Burnout- Dangers of turning hobbies/ passion into a job

Recently there is a number of large and established YouTubers announcing that they are either quitting YouTube or massively scaling down in their video production. They were tired, burnt out and with recent declining revenue (due to economic conditions), it become harder to continue on.

I wish to offer my 2 cents, as someone who have been a content creator for 20 years or so….

I started my own site since 2002 and by 2008, I got my own domain name and self hosting as I started to take blogging seriously. I did try to give it a go at full time blogging with the concept of being a full time blogger first came out. Btw, most of the pioneers have since receded from the limelight. I was making peanuts and by the second year of quitting my job, I had to take a paycut job to help pay the bills. And yet, my blogging income perhaps amount to only a quarter of my paycut job.

At the same time, I found myself burning out and inspiration…. content no longer flow effortlessly and I started getting writers block. The moment I focused on trying to turn my hobby into a living, the moment the inspiration, creativity and ideas just faded away. It was no longer fun and fulfilling as it used to and was quickly becoming a dreaded chore.

In the end, I went back to corporate world to work because I was broke and unhappy being bullied at work (when pay is so low). I applied my blogging skills to manage an information portal (intranet) and write communication, helping hundreds of staff daily by making information accesible and easily understood by them.

Just like when a YouTube channel grow, the creator would be tempted to outsource most of the work like research, script writing, video editing, and thumbnail ….. and then spent most of the time having the manage these staff, the same happens in the corporate world as well.

When we get good at what we are doing , naturally bosses would want to promote us to higher position. Throughout my corporate career, I have been repeatedly offered with job promotions which I declined each time. This is because I was clear of my capabilities and interests and wanted to focus to do job that interests me. Promotions would involve having staff to manage, attending high level meetings and making high level decisions that impact many people. I have absolutely no interest in all these and even though sometimes I ended up offending my bosses, I declined each time.

Similar to the YouTube scene, I’ve watched a number of capable colleagues whom were being offered ‘better opportunities’ and promoted ended up being burnt out and getting health problems due to the stress as they were doing work that they naturally were not skilled in.

In other words, regardless of doing YouTube or any hobbies or even a full time job, we need to know our purpose, goals and interests very well. If we are unclear, we would other people would dictate the path and direction we take in life.

I find the octopus analogy by Marcus Brownlee of MKBHD to be very interesting….

As a YouTube creator, we are having several full time job at once eg writer, photographer, editor, invoicing, accounting, PR, etc…. just like an octopus. His advice is when getting help, engage someone who is better than us but something that we specifically wish to cut off like an arm of an octopus. But we cannot cut off every arm. He mentioned that octopus has 3 hearts and there are some core functions that cannot cut off. As a creator there are some aspects that we fell in love with…..we gotta keep it. Cannot cut it off. Learn those 3 hearts are as early and deliberately as we can.



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