Paula Melissa – the digital content creator who started a creative digital agency in 2020

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?
Instagram: @paulamelissaxx
Twitter: @paulamelissaxx
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1G380Q2ey30bOdtPWTtRYQ
Blog: https://paulamelissa.com/
Company: https://paulamelissaco.com/

Written by: Claudia, founder of Space2Uplift

Follow us on Instagram – @space2uplift

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Tomike – the owner of @yungtomtom, one of the UK’s hottest banter pages

You might know her from her well-known monthly hashtags such as #SarcasticSeptember, #OutrageousOctober, #NoisyNovember, and #DeafeningDecember. Her experience navigating the UK creative industry is certainly one of unique nature. This is the story of Tomike, owner of instagram’s top UK banter page, @yungtomtom. 

From a young age Tomike has always been shy. But this soon escalated into severe social anxiety. This sparked an urge to form connections with other people, hence Tomike decided to open a twitter account weeks before her 12th birthday. This opened up a new door for her as she claims that “I was finally able to relate to people without the fear of judgement.” To get a feel of the era, during this time Tomike was a Drake fan and it was when fans would refer to themselves as #TeamDrizzy and #OVOFam. Tomike soon joined another rising social media platform – Instagram. Here she would post anything that she found funny on twitter. Starting off as a hobby this soon became a lifestyle. According to Tomike “Yungtomtom was (and always will be) my main account”. However she does own 4 active instagram accounts showcasing differing aspects of creativeness such as her writing, all with the common purpose of glorifying the goodness of God. 

Fun fact: If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of @yungtomtom’s account you will find selfies of Tomike’s 12th birthday to when she was 13! 

Tomike was running her account full-time whilst studying a degree at university. Maintaining a side hustle and simultaneously attending university can be extremely tough at times. Despite these pre-existing beliefs Tomike did not find it tough balancing her social media presence with university. Studying psychology at her university was not so demanding which limited her sense of discipline regarding her studies. In first year, at the age of 18 Tomike reached 30K followers, after this point there was a drastic increase in her work rate. Despite her success, Tomike was faced with many challenges such as battling the desire to live up to her audience’s expectations of her. As her banter page grew in status, the more Tomike felt as though she needed to put on a certain facade which stunted her personal development. 

Some creatives choose to study a course that will enhance their skills within their desired sector. As Tomike studied psychology I was interested as to whether her course helped her pursue her current career path. Whilst she certainly does not believe that university was a complete waste of time, it did minimise her productivity in terms of her future such as building multiple streams of income. Nevertheless in her final year she fell in love with psychoanalysis. Tomike stated “I’m a lover of all things cryptic so I became fascinated with the concept of the subconscious.” This not only helped her understand herself better but also sparked a desire to become a qualified therapist in the near future. This is due to her belief that “a lot of the mental health issues that people suffer from are due to unresolved trauma that has seeped into the conscious after years of suppression.” 

When it comes to very popular social media presences, one often wonders whether the rate at which the growth occurred had an effect on the owner’s motivation. Initially @yungtomtom was merely a hobby and hence was treated as such – “I nurtured it like it was a newborn baby which built a firm foundation for future interactions”. When Tomike reached 100,000 followers she decided to give back to those who had helped her along the way through free promos and giveaways. She regards networking as the root of her success. Although she was discouraged at times when looking at her counterparts who had started after her yet grew at a faster pace, she would constantly remind herself that “it’s bigger than me, it was never for the followers but the long term intentional impact.” 

It is interesting to gain an insight into Tomike’s view on recognition in the UK creative scene given that she is a creative with such a huge following. The most underrated individuals in the world of social media? For Tomike this is mostly the people who work behind the scenes such as graphic designers, artist managers and web developers. She deems people who are at the forefront (eg. artists, influencers, models, content creators) to attract the audience’s recognition much more effectively. She prompts those at the forefront to do better for those in the background and encourages them not to forget their roots – “Well-known creatives in the UK need to start extending the ladder when they get to the top instead of kicking it down. It’s time to erase the crabs in a barrel mentality.” 

What is Tomike’s biggest achievement so far in the creative industry? At the age of 16 she was offered the opportunity to collaborate with Uber in order to increase their exposure in the UK. The creative who gave her the offer had been a follower of @yungtomtom and was working with Uber’s social media team, thus creating an opportunity for her fellow black girl. Also Tomike is always ecstatic when she gets the following messages – “I got my whole family to follow your page” or “wait all my friends already follow you.” It means the world to Tomike that her work has spread across the nation and believes that this is only the beginning. 

For all the fellow creatives eager to know what advice Tomike would give to upcoming creatives in the UK. Here it is:  “Become your own biggest fan first! The way I was (and still am) a shameless self-plug is hilarious to the point it’s been ingrained in me. How can others support what you yourself are ashamed to? It begins with knowing that, regardless of whether someone likes, shares or retweets your content, God’s got you because you have positioned yourself in a way to receive. That gives me a peace that transcends all understanding. Remain consistent despite the odds, it all pays off eventually. The right person will soon reckon with your art.” 

Interested in following Tomike’s journey? 

  • Instagram: @yungtomtom 
  • Other Instagram accounts: @unique.galore @unique.articulation @unique.pantheress
  • Twitter: @uniquegalore 

Written by: Claudia, founder of Space2Uplift

Follow us on Instagram – @space2uplift

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