Whether you’re creating content for the sheer passion of it or you’ve managed to turn it into a full-time career, it’s safe to say there are worse vocations in the world. But, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy life; it can entail very long hours with some seriously hard graft to create the content, then market and promote it, all while planning your upcoming schedule.
So what steps can you take to ensure you stay on top of the creator lifestyle as best you can and avoid burning out? We asked you, the Just About Content Creators community, as well as our expert panel at our Creator Collab at EGX 2023, to share your words of wisdom and help your fellow creators stay happy and healthy as they get that bread.
Having a bad day?
Not in the mood to stream? Then don’t do it. This is the universal advice from everyone on our Creator Collab panel; variety streamer Geeky Cassie explained they used to force themselves to stream on days they weren’t quite feeling it to ensure they were consistent, but they try to be kinder to themselves now. This isn’t a bad thing, because forcing yourself to stream isn’t really a good one: “Your community will know if you’re not into it on a given day”, Cassie says. They suggest if you absolutely must produce something, consider uploading a Short or some other content that won’t take up as much of your time.
Co-panelists MC Fixer and Hollie J both made the same point - it’ll be obvious if you’re not in the right frame of mind - so be transparent about it with your community if you do decide to stream anyway, as they may be able to cheer you up. Ultimately though, your real fans want to see you at your best - it’s why they followed you in the first place - and will stick with you if you need to take a break. Doing so will help you come back stronger because you’ll be in a better place when you return.
There will occasionally be times when you have to produce content - such as when you have a sponsored stream lined up or a deadline for a brand deal - in which case Cassie suggests making it as easy as possible for yourself by involving friends or other streamers to join you. This will help ease the burden as you won’t need to be at full throttle for the entire time.
Managing your community as a content creator
Growing as a content creator means you’ll have a growing community to interact with, and eventually, that can take a toll. Cassie stresses the importance of healthy boundaries:
“If someone steps over the line then they get the chop. Be genuine, as you can only keep up a façade for so long. People will learn how to act and communicate with you and your community eventually becomes self-policing. Make sure people know that they need to moderate themselves as well as the community. There’s a difference between speaking to people in a professional sense and capacity, even if you know them on another level.”
Don’t be afraid to intervene early and firmly when setting the culture in your community, and eventually it’ll become internalised, meaning it’ll take a lighter touch to maintain it. Hollie, a streamer and community manager for UK games studio Rebellion, agreed, explaining the same values apply to both branded and personal communities: “honesty, setting boundaries, and having moderators. Have a structure you’re able to step out of if you need to.” MC Fixer, a streamer, rapper, and member of Ubisoft’s partner programme, added to this by saying how important it is to set expectations with your community, so they know how and when you’ll interact with or reply to them. “Make your boundaries clear and obvious for everyone to understand.”
“I learned the hard way that it’s far too much of a burden to manage all of them and to give the required attention to all of them to have them bear fruit. My recommendation is to have one core platform where you want to grow huge, where your content fits best, plus one more complimentary platform that will help advertise your content to those who aren’t on the first platform. This should be the one you use to socialise and connect with your audience.”
In his experience, YouTube is his core platform, followed by Twitter for promotion, and now that he’s reached a balance with his personal life and content creation, he’s added Instagram into the mix. When you’re just starting out, keep things simple and don’t focus on more than two at a time.
@BrotherGrimoire explains that in their experience, “community toxicity is by far the easiest to handle” because he doesn’t give trolls the reaction they’re looking for, and his “wonderful team of moderators” will deal with them for him. Of course, having a team of moderators requires you to be an established creator in the first place, but ‘not feeding the trolls’ is a sound piece of advice that applies to everyone.
Dealing with burnout
Burnout is a serious problem, and we’re not talking about Takedown, Revenge, or Paradise (they were phenomenal). To experience burnout is to feel like you have no energy or passion for the thing you were once in love with, perhaps due to overwork, stress, or some external changes. It happens to lots of people and it can even creep up on you without you noticing, if your passion leads you to take on too much. So how do you beat it as a content creator?
