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Beating Burnout, Part 1: Common Causes of Creator Stress


There’s an old saying that goes, “When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”

Many might view the life of a creator as symbolic of that saying. And depending on who you asked, many creators would likely agree. After all, you get to make your own hours, profit from your passion, and gain adoring fans who love what you do. To borrow another, more recent, saying, becoming a successful creator could be seen as “cracking the code” on life.

However, that wouldn’t be telling the full story. As fun and fulfilling as creating can be, it can also be just as difficult. Sure, you can make your own hours, but you can also find yourself tied to deadlines that you just can’t keep up. The pressure to continually produce high-quality content can take its toll, as can the fear of losing followers or ending up on the wrong side of an algorithm.

Those everyday pressures have given rise to an increasingly concerning problem for creators: burnout. Follow along as we examine what burnout is, how it’s affecting creators, and why it’s becoming more and more common.

What is burnout?

Defined by the American Psychological Association as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes toward oneself and others,” burnout is something that any of us can experience in our professional lives, and is unfortunately becoming more common than ever

Many of the stressors that are causing this rise can be traced back, like so many other things, to the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that in metropolitan areas around the world the average workday became 49 minutes longer during the pandemic, and for many of us, remote work has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives.

Creators are not immune to these changes, and have found themselves grappling with another noticeable effect of the pandemic: a vast increase in screen time. Around the world, lockdowns have led people to spend more time on their mobile devices, with social media apps and their creators becoming key sources of entertainment. With more people consuming content, the creator community has expanded, drawing more attention to an issue that stems from a need to keep countless social media users engaged and entertained.

Which brings us to where we are today: looking at a creator community that feels overworked and overstretched. Just how common has burnout become? According to Vibely’s recent Creator Burnout Report, 90% of creators report having experienced burnout at some point, and 71% say they’ve considered quitting social media altogether.

Burnout is clearly taking a heavy toll on the creator community, which makes it all the more important to understand what’s causing creators to feel this way.

What’s causing creators to burn out?

Content creators are experts, entrepreneurs, marketers, performers, editors … the list goes on and on. Not only do they need to juggle multiple roles, but they need to do so while keeping up with platforms where the flow of new content simply never stops.

While each person’s experience may be different, here are some of the most common causes of creator burnout:

What are creators saying about burnout?

Over the last few years, prominent YouTubers Alisha MarieLilly Singh and Elle Mills have all taken breaks from creating after sharing their struggles with burnout. Mills in particular was unflinchingly honest about how her anxiety and depression had gotten worse after reaching new heights of success.

TikTokkers too have been open about dealing with the challenges that come with building and managing a following online. Brooklynne Webb, a TikTokker with roughly 11 million followers, told ABC News she felt like she “had to keep going and going because I didn’t want to take a break because then just one day off, that’s a day of engagement gone.” And even Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s biggest star with 141 million followers, said in 2021 that she’d “lost the passion” for creating videos after dealing with online negativity.

How is the public responding?

While we wish we could say the public response to creator burnout has been roundly positive, that hasn’t quite been the case. Whereas creators’ fans tend to be supportive, the general public can find it hard to sympathize. Case in point, here’s a sampling of comments taken from a Polygon article about burnout from 2018:

“It’s as if their fun hobby that they turned into a career came with all the trappings of having a career.”

“Gee I never get burned out at my job ever. That doesn’t happen to me or billions of other people every day.”

“So they’re saying their get-rich-quick scheme isn’t as easy as they initially thought it would be?”

Those responses underline a common misconception that continues to make it difficult to properly address the “burnout” issue: the idea that being a creator isn’t a “real” career, and therefore the stress that creators face is less valid than it would be with another job. That fear of being judged can make creators hesitant to talk about how burnout is affecting them, taking a toll on both their minds and on the content that countless people consume every day.

An ongoing discussion

Creator burnout is a serious problem, but not one without solutions. The fact of the matter is, there are things creators can do to beat burnout and reclaim their passion for their work, just as there are steps they can take to protect their mental health when engaging with others online.

We’ll explore both of those points in more detail as our “Beating Burnout” series continues. Until then, stay tuned to bemyfriends’ newsroom for more insights on all things fandom.

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