Whenever I meet new people my age and explain my job to them they all look at me the same way. YouTube is a kid thing, it’s tweens eating ‘candy’ and covering themselves in slime.. it’s not adults.. they don’t get it and I totally understand. If I didn’t do what I do my only frame of reference for YouTube would be Milo watching people unwrap kinder eggs and Ella watching people do various ridiculous challenges for the entertainment of..kids. But those kids grow up and 10 years later they’re still acting the fool and it’s starting to feel awkward.
Change is a big thing online, I’ve spoken a lot in the past about the idea of remaining unchanged in a 5-10 year period being completely bizarre and yet entirely expected when it comes to YouTubers. They’re playing a character and viewers are annoyed that new writers have been brought in to shake things up for season 4. At 20 I thought I was as grown up as I’d ever be, I had a child, a mortgage, a steady job.. what else could possibly happen to me to influence my thoughts and opinions that hadn’t already happened? Well, how about divorce, DRIVING TEST(S), a million other jobs, another child, money worries, friendships made and lost.. you are a product of everything that has happened to you and at 20 that is just about nothing. I’m 30 now and know that in 10 years I will be different still. Future me would probably disagree with my 30-year-old self on most subjects, tell myself to stop worrying so much about my weight, save some money and apply eye cream more often. We grow up, it’s normal.
Recently a high profile YouTuber, let’s call her ‘Mouise’, posted a video about her plan to change her content and it met a mixed but largely positive response. She made so much sense in the video that I couldn’t not agree with her but I did wonder whether she would have reached the level of success that she has if she had felt free to be herself all along. Once you’ve built a brand on your sweet, PG persona it must be daunting to break out of that shell for fear of losing years of work. On the flipside if you no longer love your work because you’ve outgrown that persona.. is it really still your dream job? YouTube is a double-edged sword in that respect, you make your own hours and have great earning potential doing something creative and fun but the moment you ‘change’ your fate rests in the hands of your viewers. They can decide whether to lift you up or tear you down and so it must be tempting to sell your soul and carry on as you are for fear of the whole thing crumbling if you decide to choose happiness over stability.
I have been posting content online for 6 and a half years, I have changed massively in that time but I also have majorly itchy feet when it comes to change. I’ve had 5 blogs, as many YouTube channels and have recently totally rebranded my main site and social to ease me out of the budget beauty box I’d put myself in. I have to switch things up from time to time or I’d go mad so change isn’t something I struggle with but I’ve definitely felt the pressure to fit in to a certain YouTube mould if I want to grow my audience. I started making videos when I was 24, I was divorced, in a new relationship, unemployed and totally lost. I’m now 30, married, have a second child and completely settled.. my life is different, my financial situation is different, my interests are more varied and I’m just not the same person I was. That’s not a terrible thing, it’s human nature to evolve and change and would life not be insanely dull if you knew at this moment you were everything you could ever be and had achieved everything you could ever achieve?
Of course numbers are important, checking in on performance every so often is necessary in every job but when you work for yourself (in whatever capacity) it’s important to remember why you started. They say if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life and that’s a great thing to remind yourself of when you’re having a tough week and perhaps need to reassess whether you really still love what you do. I’ve dabbled with trying to perfect lighting and learn how to use my fancy camera’s but when it starts to feel like work I always come back to setting down my camera on the windowsill and chatting about nothing. Some could argue this is why my growth has been slow over the years but I think I’d have given up a long time ago if I’d succumbed to the cookie cutter pressure. Of course you have to listen to viewer feedback and criticism but it’s when you allow that to hold more weight than your own happiness that it affects your content. If you’re always worrying about what people think you’ll never truly be yourself.
For a long time I told myself that I was putting out an edited version of myself on YouTube because the viewers there had subscribed to the promise of a certain kind of content but I now realise my real worry is losing what has taken me 6 years to build. I have been steadily transitioning my content to what feels the most natural for me for some time now and felt pretty good about until I met someone new recently who asked me to send over my link. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing it because I didn’t feel it represented who I really was. That’s just crazy. It’s my channel, I’m not a brand.. surely if NOTHING else I can be MYSELF?! My favourite online personalities have a dry sense of humour and say whatever they want without fear of negativity or offending anyone but they’re not always the most popular. Sarcasm can come across as bitchy and mean and in real life you can read a room and decide what people will find amusing but a digital lobotomy is necessary to communicate to an unknown online audience if you want to be sure you won’t upset anyone. I’m not 24 anymore, I want to watch people I relate to and there must be other people who feel the same way so I’m going to take a leaf out of
Louise’s Mouise’s book and try to shake the shell I have left and just be myself. You’ll either like me or you won’t but at least I’ll know it’s ME!