Lydia Sweatt is a writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.
Hey, YouTube Creators – Are You Doing OK?
Now that summer is ending, we’re officially over the midyear hump and sliding toward the end of 2020. Considering everything that’s been going on – the coronavirus pandemic, the social isolation, and the financial uncertainty – how are you, as a YouTube creator, doing these days?
We’ve noticed that many of you are still creating on the platform and sharing your interests with the world. We’ve seen your at-home cooking tutorials, which have helped people feed their families during lockdowns. We’ve watched hours of your quarantine fitness videos to make sure we stay healthy outside the gym.
And perhaps most importantly, we’ve absorbed your positivity during hard times, aiming to shift our perspectives just as you shifted your content to help others.
With that being said, you can’t continue to do for others without checking on yourself first. Creator burnout, especially on YouTube, is a real thing. If you’ve been pushing through stressful situations to upload non-stop, it’s time to take inventory of where you are right now, both mentally and physically.
vidIQ: Thanks for joining us, Josh. What are some of the things that may be contributing to creator burnout, particularly during COVID-19 and everything else that’s happening in the world right now?
Josh: COVID-19 has really just magnified all the circumstances that would normally lead to creator burnout. All of us have had our routine and normalcy taken away from us (which has been a good thing because it's helping us protect others.) However, that’s forced many of us to blend our work-life balance in a way we’ve never had to before.
For creators, their work-life is already blended. So, a lot of people would assume, well, hey, this is not going to affect them, but it does because of a few things. CPMs are down, brand deals have been off the table, but at the same time, those creators still have expenses that need to be covered. The bigger channels may have a production team or a manager or agent that still needs to be paid. And of course, the need to pay taxes on income earned from YouTube never goes away.
What I’ve been seeing over the past few months is that YouTube views and watch time is up because people have been watching more content, but potential ad revenue has decreased so there’s a huge disparity happening here. Now, for creators to make up that deficit, they’re having to turn out two or three times the amount of content, just to make the money they were getting last year.
This is a hugely stressful position to be in. And when you get stressed, your body releases adrenaline, and there's only so much adrenaline in your body before your adrenals are tapped out. Once that happens, your brain and body go, "Oh, we got to replace this with something." So, it replaces it with cortisol, a chemical that induces fight, flight or freeze, but also blocks neurotransmitters of creativity. It’s a vicious cycle for any creator to find themselves in.
vidIQ: What are the early warning signs of burnout?
Josh: That's a really, really great question. One of the things that is most important when identifying whether you're burnt out is, if you think you are, then you probably are. You need to start letting that cortisol drain out by doing things that help calm and relax you. Perhaps you’ve done that in the past by socializing with friends or going to the gym, but of course, those things have been out of bounds.
I know a huge number of creators are caught on the hamster wheel right now, but I stress that if you keep going and you don't take a month or so off, how's that going to look for you? Taking a break is more than OK, otherwise, it may take you two, three, four, or even five months to fully recover from the stress. What's the worst that can happen if you take a break now.? Would you rather just step back and take care of yourself and work with a coach, or would you rather keep going and suffer and watch your channel spiral?
vidIQ: Being a YouTube creator can be quite a lonely business, can’t it?
Josh: It's one of the most lonely existences because you're often just looking into a camera, editing and uploading all by yourself, and then you do it all over again. Often, the only interaction you have is with people that you don't know. For the most part, subscribers won’t even comment, they’ll just watch then jump straight to another video.
It doesn't mean that you didn't make a difference, but you don't know. So it's very easy to be like, "Oh, I didn't do anything meaningful.” But just because they didn’t leave a comment doesn't mean your content didn't affect them. They had to log into YouTube, they had to see there was a new video, they made the decision to click on it, and perhaps sit through a couple of ads. So, they went through all of these steps just to watch. That is a huge feat in and of itself.
What people need right now is to feel connected to one another at a safe distance. And so, creators of any size have a great opportunity to spread that happiness and joy of their creativity, but they have to take care of themselves first.
vidIQ: What advice would you give to new creators who are just starting out? Perhaps those who were very enthusiastic at the start of the pandemic, and saw an opportunity to control their career and generate revenue from YouTube. But maybe two or three months into it, they're feeling demoralized or demotivated by the effect the pandemic has had on their lives and creativity.
Josh: Stay healthy. Because if you love creating and people like watching your content, you're helping more than you think. And that's the big thing; it doesn't matter how many subscribers you have, and it doesn't matter how many views you have. It only takes one view or one subscriber and suddenly there’s somebody out there in the world who’s connected with what you're saying and what you're doing.
And it's so easy to say, "Oh, only 100 subscribers, or only 100 viewers." That's 100 people! Imagine that amount of people sitting in your living room or bedroom, waiting for what you have to say! Keep going, because those 100 people are watching YOU. They're watching you for a reason because you make them happy. You give them something. And so, I would encourage those creators that are starting out to keep going.
Sometimes it takes years and years to be a success on YouTube, and unfortunately, we have a pandemic that has put a damper on everything. But what you're putting out there is helpful. So, read those comments, and engage with your audience. You’ll be amazed at why they're watching your videos, and that's going to give you the energy to keep going.
vidIQ: What advice would you have for someone who knows a creator who may be struggling right now?
Josh: I would say that the best thing that anybody can do is to reach out and check in with people you care about (whether they are a creator or not) and ask them, "Hey, how are you coping today?” Also, I would highly encourage creators to reach out to each other, and to their communities. The most successful creators are the ones who started to build their community almost from the get-go, so they know they have a section of their audience that now has their backs.