Interview

From a hobby to a business: Hannah McCreesh shares her blogging advice

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Hannah McCreesh, 23, started her blog in January 2014 whilst studying Public Relations and Media at Sheffield Hallam University. Seeking adventure, she explored all the art, culture and fashion that the city had to offer and documented it anonymously as The Sheffielder for two years. Having recently discarded her anonymity, she continues to uncover hidden gems all over Sheffield and the world. With over 15 thousand followers, Hannah transformed her passion project in to a career through networking and social media.

Aminah Khan: What motivated you to start blogging?

Hannah McCreesh: I was bored and wanted an excuse to get out of the house and explore the city that I was living in. The first-year appeal of uni had worn off and I was in a house with six other girls – I needed a bit of a distraction!

AK: How did you manage your university work and your blog at the same time?

HM: Back then I was blogging purely for the love of it, I still do now, but I didn’t know you could make money or even a career out of it. Blogging as a hobby means that you don’t have deadlines, and when university work deadlines got tough, I would just take a writing break but remain active on social media so people knew I hadn’t disappeared.

AK: What are your time management tips when it comes to blogging and keeping up with assignments?

HM: Always remember that university should come first, you wouldn’t want anything sacrificing your attention in the short-term that could disadvantage you long-term.

Once you start working full-time you have to get used to juggling multiple things very quickly and time management is really hard. Having my blog, university and a part-time job equipped me for this – it’s all about prioritising as well as you can.

AK: Did you face any setbacks when you first started blogging?

HM: I feel like at the beginning my flatmates and peers didn’t see my blog as a particularly “cool” thing to be doing, as if it was one of those embarrassing things you do when you’re a teenager.

AK: How did your blogging experiences help you to become a columnist for the Sheffield Star?

HM: It gave me some leverage to say “hey, this is me, this is what I do, how about I write for you?” I had also been a published columnist for a few years prior to university which helped too.

AK: What are your top three tips for first time bloggers?

HM: Be patient – nothing happens overnight. Be consistent – write well and focus on producing great content.  But more than anything be yourself, whoever that may be, nothing speaks louder than authenticity and people like to follow people that they can relate to.

AK: What sites do you recommend when it comes to creating a blog and why?

HM: I started out my blog using blogger and though it is easy and simple to use, I would recommend WordPress to new bloggers. The reason for that is that their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) function on posts is so much better.

AK: What is your advice to first time bloggers looking to collaborate with other bloggers, artists or photographers?

HM: Be open and honest with people about what you want. No one is ever going to not appreciate an email saying “Look, I’m only a new blogger, but I love your work and would really like to collaborate with you”.

AK: What has been the best thing about blogging for you?

HM: The best thing about blogging for me has been the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had through it. I’ve made so many good friends through blogging that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Similarly, I’ve had some experiences of a lifetime – my trip to Paris last year with Doncaster Sheffield Airport and my press trip to Switzerland this year have been absolutely incredible. I am so grateful to have these experiences, all through something I genuinely love doing.

AK: Does a blog need to look “perfect” before you start publishing content?

HM: No not at all, but things have changed a lot since I started blogging and the competition is tough.  New bloggers are skipping that “awkward first starter” phase, where your blog layout is a bit rubbish and your photos on social media aren’t great.

Now, I see people starting out and they’ve mastered lighting and flatlays and their content is a ridiculously high standard straight away. As much as it’s not about competing with people, you’ve got to remember that if someone has an aesthetically pleasing blog, amazing content, and good social media channels and you only have one of the three, why should people follow you rather than them?

AK: What is the best way to make your blog stand out in the sea of blogs already out there?

HM: Because the blogging industry is so heavily saturated nowadays, I think it does help to have a unique selling point about you – whatever that may be. My USP is my honesty and that I blog about such a wide variety of things, from Sheffield, to fashion, events, mental health and other topics that are important to me.

But if you wanted to start say, a fashion blog, with an all-white marble type theme that’s very “typically bloggery” that’s totally fine – just make sure you make it even better than the others already out there. Everyone’s personalities are all very unique and this comes across in writing and on social media. So, without even trying, bloggers can differentiate themselves from one another in that way.

AK: Have you got any exciting new projects that you are working on?

HM: I’ve got a new travel guide feature on the blog, where my boyfriend and I (who’s just launched his lifestyle blog) travel to a new place every month for a “Weekend adventure”, whilst trying to do the whole trip for under £150! Coming up we have Edinburgh, Sofia in Bulgaria and Wroclaw in Poland for the Christmas markets.

I recently launched a new business called Festival Queens that sells super funky festival stuff – think lots and lots of sequins! I’m now focusing on launching my website next year and collaborating with bloggers. It feels surreal to be on the other side of the blogger/brand relationship!

 

To learn more about Hannah’s work check out her blog, or follow her on Instagram @hannahfmccreesh and @festival_queens.

Words by Aminah Khan

Featured image from www.hannahfrancesmccreesh.com

Aminah Khan is your Editor-in-Chief

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