This is the transcript for Episode 011 | Defining Success with Hannah Moyer.
Jack speaks with Hannah Moyer about her career, defining success, and Netflix binging.
Visit this post for show notes.
Jack: Alright, well, it is just me this week guys. I’m Jack, like I said before, the world’s funniest indie author. But I have a very special guest this week to replace Jennifer. Hannah, why don’t you go introduce yourself?
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Hannah: Yes, thank you so much for having me on Jack. I really appreciate it. I’m Hannah. I’m a writer, speaker, podcaster, and I also work in Paid Media that marketing agency located in Southern California. I talk a lot about creativity and creating your own version of success which I’m really excited to talk about today and, yeah, just about all of the trials and celebrations of being a creative.
Jack: So you and I are a little bit different in which you actually get paid at your day job to be creative whereas I do mine strictly after hours.
Hannah: Yes. Well, everyone is creative even, I always joke around that accountants can be creative in spreadsheets so whatever you do you can be creative in it.
Jack: I’ve definitely seen some creative accounting. I’ve had to participate in it.
Hannah: Oh gosh!
Jack: So how did you make that happen? How did you get a regular pay check out of your creative business?
Hannah: Yes. That is kind of a long story. I’ll try to condense it a little bit. I went to school for broadcasting in digital media so I’ve always been within the creative realm and then I moved to Nashville after college. And then I actually met my now boss on Twitter so I started writing for the agency that he had. I started to kind of freelancing in general. I was working at Starbucks on the side and eventually just turned into my full time gig, and then about two years ago I moved from Nashville to California and I’ve kind of transitioned from writer to account manager. Now, I am the head of the media there. And so we are full service digital marketing agency and it’s been really incredible to use both my analytical side for Paid Media which is like Facebook ads, Google ads. And then also use my creative side of really working, okay how can we optimize this add creative, ad copy, and images, and videos, and then also just working with an incredibly talented team. We have about seven people on the team right now and every person is so uniquely creative, and that’s been one of the most incredible opportunities, just to learn from each other and to really kind of grow the team together.
Jack: So, did you move out to California for the job or was it for personal reasons and the job just came along?
Hannah: I moved out for the job. I actually had a company at Nashville, a very small company; it only lasted about a year. And once that ended I texted my now boss, he hits the road boss that he is, and said, “Hey, so this happened…” So he was talking me through of just kind of like the emotional side of processing a company ending. I had a business partner and so we had that split as well and I kind of like, well, I just have this gut feeling that I should be in California and I really want to help you grow that agency. And he’s like, “Okay, I think we could make this work.” And so I was doing a lot of freelancing on the side and so I took, so it is kind of doing both that agency and then also some freelance work, and then just eventually went full time with Blue Light and it’s been incredible to be able to, again, just kind of see the company grow from just a couple of people to now just being on more people and helping more clients.
Jack: So what do you there?
Hannah: I’m head of Paid Media, so I strategize, and then implement Paid Media strategies. We work with both Fortune 500 companies and small business, and so a lot of it is lead generation. It is driving traffic to the website, increasing sales, just really doing as much as I can to support of the paid side and then working with some of the other people on the team to optimize kind of the organic side as well.
Jack: Jennifer and I spoke how I’ve had absolutely no success with advertising.
Hannah: It is tricky. Especially now everyone is doing it so it is definitely convoluted.
Jack: At the same she’s having mind-blowing success with it.
Hannah: That’s awesome. What platforms are you guys using?
Jack: Well, I focus mostly on Amazon ads and BookBub which is targeted service, with a little bit of Facebook. I have had the great success in converting cold hard cash into empty results with those.
Hannah: Amazon is a tricky one for sure. Yeah.
Jack: Whereas Jennifer has been actually now pouring all of her money into The Knot wedding website.
Hannah: Okay, yeah. And she is a photographer, right?
Hannah: Okay, yeah.
Jack: She’s had like I said tremendous success there into she is now making essentially a full time salary of something that she’s started as a hobby of just a few years ago.
Hannah: That’s awesome, yeah, definitely. It is all about finding the right platform.
Jack: What do you think are the best practices for online advertising?
