Wow. It’s been over a month since my last blog entry.
Let me explain.
I’ve been hyper-focused on using my spare time to grow my new YouTube channel. That’s right — I entered the gigantic world of YouTube just over a month ago.
That means video production, video editing, figuring out how to create thumbnails, followed by endless hours of agonizing and iterating said thumbnails, watching YouTube content on “how to YouTube.” The whole nine yards.
Then came learning how to make short clips, how to subtitle them, how to inject graphics, and so forth.
The well is deep…dare I say, limitless.
I have an addictive personality. When it comes to new projects or startup ventures, I dive in head-first and don’t come out for a few months.
I’m currently obsessing over YouTube, so the writing has stopped for a bit.
The biggest challenge for me is setting boundaries. There’s always another video to grind out, one more tweet to write, another YouTube short to edit, a new style of video to explore…it never ends.
My friend Sam of Rhystic Studies is a mega-accomplished YouTuber. To put things into relative terms, he’s LeBron James and I’m the kid who just learned how to dribble a basketball.
Sam has this saying: “deadlines are lifelines.” An important way to set boundaries is to ship things with time (deadline) constraints.
I put out “content” — video podcast (YouTube), audio podcast, clips, market all of the above on social media — every Tuesday.
Weekly deadlines are good. What’s hard is resisting the urge to squeeze out more “stuff.”
I’ve thought about releasing two episodes a week.
I’ve thought about creating more compilation videos with multiple guests, as they create tighter narratives.
New ideas are flowing out of my head, on the regular. They all serve my channel’s thesis of “how Magic content creators made it.” They’re consistent with the brand I’m building.
But it’s tough, and stressful, when you start to fill all your waking hours THINKING about that stuff.
It doesn’t feel sustainable, either, given that I’m a one-man team.
The other thing I ask myself is, “why?”
Why even grow on YouTube?
Let’s say I experience crazy growth, strike gold, and hit X thousand subscribers in a few months, followed by a million subscribers once I won the YouTube lottery (a person can dream).
So what? Is any tangible metric going to be ‘enough’?
Will I be happy on this hamster wheel — the entrepreneurial version of the rat race?
As Hasan Minhaj so eloquently put it, am I doing the YouTube equivalent of medical school: grinding hard, only to find myself wondering what’s the point, 10 years later?
There’s also the ugly but real question — what’s the opportunity cost of going after all this?
Am I neglecting other parts of my life that need nurturing? Should I just go for a walk, instead?
These are important questions, and here’s what I THINK my answers are.
I create my “content” — my interview podcast — because I’m passionate about talking to people about their craft, in their respective fields. I’m a better interviewer than I am a social person, and I like getting people to tell me things about themselves that they’ve never told anyone publicly before.
My superpower is gaining trust from people. They feel safe confiding in me and I don’t abuse that privilege. I do my best to listen to what they have to say.
I believe that I provide my interviewees with reciprocal value, whether it’s giving them my perspective on something they’re going through, or giving them a space to express themselves that’s “off-brand” for their usual platforms.
What I do is partly driven by ego. I’m good at interviewing, and I want to keep doing it and be known for being good at it. I like being in control of the process.
I’m happy that when I ask people to be on my podcast, they tend to say yes. I have a reputation in the community for holding deep conversations.
Podcast guests are generous in giving me over two hours of their time, in most cases. That’s incredible generosity on their part and I try not to abuse that privilege.
I don’t think it’s bad to be driven by ego, it’s just being mindful of it and being honest with myself.
The “content” is a vessel for me to fulfill these things, and grow as an interviewer.
I know, intellectually, that I shouldn’t care so much about the size of my audience. I’m growing, I’m stroking my ego, all of that.
Besides, the most common thing that I hear from my guests — powerful creators in their own right — is “do it for yourself.”
Do what you’re passionate about and don’t worry about external validation. Do it for the love of the game.
I know this on an intellectual level. But there’s still a part of me that wants to cast as wide a net as possible.
I ventured into YouTube to expand my reach.
I try to put out, and refine, the best version of the podcast on a weekly basis — to expand my reach.
I agonize over YouTube thumbnail images — to expand my reach.
All the activities are justified — and that’s the danger of it. There are always opportunities do more, push boundaries, even break boundaries.
When you start checking the metrics for external validation, several times a day, that’s when you know you’re chasing a dopamine hit that isn’t healthy.
I’ve talked to Sam and a host of other creators about this. The struggle is real and shared. I know I should be better than a dopamine-chaser.
But it’s hard because I believe so strongly in my “content.” I believe in it, and that’s why I don’t want to quit the content rat race.
This is a whole lot of rambling to conclude that I don’t have all the answers. On an intellectual level, I know that I’m not alone. MANY creators experience the same challenges and existential content crises.
There are no answers, only more questions.
How have I historically dealt with my addictive personality? Find a new thing to sink my energies into.
But it never ends. And maybe I have to accept that’s how I’m built.
If there isn’t content, there’s something else.
Don’t get me wrong — I love creating. It’s just hard to figure things out. I should sleep on it.
Wherever you are, take care of yourself. Thanks for reading, and be well 🙂