Ask Me Anything with Hannah Schmitt: A Slack Conversation

This week Hannah Schmitt, editor for MetroFamily Magazine and creator of storiesandwork.com, talks to our Slack community about what inspires her, her plans to engage the creative community, and what makes her writing stand out.

Hannah’s full-time job and side gig both help her to contribute back to Oklahoma City in meaningful ways.  The MetroFamily Magazine connects local families to the community through the sharing family-friendly events and news. Hannah also brings inspiration to the creative community through the stories of innovative women in her passion project: storiesandwork.com.

Still wondering what an Ask Me Anything is? It’s an accessible Reddit format, where an expert who’s has something figured out, or took on a successful project, introduces themselves and what they’ve been working on and openly answers questions for an hour. We are adopting this format to our slack team, where threaded questions and answers work great for the conversation.

Check out what insights Hannah has to share and be sure to join our creative community on Slack to ask your questions of our professionals anytime.

 

 

Intro

 

 

 Hannah Schmitt:

Hi, I’m Hannah Schmitt. I’m a freelance writer and editor. Most of my time right now is spent as the editor of MetroFamily Magazine, a regional family publication focused on fun things to do with kids in Oklahoma City.

About MetroFamily:
The magazine is free, distributes 33,000 copies throughout the OKC metro area each month and has just a handful of full-time employees. Everyone works remotely and I work with a pool of about 10 freelance writers, photographers and illustrators who contribute to our magazine and site. I’m a big proponent for working remotely (although not everyone has the personality for it) and I strongly believe that flexibility at the workplace lends to the most productive employees. My team has won more industry awards every year since I started in 2014 and increased monthly pageviews to the magazine’s website by more than 200 percent.

About my side gig(s):
MetroFamily pays the bills but my passion project is storiesandwork.com, where I publish weekly interviews with local women I admire to celebrate and motivate women in creative fields. One thing I immediately realized I loved about journalism was the opportunity it gave me to learn from other people. Storiesandwork.com gave me an excuse to pick other people’s brains and tell everyone else what I learned, too.

Another side project I’m just getting started with is hosting CreativeMornings in Oklahoma City. It’s a monthly breakfast lecture series and I see it as one more avenue to help the creative community connect. Hit me up if you want to volunteer to help put together this awesome gathering of locals!

I don’t consider myself an expert in any one area, but I have learned a lot from other people and I love to share those lessons.

Things I can talk about:

  • How valuable your web content is to your brand and business
  • Making a career switch
  • Working remotely/flexible work environment
  • Working with freelancers

 

 

Q&A:

 

 

Clint Williams Clint Williams:

?@Hannah Schmitt

 

 

 Tiffany Lea:

Curious why you decided to make the switch from profiling entrepreneurs to focusing on women at Stories & Work. It looks like you just made the switch a year ago, or so?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@the_tiffanylea Yes, it was around the beginning of the year. I had a baby last September and took quite a bit of time off. When I got back into it in January, I was really hungry to know more specifically how women manage to balance work and home. I figured I couldn’t be the only person curious about that. Plus I just felt it was a good time to show even more support than usual to working women.

 

 

 Emily Smart: 

Was the remote / flexible environment already established when you joined MetroFamily? What is the greatest success / awesome thing you’ve seen happen from that style of working and what is your worst horror story from that style?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@emilysmart Yes, everyone on staff was already working remotely when I joined and that was one of the things that attracted me to the job. The greatest thing about it I think is that most on staff are moms and they get to spend extra time with their kids. At a family magazine, it can be really helpful obviously to hear from other moms at school functions or after-school activities. Those experiences wouldn’t happen if we worked in a traditional environment. So everyone’s kind of always working. ? The worst thing about it is that you always feel unprofessional if you’re on a call with the dog barking or the baby crying in the background.

