This afternoon I watched Jacksepticeye’s latest video and found myself feeling a mixture of emotions.
First off, we stan Sean, hard. Secondly, I have silently, and supportively (I hope), watched him, and other top YouTubers, go through this sort of existential crisis since C19 began. It is not surprising that a global event of this scale has shaken a lot of people to the core, and forced us to, well, face ourselves. Content creators included.
What seems to be surfacing for them is the daily struggle to appease their audience with regular mainstream content, while also feeling like they are enjoying creating it themselves, and doing what they really want to, not just what the audience wants them to do. Admittedly, these top YouTubers have (mostly) expressed this internal dissatisfaction with an immense amount of grace but it leaves me feeling sad for them, as people because I grasp the frustration, and emptiness, those feelings can lead to.
It is incredibly hard to remain consistent and creative while also trying to push out large volume content that also appeals to a vast audience. Damned near impossible actually; very few have done it, and even fewer manage to maintain it.
As a partner on ASM, this resonates with me deeply. We actively try to release fresh content that also remains interesting to as many people as possible, while also being wholly aware that we need as much content as possible appealing to as wide a range an audience as we can get. It can be really difficult to sustain financially unless you can, essentially, please everyone. And that’s a major understatement. Having creative integrity doesn’t (often) pay off. But at the end of the day, every content creator has to ask themselves, “Do I want to be doing content I am not happy with because it brings numbers?”… To which there is no easy answer. As I discussed in my previous The Spirit of Community article, content creators need funds in order to continue creating content.
I could easily ramble on about the importance, and means, of supporting your favourite creators, but I have already done that. Instead, I want to say to these creators: Follow your heart and do what you love. We will continue to support you because, we don’t watch your videos (just) because you are funny and entertaining, we watch because YOU have value, as a creative genius, even if you don’t always know it. You are more than a product. I am here to tell you, if you are tired or sick, take a break. We won’t go anywhere; I promise. If there is something creative you have always wanted to try/do, do it. We will support it. And it may even inspire someone else to be creative. And last but not least, if no one has told you, you don’t have to be perfect. Numbers are nowhere near as important as connecting to someone, and those you connect to will support you.
In the past few months I have seen an overwhelming amount of support coming from content communities. From Facebook groups, to Twitch streams, to my own friends encouraging me when I felt like throwing in the towel in the face of adversity.
If there is one thing I have learned over my many, many, many years on this planet, it is that you do not need to put business above creativity to be ‘successful’. The most successful people I know are the ones that tossed out the rulebook and did things their way.
Fuck conformity, fuck pleasing everyone, create, thrive, choose happy. There IS an audience for your special brand of genius. Don’t hold yourself back because you feel like you have been pigeon-holed into being one thing; even if that one thing worked for you in the past. Humans evolve and grow, and your audience will evolve and grow right along with you. Shine on.