Hannah: Oh gosh, that could be about like a two hour answer right there. So in the basics, you definitely need to know your goal so whether it is increase sales, or downloading a free guide, and then you also need to know where your audience is, where they are, and who they are. For example, if you want to run a Facebook ad for a photographer you want to make sure that it is targeting the local area and that it is within the age range so let’s say millennial couples that are recently engaged so you target probably like 25-35 and then probably women, although you could target men as well, just based on who is making the decisions. And then Facebook actually has a feature that allows you to target people who are recently engaged, so you can kind of use those different things. You can put interest in The Knot, so anyone who googles The Knot, would then start to see some or has any browsing habits related to The Knot would find that on Facebook. And so from there just continually test and optimize. It is tougher to test and optimize with a smaller budget but I mean even with $1,000 a month you can start to find some good success. Again, it is just all really in the targeting and knowing who you want to target. For example, a photographer might not perform as well in Twitter ads, but they could perform really well on Pinterest. Pinterest is just more expensive. So it is all kind of balancing out your goals and then the characteristics of the platform.
Jack: You bring up an interesting topic of finding who your audience is, and as an author, I don’t know.
Hannah: Yeah, it is tricky. That one is definitely a tricky one because I mean anyone could be purchasing your books.
Jack: I’ve never thought in myself is writing for women but most readers are women.
Hannah: Yeah, it is definitely, like you want to look at the browsing and shopping habits and definitely see if like you are a young adult. I mean, I guess young adult can be fairly targeted but if you are not specifically young adult then it could be all age ranges. It could be 25-70, so it is definitely a little tricky.
Jack: How scary was it for you to say I’m going to pack up, move across the continent, and get involved with this business. You couldn’t just gone back to Starbucks.
Hannah: Great question. I think I was definitely in a time of life where because that company ended, my old company, I would kind of had the chance of like, well I don’t really have anything keeping me here. I don’t have a mortgage. I wasn’t in a relationship. I had some really good friends, and had really good community in Nashville, and I love this city like it is still my favourite city that I’ve ever been to. But it was just I knew, I just had this gut feeling that that’s where I was going to end up and I just kind of had to trust the process and put in the work. My dad helped me drive all my belongings across the country and…
Jack: How you drove with that?
Hannah: We drove it. Put my civic on the trailer of a Penske truck and drove it all out. But I think it was ultimately just knowing that like I didn’t have really any, again, no mortgage, no relationship or anything and so it is like, well this is the time of life to make a crazy change and if something goes wrong there are Starbucks in Southern California. And I had a solid freelance income outside of that company and so I was able to kind of piece me on some things together. It’s really been an incredible just seeing how much it’s grown in the past two years. It is tempting to want to just stay where you are comfortable but a big part of learning to be or growing in your success, whatever that idea is for you. It is just be able to go outside of your comfort zone. And for me moving to California was a huge leap outside of my comfort zone.
Jack: Well, thankfully, seems like it’s paid off so far.
Hannah: Yeah, it’s been going pretty well, definitely.
Jack: I wanted to come back to your idea of defining your success. Before we do that I want to touch on you felt comfortable enough with your freelance income that you weren’t terrified.
Hannah: Oh gosh! Yes.
Jack: How did you build that?
Hannah: So I started in college on a website that is now part of Upwork, and so it is a freelance website. I ended up being connected with someone who we just did I think just twice monthly blog post. Actually before that it was this website they paid me $7.50 and for an article which is very, very well if you are unfamiliar with word rates, and then I found the guy with the twice monthly blog posts and then each one of those jobs gave me the experience in order to get the next gig. So one of my long term clients was an agency in Nashville, and so I wrote blog post and website copy and things like that and we just built that relationship together through that. I met him through a un-conference, so it is a community driven event Nashville called BarCamp. So I met him there, we just start really building a relationship. Freelance is all about relationships and so definitely just showing him that I could create good work and just kind of maintaining that relationship. And then I’ve had some one off clients here and there but it definitely just got to a point where I felt confident having my long term clients that even though something could end at any time and sometimes they have that we had a solid enough relationship between the different agencies I was working for that I was confident enough that I could make that change.
Jack: The income that you’re making was it buying you a bag of groceries a month, was paying your rent, supporting everything? What are we talking here?
Hannah: Yeah. For about a year so it was right around, when I left Nashville and moved to California I was a full time freelancer. I definitely like setting aside the money for taxes and everything. But yeah, I definitely had a pretty good living. California is expensive so I wasn’t like going out every day or anything. But I think there are ways to live comfortably even on a smaller budget I tend to have a pretty simple life. In Nashville I was also actually working at kind of like an established start-up so I was doing that part-time working remote. So that was contributing to the income but then once I made that leap to go to California it was all freelance. It was definitely less stressful but the more that you can build those relationships and kind of think ahead and have some savings in the bank just in case something does happen then the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Jack: So this yet another way in which when I differ is that I am very risk averse.
