Not so long ago, content creators didn’t talk about burnout.
It was a vicious cycle. Struggling creators would look around and see that no one else admitted to being crushed under the weight of the endless grind. So they didn’t admit it either, figuring maybe this was a me problem, not a we problem.
But burnout is in fact a we problem. And eventually, creators did start to talk about it. YouTuber Elle Mills was among the first to be baldly, brutally honest about what the pressure of constant production and looming audience expectations was doing to her mental health.
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After Mills’ 2018 confessional Burnt Out at 19 went viral, more and more creators came forward, and these days, burnout (and creators’ mental health overall) is a much more frequent topic of discussion among creators and platforms.
But that doesn’t mean burnout’s gone away. So when former Asana product manager Teri Yu and software engineer Theresa Lee decided to launch Vibely, they knew creators’ mental health would be a major focus.
Vibely’s new study shows that 71% of creators have considered quitting
Vibely, which opened to users earlier this year, is a creator/fan community chat platform. Yu and Lee pitch it as a positivity- and support-focused alternative to Discord that’s “built by women, not gamer dudes.” Its core offering is similar to a Discord server: creators make one central community hub where they chat directly with their fans, and their fans chat with one another.
Vibely urges creators and fans to keep things positive and supportive, and that’s in big part because it wants to combat burnout and help bolster creators’ mental health.
To get an idea of what it’s up against, Vibely and SeatGeek executive Ian Borthwick ran a study investigating how prevalent burnout is in the current creator community. It talked to 150 content creators, the majority of whom (45.3%) had between 100k and 500k followers, and one or two of whom (0.7%) had more than 5 million.
A whopping 90% of creators told Vibely they had experienced burnout, and 71% said it had made them consider quitting content production altogether.
Creators are most stressed by platform changes, fluctuating income, and constant pressure to produce
A full 65% of respondents said that one of their top stressors is changes to platforms’ algorithms.
“Even minor algorithm changes or shadowbans cause downwind effects that detail content strategy, day-to-day operations, income, and overall wellbeing,” Vibely said in the study report.
59% of creators also cited the need to make a living off content as a top stressor, 51% cited the “hamster wheel effect” of incessantly making the next and the next and the next video, 51% pointed to anxiety about follower counts, 42% said they experienced harassment and bullying, 29% said they’re stressed by impostor syndrome, and 19% said the risk of backlash against their content has a significant impact on their mental health.
Vibely additionally asked creators across various platforms to rate how happy they are, and the results were dismal: Snapchat creators rated their happiness at an average 3.7 out of 10; Facebook, 4.4/10; Pinterest, 5.1/10; TikTok, 5.5/10; and Instagram and YouTube were tied at a first place 5.9/10.
The report concludes with a rundown of burnout-combating advice from Vibely that includes regular social media breaks, establishing support systems, and working to earn recurring monthly revenue instead of relying on occasional brand deals or potentially unpredictable platform revenue.
Of course, that advice isn’t totally objective. In addition to offering Discordesque community tools, Vibely plans to develop a monthly membership system where fans can pay for access to extra content and exclusive events. It’s also building systems for social currencies and rewards, it told TechCrunch.
To date, Vibely has raised $2 million in seed funding from YouTube cofounder Steve Chen, Asana cofounder Justin Rosenstein, Meetup cofounder Scott Heiferman, and Gelt investor Turner Novak.
Creators interested in joining Vibely can check it out here, and you can read Vibely and Borthwick’s full report here.