Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq
More young people than ever are pursuing a career in YouTube,and I understand why. In 2017, the top 10 YouTubers made over $70 million combined, even more so, YouTubers are beginning to spread their wings and pursue other ventures. Niko Omilana ran for London Mayor in the May elections, Zoella and Joe Sugg have entered the world of television, and the likes of Jake Paul and KSI are making moves in the boxing and music scenes. As a result, we understandably have a generation dreaming of emulating their success.
One study found that three-quarters of Gen Zers and Millennials would consider a career in YouTube or another online video platform. Another study found that British and American children were three times more likely to want to be YouTubers than astronauts. Money plays a crucial role in why we see so many people drawn towards careers in YouTube. But it is a lot more complex. Today, people are driven towards creative pursuits more than ever before. We want platforms that can allow for self-expression, enable life on the road and provide the opportunity to travel across the globe.
For many years, YouTube has provided such a platform and attracted like-minded individuals.
Yet, the flip side of life as a YouTuber often gets overlooked. There’s little mention of the ugly, dark and stressful parts of the job. We need to express caution to those who are thinking about a career in YouTube. We don’t hear about the fact that many of our favourite Youtubers have to work so hard to get to where they are, sometimes to the detriment of their mental and physical health. We only portray the highs of being a famous creator and not enough about what goes on behind the camera, such as the sleepless nights and the pressures of having a platform. Had that side been spoken about more, I do not think we would see as much of an upsurge in people wanting to pursue such a career. Christine Sydelko, who spoke to Insider a few years back, describes having experienced burnout, anxiety and depression because of the relentless work of being a YouTuber. She even went as far as to discourage people from pursuing a career in this field.
Further, Jessica Stillman from Inc. has stated: “You’re at the mercy of the Google algorithm and your fans, and you have to turn out tremendous amounts of content constantly.”
With so many people aspiring to be a YouTuber, we need to be careful about how we, as a society, portray this career. People need to be aware that it takes a lot of work and sacrifice to be successful on YouTube – something which, I believe, many do not realise the full extent of. People still think YouTube is easy, that anyone can do it, and that making money out of YouTube is like a get-rich-quick scheme. In reality, being a Youtuber is hard, and only a select few have achieved amazing things on this platform. We often remark that becoming a footballer is nearly impossible, with fewer than one per cent of those entering football academies at age nine making it as a professional footballer.
That same message should be applied to becoming a YouTuber.
However, what we shouldn’t do is discourage people that want to become creators and tell them that they need to ‘get a 9-5, be realistic and stop chasing their dreams’. Instead, we must provide an accurate portrayal of what being a Youtuber is, considering the highs, the lows and the long journey towards success.