The Trap Of Being A Content Creator – Creator Burnout
Making content online has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made but I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize the amount of work that went into it and how unhealthy it could be.
I’ve been needing to talk about this for a while but have trouble putting my thoughts on paper so I want to give it a shot here. While I’ll try to cover everything I already know I’ll miss something so let’s just call this an incomplete thought. 90% of it is here but as I remember the last 10% I’ll come back and add it later.
Creating content online and getting paid for it is a lot of people’s dreams. The digital nomad lifestyle was something that I got sucked into early and I wanted to try and be a part of it. Now I’ve talked about my past (failed) attempts to create online income so I won’t bore you with the details of that here. But if you’re new here that includes doing freelance work for people on Microsoft Excel, selling Excel spreadsheets, online powerlifting coaching, writing and selling a book on Amazon, and countless other things in between.
That all led me to start this blog and my YouTube channel.
I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t want all of these things to make me money and give me the digital nomad lifestyle. But they didn’t. Yes, they all actually made money (surprisingly) but when you take into account my time then they were all failures on paper. But as we all know you learn with every failure and I have learned a ton and I’ll forever be thankful for trying.
But I’m burnt out.
I’m tired and exhausted and just need a break.
Let’s talk about YouTube specifically. I LOVE YouTube. That is not an exaggeration. I will openly give credit to YouTube for where I am today. Some of you may have heard of YouTube university? Well, I’m a student there and will be for the rest of my life. The number of things I have learned to do like changing out my fridge’s water filter to learning how to edit a YouTube video came from watching YouTube videos. It’s one of the reasons I think people that have access to the internet have so much control over their lives.
You can learn anything.
But let’s talk about creating on YouTube, or online anywhere actually, it’s an absolute grind. Putting out one video a week sounds easy but when you take into account writing, filming, editing, making a thumbnail, posting, promoting, and all the other little things that go into it you are talking about 10+ hours a week.
I first started making videos on my iPhone and used a ladder as a tripod (see below for a good laugh). The video quality was terrible but as I posted more it got better each time until finally, I think I ended up on a decent product. But that doesn’t take away from the amount of work it is.
What makes it worse is you go through all of this work and you end up with a video that flops (for a good reason I’ll talk about later). The algorithm doesn’t push it and your normal viewership drops 95% just like that. It’s a demoralizing feeling and was having a severe impact on me. It would ruin my week and I would take that stress to my actual job and be disconnected at home.
That’s obviously not healthy.
YouTube or any other online platform needs creators to create or they have nothing. They need you to be putting out as much as possible to keep people on the site. If you aren’t feeding the algorithm then YouTube isn’t going to feed you viewers and you lose money. There are no off days, no breaks, and that will lead to burnout. Which is exactly where I am.
As I write this and look back on the whole experience I’m overall proud of myself for everything that I put in and for putting myself out there. Thank you to the small number of trolls who commented telling me how dumb I was and thank you to the hundreds of others thanking me for making a certain video.
Another thing that bothers me, and this is for anyone who creates content, is how much analytics can affect my mood. I’ve talked about a video flopping but I kid you not I was checking my analytics multiple times a day. It was an addiction. Let’s be real day to day things aren’t changing and if I looked at them every 2 weeks or so I would know what I needed to know. But I was full-on addicted. I needed to see how many people watched a video in the last 30 minutes, what video was it? How long did they watch it? What part made them leave?
Again, this is obviously not healthy.
The only regret I have about this whole experience is not coming to terms with it earlier. As I look back on my last six months of videos there are only a select few that I actually liked. My content had become intellectually shallow to the point where I was just making a video with buzzwords that I knew YouTube would push to a larger audience. Yes, it made me a good stack of cash but it didn’t feel good.
Doing something that you don’t agree with just for money seems obvious now but at the moment when you are stuck on the hamster wheel of creating content, it seemed like what I HAD to do.
I was wrong.
When I first started making content it was about things I wish I would have known earlier. Like how to invest, how to keep track of your money, explainer videos about things we should have learned in school. The quality of those videos was trash, they never got pushed to a larger audience, but they morally felt great because I knew how much value they had. Side note: If I remade all of those videos with the storytelling, editing, and everything that goes into a good video I don’t think they’d flop like they once did. But I’m not doing that anytime soon.
Something I have believed from day one is if one person, who was in the university of YouTube like I am, stumbled across that video and learned something then I succeeded. I deeply believe the content I have put out has helped some people but most get the info they need and go about their lives. I shouldn’t expect anything less because that’s exactly what I do as well. Anyone that creates online wants to hear positive feedback from the audience, why wouldn’t they?
Will I ever make a YouTube video again? Maybe
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago I’m somewhat lost in what I want to do with my life. Sure, I have ideas but the only thing that I’m happy with right now is my family and friends. Some of you may argue that those personal relationships are more important than anything else and on one hand, I think you’re right but I also want to believe I have some sort of purpose. One of my friends said, “we are all stardust” and while I do believe that it doesn’t mean I can’t have a bigger impact on society than just myself while I’m still here.
To circle back to the question of making more content online and off my philosophical soapbox the answer is yes. Yes, I will keep creating online I’m just not sure in what capacity. When I can just put my thoughts on paper like this I feel good. It feels healthy and fulfilling. Even if nobody reads it, the algorithm doesn’t push it, and I don’t make a dime.
My job has picked up to the point where I don’t have the mental capacity to make good content on a regular basis. To be honest, my goal is to put my head down and work my ass off and then come back and say I did it. I did exactly what I said I was going to do in those first YouTube videos and blog posts and here’s why it all worked.
But we’ll see if that plays out.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on this. There’s more to it but we’ll talk about that at a later time.