These past two weeks have been rough, as I am sure almost everyone else out there is having a rough time as well. Despite current circumstances, I’ve been churning out content nonstop, spending around seventeen straight hours a day. Some days, I even managed to work thirty hours at a time. And I’ve taken no breaks, no vacations, just the grind and the grind on my mind twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
But I’m slowly starting to burn out. Sometimes negative thoughts haunt me at the back of my mind, making me doubt why I’m putting in all this work. Maybe this is all for naught, maybe my time is better spent elsewhere. Maybe it’s time to get a more stable job. Why bother, I won’t make a difference anyways. I get no views, I see no growth, maybe I’m just a failure.
Sometimes the repetition of what I’m doing gets to me. Making the same videos on the same topics and games. Spending so much time editing podcasts and videos everyday for an audience that doesn’t seem to care or notice the amount of effort put in. The sameness of it all, day after day, leaves me wanting something new.
And then there’s always the fear of trying something new because that means you lose your primary audience group. The fear of losing relevancy, the fear of losing those view counts. Every small content creator knows that if you change the game or topic or tone of your content, you lose a large number of views, primarily because people want to see the same type of content from you. Even most of the largest content creators are subject to this.
Maybe you guys can relate to what I’m going through, maybe you can’t. Either way, I’ll record my thoughts and experiences here in how I’m doing my best to overcome these obstacles in my journey as a content creator, in the hopes that it may be of some use to someone out there.
First of all, in dealing negative thoughts, there’s really no easy way out. It’ll always be a fight. They will always come back to haunt you throughout your life. The key here, is to be able to live with them without it affecting your outlook on life. Start by focusing on the facts. Stop comparing yourself to other people and start comparing yourself, to well, yourself. Here’s what I mean by this. The data does not lie. It can be incorrectly interpreted and that will be a topic for another day. As long as you see growth, no matter how small, that is always a positive thing. That means you are doing better! You are getting better at making whatever content it is you set your sights on, whether it be music, videos, art, etc. Look at what you made, see if you improved from where you started. Use the facts, look at the data available, compare yourself to yourself.
Be honest. Be patient. Growth and improvement does not happen immediately, it always takes time. There are no shortcuts. Always try to improve on one small skill at a time. You have an abundance of high quality resources on almost every topic available on the internet nowadays and most of it is available for free! Always be learning, always be improving, failing is part of the process. Don’t ignore the things you are doing well in either! Everyone has something they alone can do, some unique quality that can’t be replicated exactly.
The reality is that no one is great at doing something when they first start out. Sure, there may be a handful of people in the entire world that are natural geniuses, but 99.99% of the world is in the same boat as you. It takes time, it takes practice, it takes effort to learn and refine skills, and it takes blood, sweat, and tears to create something beautiful. If the negative thoughts come, let them and face them head on. See if they are true. Use the data, not your emotions. Sometimes they are. It’s true, I’m not the best at making content. I’m very limited in the skillset I have now. My podcasts aren’t the best, my videos aren’t either, and so are my articles on my blog. But that’s ok. I can improve. With each piece of content I make, I can see myself improving a little bit at a time.
And with time, you gain something important, perseverance. The ability to withstand and survive, and even thrive despite the circumstances surrounding you, despite whatever obstacles may come your way. The negative thoughts don’t go away, but you’ll be able to live with them.
As for dealing with repetition, the answer is quite simple. Do something new! Let’s not jump the shark here though. You don’t want to drop everything you’re doing. You are growing because of the content you are creating now. Don’t take what you’re doing now for granted. Repetition is good to a certain extent because it helps create a pattern, a rhythm for your workflow. Repetition helps you get better and slowly improve over time. This doesn’t mean that you avoid doing new things completely. For example, if I see a game I want to play personally, I’ll cover it, such as The Cycle. I usually stream Astroneer but I wanted to play something new and The Cycle had grabbed my attention so I played that. I even competed in a solo tournament. Needless to say I got completely destroyed, but that’s a story for another time. For making content, I’m in the process of turning most of my podcasts into video podcasts as well. It’s very time consuming, it’s difficult, and I’m camera shy but doing something new, especially something I’m afraid to do, is very empowering. It’s also an incredibly valuable teaching tool because usually you fail miserably at the start but you can learn from those failures.
I’m extending my skillset. I’m finding new solutions to problems I didn’t even know existed. For me, I create most of my content by myself. Filming myself talking on script is very hard. So how did I manage to find a solution? I set my old Lenovo laptop on an empty vacuum box behind my camera on a tripod. This is quite dangerous as the laptop can fall over any moment, but as the youngins say, “yolo”. I use the laptop as a teleprompter and I managed to find a very old Logitech handheld presenter that I can use to scroll the prompt manually. I need to focus the camera on my face as well so I prop a box up on my chair around where my face is and I focus on that. In addition to all of this my audio is recorded on my condenser microphone separately as the camera’s audio quality is not up to par, so I have to sync that up later. Is this pleasant to do every single time I want to record? No, not really. Did I make a ton of mistakes? You bet. Everything from having the camera run out of battery half way and losing all my footage to having my lights in the wrong place. But did I learn? I sure did. I’m nowhere near where I want to be but every day I get a little bit closer.
What about the fear of losing relevancy and view counts for doing something new? This is something I struggle a lot with myself if I’m being honest. I learned to stop caring about that number and focused more on the type of content creator I want to be. The truth is, if you always chase the view count, if you always make content with fear as the primary motivator, you will burn out. You can never please everyone. The people who want to see the same thing over and over again, will eventually get bored and want something new. The people who want something new, will get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. You lose either way.
The best way, is to look at what you are creating, and what you want to create and work towards that. The goal here, is not a higher view count, but a more genuinely unique creation that will satisfy you. By creating something that’s definitively you, refined by countless hours of practice, learning, and improving, you now have a valuable product that no one else can replicate, try as they might. Then you will be able to find your true audience, the people who will appreciate and enjoy your work. This also relies on increasing your exposure and visibility of content on platforms, but that is also a topic of discussion for another day.
I no longer have my view count up when I stream on Twitch. I no longer make the view count and subscriber count the focus of my videos on YouTube. I want to get better at creating content and I want to find my creative voice as I work on all of my projects. I’m always trying something new, I’m always trying to learn and improve. In addition to Twitch, I now have two YouTube channels, one covering gaming content and one covering my video podcasts. I have four podcasts total now, covering movies, TV shows, video games, and content creation tips. I also have two blogs. I’m looking to branch into webtoons next. Are these projects going well currently? For the most part no, but they are showing slow and steady growth. Most importantly however, I’m always learning and improving, and becoming better at creating content. It really is about the journey and not the destination, as with most creative endeavors.