 

 

 Elle Mann:

So basically all of the things you listed that you can talk about are things I want to talk about! ? Let’s start with career switch

what was your specific switch and why’d you make it?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@ellemann Glad you’re interested! I was working as a reporter for a daily newspaper before I moved to Oklahoma. Switching from writer to editor was a big jump and I felt grateful the publisher at MetroFamily took such a big risk in hiring someone so green to take on such a big role. I made the switch because I was reporting hard news and it was very demanding. Reporting on murders and structure fires and crime just gets to be a grind after awhile. It was exciting but I’m happy to be working more on features/light stuff.

 

 

 Sandip:

Hi @Hannah Schmitt ? Do you need any help with Creative Mornings? Excited to see this finally happening in OKC, great job!

 Hannah Schmitt:

@Sandip Of course I need tons of help with CreativeMornings! I’m still working on hammering out details for the first event but once I get the ball rolling I will need lots of help. Please let me know what you’d like to help with!

 Sandip:

Love to help in whatever capacity you could use Hannah. You’ve already got a good email for me, so just let me know when you’re ready to talk more about that! Thanks!

 

 

 Elle Mann:

Ahh – yes. So, how did you market yourself to potential employers and explain why you were switching?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@ellemann A little luck and honestly just trying to come across as confident as possible in my abilities. I didn’t feel capable at all to be an editor when I interviewed for the job. But I knew I was willing to learn anything so I just made sure the publisher knew I was eager. I really believe that just being bold and asking for what you want is the most important step. I know that’s not really very helpful!

 Elle Mann:

No, that is helpful! Thanks! ?

 

 

 Tiffany Lea:

If you had to pick, which three of the profiles you’ve done are your favorites, either because they as a group represent what you want Stories & Work to be or because you vibed with the person or liked specific answers, etc? Like, if someone is dipping a toe in your website, these three are the ones they should read first.

 Hannah Schmitt:

@the_tiffanylea That’s such a tough question because I love them all for different reasons! But three that really stand out to me are: Kathleen Shannon, Natalie Kent and Erin Cooper. But Ashley Whiteside and Julie DeWalt are definitely up there too!

 

 

 

 Tiffany Lea:

How do you get people to open up in interviews? Are there any “tried and true” questions that are your go-to? Or is there a specific strategy you’ve built to get authentic stories from people?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@the_tiffanylea The interviews I do at MetroFamily are all in person but because Stories & Work is a side gig they’re all email based. It is so much easier to get people to open up in person! It’s tough for people to write about themselves but talking is natural. But I will say if you ask a variety of questions someone always finds one they want to open up about. My favorite question to ask with the email-based interview is about their best and worst job. It’s so eye-opening to hear what people were doing before they found their real calling.

 

 

 Cara Bell:

How could someone replicate a project like Stories and Work and be successful, but with their own topic of interest?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@carabell_okc That’s a great question. I think anything you do has to start with a personal interest. You can start a website about fidget spinners and make it successful if you care enough about the content. What I do at Stories & Work is not totally unique. Women share their stories and tips all over the web. But I was meeting a lot of cool women locally and they didn’t really have a space to tell their stories and read about how other women find success. So biggest tips: niche it down to something really specific, make sure you have a personal passion for the content and be consistent.

 Emily Smart:

Totally see this. I feel like (to cite Kathleen here) Stories & Work could totally feel like a copy cat of the content Being Boss is putting out, but it doesn’t. It feels absolutely unique and authentic on its own.

 Cara Bell:

10/10 would read 100 hours of fidget spinner content

 

 

 Elle Mann:

What tips do you have for non-writers (designers or developers) who are creating content for their online presence?

Dodzidenu Dzakuma: 

Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. However, writing skills are a prerequisite for self promotion on the internet. Aside from creative writing classes, what options do individuals in Oklahoma have for improving their writing skills or getting writing coaching? @ellemann @Hannah Schmitt

 Elle Mann:

High five!

 Hannah Schmitt:

@ellemann and @Dodzi It’s so true that writing doesn’t come naturally for everyone but it’s so important to have content online that helps tell your story to customers or clients. Skillshare is a great online resources with lots of classes, but I don’t know of a specific local resource for writing coaching. My best advice for someone wanting to make sure their content is really sharp online is to hire a professional. It’s a really important investment for your business.

