Something that has been happening for the last couple of months or so, is that on my YouTube channel, my views have been going down. Not just by a little bit, but by… a lot of bit.
I do truly believe in likes and numbers not defining you, BUT sticking to this belief is incredibly difficult when these numbers directly correlate to your job stability, to your income, and to being able to pay for your bills. And when something like your views dropping, your engagement decreasing, or a whole global pandemic, comes storming along, this in turn is going to hit you hard- financially, emotionally, and mentally.
I would say maybe October of last year was when I noticed my views starting to dip.
The undulation of views and engagement is 100% completely normal; actually quite similar to life- there are ups and there are downs. In December 2019 and January of this year, other YouTubers across the board were also experiencing a drop in views and engagement. It seemed like an anomaly, because typically around that time of year, views are up as many people are home for the holidays and turn to YouTube for entertainment. As January drew to a close, and 2020 started flying by, it seemed that everyone’s views were climbing back up and returning to normal.
But unfortunately, not for me. And I don’t want this to sound like a pity party at all; please don’t take this post in that way. The last few weeks I have had some major introspective moments, where I really had a good check-in with myself to truly see where I’m at. I’ve also had quite a few moments where I’ve collapsed on to my bed, or my couch, or my floor, looked up at my ceiling, with tears staining my face, and asked God, “Why me??” We’ll get into that in a bit, but the reason I want to share all of this is because my brand that I’ve built, at the base of my content, is transparency. I want to share this because it’s honest, it’s real, it’s something no one ever talks about. So I’m going to talk about it. I think it will also be partially interesting to you guys, as well as something that is both cathartic and therapeutic for processing, for me.
Long story short, my views have steadily been decreasing- which sucks.
There’s no way around that; it sucks. It makes me feel this weird combination of melancholy, frustration, envy, and pure inadequacy. Waking up every day feeling like you’re not good enough is like a punch to the gut at the least expected moment. It’s like getting into the shower before the water has warmed, when your body is met with an attack of icy anger. It’s a constant parallel of that feeling when you’re out somewhere and your stomach drops because you can’t recall if you turned off the stove. The feeling is unexpected and plaguing, infiltrating your mind and taking over.
Beyond that it makes sad that I have been working harder than ever with my content. I’ve been trying new things, going out of the box, adding a higher level of production, being more honest and unfiltered, and things have just been not doing as well as I hope. I detest that everything is so tethered- views, engagement, my self esteem, money, effort, and hard work. They’re all tied together in the way your headphones tangle in your pocket on a long walk. Impossible to separate and incredibly frustrating.
I think the hardest part of it all, is the ambiguity.
Not having a definitive explanation on why a piece of content might not be doing well. Is the thumbnail? The title? The topic? The algorithm? Did a bigger YouTuber coincidentally upload the same type of video that day? Is it because I don’t look as pretty as I usually do? Is it because of how I’m dressed? There are so many minute factors that all add up to one simple thing, a view.
As I mentioned just a moment ago, so often I’ve found myself asking God, “Why?” I’ve been doing YouTube for years. 4 years full-time, 6 years with this channel, and 12 years on and off making YouTube videos, since 2008. With the six years I’ve put into my channel, I have nearly half a million people, who have cared enough about what I have to say, hit that subscribe button. And for that, for people to care enough to subscribe, I am so impossibly, unfathomably, grateful. I wish I could hug each and every person, and sit down to have a coffee with everyone to chat about life.
But to be fortunate enough to have such a platform, and then for less 5% of people to even watch my content sometimes is, as an understatement, a bummer.
I keep asking God to guide me:
To what I should do next, where I should focus my attention; to give me strength against comparison, to keep lifting me up. Right now I find myself leaning heavily on God, letting Him help hold me up, waiting readily to see what’s next. And I think the other day, I finally got an answer. I was searching for a verse to include in a video, so I hopped onto Pinterest and the first verse I saw was 2 Chronicles 15:7. It said, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
And I think whether you’re religious or not, that’s a pretty clear sign. Such a perfect, incredibly fitting verse, that happened to pop up right at the top of my Pinterest feed. So I decided to take it as a sign; just be patient, trusting, and continue working hard with diligence.
Though it does still suck to share a video, and to see it perform the worst you’ve seen a video perform in years, I’ve come to accept it.
Even more than that, I’m kind of becoming okay with it. Reading that verse from the other day, really cemented the idea of trusting life’s timing to me. I of course would love for things to go back to a somewhat state of normal, where views return to a happy medium, because that will allow me to NOT focus on views.
It almost sounds counterintuitive, but if the views go back up, it’s no longer something to worry about. Everything will be working well and the bills will get paid. Then I can focus on other things. So despite wishing that I could just hit fast forward, to skip through this murky bit, I can’t. So I might as well just enjoy the ride and grow through this experience.
As my final sentiment with this- I’ve come to realize that it’s also incredibly freeing. It’s cool, in a weird starting-over-way, where I feel like whatever I post might not do the best, so I can really try anything at this point. There’s not the same expectation or the same limitations that couple with high views. Having this realization moment brought me such a feeling of odd giddiness and relief, which is turn has fired up the creative and inspired energy in me. Not at all what I would have ever anticipated.
So here’s where I am today: I’m okay. Things are okay.
At a certain point, you have to realize that all you can do is try your best. You have to accept that you can’t make everyone else happy and you cannot spend your entire life trying to make everyone else proud.
Make yourself proud. That’s what’s important.
Create what you want to create. Treat people kindly. Give yourself a little grace. Accept that there is, and will always be, peaks and valleys to everything. Trust that life really does have it’s own timing. And my final takeaway, and piece of advice that I’d like to share:
Reflect on where you started, where you are today, and truly just how far you’ve come.
Though this post was a deeply personal one to write, and I feel quite vulnerable sharing such a present insecurity of mine, I think it’s important to share one’s struggles. I find that often many people think that being a creator, a YouTuber, is straightforward and linear. In reality the journey is much more likened to a Jackson Pollock painting.
Okay, maybe not that bad hahaha, but you get where I’m coming from.
I hope this post resonates with you, and that I properly articulated where my heart and my mind have been. Thank you for spending a bit of your day with me, and I hope your day continues to be filled with love, kindness, and strength.