Hannah: I don’t consider myself as crazy much of a risk taker. I tend to I think identify more as yourself as risk averse but I think my life tends to change that.
Jack: Well, I will be comfortable dropping everything and moving out to California if I, I’d only take, I don’t know, $1-2 million in the bank account.
Hannah: Yeah. It’s also you have kids and you have a family so, I’m single so it kind of helps in that. I don’t have quite as many expenses. I do have a chronic illness and so I do a lot of out of pocket for that, but that’s when I like take on some extra freelance gigs on the side just to kind of make sure that I can build up that part of it.
Jack: I don’t want to get into too personal questions but you said something I want to talk about but is this an illness that you feel affects your ability to devote time to work?
Hannah: Yeah, in a way. I’m definitely happy to talk about it. I have, one of them is an auto immune disease called Hashimoto’s and I have some other chronic illnesses that are kind of related to that. And so a big component of Hashimoto’s if it’s not managed well is a brain fog. So it is not just being tired, it is literally that like your brain just does not function and so when you’re being paid to be creative that’s very difficult in order to complete your work. And so that’s like you can answer emails but you can’t actually create a campaign or you can’t write a blog post because you can’t just, your brain doesn’t function. And so it was definitely difficult especially if I go through a flare up which happens about once or twice a year more just it for some reason there is an environmental or stress or whatever just kind of sets it off. And so I think a big thing for me is learning how to manage it well for example like this specific medicine and supplements that I take, and then also just knowing that if I don’t sleep for 7-8 hours a night then I am incapacitated the next day. So I definitely prioritize in lifestyle elements that I know is important for me so that I can continue being creative whether for myself or for clients.
Jack: I did not realize until I started getting into more of this creative side business stuff how big of a deal working with a chronic illness is. It sounds to me like you’ll go further, understand triggers and the consequences of it and plan ahead just like you did with your financial situation.
Hannah: Yeah, definitely. I think it is also, I’m in a position now where if I need to work from home or if I need to come in an hour later at the office like I can. I’m very fortunate in that, and then also there’s other times where you just kind of need to fight through it and you just have to keep working. But I try to balance my life as much as possible so that or rather in a great both parts of my life as much as possible so that if I do need to take like for example I work in evening sometimes like the podcast rather than random things and so if I need a night off or I need to like postponed the podcast for a day just so that I can get that rest in order to be productive the next day then I do that. So it is a lot of extending grace to myself of saying, okay well you can’t be as productive as maybe most humans out there who have a fully functioning thyroid but there’s also ways that I’ve just learned to manage it. I mean, it’s been about six years since I’ve been diagnosed so it definitely had its ups and downs but overall just learning how to manage it and doing as much as I can to be proactive about it.
Jack: You’ve touched on something that I actually feel very personally serious about is giving yourself grace. I have to remind myself when I feel guilty that I had to skip tonight’s writing session because family thing or whatever. I’m not obligated to doing any of this; my obligation is to take care of my family and my health and all that.
Jack: At the end of the day that’s what is more important than putting out the next novel or another podcast episode.
Hannah: Definitely. And I think that’s, I mean there are always be times of life where either work requires more because like if you try to get a book out or if you are trying to pre-record podcast for a vacation or something that you are going to have to work more. And there’s also going to be seasons where family just needs more time and more energy and I just kind of went through one of those seasons whereas okay so someone was in the hospital and thankfully I was able to work with a client. I say, okay I need an extra 12 hours but I will get this to you as soon as possible. And I never take advantage of anyone’s flexibility but it is also part of extending grace to yourself is being willing to ask for help when possible. And so for example, this one client, I’ve worked with him for years so he knows that I am not asking him just because, like something is happening. I think it is also being willing to accept that sometimes you can’t do everything and most times if it truly is an emergency that they are willing to give you those couple extra hours just so that you can produce a good work product because you don’t want to rush through something and not give them something that is good enough to use. So it is definitely kind of figuring out how much you can kind of give and take in different areas of life and definitely just extending grace to yourself because you can’t be 100% on all the time.
Jack: And if you are working with other people establishing that trust and relationship that they know you can give them what they need if you get a little bit extra as opposed to, oh I just don’t feel like doing this so I’m going to tell them under the weather.
