At Creators’ Talk, we speak to real-life creators about their unique experiences in creating and monetizing their content. We also talk about their challenges and how they are overcoming them. We hope these stories will inspire you to build your niche and monetise your content over time.
Today, we’re featuring Sheila Uduehi, popularly known as The Canva Coach. In her story, she shares how she transitioned from being a medical student to being a creator and owning a business.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hi, I’m Sheila and I am a Canva tutor. While I was growing up, being a creator wasn’t a thing especially as it is now. Then, I wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately, while I went into medical school, I didn’t make it to the end. I didn’t pass the final exams so I had to fall out.
But I felt like there was a purpose for everything. Initially, I even wanted to study mass communication but my mom was always insisting on medicine. Although it was really painful for me, I wanted to switch to computer science because you can do that once you fall out. But again, computer science was already filled up at that time.
At this point, I just wanted to graduate. So I went for physiology.
Fortunately for me, back in school, I always took different courses online on Udemy, Coursera and similar platforms. Then I started playing around with Canva for fun. Everything was on the side and I didn’t know that it would be something I would be doing full-time.
Wow, that’s an interesting story. Thank God you were able to use your creative skills.
A lot of people are born with creativity o, like it’s something that has been with them from birth. But for me, it’s something I had to pick up from boredom. It wasn’t inborn.
For example, I was running a dropshipping business on the side because I didn’t want to rely on my parents in school. But to excel in that, I needed to learn design and understand how social media works. So I joined some branding communities like Naija Brand Chick and Social Base which really helped me grow.
Over time, I had to take up free courses on Udemy. So even if you aren’t creative, you can build that creativity once you have the right motivation. For me, it was the quest for knowledge and money.
You said you started with dropshipping. Why did you transition to Canva specifically?
To be honest, when I started using Canva it wasn’t something I thought I would do for money.
But you know how people leave your 9-5 that’s giving you a headache and switch to something fulfilling right? For me, teaching gives me that fulfilment. But unlike most people, I didn’t resign. Instead, I was laid off during the pandemic and I had to just do something. So I started putting out the things I was doing on Canva.
Interestingly, people needed to put out designs for their small businesses and brands. The cost of having to outsource to a graphic designer is expensive. That’s why a lot of business owners wanted to learn how to make these designs themselves.
It’s how I found my target market. I didn’t even know a lot of people resonated with it.
When did it start gaining traction?
One day, I commented on the “Dairy of a Naija Girl’s” post and people just started following me. I was like wow, so people really need this. In addition to the followers, I also got a lot of DMs.
At that point, I was really just freestyling and thinking about hosting a class. Then someone talked to me about making a course instead. That’s because, with a course, they can always replay the lessons as opposed to a one-off class.
That’s my journey into tutoring and so it’s been paying the bills. I’ve gotten another 9-5, so I wouldn’t say the money has come. I also haven’t been 100% focused but that will change soon.
Since we’re moving towards money, when did you earn your first pay as a Canva coach?
My first pay was in 2021. From that Instagram comment I left, a woman who wanted private coaching reached out to me and asked for my rate card. I mean I was just starting out so I didn’t have any.
Thankfully, my brother is very money-minded, so I went to him for advice on what to set. With his advice, I designed my first rate card and she actually paid. It was so surprising.
That first session ehn, I was so nervous because she’s an elderly client and I was worried she wouldn’t understand it. But since coaching goes beyond the money too for me, I was patient. If you pay me for two hours, I don’t mind going for three hours until you understand it. And she understood it.
After a while, more people came for the coaching until I realized, it was time to slow down. Then I started doing other things like creating and selling templates. I also did group coaching and that’s the thing with Canva. There are so many ways to make money from it if you know how to do it right.
Do you have some Canva and finance tips for creators that haven’t started earning yet?
When I started, I started with my iPhone 6. It’s the proceeds from the gigs I got with that iPhone 6 I used to upgrade my phone.
So first off, start with what you have – because opportunities meet you where you are. When I left that comment and she asked people to follow me, if they came to my page and didn’t see anything, they wouldn’t have answered. That’s because there would have been nothing to offer.
If it’s a youtube channel and you’re waiting to get a camera before you start, omo you’re just stalling on your bags. I see people using just their phones to make videos and they are making money.
When I started, I didn’t have ring light. Then I used my unpainted room but positioned myself where there was natural light. Later on, I bought this white background to help me pop in videos. It was when I started making money I could paint my room and buy ring light.
When I go back to my content ehn, I say is this me? But if I didn’t already have this, the people that came from that comment wouldn’t have stayed.
Hmmm that’s true
So I don’t think people really care about your fancy equipment. They care about what you have to offer. The knowledge you are bringing to the table. The creators everyone looks up to today, they all started with what they have. I don’t think a lot of people started big.
Start with what you have – don’t stall
Another thing that has helped me is referrals. Always keep it at the back of your mind that someone is watching. You’ll think you’re putting out content that no one is interacting with but you’ll be surprised.
One time I got a dm and the person said they were referred by a big creator on Instagram. And I’m like ah this person is looking at my content ke? That was a big motivation.
This creator has given me more clients than any person has to date. And I didn’t even know she was seeing my content because she was not even following me. So, followers don’t matter – keep posting and keep showing up.
Are you facing any challenges as a big creator?
I’m not sure I’m facing any challenges right now. But when I was on 5k followers, I was cashing out more than now. It’s primarily because I’ve been distracted these days. But I’, looking forward to putting in 100% in it again.
Thank you, Sheila!
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