Dr. Tracy Bennett
Dr. Tracy Bennett
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Most parents are baffled by the YouTube celebrity phenomenon so popular with kids and teens. To keep us in-know, our last GKIS article, Why are YouTube Celebrities Popular?, explained why YouTube celebrities are so popular. It looks easy, but the truth is attracting and keeping viewers is not as easy as it looks. Recently, YouTube celebrities have been coming out in droves talking about their struggles with mental health issues. Is this a fad topic intended to attract more viewers? Is it a valuable community service, because it offers mental health information? Or are YouTube celebrities actually stressed out and overextended to maintain earnings? Find out what’s behind the curtain of YouTube celebritydom and how practicing tried-and-true self-care methods is the answer for staying healthy and successful. 

The Breakdown Video

In 2016, top YouTube celebrity PewDiePie reached his breaking point. In a video titled “I QUIT (for now),” he announced that he couldn’t keep up the pace of uploading videos daily. Even the wildly successful veteran PewDiePie was crumbling under the stress and anxiety of a daily vlog. 

Elle Mills is a more recent celebtrity who became an overnight sensation last year with her coming out video, increasing her subscriber count to 1.2 million. Soon after, she posted her burnout video. In her seven-minute emotional video, she explains:

“This is all I ever wanted. And why the fuck am I so unfucking unhappy? It- It doesn’t make any sense. You know what I mean? Because, like this is literally my fucking dream. And I’m fucking so unfucking happy. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s so stupid. It is so stupid.”

Because of the fast changes in her life and the effect YouTube was having on her, she decided to take a break to recuperate and find her love for creating content again. 

Bobby Burns gained almost a million subscribers in less than two weeks after working with celebrity Shane Dawson. Shortly after, Burn abruptly decided to move to Los Angeles and change his content. Sadly, Burn received a lot of backlash from Shane fans and his subscriber numbers ultimately declined under accusations of selling out and changing content for Shane. Eventually this led to his video explaining his breakdown, saying:

“I didn’t make videos, I did- I literally didn’t do anything. I tried- I tried incredibly hard but I couldn’t. I would go to touch my camera or touch premiere and I would just have a full-blown anxiety attack. When this was first happening I was so confused, I was like why? I love making videos so why the fuck is this happening? And the reason that was happening is because I completely burnt myself out and I lost myself in YouTube.”

Common Elements Behind YouTube Celebrity Breakdowns

AdSense:When YouTubers are first starting out, they receive their money through Google AdSense. The amount of money received depend on two key factors, the types of ads and the pricing of ads appearing in your videos. So, whenever a viewer clicks on an ad on your YouTube channel, you get paid a certain amount of money. This creates a pressure to upload daily among YouTubers, so they can maintain their status as a YouTube celebrity and have a consistent flow of income. 

Always-Changing YouTube Algorithms:An algorithm is a set of rules created to solve a class of problems. When we speak of YouTube algorithms, we are referring to the specifications that get one’s video offered up to viewers. There is big competition. Every minute there are over 400 hours of videos uploaded to YouTube, making it necessary to have a way to make content easier to find.[1] According to YouTube, the point of having the search and discovery system are to help viewers find videos they want. 

Initially, the algorithm was fairly simple, rewarding the most clicked videos. Now videos are rewarded by the number of minutes the video is viewed, among other factors. Staying relevant creates a lot of pressure to produce fresh, new, and creative content each upload.

Currently, the six ways the algorithm can affect where YouTuber’s videos appear are through search results, suggested video stream, recommended viewing, trending stream, the viewer’s subscriptions, and any notifications the viewer has set up. [1]

Demonetization:Another concern is the fear and frustration of having your video demonetized. Demonetization means that the video is not suitable for monetization (making money from ads), since it does not comply with YouTube guidelines. However, this continues to be a frustrating and confusing topic for YouTubers since YouTube’s software decides if the video is advertiser-friendly. Software occasionally messes up ad revenue by incorrectly putting it in the ‘demonetization’ category. This can have a costly financial impact.

Brand Ambassadorships & Product Lines: Not only must YouTube celebrities manage their own brands, but they often partner with others. Typically that means partnering with somebody with a similar platform (number of subscribers). Other times, there’s pressure to earn the attention of a bigger celebrity. In order to be marketable, one must create and test content to build an attractive business portfolio. Another way to increase profits and expand influence is to create a personal product line. One business quickly leads to others… 

Is YouTube doing enough to support YouTube celebrities?

YouTube Creator Academy launched in 2013 for the purpose of providing free educational videos on starting a YouTube channel or helping your channel be successful. Creator Academy courses include foundation, production, growing your channel, earning money and building your business on YouTube, and YouTube content categories. [2]

The course “Staying well and avoiding burnout” was added in June, 2018. Polygon writer, Julia Alexander, writes:

 “There is no concrete answer for how YouTube executives and employees can tackle burnout. They can offer more transparency around monetization and copyright rules…but it’s going to take a lot of experimenting and communication. Tools like the community tab, which offer creators a chance to hang out and talk to fans without needing to work on a video is just one step.” [3]

Avoiding Burnout

YouTuber celebrity and vlogger, Casey Neistat, offers, the following suggestions for preventing YouTube burnout:

Take a break.

It’s important to give yourself a break from the fast pace of YouTube. Letting your viewers know that you are taking time to recuperate and take care of yourself shows an openness and bond as a creator. Go on that long-awaited vacation without feeling guilty. 

Spend time with family and friends.

Usually a YouTuber’s time consists of long hours of planning, filming, and editing. Having a balance of work and play are crucial for one’s mental health. When you spend time with family and friends it can be a time to unwind and not focus on YouTube. Remember, you still have a life outside of YouTube, and it doesn’t always need to be publicized to millions of viewers in the world.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This can mean many things. Hiring more hands-on deck to film the content, edit videos, manage social media outlets, and create a balance on work and life can remove those added pressures and creative blockage. For impairing mental health issues, seek professional help.

Diversify your income.

YouTube ad revenue isn’t the only way to make money. The membership site, Patreon,is an outlet for YouTubers to create a page so subscribers can pay to get bonus creator content. Forming a direct relationship with sponsors can also help funding. Being a part of events that hold Q&A panels, conferences, or platforms for YouTubers also help. Production deals with media companies like Netflix or Disney can offer lucrative revenue. Finding ways to diversify your income is important to weather dips in one revenue source.

At the end of the day, YouTube businesses are like other entrepreneurial ventures. Staying centered, learning how to tolerate risk, build support for wearing multiple hats and ultimately outsource, and learning how to manage teams and finances are critical for success. Want to learn more about YouTube’s impact on kids? Checkout YouTube Beauty Gurus Suck Money and Teen Confidence and GetKidsInternetSafe Tips for YouTube.

Thank you to CSUCI Intern, Sasha Mejia for taking the initiative to research and write this article in response to your insights!

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

[1] YouTube. “Lesson: Search and Discovery on Youtube.” Youtube Creator Academy, 2018.

[2] Google. “Learn with the YouTube Creator Academy.” YouTube Help, 2018.

[3] Alexander, Julian. “YouTube exec addresses burnout epidemic: ‘We should be the thought leaders in the space’.” Polygon,18 September 2018.

Photo Credits

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Photo by Claudia on Unsplash

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

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