.
When she wants something bad enough, she will work very hard for it. E.g. She is very very very vain and knows she wasn’t born beautiful, so she worked (and is still working) very hard to improve on her looks. I think she looks much better than she did when we first met, so I’d say it has paid off.
Screenshot of Wendy in her first show (2006) vs. a recent video (not Photoshopped)
Most people don’t realize this, but she puts a lot of thought and long hours into her blog entries. It may feel like she fired it off in one sitting, but I know she does a lot of refinement and editing before publishing. She just makes it look easy and seamless.
Actually, if she wanted to be super rich badly enough, she would’ve built a social media empire by now. But I think being pretty ranks higher on her priority list.
In conclusion, there’s no textbook formula for this. Wendy never planned this; it just happened organically. The social media universe weeds out the fakes, so you can’t orchestrate how to become a Xiaxue – you either have it or you don’t. And if you do, you just need to play your cards right. If it was meant to be, it’ll all come naturally to you and everything will fall into place.