Broken by the YouTube Plantation

I think I’m broken.  After 8 years of toiling for the YouTube Masters I think my creative will for video has left.  This is not a screed against YouTube, platforms, or the modern gig economy.  This is simply a statement.  I have sat for hours in front of the camera only to have silence emanate from my my mouth.  I have dragged the camera to cool places, only to leave the lens cover on, as I sit and ponder what a cool place I’m in.  It’s not that I don’t want to communicate.  It’s not that I don’t want to pass my knowledge on to the next generation.  It’s not that I don’t want to give others a glimpse of the wonders in the world that are just around the corner.  I’m just… I’m just tired of YouTube…

Being a YouTube content creator is a weird way to make money. You have a tremendous amount of freedom in a way, but you also have more bosses than most people could imagine. You can do what you want, but… YouTube needs to be happy… your viewers need to be happy… advertisers need to be happy…. your sponsors need to be happy… and you have to be careful of pissing off outside parties too much… additionally you’re supposed to be a part of the YouTube “community”, whatever the hell that actually means.

This is the point where I’m supposed to go into some long winded, well reasoned, explanation for my fall from grace.  The reality is though I’m just tired.  I’m tired of trying to figure out the view and revenue algorithm. I’m tired of vendors acting as if I should thank them for “allowing” me to talk about their products. I’m tired of cleaning the bile out of the comment stream.  I’m tired of the direction content is headed on YouTube.  And at the end of the day I’m just tired of hearing my own voice.

YouTube has been a good way to earn a living over these last 8 years.  There have been highs, and definitely there have been lows.  Overall though as cheeky as it sounds to say, it’s been an experience I’m glad to have had.  Being on YouTube has taught me a lot about communication in the modern world. It has shown me the power of these new platforms, and it has also showed me where they fail.

There are real problems with these communication platforms. In the rush to build the next great thing, a lot of companies forgot to build foundations that can survive a hard rain. With YouTube they simply don’t see their creators as real partners.  It feels as if we are valued less than a commodity server.  For a while that can work, but what happens when creators just start silently walking away..?

With the #RESIST movement coming out of Silicon Valley creators have to realize that at any time we can have our cords pulled.  We literally get paid by pushing the boundaries, but if we push an inch too far we can have our accounts terminated with “no appeal”. I don’t personally like Lauren Southern’s content, but I would be stupid not to take the warning. Since the Adpocolypse how many channels have seen their revenue tank to unsustainable levels?  Without some form of security and protection how can creators trust the platforms they depend on? YouTube just doesn’t care.  To call creators cogs would be an overstatement, we are paperclips on a good day.  Useful, but if one (or a whole box), fall in the trash can it’s really not worth the time to dig them back out?

This is not a status quo that inspires loyalty.  This is not a way of making money that doesn’t come with a heavy mental burden. When you’re tired, you’re revenue has fallen, vendors treat you like a beggar, viewers treat you like you should be grateful simply to produce content, and your platform treats you like Kleenex, is there a reason to get back up? Sometimes the smart move is just to stay down and let the ref get to, “3”.

What’s next..? I don’t know.  I have some ideas… but… well… I guess we’ll see what happens…



  1. Eli, you do Eli! Seriously, you don’t owe any of us anything. If anything lot of people in your audience owe you for good, non-bias career advice and guidance. What is important is you find something that you find fulfilling and rewarding. For those of us mature and intelligent enough to understand, we know what you are experiencing. Having said that, we don’t want you to be a stranger. Perhaps a blog with no set schedule for updates could work. Those who appreciate your honest candor will follow you and want to know what your next adventure will end up being. Good luck.

  2. I will follow whatever you do.
    The way you express your points of view on subjects (without a profusion of swear words, that make it easier to listen to you), got me started on things and view things differently than I used to do. I do not always agree but I am always intrigued in understanding what you say.
    Take as much time you can to plan your next steps and best wishes for your next adventures!

  3. Well put. My heart goes out to you… Sad place to be. I wonder, is it because you never took long vacations from it, always working, but you are not looking for suggestions so I won’t go further on that.

    Unless you live for the enjoyment of process and treat money as an accidental side-effect, not main focus, it is an unforgiving depression slog. What I find truly unfortunate, is the audience you happened to attract that I believe made it so discouraging. The cesspool of n00bs that are so far bellow your level making “how do I computer”-level comments and questions … no wonder you gave up. Its sad you did not have the luck for algorithm to attract conversations more at your level where you could enjoy the process more. YouTube being a gamble does not help. Take even something as simple as forcing new hideous material design, or changing the player buttons. Shows that user satisfaction is not their priority … its just some kids playground who have no concept of responsibility or ability to maturely accept that their ideas are not always the best.

    I find it hard to respect you not willing to do the grind of your consulting idea. You were riding the excitement of a new project doing meetings, going on about how you like the idea of consulting, but few weeks in once the novelty of new idea wore off, you show no discipline.

    Interestingly, despite not respecting this, I understand why and can hardly blame you… As educator myself, I am finding it futile and painful dealing with newcommmer not willing to learn what is needed. “What language do I learn next”, “what framework do I learn next”… If I say its not about language or framework, to succeed you need to learn this this and that pattern and architecture, “oh no, that’s wrong, Once I learn this language, and framework from this 5 minute torn out of context tutorial, I will surely automatically become a successful developer”… No one wants to be told what they NEED to learn anymore these days. Then you have to dig through false advertisements of what certain scam organizations (colleges + universities) try to sell as what they need to learn, while their educators never held a market-facing job themselves. Then they fail and blame the language, the project, the manager, their cat, and their coffee maker. Very unrewarding.

    You probably do not care… but anyway, daily listening to your logic over past 1.5 years did put me in a better place. With your business and life advice, I am beginning to get over certain things that were holding me down, and ready to go elsewhere, both geographically and mentally. I shudder thinking where my head would be if not for your explanations and confirmations that the way I approach things is indeed the right way, amidst all the insanity and criticism that surrounds me. I am grateful for that.

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