We were thrilled to meet YouTube stars Anna and Jonathan Saccone Joly to get the low-down on the launch of their new children’s book, The Great Catnap. With millions of followers on YouTube, four children and six dogs, we ask them all about day-to-day family life including the bits they refuse to share on camera. Anna divulges her beauty secrets and Jonathan tells us what he gets up to when he’s not on camera.
Describe a typical day in the life of the Saccone Jolys?
We wake up at 6:30am every morning. I try to get myself ready before giving Alessia her early morning feed (I’m currently breastfeeding) while Jonathan dresses Emilia and Eduardo. We all go downstairs for breakfast and let the dogs outside. We feed the dogs and get them ready for daycare if they’re going that day (they have daycare three times a week and they love it!). At 8 o’clock we take the kids to school and I put Alessia down for her morning nap about an hour later. At this point Jonathan will crack on with editing and I will try to squeeze in emails or any few jobs I need to get done before baby wakes up!
At lunchtime I normally go to pick up Eduardo from school as he’s only doing half days this year. Alessia also has another sleep in the afternoon which is nice as I can get some work done! During the afternoon Jonathan is almost always working his office and I’m minding the children, but then we tag-team, so he will pick up Emilia from school and give me a break so I can film or edit as well.
Before we know it the baby is awake, needs feeding and the children and dogs come home exhausted and ready for dinner! Evenings are normally the toughest part of the day but Jonathan and I help each other out as we both love being around the children so we work together as a team. He will usually take the baby for an hour while I feed the older children and then we swap at 6 o’clock when I start Alessia’s bath and bedtime routine and he takes Emilia and Eduardo. I then put the baby to sleep and we meet in the children’s rooms for bedtime stories. At about 7:30pm we eat dinner together and have some chill-out time in front of the TV or just chatting about our day until we try to get to bed for 9pm. Then we start all over again the next morning! It’s hectic and a bit chaotic at times with three children, six dogs and two working parents but we love it!
What initially inspired you to start vlogging?
Jonathan was the one who started vlogging, although I was already making videos about beauty, fashion and lifestyle on my own channel. I had only ever made sit-down videos in front of the camera and one day we had packed up our things and were moving from Bournemouth (where we had gone to uni) to London and Jonathan said “you know it would be so much more interesting if you filmed this life event, kind of like a follow-me-around type vlog!” I don’t think the term vlogging was even around at the time as this was in 2009! I did take his advice but later lost the footage when I accidentally deleted it off my SD card! But I think that inspired Jonathan to take matters into his own hands and he set up his own channel where he later started to upload videos much like that one he had encouraged me to do.
What are your three top tips on vlogging, and how best to build a following?
1. Do not wait for the right opportunity, the right time or the right place to start vlogging. You will look back and wish you started earlier because every part of your life is important and special, even though it might not seem that way at the time. Your journey is what people will find interesting to watch! There is no perfect time to start.
2. This goes the same for equipment! You do not need to have the best, fanciest camera to start vlogging especially not at the beginning. When Jonathan and I started out the camera we used was cheap and cheerful and I only used a webcam for my sit-down videos! Now of course things have changed but there is no need to spend money on fancy equipment or editing software. People will want to watch your videos for you, the rest comes later.
3. Stay true to who you are and be yourself. So many people who start YouTube get impatient and will jump on trends or popular types of videos just to get ahead in the game when in long run those tricks don’t work. This might help you achieve high viewing numbers initially but if your heart isn’t in it and you’re not vlogging about something you’re truly passionate about, or being yourself it will show. A high engagement comes with your audience investing in you and actually believing in you as a person. And that is what will stand to you on YouTube and help you become successful.
Are there some facets or parts of family life you purposely don’t show the public?
