Content Creator Burnout: Common Causes and Strategies to Avoid it in the Creator Economy
In 2022, content creators have more opportunities than ever, thanks to the burgeoning creator economy.
You can grow your audience, collaborate with established companies, and build your brand. All on your own terms.
At the same time, all of this puts immense pressure on you. Pressure to increase your output. Engage your audience. Be productive constantly. Manage everything on your own.
Add unpredictable platform algorithms and overbearing brands to the mix, and you’ve got a major threat to your mental health.
Given this situation, it’s not surprising that up to 90% of content creators suffer from creator burnout.
For many, it’s a gradual process. Others hit their limit suddenly and can’t keep pace with the content hamster wheel anymore.
But what is creator burnout exactly? What does the creator economy have to do with it? And what can you do to escape the vicious circle?
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the creator economy, its effects on mental health, and the advice two seasoned creators offer to stay resilient and thrive.
What is the Creator Economy?
Today, being a content creator can be a full-time job. Not something most people imagined when YouTube launched back in 2005.
Making a living off creating content is possible because brands love collaborating with creators, and because social platforms now offer monetization opportunities.
In a nutshell, that’s the creator economy.
The reason for this is that content creators are incredibly popular, especially with younger audiences. For instance, creators – not corporations – produce 90% of the content Gen Z consumes. And 45% of people are eager to buy products creators promote on social media.
For creators, this means that there is massive profit to be made. The top-earning YouTuber, Mr. Beast, cashed in $54 million in 2021, for instance. Over on TikTok, Charli D’Amelio earned $27.5 million.
But even the number of mid-scale creators – those that earn a living off their platforms – is increasing. Between 2020 and 2021 it shot up by 41%.
Overall, there are now over 50 million creators worldwide – from bloggers and video creators to influencers and podcasters.
And Forbes values the entire creator economy at more than $100 billion.
However, the pressure of being a creator in this new creator economy is huge. Especially if you earn your full-time income that way.
Most creators start out doing something they love. Soon, though, they get caught up in a hamster wheel of producing content, catering to their audience, and being constantly available to engage with followers.
After all, this is exactly what social algorithms reward creators for. Those same algorithms, though, may shift at any time, sending audiences dwindling for little apparent reason. This is a big source of uncertainty.
And on top of all that, there’s the stress of negotiating brand deals.
All of this takes its toll. And according to recent stats, 90% of creators say they’ve faced burnout. 71% of them have even considered quitting social media entirely.
But what does this creator burnout look like? And what can you do to recover or avoid it entirely? We asked two successful creators who’ve managed just that.
What is Content Creator Burnout?
“It was like a ton of bricks. I felt completely and utterly exhausted. I woke up one morning and all my motivation was gone,” explains Aleka, a food blogger and content creator on TikTok and Instagram.
“I had absolutely no desire to even open my laptop. This is usually never an issue, as I love what I do and am very passionate about it. But this was a different feeling. So I knew I had pushed it too far.”
Aleka’s experience is typical. When you hit creator burnout, your passion and inspiration disappear. In their place, there’s fatigue and frustration.
“I try to come up with ideas and I come up blank,” TikTok comedian Brad Gosse describes his experience. “Or even worse, I get parts of ideas I can’t piece together. I feel useless, like that’s the end of my career. Like the idea well is dry. Forever. I also feel slow, tired and unhappy. Often my inner critic gets worse. It thinks nothing is good enough.”
If you’re a creator, this probably sounds familiar. Eventually, everyone runs into this on a bad day. When the feeling refuses to go away and becomes your status quo, though, things become critical.
How does the Creator Economy cause Burnout?
The major reason many creators are struggling with burnout is the way the creator economy – and algorithms on social media – are structured.
YouTube’s algorithm, for instance, is known to favor channels with high content output. Creators publishing multiple videos per week, or even per day, have a much better chance of showing up in recommendations. Their audience grows faster and they have better options for monetizing their work.
However, social media algorithms are also volatile. Tiny code changes can make or break a channel, can supercharge your audience, or decimate it. As a creator, you never know when such a shift might happen.
The combination of high expectations and huge uncertainty is lethal.
As a result, many creators work overtime to keep ahead, with little time set aside for self-care.
“I have always heard of burnout but never thought I’d experience it for myself, right up until I did.”
“The #1 reason for burnout is spending way too much time creating content with little to no downtime,” Aleka explains. “By ‘too much time’, I mean more than the average 9–5 workday. Constantly going hard nights and weekends, it’s exhausting mentally more than anything.”
“I have always heard of burnout, but never thought I’d experience it for myself, right up until I did. Going from my full-time job from 8 to 4, then straight home to continue working from 5 to 10 seven days a week, creating endless content took a toll on me. ”
Brad felt the same, though he also feels that negative feedback from viewers plays a role. “I think I just ran out of ideas. But it also happens if I spend too much time reading negative comments.”
