Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Content creator burn out is real, here's how one blogger fought back

Jamie Alleyne once walked away from her popular blog

Jamie Alleyne once walked away from her popular blog

Lilly Singh made headlines this week when she announced that she was taking a break from YouTube, the platform that made her a global success story.

Singh cited, among other things, her mental health and the pressure of keeping up with YouTube’s changing algorithm, as the push factors.

Singh, known popularly as Superwoman, is just the latest high profile digital content creator to retreat from the entity that made her rich and famous.

Popular YouTubers such as Alisha Marie, Ellie Mills, the Dolan Twins and Jake Paul have also taken breaks from the platform because of burn out.

YouTube, in response to this trend, introduced a lesson on Staying well and Avoiding Burn Out on its YouTube Creator Academy.

Lilly Singh aka Superwoman

In the blogging world, Necole Kane famously gave up her popular entertainment gossip site Necole Bitchie in 2015 at the height of her success, for the same reason.

Writing about her story, Kane said: “Having to keep up with the latest breaking celebrity news each and every day made for long hours, a lack of sleep, vacations that were never vacations, and a nutritional plan that was non-existent. But I wasn’t happy. I was unhealthy. As a result, I was fatigued, dehydrated, and malnourished. I dealt with extreme anxiety, stress and depression and I was always on edge.”

Necole later launched an inspirational lifestyle blog called XO Necole.

Closer to home, in the Caribbean community, Jamie Alleyne, also known as Jay Blessed, who ran the eponymous Caribbean entertainment blog, also felt the strain of maintaining a high-profile digital brand.

Alleyne, who built a reputation as the Queen of Caribbean entertainment news and gossip, walked away from her blog in 2015. She empathises with Superwoman and understands the need to take care of one’s mental health.

“It takes a lot to be a blogger, writer, content creator and maintaining that on a daily basis.  A blog is a beast you have to feed on a daily basis and when it starts getting to those numbers and growing if you don’t have enough manpower to maintain that it can eat you alive. That happened to me,” she told Loop.

The Trinidad and Tobago-born mother of one who lives in New York said her blog grew beyond what she expected it to be and with that responsibility came a lot more obligation and a lot more work.

“You are also building a personal brand. If it is associated with a person like Superwoman then it is just her. It is difficult when the website is really your name. With that responsibility comes a lot of work,” she said.

While burn out happens in several fields, digital creators, said an article in Variety, are unique in that they are all-in-one media producers.

“They typically conceive, write, edit and star in their videos. It’s a lot of work. A 10-minute video can take upwards of three days to make,” the article said.

Alleyne concurs.

“You have to consistently feed it, it is all about slaying that beast. But for a lot of people, it is too much. The digital space is an all-consuming, 24-hour type of job. Couple that with living your actual life…there were days I had to wash clothes but then I am scrolling Instagram and looking for stories and I get caught up with that and the clothes never washed,” she said.

Alleyne said she had a few breakdowns and was feeling torn between her site and her personal life. Her daughter was at a crucial point in school and needed her support. A family member was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer.

“I did not have a grasp of my own personal life. I had to choose and it was easy. This blog won’t feed me at the end of the night and my family needed me. I was losing myself,” she recalled.

Some content creators have cited negative comments as factors in their mental breakdowns.

Alleyne has grappled with that as well.             

“When you are your own editor and managing your own social you see the comments, there is no filter. What that does to your psyche, it affects your self-esteem, it leaves you questioning yourself,” she said.

Alleyne recently relaunched her site but now, she said, she is operating differently.

“I have chosen now to not to do breaking stories and daily celebrity news. I am not killing myself to be the first to write this shit. What I am now doing is making my purpose that when I post it will be about substance and you could read about something you can’t find anywhere else. I might do three stories or one but it will be the damn best stories and I am re-training my audience as to what to expect,” she said.

Now a mental health advocate, Alleyne said taking time for one’s self is important.

On her site, she lists 12 ways people can manage their mental health with sex, music, me time and therapy among her recommendations.

Her advice for everyone embarking on any career is to know their whys.

“Anyone in any industry needs to be honest with themselves, why am I in this career, why am I choosing digital, why am I a blogger? If it is for money, as a blogger you won’t make money for two years, it is a lot of work and it takes time to build an audience and keep and maintain it on multiple platforms,” she explained.

“Understand your why. Is it my passion or am I doing it for profit?  I know writing is my passion because I can’t leave it alone. If you only think about money, it will kill you but when you use your talent and you pour yourself into your talent it makes a way for you,” she said.

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