 

 

 Tiffany Lea:

Where did you live before Oklahoma? How is the community different here, in good or bad ways?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@the_tiffanylea I was living in Abilene Texas before I moved to OKC. It’s a smaller city so it was difficult to connect with other people in my field unless I worked directly with them. I think Oklahoma City is the perfect size and everyone seems extremely collaborative and supportive of each other.

 

 

 Cara Bell:

How have other women’s viewpoints changed your own? Any specific examples?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@carabell_okc Too many times to count! Most recently, Julie DeWalt said “actions express priorities” and I’ve been repeating that to myself almost daily ever since. Heather Paul totally changed the way I think about competition. Jessi Murray opening up about failure changed the way I see my own. Maggie Murdock Nichols reminded me to have more grace with myself. One specific thing that comes to mind is a part of an old interview with Michelle Briggs where she mentions that her business got off the ground slower than she expected. She’s not the first person to say that and it’s encouraging to know other people have failures and struggles, too.

 Cara Bell:

now I’m curious to go read! Your answer is ?

 

 

 Stephen Bell:

How do you keep your writing authentic to who you are when so much internet-based writing is very commercially driven?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@stephenjbell That’s a fantastic question. One reason I haven’t monetized anything with Stories & Work is that I’m afraid once I start focusing too much on keywords and SEO for sales that the voice will totally get lost. I’ve seen that happen at the magazine at times because things are so commercially driven with a website that large. I think the best thing you can do is just remember to keep writing for people. It might take longer for the people to show up if you’re not focused on SEO, but they will show up.

Clint Williams Clint Williams:

I love that – “keep writing for people.”

 

 

Clint Williams Clint Williams:

What inspired you to bring Creative Mornings to OKC?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@clintwilliams I so enjoy “meeting” people online with Stories & Work that I wanted an excuse to meet more of them face-to-face. I mentioned in my application video that I believe relational equity is one of the most important and often overlooked things in business. I’m sure everyone has a story of a time they made professional strides at an event or gathering outside of work and I wanted one more chance to do that in OKC.

 

 

 Michael Lane:

“I believe relational equity is one of the most important and often overlooked things in business.” ——- PREACH! Totally agree!

 

 

 Tiffany Lea:

This might be weird, but what’s your favorite word?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@the_tiffanylea That’s tough but my husband would say it’s “phenomenon” because I say it way too often. Just something about it!

 

 

 Clint Walkingstick:

What’s next for Hannah (besides Creative Mornings ;))? Which side project takes up the most time?

 Hannah Schmitt:

@clintprint I want to continue interviewing compelling locals for Stories & Work. I’d also love to break into more content creation for small businesses and nonprofits.

 Cara Bell:

I was going to ask if you freelanced edited – but writing/strategy too?

 Hannah Schmitt:

Yes all of it!

 Emily Smart:

Here for that nonprofit assistance ? lol

 Hannah Schmitt:

@clintprint So far CreativeMornings has definitely taken up a lot more time than I thought it would. It’s taken even more time than Stories & Work. But I’m confident I’ll find some great volunteers to help share the load and that it will get lighter over time.

Thank you all so much for your great questions! Had a great time answering them.

 

 

 Cara Bell:

@Hannah Schmitt Thanks for letting us ask!

If we wanted to get in touch, what’s the best way to do that?

 Hannah Schmitt:

Feel free to email at hannahschmitt3@gmail.com

 

 

Next time:

If you want to listen in to find out when the next AMA is scheduled, or ask your own questions, get your slack invite here: dsndevokc.com/join-our-slack

Who would you like featured for our next AMA?

 

by
Jenn is a social media and content marketer with a deep love of pumpkin-flavored everything and weekend naps. Currently an online web design student at Francis Tuttle, Jenn plans to make her mark on the digital world with mad coding and marketing skills. With over 13 years’ experience in digital marketing, she’s been in the game since the chat room days. When Jenn is not writing content for Steed Interactive or Red River Roofing, you can find her checking out the newest local eatery or sipping on tea at Urban Teahouse.

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