This month’s #My9to5 subject needs little introduction, because I’m sure you’re not only familiar with blogger and vlogger, Hannah Gale, but are also big fans of her witty and honest content. Hannah recently won the Blogosphere Blogger Of The Year award, and is also expecting her first child. So there’s a lot going on in her world at the moment! I caught up with Hannah over the phone (whilst her cat purred away in the background) to get the full lowdown on her career journey thus far. Here’s what she had to say…
Before you started blogging you were Digital Content Editor at LOOK, Marie Claire and InStyle. How did you get your start in the media industry?
I did a degree in journalism at Kingston University, which I finished in 2011. Then I graduated straight into the recession, and there were absolutely no jobs. I remember the head of the degree course actually said that in the entire history of the journalism department our group had the highest rate of unemployment. So I ended up working as an estate agent for a little while, which I absolutely hated. And that job just cemented the fact that I really wanted to work in journalism.
So, from there, I started working in really badly-paid roles at start-up companies. I looked for anything that was loosely related to the media industry. I worked for a start-up bag company for a while, and got some SEO training. Then, in 2012, I applied for an Online Assistant job at LOOK and I got the position.
Everyone had degrees and could write, but I think I stood out because no one else had any online training. And eventually I worked my way up to become Digital Content Editor at LOOK, Marie Claire and InStyle.
How did you make the jump from LOOK, Marie Claire and InStyle to full-time blogging?
Eventually I stopped enjoying my Digital Content Editor role because I didn’t feel like there was enough support for the websites. So I handed in my notice and threw everything into my blog. I had purchased the hannahgale.co.uk domain while I was at university, and up until that point I’d only posted around 20 times in four years. So the blog was looking very abandoned.
Because I hadn’t really been able to write much at LOOK, the blog became my creative outlet, and I started writing list posts. The first post I wrote was quite widely shared across the internet, and then it was republished by The Telegraph online.
I always thought that I would get another job. But I put all of my energy into blogging so that I could show prospective employers I had a real understanding of where online content was heading. At that time Buzzfeed was doing really well, and everyone wanted to replicate that kind of content.
Through my blog alone I got offered a job at Metro Online, and I worked there for six months whilst blogging in the evenings. After six months I went part-time, and then after another three months I quit the Metro to work full-time on my blog.
What does your typical day look like, if such a thing exists?
I’m really rubbish at motivating myself in the mornings. I usually wake up around 7am and then scroll through my phone for half an hour. Then I get myself ready and do any bits around the house. By 9am I like to head to my local coffee shop. That’s the only way I can get my brain to separate my home life from my office life. I normally have my breakfast at the coffee shop – avocado toast and a cup of tea or coffee – and spend a few hours writing blog posts and replying to emails. I also catch up on social media stuff too – like posting to Facebook.
I usually return home around lunchtime and make some lunch. And then I’ll spend the afternoon being a bit more chilled out. Maybe I’ll take some blog photos, or edit a YouTube video from the sofa. My boyfriend usually gets home from work around 5.30pm, so I tend to wrap up around then. Sometimes I still have a few bits of work to do – like creating a video thumbnail or proofreading a post. But generally I try to keep my evenings work-free.
How do you like to unwind after a long day?
Always with a bubble bath, Lush bath bombs, candles and a Harry Potter audio book. Harry Potter just soothes me! I think it’s because it lets me escape into a completely different world. Professor Dumbledore is probably my favourite character!
What’s the biggest challenge that you currently face in your 9 to 5?
On a personal level I really struggle with any sort of negativity, or comments that are anything less than a glowing report. I’ve always struggled with the idea that not everyone will like me. So even if the majority of people like what I’m doing, and there’s just a few people that don’t, it really bothers me. I’d like to work on this, so that in the future it doesn’t effect me. But at the moment it’s a challenge.
And, on the flip side of that, what are the biggest perks of your job?
Definitely being on my own timetable. Being my own boss, and being able to work when I want to work and take time off when I want to take time off. I love the flexibility that blogging full-time and working from home gives me.
Also, I would say that being open with my readers – and in return seeing them be so open with me – has had such a positive effect on my mental health. Even more so than counselling.
You vlog and also share a lot on Instagram Stories. Is there a cut-off point for you between what is public and what is private?
I’m probably the worst person to ask about this, because I don’t really have any cut-off point. And I’ve actually found that the more I share about my life – whether that’s mental health, or the fact that I’ve forgotten to change my bed sheets for three weeks – the more I get back from my community. People respond saying, “me too”. And that makes me feel less alone.
I’m willing to share a lot of aspects of my life. It’s not just the highlight reel. I’ll share the morning sickness. I’ll share the makeup-free days. I’ll share the rubbish times as well as the happy times, because I think it’s really important to have that balance. I don’t think it’s healthy to just show everything being glossy, glittery and amazing.
What are your tricks for staying motivated and creative?
Well, if I’m feeling uninspired I think it’s really important to take a step back from technology. The first thing I’ll do is leave my phone at home, take some pens and a notebook to the coffee shop and just have a proper brainstorming session without any distractions. That always helps me get back into the zone.
Which other women working in the industry inspire you on a daily basis?
I would say women like Erica Davies, who I’ve known since I worked at LOOK. I think Erica has a really great balance to what she does. And style-wise I love The Frugality. I think Alex is awesome, and I love what she’s doing on Instagram. I feel like it’s very authentic. And I also used to love the blog Scarphelia. Katie doesn’t blog any more but she’s an awesome, awesome writer. I always found her posts so inspiring.
And, finally, what one piece of advice would you give to your 20-year-old self knowing what you know now?
The reality is that most people have no idea what they’re doing – they’re just fumbling along and praying no-one finds out that they’re secretly a fraud. Find something you’re passionate about; something that excites you, intrigues you, pushes you and makes you want to learn more. Then go at it with everything you’ve got, regardless of whether you’re doing it right or whether other people think you’re doing it right. Because trying new things and sometimes making mistakes is the only way to find a kind of success that truly fulfils you.
Catch up on the previous #my9to5 interviews here.