Cassie explains that it “can be hard to know if you are going through burnout” because if you’re constantly thinking about work, you start to forget what it’s like to relax and take time for yourself. Creators are more at risk of this - the job doesn’t have natural boundaries, and as it’s passion-led it’s easy to become enraptured by the process of growing your channel and community, and unable to switch off from it all.
But as Fixer says, you need to put the people around you first. Even though content creation and streaming is (mostly) fun, “there are bigger things” than that in the world and you must not stop caring about the people around you while you’re striving for your dream. That also counts for yourself, as HJ explains you must “look after yourself to do good things” and that while your dream will be achievable, it “shouldn’t be chased at all costs”. If you do reach that point, you must stop and importantly, you must not feel guilty about doing so.
In addition to his point about community toxicity above, Brother Grimoire explains he avoids burnout by setting specific work hours for himself. Outside of those set hours, he forces himself to step away from streaming. @Rushlock does similarly, but takes entire days off:
"It seems like everything will be telling you to not take time off and stick with the grind, but taking a couple of days off per week and completely disengaging has huge benefits. I streamed seven days a week years ago, and I was so drained all the time that taking one or two days off per week had a dramatic effect on my energy levels while interacting live with chat.
“Also don’t make your days longer for the sake of doing so. It can be far better to do four-hour, high-energy broadcasts than say ten-hour sessions, in which you are at a much lower energy for the majority of the time.”
Finally, there’s an aspect of burnout that goes deeper than simply exhaustion, and that’s what happens to your motivation when you try to turn what started as a passion into a job. If you’re looking to make gaming videos, for instance, and it doesn’t go well, it can erode your love of gaming itself. The folks on the panel had some great advice for this: Hollie, Cassie, and Fixer all suggest making time to play things when you’re not streaming, so you can enjoy certain games in your own time, without half your mind on being entertaining or how you’re going to handle the edit. Make sure you play with non-streamer friends off-stream too, so you don’t lose touch with them and can balance multiple friend groups.
Managing workload and life hacks as a content creator
Asked by one of the audience members during our Creator Collab panel, both Cassie and Fixer advised the best way to manage your workload is to hire an editor as soon as possible. Sure, you won’t be able to do this right at the start, but as an option it might ‘unlock’ earlier than you think - lots of folks are looking to break into video editing and hungry for work as they build their portfolios. Until you can afford to do that, you can use editing templates to lighten the load on yourself.
A slightly more unorthodox piece of advice comes from @Ross, as he suggests meal prepping as a way to stay on top of things and free up a little time. Juggling a full time job with content creation, plus relationships and other hobbies, is very difficult if content creation isn’t your career yet, so meal prepping on one specific evening or on a weekend morning saves plenty of time. Not to mention it can be much healthier than eating something quick or ordering a takeaway!
You’ll also want to ensure all your content delivers the most juice for the squeeze, the most bang for buck. There’s little so disheartening than working for hours on a video edit only to see it flop. When producing videos rather than streams, @lanah_tyra recommends not trying to compete with the biggest channels and personalities for time-sensitive topics. She explains she’s previously made some ‘first clear’ FFXIV raid videos that hardly got any clicks because it’s so hard to outpace the more popular folks. Focus instead on evergreen content such as guides - as people will always be looking for these - or find a niche that’s truly your own and get established there first.
Finally, @macgybo has advice that is pertinent to everyone, not just content creators: be careful what information you share about yourself online. You never know who is engaging with your content, so “there’s nothing wrong with being guarded - treat your family details, address, and place of work as precious bits of info”. That’s everything from us on how to manage the content creator lifestyle, but be sure to drop any other suggestions you may have in the comments. Also make sure you check out our other curated articles on discoverability tips and monetisation tips for content creators.