5 questions for Melissa Maribel
Team YouTube: Your channel has a great tagline: “I failed chemistry so you don’t have to.” Tell us about your journey to becoming a creator. What helped you learn to love science and how are you using those lessons on your channel?
Melissa: In my first year of college, I went from an aspiring dentist to a failing chemistry student. Every science class I'd take was a constant struggle that led to me questioning whether or not I could make it as a chemistry major.
When I reached out to my academic counselors and professors on how I can improve my grade, I was told to change my major. In other words, they told me to give up. As easy as it might've been to just quit, I asked myself, "Did you really give this your all?" Deep down inside, the answer was no, I hadn't.
So I enrolled in chemistry for the second time, with the intention of giving it my all, knowing that if I failed again then I'd change my major.
I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of doing hard things. This mindset shift worked. I studied constantly, joined study groups, went to office hours, hired a tutor and most importantly I figured out how it is I learn. It all paid off because chemistry was finally making sense. At one point, I was leading the study group and explaining the concepts to others, which gave me the confidence to become a private tutor for several years.
But it wasn't chemistry I loved, it was the ability to understand and teach it to others like me.” Melissa Maribel
That 16-week semester I considered my redo was so rewarding because I had proven to myself that I was smart enough and capable of being a chemistry major.
But it wasn't chemistry I loved, it was the ability to understand and teach it to others like me.
This is why I started my YouTube channel. Sure, I wanted to help more students get better grades, but my goal was to help them see how capable they are and not to deny their own potential. I wanted to help students regain their confidence.
Team YouTube: Through your videos, you’re encouraging high school and college students to explore chemistry. How does your audience impact your content strategy?
Melissa Maribel: Before making my first video I thought about the audience I was trying to impact. Who were they? What did they already watch on YouTube? What are their wants and needs?
The audience I make videos for aren't scientists, they are students trying to pass their classes and get to their desired careers. They are who I was in college. They have doubts, and wish to find someone to guide them through chemistry. I'm so thankful that I can be that guide for them now.
Keeping this in mind, I make sure my videos are engaging, encouraging, and straight to the point. Because let's be honest, studying chemistry can be really intimidating! With each video, I aim to make chemistry more enjoyable and approachable.
Team YouTube: Last month YouTube hosted EduCon, an event that brought together more than 150 learning creators and partners in New York City. We were excited to introduce new updates to make educational content even more accessible and interactive on YouTube. How are you thinking about using these features on your channel?
Melissa: I'm thrilled with these new updates! I am especially excited to try out the quizzes feature. One of the best ways to study is by testing yourself. I know that a lot of students will benefit from this new feature.
I'm also thankful for YouTube's new embedded player. The fact that students can view our videos in class, distraction-free, and creators get credit for it, is a win-win! Hearing this news really made me feel like YouTube is looking out for us educational creators.
Team YouTube: At YouTube, we’re committed to supporting creators who make it possible for people around the world to learn new skills. What steps do you think YouTube should take in the years ahead to empower educational creators?
Melissa: In the five years I've been an educational creator I have seen so many advancements, opportunities, and have felt heard by YouTube. I'm also thankful for conferences like EduCon because more educational creators can connect and learn from one another.
In 2018, I was part of YouTube's NextUp program for Latino creators and absolutely loved the creator boot camp and mentorship from experienced creators. It helped me grow as a creator and I made lifelong friends. Creating a program specifically for educational creators would empower us to keep going.
Team YouTube: As your channel grew, you hired a team to help produce your videos. What have you learned as you’ve transitioned to becoming an entrepreneur? And what advice would you give other creators who are thinking about taking a similar step?
Melissa: It's incredible to think that I went from tutoring students every day at my local coffee shop to making YouTube videos in my bedroom to now having a dedicated home studio and a team. I am proud of hitting these milestones in my business. Being able to hire a team and have this be my full time job is amazing but it definitely comes with its challenges. One of my latest challenges was making the tough decision to layoff a teammate due to financial hardships.
After struggling financially for several months I decided to try something new: creating my own Organic Chemistry course. I launched a new course platform appropriately named Chemmunity, because you can't learn Chemistry without a community helping you every step of the way.
I'm thrilled to see students signing up and watching the instructional videos, asking their questions in the accompanying study group and seeing results!
This new revenue source has been growing slowly but it has been a great supplement to my current product line of e-books and flashcards sold on my website, melissamaribel.com.
Becoming an entrepreneur and talking to other entrepreneurs has taught me that it's difficult to know if the decisions you make are going to be the right ones. We're all just trying to figure it out through trial and error.
My advice to other creators is the following:
- Write down at least 50 reasons why you are creating what you're creating. How will this change your life or your family's life? Be specific. Keep looking back at this list and add to it whenever a new reason comes into your head.
- Figure out your finances. Don't upgrade your lifestyle just yet, instead know what number you need to live on and how much consistent income you have to reinvest in your business.
- Once you have enough money to hire someone, do it! Reducing your workload will help you focus on your vision, avoid burnout, and thoughts of quitting.
- You're allowed to change your mind. You're allowed to say no. Saying no to an opportunity doesn't mean the opportunities will stop coming. Just because you have invested your time and/or money into something doesn't mean you have to continue with it, you can change your mind and try something else.
- Keep track of your progress. On the days you may be feeling low, look back at how far you've come and let that motivate you to keep going because it is normal to feel like giving up. There have been times I've felt like giving up as often as every other week. Tracking my progress has helped to keep me going.
- Find friends who are like minded and on a similar path. Having that support can be so helpful. For instance, I meet with another YouTuber/entrepreneur once a month. We go over our goals for the month, hold each other accountable and the majority of the time we just vent!
- Keep learning! Read books, listen to podcasts, go to conferences, whatever you do don't stop learning how to improve.