Hannah: Exactly yeah, and like you need to definitely have… Once they know that you do have integrity and that you’re not just saying this like don’t do it in the first six months of the contract unless you really have to. But once they get to know you more and once you keep producing consistent good work for them and you deliver everything on time then they are willing to extend that little bit of extra grace and then if you give them… Like for example if something happens and you have a piece do the next day, tell them today not tomorrow when the piece is do. So you definitely want to work with them as much as possible and never like take advantage of that. But if you do need to use it then when you work with good people then they’ll be understanding and they’ll be willing to give you some grace for that.
Jack: So on the flip side of that of giving yourself grace you also have to commit to yourself to get stuff done.
Hannah: Yes, I love that, definitely.
Jack: Tell me about your methods for that.
Hannah: Yes. I’m actually talking about this in the podcast episode in my next podcast episode about I was going through a period of burn out with my show. I’ve been doing it weekly for over a year and to a certain point like you do have to commit to just putting those episodes out. You need to be ready to go and you need to kind of force yourself to work at some points and sometimes you do need to extend the grace. But since we are talking about more of the forcing side of things I think it is remembering why you started is a really big thing because even if you love your work there are going to be moments where you don’t like what you are doing. There’s always going to be invoices, or emails, or a specific topic you don’t really like working on. But if you are able to remember that reason why you started this project in the first place that’s going to give you some more kind of creative umph to get through it. And then another thing is just using a little bit of psychology of saying, okay if I write this for 20 minutes then I can go get some coffee, or I can have some chocolate, or something like that, or I can go for a walk and just really kind of learning how your mind works in order to optimize your performance.
Jack: You know, it is interesting and I hate to sound high and mighty on this but that’s just something I’ve never dealt with. I sit down for half hour a night. I try to do it every night but sometimes it is just only five nights a week and do something creative.
Hannah: I love that consistency. That’s awesome.
Jack: Usually it is writing but also I count the podcast stuff as that so recording and editing and all that. I’ve never had to deal with kind of these motivational issues. I don’t know. I guess I’m just better than everyone else.
Hannah: I think it definitely depends on what you’re working on I think. And also like once you do something long enough I think there will likely be time where you don’t necessarily feel motivated. I mean obviously it is different for everyone. I know that I’ve had, I mean for almost an entire year I was fully motivated to do the podcast and then I just did start getting a little burnt out. So it is just recognizing that and then again like sometimes you just have to force yourself to work because your brain or your mind wouldn’t always want to focus on it and it will want to watch Netflix or scroll through Instagram which is my…
Jack: Drug of choice.
Hannah: Drug of choice, yes. But, yeah, and so like a certain point you just have to force yourself to do it a little bit.
Jack: Let’s be real here. Sometimes my half hour is spent staring at the keyboard. But my god I was in that chair.
Hannah: Hey, you were there. That’s the thing. I usually try to set a timer and then I won’t pick up my phone for that 20 minutes and then I’ll reward myself with a little bit. So Brian Koppelman who is the co-creator of the show Billions, he rewards himself, I think that he said 5-10 minutes of Twitter for every page of dialogue he writes and so he’s like, okay I’ll write a page I can go on Twitter for a little bit, write a page, go on Twitter a little bit. So like he know that’s how his mind works and how he has to reward himself, so I am of for the rewarding if you need it. Maybe not to train your brain too much but I think there is something to be said for that.
Jack: Whatever it takes.
Hannah: Exactly, just got to create.
Jack: Let’s talk about what I gather is your passion which is defining success.
Hannah: Yes. It is an interesting one for sure.
Jack: What is success for you?
Hannah: Success for me is to continue helping people using my gifts whatever. I’m going to help them learn to use their gifts to then serve others in their communities.
Jack: How did you wind up on that? That’s not anything. That’s not a billion dollars in my bank account, fans fondling all over me.
Hannah: Well, I’m an introvert so I don’t like being the center of attention. I think it really comes from the more read about the enneagram, I’m a Type 2 which is the Helper, and so I think while there’s also negative components of being a Type 2, the benefit is that like whenever my gut reaction if someone asks me what I want to do with my life is I just want to help people, so for some that’s running ads, for some that’s sharing my creative circles on a podcast. So as long as I can do that and if some awareness about me ends up coming then that’s great and then that gives me a wider platform to be able to share. But, I mean, even my 2,200 followers on Instagram like that’s still 2,200 potential people that I could connect with and encourage. So I think for me personally it’s definitely more of helping people and I do have goals and I do have things that I want to complete in my career. But as long as I am helping people and sharing my story and helping them learn to be more creative then that would be success for me.
