Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about.
You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co. Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live, this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
June 2020 features Paula Melissa
Paula Melissa is a digital content creator, running a blog, YouTube channel and podcast. For her day job, she is an assistant producer at a Digital Learning company based in Sheffield. As well as this, Paula also runs a few side businesses including photography, speaking, running a brunch bible study. She’s recently been quite interested in helping people with their CVs, LinkedIn and giving out career-related advice specifically targeted at early career folks!
Listening to Paula introduce herself during our live conversation made me laugh because as a content creator myself, it is sometimes quite difficult to introduce myself! Multi-hyphenated folks can probably also relate. 😂
I was very excited to speak to Paula for Inspiring Figures! We first started following each other on social media then ended up bumping into each other a few times in Sheffield (the first time at which was when I was just about to graduate 🤣)
I find her passion, persistence and charismatic charm so inspiring — she truly puts in the work for every single one of her projects and it shows! I hope that you find her as inspiring as I did during our chat. ✨
Listen to our live conversation
🎬 Becoming a content creator
Paula grew up online. She started quite young on social media, during the time when there weren’t really a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram didn’t even exist! Paula started her blog in 2012, “I was so sure that I had something to share with the world.”
She would document things that happened in her life like what happened at school, day-to-day things and even posts about what she aspired to become. “I always believed that there is greatness [for people]”
Her blog was a safe space for her to share all these thoughts without the judgement of others around her finding her “too much” (I’m sure we can relate!)
Eventually, she ended up loving to create on YouTube. This channel evolved into Paula sharing her stories but also finding passion to share her platform for other voices. This inspired her to study journalism at Sheffield University. Pursuing this degree enabled her to learn how to edit videos, film using professional equipment and use a mic. “I was already doing this in my room anyway, but now I had professional equipment and software!”
During her time in Sheffield, she had the opportunity to also create content for the university, learning about the behind the scenes of marketing communications. This grew her confidence further and opened her eyes to other avenues available to her outside of journalism!
Paula has always been quite a creative person and she shares that even though she didn’t have the means at certain points of her life (e.g. lacking the “proper” equipment) She was determined to still make it work for her and so along the way made use of every opportunity she had to better her creative skills!
How inspiring. ✨
🎓 Being a creator at The University of Sheffield
“This was an experience that I sort of just fell into, but I made the most out of it!” Paula advises that if you ever get the opportunity to get your foot in the door to an industry you’re interested in (even if it’s just a slight interest) then GO FOR IT! “Don’t just leave your foot there, push the whole door. Go in!”
Paula had followed quite a few people from Sheffield. One day, she was contacted by Corporate Comms at the University of Sheffield to get involved with several creative projects over the summer at the university. This included filming videos for the University’s #WeAreInterational Campaign. Paula travelled back to Sheffield from London over the summer to help film the campaign.
“It was a one day shoot, but it was really fun! I remember coming back to London and thinking, ‘That was really fun, I was paid to talk on camera (which is something I already love to do)’ I thought to myself ‘How could I utilise this further?’”
Paula kept in touch with the team and this led to future projects. When she returned to university, there was an opportunity to work in the Corporate Comms team as an intern and because Paula had that contact, she went ahead and applied and got it! Moving around the different teams allowed her to meet some cool people, build up her skills and confidence which she has now brought into other projects.
After Paula finished her placement year, she actually got back in touch with Corporate Comms to see if there were any opportunities available to work in the team again full time over the summer. This led to Paula getting involved in a huge project that is still going on now — where the University of Sheffield were utilising their YouTube channel and building up their presence on it more. As Paula was a very skilled and experienced YouTuber, she was perfect for the role. 🤩 “It was probably the best job I’ve ever had!”
Getting involved with creating content or even scoring internships within the university is a fantastic opportunity for students to earn money whilst they study. Paula (and I) both highly recommend it!
