I never thought I'd be writing a post like this, because from the age of 22 my dream was to be a "YouTuber". But I just don't love YouTube anymore.
Back in 2012, I had just started a Masters Degree, and was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. YouTube was (or at least felt like) a safe place for me to escape. When real life was a bit too much to handle, I would watch women the same age as me talking about what they’d bought from Boots, and I would feel less alone.
I was studying Photography so I knew my way around a camera, and already had all of the equipment I needed, so naturally I felt like I could start my own channel one day. Eventually I finished my Masters and got the courage to give it a go.
It's been nearly three years since I uploaded my first video, and now I have two channels as well as hours of content. Each product review, tutorial, or vlog has taken at least two days to put together if you include all the time they took to plan, set up, film, and edit. But that’s not the point. The point is that I still love watching and making videos, but I’m afraid I no longer love YouTube... so I don't think I'll be uploading as many videos this year.
When did this start?
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started to feel like this, but I do remember getting frustrated around December 2016. I was making more videos that month in the spirit of Vlogmas, but loosing subscribers every time I uploaded. Obviously, people are allowed to unsubscribe and that’s perfectly fine - but this was the result of a glitch on YouTube’s end that was affecting most of the creators I followed. Everyone was talking about it, and yet nothing changed. More bugs followed: videos stopped appearing in sub boxes, I would get messages from people saying they’d been randomly unsubscribed from my channel, and my videos would get demonetised for no reason.
Smaller channels like mine are having a really hard time being seen, but even creators with hundreds of thousands of subscribers are finding it more difficult than ever to actually make money because their ad revenue keeps plummeting. Some creators rely on sponsored videos, which for some reason seems to really annoy some viewers - because heaven forbid the people who put hours of work into frequent content that can be watched for free actually earn some money. Other creators are turning to Patreon, or relying on merch sales. What I'm trying to say is that even if by some miracle one of my channels were to take off, it still doesn't look like a sustainable source of income.
Oh, and another thing...
No, I’m not annoyed with YouTube because I don’t have enough subscribers/views/ad revenue (though I'll admit it can be disheartening). I’m annoyed because this website has massive problems with the algorithm and no changes are being made. Smaller creators like me are demonetised the moment we utter one swear word or mention anything LGBT+, and yet larger creators seem to be getting away with more and more.
On December 31st Logan Paul posted a video showing the body of a suicide victim. He even used a picture of the body in the thumbnail, and although the video was only online for 24 hours it ended up on the YouTube trending page. What angers me the most is that YouTube didn't even take the video down - Logan did, after a massive backlash.
Ultimately, YouTube is a business, and they want their share of the ad revenue. This means they're more likely to promote larger channels than the smaller creators who could actually do with the extra views. That sucks, but it's justifiable - just don't give us a different set of rules to follow. If someone with less than a thousand subscribers had uploaded the Logan Paul video they would have been banned immediately.
What will I do now?
I want to emphasise again: I love making videos. As a creative person, nothing makes me happier than planning a video, spending ages setting up the frame to make sure everything looks perfect, recording, and then editing. I love seeing an idea turn into a finished product ready to upload, and I love replying to the comments from the small group of people who watch my latest video every week. But I don't think I'll be making weekly content on my two channels anymore, or try to pursue YouTube as anything other than a hobby.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to disappear entirely. I just want to focus less on YouTube, and more on my own online space (this blog) and growing my photography business. I’ll admit, I’ve been neglecting my blog for a while but I really want that to change. I actually started blogging long before I had my first channel, and most of the content I make in video format could easily work as a blog post. Perhaps I’ll still upload the occasional video when I feel like it, or maybe I'll make shorter ones for Instagram - I'm not sure just yet, but I'll keep you posted.
I hope you understand and remember that I’m really not going anywhere - I’ll still be making content, just in different ways in 2018. Also, sorry this post turned out to be so ridiculously long. My bad.
If this post is way too long and you just want a summary:
Basically I've been a bit frustrated with YouTube for a while because of their terrible algorithm, and the video from Logan Paul was the final straw. So I'm going to be focusing on blogging and photography more. That's pretty much it to be honest.