Jack: Tell me about a time when something happened that you said, yes this is working.
Hannah: With my version of success I went to a conference in Nashville, it is called Craft Content Nashville. I’d helped with it for a couple of years when I live there and then I went back to speak, and so I spoke on the creative industries identity crisis. I’m a fairly, I spoke in a couple of conferences but I don’t consider myself very experienced by any means. So while it wasn’t a perfect session I had the opportunity to really facilitate a conversation on the second half of it with just a bunch of people in the room and just really like I sat back a little bit and left them talk. And like I almost start getting emotional just like this is what I want to do. This is a successful session if people were able to talk about their creativity, their doubts, their fears and how they can re-align their identity as someone who is inherently creative instead someone who is worth is based on their work. And so after that session I just like all the endorphins, and adrenaline, and everything were going and I was like this is that I want to keep doing. And so through that I’ve kept the podcast going, I’ve continue to write more, looking at other conferences that I could potentially speak at and so just really taking that moment and then using it along the line.
Jack: That’s interesting speaking at conferences. How do you get involved in that? Were you invited or did you seek them out and say, “Hey, I would be a good speaker.”
Hannah: So for one of them I was invited, and then that particular event Craft Content Nashville, it is a very community driven so it is a great opportunity for newer speakers to just kind of work on their skills and establish an audience and then establish like a speaking resume so if they can say, “Okay, I spoke here. This is an established event. There were couple of hundred people there.” That type of thing and so for that you pitch an idea and so there were enough slots available that I think that everyone who pitch got a spot. And so I definitely kind of was fortunate in that sense but otherwise you can pitch to start an event in certain conferences. They’ll have like a request for proposals open, and it really does just kind of vary if you have a pretty good online presence and again know the right people. There is a benefit to like you must just be asked. That’s how it happened with that first conference. Yeah, it really is just a combination. I say just try to seek out opportunities not just speaking but for example being on podcasts or I’m just really sharing on Instagram, Twitter, whatever your chosen platform is and then just definitely just asking, pitching and continuing to pitch even though it might not be successful at first.
Jack: That is something I’ve been thinking about pushing Jennifer into because she really does have like this building a great success story.
Hannah: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Jack: Someone who got a second hand camera from the world’s greatest husband and turned it into virgining birth into a blossoming career. There is a b word that is perfect in there. If you give me a few minutes I’ll figure it out. I know that speaking gigs are big methods for establishing credibility and getting a name out there depending what you are trying to accomplish that may be important.
Hannah: Yeah, definitely. I mean, especially, you guys are in Atlanta, correct?
Hannah: Okay, yes, there’s definitely like a really thriving meet up community there. The ones that I know of are more in kind of like the developers space like software development. But there are also some like just writing in content type ones so definitely like it’s just getting out there and meeting people and then those people it really is who you know to a certain extent.
Jack: So you guys work every day, you do a podcast, you write. What do you do when you just don’t want to do any of it anymore?
Hannah: Yes. Well, someone ask me about my hobbies this week and I was like, “Well, it is my podcast.” And she said, “No, you need something that’s not anything career related.” So for me I mean I definitely enjoy being outside, I like hiking, I run, I explore trails in Southern California. I explore coffee shops. I consider coffee one of my hobbies and then I also, I mean, I do admit I love a good Netflix bench. So I sound really productive and I am productive but I definitely do have, I try to take at least one full day off a week so that will be a friend time, it will be going for a long hike, it will be watching some Netflix, it will be cooking dinner, so it’s really just making sure that you do have that time to set away.
Jack: Are you able to do that every week?
Hannah: I try to, yeah, sometimes I end up doing maybe like an hour or two of work on that one day off and so it is not completely off. But it also kind of depends on the season like I’m heading into a busier season right now so it’s going to be a little bit harder to get that full day off but I always try to at least see a friend, or go for a walk, or something just to get away from all the work.
Jack: More power to you.
Hannah: I’m not always good at this. I’m a recovering workaholic for sure.
Jack: Thank you for joining this week, Hannah. We’re going to talk to you again next week about some of your best advice, but until then why don’t you tell people where they can find you.
Hannah: Yes. Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been great. You can find my podcast Candidly Caffeinated by Hannah Moyer on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and then also you can find me on Twitter or Instagram @hjmoyer, that’s M-O-Y-E-R.
Jack: Have a good week or definitely not just going to press pause and continue right unto this…
Hannah: Not at all.
Jack: Until then. Everybody remember to take time out of your day and get to art. Thank you for listening.