🎨 Other creative projects
As a talented multi-hyphenate, Paula shared a bit more in detail of her other projects which again have been able to feed into the development of her confidence and skills. ✨ One skill that she has learnt the most over the last few years is how to bring her ideas to life without all the necessary “must haves” that a lot of budding creators think that they need.
“If you have this idea, what you need to make it will come and maybe is even already be there!” Bottom line is: you don’t need to have the best equipment to get started.
- An interview series focusing on CHH (Christen Hip Hop) It’s a traditionally very male dominated industry so Paula wanted to speak to women in the space.
- She conducted remote interviews around the world where she recorded them on Facetime on her Mac back on her iPhone. Another great example of how she didn’t have all the resources, but made it work!
- Bible study and brunch based in Sheffield, with a branch in Liverpool – hopefully coming soon in other cities too!
- Bringing people together in different cities to gather and read the bible, build friendships and get to know each other.
- The community spread through social media and during the COVID19 pandemic, they’re regularly catching up over Zoom.
Helping early careers folks with their CV, LinkedIn and more!
- This is one of Paula’s paid services but she’s currently doing them for free during the COVID19 pandemic.
- All of the skills and experience she picked up over time especially from her placement year in Digital Recruitment at the Body Shop really helped her get this up and running.
- Paula works with juniors to help them build their CV, LinkedIn, confidence at interviews and making the most out of networking events.
Paula also does photography services – something I’ve signed up for but grr… Corona. 😂
✨ Advice for first time creators
“If you’re proud of what you’re putting out there, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of other people seeing it.” You should enjoy the content that you create.
We both understand how difficult this is sometimes especially when you start, but Paula and I discussed on the live chat about how this is something that definitely grows over time. For now, keep that in mind! 😉
Nowadays, there’s no better time to create content and just get started. Paula shared how because she was growing up online, and there weren’t many resources or “templates” to follow, more mistakes could have been made. Although she doesn’t censor herself, Paula has been more careful and mindful of how she writes content ensuring that it doesn’t bite her later on. I personally had the same experience as someone who started so young! Today, there’s a bit more guidance which can mean it is the best time to start!
Ignoring the haters. This is probably talked about way too much when you’re a creator, but it’s so true. Paula shares that sometimes you just have to mind your own business, so if someone doesn’t like your content then let them. It’s not your problem that they didn’t enjoy it, as long as you enjoyed it and are proud of what you do – keep it going!
This is sometimes easier said than done but is something that is developed over time. “This is why it’s important that people around you show you this positive affirmation.” THIS. Share your fellow creators stuff, engage with their content – it can make such a huge impact on their confidence. 😊
💼 The fine balance of full-time work and creative pursuits
This is a question that I love asking fellow creators, I have my own methods but I’m always curious about other people’s way of doing things too!
“I don’t just wait around and wait for things to happen. I’ve always been this way since I was always working part-time and studying full-time back at University. I had to learn how to be wise with my time!”
Paula shares that she’s a very disciplined person. And so she usually blocks out her time, including rest time to make sure that she has time for everything that she wants to accomplish. This includes calls, a focus hour on a project/task, an hour to relax.
“I like to tell myself that ‘if I do this thing in one hour, you have two hours to chill, so don’t waste this hour Paula. Don’t waste it.’” 😂
If you’re a disciplined person anything is possible.
⚡️ 2020 Vision
“Is my year over?”
This was a question a lot of us asked when the global pandemic hit. Paula positively shared that even though there’s been a lot that has gone on recently, it’s all been a blessing in disguise. She’s been able to create fantastic content, been productive, has had time to reflect and even start learning Spanish! 🇪🇸
“I’m an optimistic person. I truly believe that things happen for a reason. Even when things are really bad, you can get a lot of good out of them.”
“This year is still a year of growth for me. Because I started out online so young, I think I often forget how I still have lots of time. I don’t need to have it all figured out right now! I need to remind myself sometimes that you’re allowed to enjoy the process. I want to build on what I’ve done before, and get better!”