Hannah Witton is an award-winning online creator and author, with her videos attracting 100 million views and over 700k subscribers to her official YouTube channel.
She is regarded as one of the UK’s leading voices covering a range of topics including sex, relationships, feminism, body image, gender, sexuality, and parenting.
‘Doing It Podcast’ is Hannah’s successful podcast series which has over 2 million downloads to date.
Hannah’s debut internationally selling book, ‘Doing It’ sold over 20,000 copies in its first year alone. ‘Doing It’ book candidly explores topics such as masturbation and puberty, slut shaming and consent, as well as, how to maintain healthy relationships in a digital age. Hannah’s second book ‘The Hormone Diaries’ comes off the back of her successful YouTube series of the same name.
Hannah’s awards include ‘Best Sex and Relationships Influencer’ at the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards and named Top 100 in ‘The Sunday Times Influencers List’.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
It was part accident but also part sheer determination. I’d started making YouTube videos as a hobby when I was 19 and after a few years it had started to grow into something. After I graduated university was when I really started to take it seriously, making plans and coming up with different projects and series so I could work on this full time.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
When I was just starting out on YouTube for fun I also watched a lot of content, and at the same time I was learning a lot of things about sexuality and relationships and getting more and more passionate about the topic and also angry and frustrated that I hadn’t been taught any of this in school. I noticed that no-one was making sex education videos on YouTube in the UK and I wanted to be that person. It’s a subject not a lot of people are comfortable talking about but for some reason I am and I wanted to help people.
How did you achieve awareness?
I’ve heard it being said that to get people to notice you, you should either be the best or the first. I don’t know about the best but I was definitely one of the first UK YouTubers talking about sex online. Of course that helped with awareness because I was doing something different but it was also something that people wanted, needed and were seeking out because they didn’t feel like they could go anywhere else for the information and support I was providing.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
There’s many different revenue streams and ways to fund online video content. The main ones being through advertising – so the ads that pop up on YouTube videos; direct brand collaborations and sponsorships, mostly within the sexual wellness and lifestyle industries; and fan-funding through Patreon (which is hugely important to me in the work I do with my community).
What are the key successes?
I look at success in a few different ways. The first is the thousands of people who watch and engage with my content which has helped them, taught them something new or brought joy to their day in some way. The impact that what I make has had on people is something that I am hugely proud of and grateful for. Another huge success is that I am still here. In this new, exciting and ever-changing landscape of online videos and social media, not only am I still here after 12 years (which is a long time for a YouTube career!) but I have built a business, a team and a community.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
It’s often the same challenges cropping up again and again. When platforms change their policies (especially when it comes to sex ed content!) or when they change their algorithms or focus (I’m looking at you, Instagram, becoming a video-first platform and then making a u-turn!), it can feel really difficult to keep on top of what’s happening. Never mind jumping on new trends, sometimes just staying afloat on platforms is difficult enough. I’ve found over the years that it really helps me to hone in on what my strengths are, what I enjoy doing and what my priorities are in terms of the wider business and creative goals. That helps me to focus on what is important or not, as it can often feel like you have to do everything and be on every platform all of the time.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Right now I’m in a bit of a new phase. Since having my baby, taking some time off and coming back to work part time there’s been some ironing out of processes, asking for help and trying to find the spark again. But I feel in a really good place now my baby is 10 months old and I feel a lot more free with experimenting with content again like I did when I was first starting out, being more ambitious and just having fun with it and seeing what resonates with people.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
I feel like my journey has been a bit unconventional as it has been a constant stream of making it up as I go along but also being really intentional (I love planning and setting goals!). In the industry that I’m in, especially for as long as I’ve been doing it, there are not that many people who are just a few steps ahead of me who I can look to for guidance in terms of what I should be doing next. What’s the next move? What have other people in my position done before me? I don’t know because they don’t really exist! But the thing that has really helped me and led to success over the years is finding people at the same stage as me. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be lonely and so finding your own way to make friends, colleagues and collaborators is so useful.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Leena Norms for her honesty and community building prowess, Ruby Rare for her curiosity and passion for sex education, Nadia Odunayo for her incredible work building The StoryGraph, Alok Vaid-Menon for challenging social norms in a celebratory and kind way, and my mum for making a big impact and positive change in her local community and not needing to shout about it on social media
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
I adapted a famous quote which I try to live by: work hard, play hard, rest hard.
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