I never thought of myself as a youtuber, as a writer, as a designer. Even when I’d created my fifth channel, finished my second manuscript, or designed the perfect dorm room. I used to be so happy, creating new and fun things everyday. Then, not long after I graduated college, all the joy and happiness just… went away.
I thought that I’d finally reached the level of adulthood that everyone talks about. It’s rough earning a living, you’re going to hate your jobs, you’re going to fail, you’re going to give up on you passions and make way for excuses.
I’ve done a lot in my few years but I’ve yet to be satisfied. In the last month I’ve both reached my top limit for burnout, noticed it, recovered from it and started reaching my audience in a more direct and impactful way than ever. So I’d like to share with you two things.
Everything I’ve Done to Destroy my Chances of Succeeding & The things I Will Never do Again
Over Research Killed my Passion
I’ve always had high hopes and too much passion. So when I started a new social media and found that I enjoyed using it my next step was to read every article online about how to cultivate an audience and make money on it. I loved Instagram until I was told that all my photos should have a consistent color and style. This limited everything I put out.
Then I heard that travel influencing on Instagram was the most difficult to break into. Well thats the niche I had picked and so I all but gave up on Instagram. In retrospect that was an awful idea- I was aboard in Japan at the time and if I hadn’t taken the word of other so seriously then I could have been confident in myself while building some kind of fallowing. My most viewed post to date is the one I put out directly before I was told I couldn’t break into travel influencing
Brand Identity Distracted Me from What’s Important
I made five different youtube channels, one for each topic and style. Whenever I’d take vacation days I’d redesign my website to match my new since of self. I started trying to force my whole life into a box of exactly what I wanted to look like online. I was trying to make myself pick just one identity and trying to decide what that looked like was killing me.
See I’ve always like two very opposite things. I’m both a motivational pastel optimist and the edgy eboy who wears all black and listens to murder podcasts all day. I’d found a way to combine these things in my novels but when it came to making all my platforms cohesive, well I’d forbidden myself from posting a certain kind of content without ever deciding what I wanted my brand identity too look like. And in the process of making myself look perfect online I’d taken away my personal identity as well as made myself look plastic and un interesting to everyone who found my content.
Not Listening to my Gut Wasted Hours of my Time
It all started when I was 17 and was researching how to sell my book. I was told I needed to start a blog, have a email list, post content three times a week etc. As I was researching how to blog I ran across affiliate marketing. Well why not make money on my blog, right? Well when I tried to get all the information I could about how to make that kind of money, I found all the passive income myths.
Every step of the way I didn’t like what I was doing. I just wanted to be a published author yet I kept doing what influencers told me I should be doing. Being so motivated to ‘do everything right’ I’d lost all the heart and soul that came with making the decisions that felt right and that I’d put more time and energy into doing correctly.
Trying to Do it All on My Own Wasted my Time
Not only did I waste thousands of hours by being cheep and not hiring graphic designers, developers, proof readers etc. I never even asked anyone if they thought it was a good idea. I was so caught up in myself thinking that everyone would love my product/ email sign up bonus/ youtube video that I never asked my audience if that was something they were interested in.
So I spent hundreds of hours developing a skill in order to create a product that no one wanted to look at, let alone spend money on.
Focusing on the Tools Instead of the Content was an Excuse
I can’t be a real youtuber, I don’t have a DSLR and a blue yeti. I can’t be a real writer, I haven’t edited my novel enough, what if there’s a spelling error? Well when I finally had the editor, finally had the microphone then I held myself to a whole new level of content that I had no business making. Before I’d been taking myself so much less seriously and enjoyed the process more. Spending $100 or $1000 on tech/help just made me think I had to justify it and create something so much better than what I was before. Which was impossible.
I’d also used it as a excuse to not make my best work, to not submit my work to publishers, and discount an success I got. Oh I passed 30K views? Well people must be making fun of it. What do I do for work? Well I have this little side project I’m working on… I thought that because I couldn’t spend thousands of dollars on what I was told I needed that I wasn’t a real ___ yet. So I didn’t have to try as hard right?
Putting Money First Created no Profit
Well looking back over my favorite manuscript and comparing my 10th and 15th drafts I can tell you that I got so obsessed with what would sell that I took all the selling points (uniqueness) out of the draft. When I forced myself to make videos that I thought would get views and thus ad revenue I stopped putting out content as regularly, as I couldn’t think of infinite niche content, and thus lost the small fallowing I had.
Whenever I started a project thinking about how to make money off of it it always ended up sucking. The money I have made all ways came as an afterthought. People can smell an ad from miles away and when you’re just trying to sell something there is no audience in place who wants to be advertised to. If you get an audience first they will tell you if they want merch or if their the type who will use affiliate links.
Too High of Standers Meant that noting was ever Published
Endless proofreading, editing, cutting, restarting and otherwise delaying projects made it impossible to keep any kind of consistent upload schedule. But more than that, whenever I put out work that didn’t do as well or wasn’t absolutely perfect I got wrapped up in a spiral of self hate.
Then whenever I needed to put out content it was impossible to motivate myself. I knew it was going to take a long time, assumed that no one would see it or like it, and associated it with hating myself. So why even bother except for to fulfill some arbitrary goal I had for myself with no reward and no end.
Not Specifying My Work Time Made me Develop Burnout Faster
I used to try to spend my every free moment working on a project or learning something new. My youtube feed was all educational, I only had entrepreneur podcasts saved, my social feeds where full of influencers in my genre so that I could study what their techniques were. My every waking moment, even when I was trying to relax, was full of things for me to consider and actively think about.
I thought that not blocking out time was alright but then I ended up working 24/7. I never let myself rest. Little did I know the times you let your mind rest are the most important for coming up with unique, creative ideas that you’re passionate about.
Forcing Myself to be Ready to Soon Turned me Into a Failure
I’m just going to run away and become a writer, I said, and I moved to Japan for three months with only $2000 to my name. I’d never set pass/fail goal for myself before that. I thought ‘fake it till you make it’ would just carry me though it. I’d have to sink or swim. Well turns out if you don’t give yourself reasonable goals and celebrate achieving them then your brain isn’t going to instantly rewire it’s self and turn you into a major success. Who knew?
If I’d taking a bit more time and done a bit more soul searching/ growing up, I could have enjoyed my first month in Japan a lot more. I wouldn’t have been trying to build a business and instead worked on passion projects and sharing stories people might have actually found interesting.
Being Afraid of Judgment Made it Harder to Find an Audience
I was so self aware regarding what I put online that I didn’t want to take the risk and put out something with lots of personality. I didn’t want to be ridiculed or made fun of. So instead of putting out one video with very strong opinions I sprinkled them through many different channels. I never ended up finding the people who thought the same way as me because I never put myself out there.
I heavily moderated what I let say or do online and ended up seeming like a shy, worry wort with no personality all because I was afraid of loosing the few viewers I had. If I’d just been true to myself I would have been able to connect with people so much easier.
In conclusion, you’re going to make mistakes and thats ok. Try not to be a perfectionist, take risks, stay focused and spend your time enjoying life. Whatever happens will happen all you can do is try to recognize when you’re making a bad decision and try to mediate the damages. Everyone has to find their own path and theres never just one way of doing anything. Learn to trust yourself and go forth doing what makes the world a better place.
I wish you the best of luck.