Burnout is something that can hit creators at any stage, from part-time Instagrammers to wildly successful YouTubers like Mr. Beast:
What Happens When Creators Burn Out?
When burnout hits, your content quality suffers, as Aleka attests.
“Any attempt at creating new content was less than average,” she says.
“Normally I’m very productive, but my productivity levels were completely down. I could barely work through creating content for one of my social channels, let alone my blog. The quality of work also suffered since my passion seemed to be MIA.”
“I feel useless, like that’s the end of my career. Like the idea well is dry. Forever.”
For Brad, like countless others, it was worse: “I made no content at all. I didn’t even want to go live or remake old content.”
This, of course, is the worst-case scenario. And the start of a vicious circle. You feel terrible because you’re not producing content. Yet you can’t produce content because you’re feeling terrible.
The upshot is that your content quality drops, or your content production grinds to a screeching halt.
Subscriber numbers stagnate or drop. View counts falter. Income drops off. And anxiety often jumps.
What Strategies Can You Use to Avoid Content Creator Burnout?
Can you see any signs of creator burnout in yourself? Or are you even ticking all the boxes above?
Then it’s time to strategize and get back on track. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways that can help you battle – and prevent – content creator burnout.
Take A Break - Hit the Reset Button
“My first piece of advice,” Brad says, “is to get as far away from forced creation as possible.”
Aleka agrees. “The first thing I did that was incredibly helpful was take a much needed break! And when I say a break, I mean from EVERYTHING! I needed to hit the reset button.”
“During that break, I got outdoors more and did things I didn’t normally do for fun. At least a week is a must, but four weeks is better. Yes, you may fall behind a bit on content creation, but working while being burned out is hardly being productive. When you return from your ‘vacation’, you will feel more motivated and inspired than ever! “
Create Time for Self-Care
A second major element is to stop overworking yourself.
“Going forward, take shorter breaks more often,” Aleka advises. “This will keep you focused and motivated.”
Brad shares much the same advice. “Distract yourself with non-creative activities. Play – games, sports, whatever. Sometimes all I need is a long drive or a shower.”
Sadie Aldis’ pamper routine lets her recharge her batteries (while her video editing team does its job)
Assemble a Team and Delegate
Taking time for yourself is easier said than done, though, when you’re a busy creator.
To create more time for self-care, consider delegating some of your tasks.
Hiring a video editor, graphic designer, or channel manager frees up tons of time and takes some pressure off. Plus, having a team to rely on also provides you with a fantastic support network when things get tough.
Keep Learning and Discovering
Part of keeping your passion alive is nurturing curiosity. Learn new things and take the time to explore them.
“Then the first thing I did when I started working again, that every content creator should do, is to learn something new,” Aleka explains. “This will give you the extra boost to get back at it with a different mindset and approach!”
No matter if it’s related to your particular niche, or to how you run your channel, discovering new things is an amazing source of energy and passion.
The Bottom Line
Creator burnout is lurking just around the corner, even for the most successful content creators. It can hit you out of nowhere and slow your creation process or stop it completely.
To recover, and to avoid burnout in the first place, there are several things you can do, according to creators who have experienced it:
Take a break for a few weeks and hit the reset button.
Create time for self-care in your daily routine.
Assemble a team you can trust to take a load off your shoulders.
Feed your passion. Take the time to learn and discover. To stay curious and explore new things.
All of this may seem extravagant, especially if you’re already feeling stressed because you’re in a rut. But ultimately, it will help you replenish your creative energy and boost your content quality and quantity in the long run.
Thanks to Our Contributors!
Aleka is a New Jersey mom of two, a food blogger and content creator. After teaching full time and building her side hustle for 5 years, she was able to turn her passion into a full time job. Now, she develops recipes, photographs food, creates videos, and shares content and entertaining tips on her blog Aleka’s Get-Together, TikTok, and YouTube.
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Creator burnout is a kind of exhaustion brought on by the constant emotional, physical, and mental stress of cranking out content. An overwhelming majority of content creators experience it at one time or another.
Social media algorithms are both highly demanding and fickle – an extremely stressful mix. Additionally, many creators fear delegating any of their tasks, and end up doing everything themselves. This can work for a while, but if they don’t make time for themselves – by outsourcing, for instance – it’s a straight path to burnout.
The core idea is to take back your time and to keep your passion fresh. Depending on how exhausted you are right now, you may have to take a few weeks off to recover and think. Going forward, outsource time-consuming tasks like video editing to professional services. Use the time you gain to take care of yourself, and to get interested in new things to rekindle your zest for life.