Creator burnout is something that has been a slow burner for a while, and now 2020 is upon us and the creators affected are now feeling full heat from the flames. YouTubers and content creators such as PewDiePie and SimplyNailogical are two hot topics for deciding to take extended breaks starting in 2020.
What is creator burnout?
In simple terms, creator burnout is where online influencers, video makers, YouTubers, etc. are creatively and mentally worn out. Whether that’s from creating almost daily videos, or balancing a “real job” with a newly-launched business and creating videos for 2-3 YouTube channels weekly, it’s almost impossible to walk away from that level of workload unscathed.
It’s difficult to fight with online algorithms too. If you’re not regularly uploading, your audience will not be shown the content uploaded and they will drop off–thinking your channel or platforms have died.
Deciding to take time off to rest and recuperate can be a big risk, especially if your channel is a large source of income.
Being an online creator is an excellent thing, and you can enjoy so many benefits. But after a good chunk of the decade has been spent sat by yourself, talking to a camera or typing away, uploading that content, promoting that content and balancing an audience (which itself can cause it’s own set of issues), and then rinsing and repeating that cycle, you can start to feel a little mentally beaten up.
Content creators and influencers are their own kind of celebrity, and while your Tom Hanks and Harry Styles have all had media training to be able to cope with large audiences, your average teenager who started filming videos in their bedroom back in early 2010 often have built their empires by themselves. Their only support systems are their close friends and family, and maybe a manager if they’re lucky. Everything online based is still extremely new and everyone is still learning the affects.
How can you avoid creator burnout?
Avoiding creator burnout really depends on your relationship with the content you upload and the relationship you have with your audience.
If you have a more healthy relationship, becoming “burnt out” can be avoided, or at least it will take longer to achieve.
Unhealthy relationships with the internet include:
- Obsessively checking your timelines on all platforms multiple times a day
- Reading and often responding to negative comments over positive
- Uploading constantly, and uploading often risky content in order to “gain clout”
- Being unable to put a metaphorical wall between your own private life and your online life
- Letting your audience dictate how you should feel about something
- Allowing your audience further into your life than is “safe”
- Never spending time away from the internet, often a case of “FOMO” (fear of missing out)
While jumping on trends and high-volume searches to grow your audience is a fantastic way to become known on the internet and “earn your place”, often this comes with a sense that you need to be doing this all the time. Being unable to step away from a trending topic is a sure-fire way to burn out quickly.
YouTubers and content creators (such as Carrie Hope Fletcher) are learning to build walls and stop letting people so close to their “homes” in order to build a mental health safety net and a barrier between them and their audiences.
Carrie has previously quite succinctly put it (to paraphrase):
“Imagine you have a house with a fence. Previously, that gate was so close to my “house” that people could get right up to my front door. Now that fence is being pushed back so that there’s a gap between the fence where I can feel safe, and that people can’t get so close.”
Closing your gate and pushing your fence back by closing email addresses, inboxes and (anonymous) points of contact with your audience until they only have one path to contact you via is a great way to re-establish a healthy relationship with the platforms you use to address an audience. One easy way to begin this process is to turn off all anonymous points of contact so people cannot hide behind anonymity to leave you often difficult to read messages.
How does this affect your audience?
Closing your many points of contact and working to establish a healthy relationship with your social media platforms can often make your audience feel “closed off” and “isolated” but this is a risk you have to take.
If there are people interacting with your online content who are happy to be so close and invade your privacy to the point you feel vulnerable and exposed, you need to cut these people off. It’s a toxic relationship of it’s own kind and you wouldn’t let your best friend be with someone who couldn’t leave them alone ever.
Your genuine audience will understand that you are doing this so you can continue to provide them with the content they know and love, just in a mentally safer way for yourself. You are not leaving your viewers and readers out in the cold by pushing your gate further away, you’re just putting them into a secure, safe place where you can interact with each other in a mutually neutral location.
Creator burnout is a very real thing, and as the past 10 years have flown by, online content creators are beginning to feel the full force of what creating a video almost every week can do to you. Being the internet’s big sister or gaining more than 5 million subscribers can have a major affect on your relationship with the platform. It is time creators started putting themselves and their mental health before their audience, to prevent a major burnout in the future.