International Women’s Week – Celebrating Vamp Collective Women
Profile: Jessica Holsman
Influential Content Creator | Founder of Study with Jess | Vamp Collective Member
Vamp caught up with Jess to chat about her experience in building a strong personal brand, creating engaging content for a YouTube channel and also how Freelance Content Creation can open up opportunities for women that never before existed.
About Study with Jess
Jess’ portfolio is incredibly impressive. At age 26 she already has a Post graduate diploma in Psychology, a YouTube channel with nearly 300k subscribers, an Instagram channel with an engaged audience 35k strong as well as other social media channels. She is a self-starter and started her own businesses selling her own designed stationary line specifically designed to help students get the most out of their studies. She has also recently written a book called The High School Survival Guide.
While studying Psychology it struck her that while she loved the opportunities that Psychology was opening up for her, it didn’t allow her to be as creative as she liked. The idea of a desk job didn’t particularly appeal to her in that she felt she would get more of a sense of purpose by proactively helping people.
“Late one night, I suddenly sat up in bed, as I was overcome by a wave of excitement for a new idea and an exciting venture! After years devoting myself to my studies, it dawned upon me that while the importance of studying is repeatedly enforced throughout a student’s academic journey, how to study effectively is often overlooked. Being the stationery lover that I am, I began sketching and designing a range of templates to motivate students to study and also help them in developing their study skills. These became the first drafts of our products and is how seed.ED Educationery began.”
Shortly after, I created Study With Jess, an educational YouTube channel that helps students around the world study and enjoy learning. My goal was to make studying easier and more accessible, and to be a positive role model for young students everywhere!”
How has using social media helped your business?
A lot of my customers are my viewers. Most of the awareness of seed.ED Educationery has come from my social media. I’ve noticed that if I demonstrate a particular product on my YouTube channel my sales will increase. It’s just a great way to expose a brand.
What I’ve found is my YouTube channel has enabled me to grow my stationary business as well as some other exciting projects. A year ago, based off traction from my YouTube channel, Nickelodeon reached out to organise a collaboration with me. I also signed a book deal with a US based publishing company after they discovered my YouTube channel.
You can purchase Jess’ High School Survival Guide here.
Social media is a fantastic vehicle for driving your followers’ awareness to different things you are working on. It’s like an online portfolio for them to access at any time. For any business it’s an essential medium to be utilising as it helps to build a story, gives a face to your business and allows people to interact more with your brand.
What have you learnt about starting a business?
You really need to be willing to give everything a go and be an independent learner. When I first started I had to actually YouTube “How to use YouTube”! There are so many resources online, you don’t need to spend tens of thousands for a degree in business to start one. There is so much information out there that is free or very cost-effective.
When working to build your YouTube channel, first things first you need to build your subscribers. What I found out pretty quickly was that even if it’s a trending topic it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get all the views right away which can be quite frustrating when you’re impatient to get things going quickly! It’s better not to have unrealistic expectations as it can take at least a year to build the business, and you’ll always be refining the content and the product. You’ve just got to see it through.
I learnt that it’s not worth waiting until it’s perfect to launch, it’s better to just get it out there. When I started I was juggling all of the hats, writing the blog, building the social following and editing all the content. It can be lonely at the start and you find yourself longing for the day when you will be able to justify hiring staff!
But then all of a sudden things will just switch and you’ll get a movement going. And then it’s about crafting your content around what your audience is engaging with. My Youtube channel evolved from purely study tips to now covering all sorts of different topics like lifestyle, healthy eating, organisation, issues around socialising, DIYs to create study space. I’m constantly thinking, how can I make it better, bring in new viewers and cater to my current subscribers?
It’s important to see it through and then look back and realise how much you’ve matured and how much you’ve learnt.
Freelance Content Creation is really opening doors for women of all ages all around the world and giving them the opportunity to create a life that they want, on their terms.
What can freelance content creation, and the opportunities it offers up to women, do to challenge the status quo and promote gender equality?
Pure and simple, it allows women no matter the race, age, location to build their businesses. Technology won’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re male or female, you can still build your following. Technology is limitless – you can reach people anywhere anytime. Women have the freedom to break the rules, be their own boss, negotiate their own pay. I have the freedom to source out opportunities for myself and I can choose the direction I take with my career. Freelance Content Creation is really opening doors for women of all ages all around the world and giving them the opportunity to create a life that they want, on their terms.
It’s also incredibility convenient as well. It allows me to work remotely and will allow me to raise a family and set boundaries on the amount of work that I do in terms of hours which is a major obstacle in the workforce for women.
I’d really hope that this is the glass ceiling breaker of the boundaries that causes gender inequality between women and men but it will probably still take some time and it’s not something that will happen overnight. So many young women are now starting up their own businesses and using social media as a platform to launch them. Most importantly it encourages us to support each other as women entrepreneurs. The more that we come together and work towards a life that we want then the closer we get to breaking down inequality and discrimination.
What advice would you give to women starting out in the creative industry of freelance content creation?
I would say have a very clear vision in mind. You don’t need to wait until everything is perfect to launch, just know what you want to eventually achieve. Also have a clear idea about what you personally want to get out of the business and really back yourself. Just go for it!
Be patient as things take time. And be ready to teach yourself as there are plenty of free or cost effective ways to learn everything you need to know about starting a business. Constantly look for ways you can tweak your business, look for support and be willing to ask for help. Attend networking events, workshops and seminars. Join different chat forums for female entrepreneurs, sign up to business newsletters, stay up to date with different blogs. Be information hungry. Educate yourself in as many ways as you can about business.
What do you think your business means to the High School girls you are reaching with your content?
Looking at me, seeing how I have progressed and feeling like they are part of that journey, I hope that it empowers them and they realise that I am just an ordinary person and doing what I am doing is totally within their reach. I just have confidence in myself and I back myself. When you are genuine and when your work comes from a good place there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t succeed. I hope it inspires them to be more open minded in the careers they choose for themselves, opening up the possibility for them to explore different opportuntities. There are so many ways to be creative and innovate and just be you.
I never feel the need to be all dolled up and be my “best” self when I create a YouTube video. I don’t think they are looking for a perfect person. I did a live stream on Instagram in my pyjamas the other week and they loved it! When they see me they see that I’m not some intangible other species. I hope they feel good about themselves watching me and feel free to have fun with who they are.
Last night I went out for frozen yoghurt with a girlfriend and a viewer came up to me and told me how much she loved my videos and how much they had helped her to get through a stressful time. I wanted to create this platform where not only am I providing my viewers with support but they are supporting each other too.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me it means empowering one another, coming together and supporting each other’s wins. It’s about encouraging women of all ages to continue to pursue their goals.
It’s about being supportive to one another. Without any envy or jealousy, it’s purely about celebrating each other’s wins.
Her win is my win. The better that she does, the better I do.
Be sure to check out Jessica’s YouTube channel, Study with Jess. Here are two videos to get you started…