Entrepreneur: Jessica McCabe

Biz: How to ADHD

Tilt: Tips, tricks, and insights into the ADHD brain

Scene: YouTube (1.65M), book, Patreon (2.9K paid, 2K free), merch, Facebook (324K), Instagram (219K), X (148K)

Snack Bites: 

  • Jessica created YouTube videos as she worked to make sense of her ADHD as an adult in hopes of helping other people learn, too.
  • Recognizing she wasn’t a science expert, she turned to those who were to help as she became an expert science communicator.
  • How To ADHD became a for-profit business when Jessica launched on Patreon because she couldn’t keep producing content and maintain her waitressing job.

Why We Stan: Though Jessica could have just shared her personal experience living with ADHD, she doesn’t. Her audience benefits from her factually based, scientific-backed approach.

The Story of Jessica McCabe

Before Jessica McCabe turned into an expert content creator, she was a person living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who was trying to figure it all out. As she learned about its impact on young adults such as herself, Jessica posted videos to YouTube in hopes she could help others. Her channel – How to ADHD – started in October 2015.

Now, Jessica’s How to ADHD is a full-fledged content business operated by a team. The YouTube channel has over 1.65M subscribers, and her first book debuted in January from Penguin Random House.

Recognizing the expert responsibility

Jessica tells The New York Times after her channel’s early success, she thought she might not be the best person to educate people on ADHD, given she had no college degree, let alone a science degree. 

She explains in an interview with Business Insider: “I was really glad to see that it was almost immediately helpful for other people with ADHD, but I just really hoped that nobody who actually knew what they were doing would find out what I was doing and tell me to take it down. It was a good six, eight months before I realized that it wasn’t just people with ADHD that were sharing my videos or finding them helpful. It was experts as well.”

Jessica also connected with experts to inform her content production. In the Times, she said a registered nurse offered to teach her how to analyze research studies for their validity. A postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children’s Research Institute met with her to review and discuss the research studies.

When the organization Children and Adults with ADD/ADHA shared her videos, she knew she should keep posting videos.

Building a business

Jessica became a content entrepreneur because she couldn’t afford to keep producing the content and her waitressing job, too.

So, she turned to Patreon, a creator subscription platform. Her How to ADHD Patreon offers free and paid subscriptions, ranging from $2 a month (Brain Buds) to $25 a month (WonderBrains). Benefits include unique Patreon content, a newsletter, access to the Discord community, and even a special Minecraft server. Paid members can vote on the content they want posted first and gain access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

In 2021, Patreon told The New York Times that the gross revenue for How to ADHD was $14.5K a month.

Growing a team

How To ADHD has grown into a multi-person team. Jessica focuses on the creation side of the business. She breaks it down for Tubefilter: Someone handles the day-to-day operations, all the business side of things, as well as the website creation. A volunteer community manager for the Discord channel was turned into a paid position.

Also on the team is a lead producer who works on the videos and oversees several freelance editors. Jessica relies on a research consultant, a psychologist by training, when she needs help.

She isn’t done with expansion as she tells Tubefilter, “I want to bring other voices on [the videos] because I think it’s time. People have heard a lot of what I have to say. I think we need to hear more from other people with different experiences than mine.”

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About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.