Yes, of course! I think that’s the beauty of vlogging, is that you can decide what you want to share and what you keep to yourself. We made the decision very early on not to talk about religion, politics or money. We don’t include our fights or arguments, we don’t show much PDA and as we’ve had our children we came to the joint decision that we wouldn’t show tantrums, disciplining them, potty training or anything that could embarrass them as they got older. Of course there is so much more that doesn’t get shown on camera purely down to the fact that our videos are only about 16 minutes of a 24-hour day so it’s not possible to show it all! And we have many off-screen relationships as well – many of the children’s friends, our own friends even some family members who chose not to be shown.
Many of our readers are keen instagramers, what are your three top tips for this platform?
I don’t think either of us really have a strategy for instagram, we don’t follow a theme or anything like that! I think our feeds are quite all over the place! But they tell a story and I think that’s what people like about it. I just like to keep it real on Instagram, I don’t do fake! So my number one tip would be to keep it real. Number two would be to try and interact with the people you follow/your followers. Like photos, leave a nice comment, reply back to people. Show that you care and that you like to make an effort with your Instagram! My last tip would be to be consistent and post regularly. Don’t leave your followers waiting for weeks without seeing a picture – the reason they’re following you is because they want to be updated on what’s going on! And the more often you post, the more likely they’ll come back for more.
Anna – tell us all about your beauty regime, what’s in your make-up bag?
I used to suffer really badly with acne until a dermatologist helped clear my skin last year and one of her top tips was to use mineral makeup on my face! So since then I only use Bare Minerals foundation, bronzer, concealer and highlight! I use their matte foundation as my skin gets quite oily. My favourite eyeliner is YSL Shocking which is like a felt tip pen and super easy to use. Recently I’ve been loving the Anastasia Modern Renaissance eyeshadow palette and I always use Urban Decay primer potion underneath. My best brow products are Benefit Browzings powder and Benefit 3D Browtones. For blusher I use Charlotte Tilbury’s cheek to chic blush and my go-to lip combo is Bobbi Brown lip pencil in Cocoa and Charlotte Tilbury’s Kim KW lipstick.
Jonathan – what do you get up to when you’re not on camera?
Right now I’m an putting the finishing touches to an experimental virtual reality film I shot this year, working with my publishing team getting ready for the launch of the SACCONEJOLYs and the Great Cat Nap, creating animations and composite music videos for my other YouTube channel Friendliest Friends, pulling together the final images for the 2018 SACCONEJOLYs calendar, filming and editing the daily vlogs and trying to be the best dad I can to my kids.. and drinking wine.
Tell us all about your new children’s book, The Great Catnap, the inspiration behind the story itself, and why you decided to write a book for children?
The book’s main inspiration is my kids, my dogs and my imagination. I’ve always been a creative, day dreaming, imagination junkie. Ever since I was a kid in school I would doodle, get in trouble and repeat, thankfully though I was rewarded in university for my creativity and shortly afterwards found myself living my life on YouTube. For the last few years I had begun to wonder about what might be next after years of making SACCONEJOLYs. I wondered if I could tell the same story but on a new platform, in a new medium – and so the idea of publishing my family’s stories was born. Rather then creating adult non-fiction like the current format of SACCONEJOLYs, I wanted to create a kids’ book. I could visit my kids’ school for a reading and they would think I was cool.
Where are your favourite places to go for a) fun, b) food, and c) culture for all the family?
a) The park.
b) Bill’s or Valentina’s in our local town.
c) any of the National Trust walks or woodland areas close to where we live!
Fav family recipe?
Very simple, but super yummy penne pasta with tomato sauce, onion and pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmesan on top. My parents used to make this as a staple when I was growing up and now my children love it!
The one baby product you couldn’t live without?
How would you sum yourselves up in one sentence?
Jonathan and I work as a team – we both feel like we married our best friend and our main priority has always been and always will be our family and raising our children in a happy home.
The SACCONEJOLYs and the Great Cat-Nap (Egmont, £6.99) publishes Oct 19, available to pre-order in all good bookshops and online.