Starting out in the UK creative industry with minimal experience is not always the easiest of tasks. Her early blog stages, university experience and life post-graduation created the pathway to launching a digital content agency. This is the story of Paula Melissa, a digital content creator who recently launched her new business “Paula Melissa Co”.
In the summer of 2012 after deliberation Paula Melissa started her creative journey. Growing up Paula faced battles of insecurity and her ability to understand herself as a person. Launching a blog on WordPress gave her the opportunity to discuss aspects of her life, in which she refers to her writing as being “too transparent” at times. Her blog served as a space of expression where she had the freedom to voice her thoughts. In the words of Paula, her blog was an “outlet to the world”.
Between 2015 and 2019 Paula studied journalism at the University of Sheffield. There is a common belief that choosing to study a “non-traditional” degree or rather a course that offers limited job vacancies often poses a tough decision. But in Paula’s case she does not regret studying journalism as despite her not being a practising journalist, it granted her with the skills she needed to pursue a career in digital media. The course also immensely grew her confidence. In the words of Paula, “I started in 2015 as a nervous 18 year old and left in the summer of 2019 as a super confident woman.” Studying journalism revealed the value that she brought to the world through her various achievements and the individuals she met. This confirmed her belief that God had placed her exactly where she belonged. Paula perceives her personal growth to have been the most significant during the course of her time at university.
When asked whether studying journalism at Sheffield helped her pursue her career within digital media, Paula positively agreed. Although she already ran a blog and a YouTube channel prior to starting university, her platforms grew much more during her time at university. Her department offered access to high quality, new equipment and she learnt how to professionally film and edit. Further, obtaining a scholarship from the Royal Television Society during her degree meant that she was able to attend exclusive events, meet intriguing people and expand her knowledge of the media industry. Paula deems these opportunities to have “grown and prepared me for where I am today.”
One of Space2Uplift’s aims is to shed light on the stories of UK creatives and recognise talent within the UK creative industry. However this objective stemmed from the belief that UK creatives are not recognised enough. When discussing this topic Paula expressed that some UK creatives get the recognition they deserve but not all. Despite this, she does believe that most of the individuals that have been grinding for years are at the top of their game now, she mentions Patricia Bright who has been posting on YouTube for 10 years as an example. Also Paula speaks on how Munya Chawawa, who also attended the University of Sheffield had been creating comedy sketches online consistently for years, but in 2020 his platform exploded granting him the recognition and support he deserved. All in all, according to Paula not all creatives are getting enough recognition but those who have persevered the most are now getting more recognition within the industry.
As a creative, one often strives to achieve goals. Paula describes her award for runner-up as Young Blogger of the Year at the Premier Digital Awards 2019 as her greatest achievement so far within the creative industry. This experience is described by Paula as an “unexpected blessing”. Additionally, in 2020 reaching a milestone of 1000 subscribers on her YouTube channel is something that Paula is extremely proud of.
In late 2020 Paula launched her very own creative digital agency – “PaulaMelissaCo”. Working full-time and freelancing as a side hustle posed an inevitable hassle concerning taxes. Paula experienced yearly struggles of paying either too little or too much tax due to the uncertainty of her income from freelancing. Hence registering as self-employed seemed much simpler for Paula as it enabled her to clear her taxes a lot easier. Interestingly, a friend of Paula’s advised her to do “Paula Melissa – speaking, writing and content creating” full-time. Initially Paula was a bit anxious to do this given that she believed that she needed to establish herself fully first. However her friend prompted her to start the business. In the end Paula did it as she knew that the ultimate goal within her career is to work for herself full-time, her business launch was “a leap of faith”.
Creatives within the industry have differing paths and experiences, but it is always nice to hear advice from the very individuals who experience both the benefits and struggles of being a creative in the UK. Paula who started her creative journey quite early deems that if she had been consistent throughout the whole duration of her on-going experience she would have probably been more established today. For Paula consistency is key as it is crucial not to compare yourself to others and instead merely focus on your own path to success. While Paula does strongly believe in quality over quantity, she reminds creatives not to let the ‘perfectionist’ mindset stop them from creating. Leaving large gaps between creating slows down the momentum and exercising of all your creative muscles. It is important to find the happy medium between creating things you are proud of and are of quality and having a plan which means you are consistently creating! Paula prompts upcoming creatives to put their content out there despite the inner beliefs that can arise implying that it is not perfect.
She also mentions the importance of networking and making a variety of friends within the industry – those who are smaller, similar and bigger than yourself in terms of traffic. Friends can be useful for encouragement and to simply bounce ideas off. Paula sums up her advice as the following: “Believe in your sauce and don’t compare yourself to other people.”
Interested in following Paula Melissa’s journey?
Written by: Claudia, founder of Space2Uplift
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