If you meet Hannah on social media, you will quickly be consumed in her stories and photos, always a blend of beautiful scenic vistas and plenty of inspiration. When you meet Hannah in person, the experience is the same. Her big smile instantly gives you the welcome warmth of someone you feel you have known your whole life, and her laugh makes her stories even more enthralling.
Hannah's story is one most of us have dreamed about: Start a blog, quit our ‘job’, travel the world. She has combined her skills and passion for photography with her love of travel and has nailed the ability to tell a story that is gripping and inspiring.
As we often learn, Hannah shows us that coming home can also be as fulfilling as traveling the world, and after five years of living abroad, Hannah has returned to Maine for the foreseeable future. We are thrilled to have Hannah share her skills with Mindwell's clients, from brand photography to social media content writing. Her skills in story-telling have proven successful through her personal business and now she will help to uplevel our ability to tell your story.
MW: You have an interesting story about how you became a social media influencer, tell us how that happened.
HR: I started working in public relations shortly after college and soon discovered I was “missing” something in this newfound adulthood, so, as we millennial's do, I started a blog. I kept things local, shared personal style tips, and skin care routines.
Things really changed for me in December 2015 when I entered an Instagram contest held by Lesley Anne Murphy, who was once on the Bachelor and had become a main source of wanderlust for me from her travel blog. The prompt for the contest was: “What’s on your Asia travel bucket list for 2016? Find Asian influences in your area or from your travels. Share destinations that inspire and motivate you to seek out new cultures, cuisines, and adventure.” The reward, if chosen, was a trip to Asia with Lesley Anne Murphy.
I had never entered anything like that, and to be honest, I had never really been overly vulnerable about sharing on Instagram. Since I had never been out of the country, I pulled all my inspiration for the contest locally. I told my visual story with posts from Asia West, which I always envisioned to be similar to the markets in Thailand and Bali.
I ended up being chosen and we met in May 2016 at Boston Logan International Airport before boarding our direct flight to Hong Kong. We were fast friends (thankfully). We ended up spending 4 days in Hong Kong and then on to Thailand for 10 days. I still can't believe that story, even having lived through it.
After our first trip to Asia, we returned and went to Bali. I haven't stopped traveling since!
MW: That is an amazing story, what inspires you to continue to share your story on social media?
HR: Sometimes when I put my thoughts out into the world, it's scary. But when one person messages me or comments on a photo telling me they've discovered something within themselves from my words or photos, it's fuel to the fire. It keeps me going, it makes me want to keep creating, it makes me want to keep sharing. If I can inspire someone to get outside, explore, or take a leap, every hardship is worth it.
MW: What drives you crazy about social media?
HR: This 'need' to gain more followers. I've always thought, quality over quantity. Having a small, dedicated following that interacts with your content is more important than having 500,000 followers with little engagement and interaction with your content. Create artfully and the rest will fall into place.
MW: You have an obvious love of travel, but where did that come from? And, what have been some of your biggest lessons that you have learned through travel?
HR: I think I was born this way? Ever since I was a child I remember dreaming of far off places, namely Machu Picchu.
My biggest lesson from traveling has been my sense of independence! Shortly after Bali, I quit my full time job in public relations and entered the freelance world. This forced me to become self reliant and go after what I want. (What I want to write here: THAT I DON'T NEED NO MAN ;))
MW: The pictures you take are incredible and inspiring, how did you learn about photography? And who takes all of the dreamy photos of you when you are traveling solo?
HR: My mom was always taking photos of landscapes, animals, and me. I watched the way she used her camera, what angles she would shoot from and where she sourced inspiration.
When I’m traveling, it depends! Sometimes a stranger, sometimes a tripod or someone else I met along the way that I might be traveling with.
MW: You have managed to secure the dream job - traveling for a living. Tell us about how you have managed to combine your love of travel and photography into your full-time job?
HR: Some of my favorite work is creating content for states and other countries. It's an honor to be selected to share my version of that place, my creative eye and my stories. Some tourism boards I've worked with are Visit Boulder, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, and Visit India.
MW: It’s been almost 10 years since you started your first blog and you are currently in the process of a rebrand yourself, what made you decide to rebrand? And, what are some of the biggest things you have learned from this decision?
HR: Honestly, I’ve outgrown the original version of my business. It’s been a natural evolution, one that I didn’t see happening in real time. But reflecting on that, I can see all of the pivotal moments that directed me to a rebranding. I will always love my first business, my first blog, for everything it has brought me. But I’m not the same person I was when I started it and my brand should reflect who I am, now.
I’ve learned two things. 1. It is a process and your initial thought for what it would look like in the beginning will evolve. And it will continue to evolve even after launch. That’s okay! 2. It’s totally normal to rebrand and outgrow versions of your business! It’s all part of the process of delivering your message to the right audience.
MW: How would you advise a business to grow their social media following?
Create engaging, thoughtfully, and artfully curated content. Provide value to your audience and engage with them.
Ready to work with Hannah and the rest of the Mindwell team? Reach out! In the meantime, be sure to visit her (new) website, listen to her podcast, and follow her on Instagram.
I am a marketing professional with a passion for wellness and community.