Skip to Content

Feeling Stuck: Reflections on 12 Years as a YouTube Creator

One of the pioneering individuals in the UK to venture into YouTube video creation was Hannah Witton. Commencing her journey in 2011 at the age of 19, she dedicated 12 years to this pursuit before arriving at a pivotal juncture. The turning point, which transpired at the culmination of the previous year, marked one of the most challenging decisions of her life – the decision to step away.

The contemplation leading to this resolution had been a gradual process evolving over the years. However, the catalyst for definitive action emerged in 2022 with the arrival of her baby. This significant life event prompted a realization that she could no longer passively await the onset of burnout or societal obscurity. Taking control of her destiny became paramount, steering her towards proactive decision-making regarding the trajectory of her personal and professional life. Despite the arduous and introspective nature of opting to depart from her established identity as a content creator, it ultimately proved to be the correct course of action.

For over a decade, Hannah had been immersed in a perpetual state of “output mode,” churning out regular videos, podcast episodes, and social media content. This relentless cycle engendered a sense of obligation to constantly generate new material. The prevailing fear revolved around the notion that any hiatus might result in waning audience interest, algorithmic retribution, and subsequent ramifications on her income and career. The pressure to maintain a continuous stream of content was palpable. Regrettably, this incessant focus on output left scant room for “input mode” – a phase essential for learning, exploration, self-care, and nurturing curiosity.

The arrival of her pregnancy underscored the absence of a definitive blueprint for freelancers, creators, and small business owners concerning parental leave. In navigating this uncharted territory, Hannah charted a three-month hiatus, marking the lengthiest period of inactivity on her YouTube channel in over a decade. Anticipating the demands of her impending role as a working mother, she bolstered her team to alleviate some of her responsibilities.

Upon resuming work on a part-time basis post-maternity leave, the cracks in her established routine became increasingly conspicuous and challenging to overlook. The quality of her content began to suffer, compounded by a dwindling well of inspiration and motivation due to the dearth of time allocated to input activities. Despite her fervent passion for discussing topics related to intimacy and relationships, she found herself engulfed in a pervasive sense of ennui.

Simultaneously, financial strains began to plague her business. Delegating tasks to freelancers during her absence and reduced working hours not only fostered emotional detachment but also precipitated a drain on her financial resources. The prevailing trajectory appeared unsustainable, with operational costs being sustained from savings, a precarious financial position that necessitated immediate redress.

The toll on her mental well-being was equally unsustainable. Years of online exposure had rendered her hyper-critical of her content, leading to excessive rumination and a loss of confidence in her judgment—a disconcerting and unsettling development. These cumulative challenges prompted a profound reevaluation of her circumstances, culminating in a definitive realization – the decision to walk away.

In recent times, a discernible trend has emerged among YouTube creators, with many opting to curtail their output or streamline their operations. Notable examples include [ppp1] a British educational content creator, and Matt D’Avella, an American productivity YouTuber. Their narratives echo a common theme of exhaustion, overwork, and a desire to recalibrate their professional endeavors to achieve a more sustainable balance.

While Hannah has bid farewell to her on-screen presence, she remains firmly entrenched in the creator industry. Transitioning her focus towards addressing the challenges she once confronted, she endeavors to assist others in navigating similar hurdles by establishing supportive systems behind the scenes. This strategic shift includes a dedicated focus on parental leave strategies, reflecting her commitment to facilitating a more sustainable and inclusive environment within the creator community.

In reflecting on her journey, Hannah acknowledges a sense of closure. Having articulated her thoughts and perspectives over the years, she expresses contentment in passing the baton to a new wave of creators who have emerged in the realm of sex and relationships content. Her departure signifies not an abandonment of her audience, but a transition towards new endeavors, fortified by a sense of fulfillment and readiness to embark on fresh pursuits. Exiting on a positive note, Hannah’s decision to step away signifies a new chapter in her professional odyssey.

Hannah Witton is an author and broadcaster