‘My following raises eyebrows’: Molly on being a YouTuber at uni
Running a YouTube channel alongside full-time education is not an easy job, but I’ve been doing it for the last four years - throughout sixth form, when my YouTube channel really began to grow, and now as a student at Leeds Arts University.
I was nervous about the transition to university for multiple reasons, but one of the main things that made me apprehensive was how people would react when they found out I had a ‘following’ online. People in school and sixth form hadn’t been overly kind about it and the last thing I wanted was a repeat of those few years, so naturally I was nervous.
One of the first things you do during freshers’ week is add the new people you meet on Instagram and Snapchat, and my handle (@beauty_spectrum) instantly raises eyebrows. Maybe I could’ve made that easier for myself but hey, 14-year-old me wasn’t thinking ahead. And of course some people were confused or surprised that I had quite a lot of followers, but what I didn’t expect was the genuinely positive response when I told them what I did.
I think it helped that I was at a creative university, and that everybody there was interested in the arts in some way, so creating videos and posting stylised photos to Instagram wasn’t completely out of the norm. Everyone was genuinely supportive and interested, and those that weren’t bothered at all just didn’t mention it again. I think the step up in maturity between sixth form and university really pleasantly surprised me!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have my income from YouTube and social media support me fully this year, allowing me to go out, eat out and travel home frequently. That’s been amazing, but I’ve also had to work hard to make sure it was the case all year!
Balancing social media with my foundation degree (and nights out) was a challenge, and I did occasionally have to put my ‘job’ first to stay financially secure. I really wanted to avoid relying on my parents if I could. Luckily, sponsorships from brands and views on my videos meant that things worked just fine. I know this isn’t the case for every student, but I do have a lot of friends who have balanced their first year alongside a part time job - which I guess is exactly the same!
Uploading to YouTube and having social media be my job over the last year has been a lot easier (and a lot more enjoyable) then when I was at sixth form. Spending all day surrounded by other creative people on my course has allowed me to think outside of the box with my content and my channel, and I’m definitely grateful for that!