Social media has been a game-changer in a variety of areas including communication, education, dating, and for some people income generation. YouTube has become one of the top sites to earn an income through content generation. All you need is an internet connection, a way to record and edit your material and thoughts to put out and you could be well on your way to making bank, or so we’re led to believe. If you’re considering YouTube as a career, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind.
Pros of YouTube as a career
Follow your passion and express your creativity
YouTube as a career allows you to follow your passion and potentially make money from it whether you’re a writer, entertainer, or a wanna-be academic. It gives you an opportunity to express your creativity. No matter how niche your interests are, you’re almost guaranteed to find an audience of people who share in it.
Depending on the content you’re making, it’s possible to have a huge impact on other people’s lives. There are YouTubers whose content is specifically geared at making a difference politically, from advocating for women’s rights to incisive progressive political commentary that leads to a more knowledgeable populace. Ideas are powerful and transformative. Then there are all the varied social causes that many YouTubers help amplify from things like Black Lives Matter to helping raise funds for feeding programs and prison abolition.
Success and fame
There’s the possibility that you could get incredibly lucky, have a huge audience, and make a lot of money. There’s also potential fame if you’re into that sort of thing. Many people have launched whole careers through YouTube. You could also just make enough to tide you over and cushion you a little bit, which isn’t something to scoff at.
Minimum barriers to entry
All you need is a way to record your ideas and share them. Bigger YouTube creators with more capital make videos with an extremely high production value but it’s possible to get started with a tiny camera and your ideas.
You get to organize your work as you see fit and have creative and executive control over everything you put out on YouTube. If you’re the kind of person who is most productive when you have this level of control, it can be great for you.
You could end up making many new friends and acquaintances, from fellow YouTube creators who you could collaborate with to members of your audience where the relationship develops further AFK/IRL (away from the keyboard/in real life).
Cons of YouTube as a career
Hobbies become work
Most creators start out sharing videos of them engaging in their hobbies and other activities that are fun for them. Sharing things you already like doing may seem like a no-brainer but converting said activities into work drains the sense of enjoyment out of them. It also introduces stress into the equation, from pressure to do it well enough for the audience to pressure to monetize it. Many people lose the joy of engaging in activities they used to love. Are you ready to trade your hobbies and passions for a potential paycheck?
Private business and secret algorithm
YouTube is a private, independently owned entity with its own goals and agenda. They set the rules and no one, not even the creators who keep people coming back to the site have to say. YouTube decide what is acceptable on their site and what isn’t with so strict a hand that they have been accused of censorship. They also have a secretive algorithm that determines what is promoted on the site and what isn’t. If for whatever reason they do not approve of your content, even if it’s not against any rules or laws, they can easily suppress your channel. This has happened to many political channels. This forces people to either make content the algorithm favours even if they don’t like it or stay the course and not make any money from their efforts.
Arduous work and burnout
Producing content consistently is hard. It’s time-consuming and emotionally taxing, not to any potential financial costs. All that time spent writing, researching, recording, editing, and uploading combined with the stress of growing your audience takes its toll. The YouTube algorithm rewards consistency and it can be so brutal which is why many career YouTubers have quit or taken a break citing mental health concerns and burnout.
There will be hateful comments and they will hurt. You need to develop a thick skin if you’re going to make YouTube a career. Bullying can be brutal and damaging to your mental health and has even made some people quit YouTube altogether. Many creators have developed ways of dealing with this including not reading the comments and enlisting the help of someone else in reading the comments and moderating.
Lack of privacy
Depending on the content you’re putting out on YouTube, you could end up trading your privacy for views. For example, if you have a family vlogging channel, you could be trading your privacy and that of your children for views, not to mention exposing so much of your life to total strangers. Even for people who don’t vlog their personal lives, there’s a trade-off when you put yourself out there, especially if you show your face.
You can make quality content on YouTube and do so consistently but there are no guarantees. You have no assurance that your labour and efforts will translate to a paycheck consistent or otherwise. Even if you are making money on YouTube, for many channels, it’s inconsistent and you can’t plan around it in the same way you can with a steady paycheck. This can be a source of anxiety and depression.
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