Moving to YouTUBE Full Time: The Journey

I'm finally moving to YouTUBE full time, after more than 4 years of running the channel. Let me take a look at where it all started.

It has been a while since I wrote anything here, and I know, that sounds like a poor excuse that every content creator gives when they leave a project hanging for a long time, and then get a change of mind and try to make it work again, but here, it’s really heartfelt. I swear.

I’m writing this to give context to a big change in my life, and career: after more than 4 years of combined work on my YouTube channel and another job, in some form or another, I’ve decided to take the plunge, and move to YouTUBE full time. Yes, really, this time, no “I’ll keep some freelance on the side” shenanigans. This time, I’m all in, and I’d like to tell you why. It’s going to be lengthy, personal, so buckle up, or close the tab if all you wanted was the TLDR!

Studies

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My alma mater. OK, I wasn't in this building specifically, there are 3 campuses.

Let’s start with what I do. Or what I used to do. It’s going to be a big adjustment to not refer to myself as a Project Manager, or a Product Owner, or whatever else I have been, especially when asked the stupidest of questions, that people you don’t know always open up with: “What do you do?”, meaning “what is your profession”.

So, what DID I do? Well, I studied Medicine. Yep. Well, only for 2 years, despite my best efforts to coast by, 13/20 wasn’t enough to make the cut, and so, after 2 years, I dropped out of med school, and decided to reorient myself. I didn’t really have much choice, as prep classes for Engineering School or Business Schools don’t really love students who tried their hands at something else and failed, so it was off to the University for me, and my choices basically boiled down to either become a Lawyer, or study Economics.

Since I’ve always had the most profound contempt for rules and learning things “by heart”, I decided to go somewhere where I could make use of my relative gift for talking someone’s ear off, and decided to opt for Economics, with the end goal being to work in advertising. Yucky, I know, but at the time, I was a self absorbed jerk with delusions of grandeur, and all I wanted was to make money, and work on something creative.

So off I went to 3 years of Economics studies. Accounting, macro-economy, history of economics, negotiation, micro-economy, consumer behavior, marketing, and a ton more classes I forgot all about. I coasted for most of these 3 years, skipped a ton of classes, made up by learning everything the day right before the finals, borrowed some lectures from friends in exchange for me writing their English homework, almost got kicked out of various group projects, and still managed to obtain my diploma for some reason, with a “good enough” mention, at around 12/20 average.

Now, I had been in school ever since I was 4 or 5 years old. I finished this initial cursus at 21 years old, and it had already been 5 years since I had started being in University. I was fed up with learning and I wanted to work, but not many people will hire you with only a theoretical grasp of economics, so I took it upon myself to enroll on a master’s degree, to add 2 more years. I chose “Services Marketing” as that was the closest to advertising they had, and, again, I coasted for 2 years. I worked a bit for various students associations, more because it gave me a place on premises where I could chill and pretend I was working instead of going to class, but I still met a ton of cool people, and learned a ton of event organizing skills.

Career

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I never could have rocked that kind of suit.

After these 2 years, I got my diploma. 7 years in Uni, I was 23 years old, and all I wanted was to leave the city where I lived, finally move out of my parent’s house, and make some money. So I decided to move to Paris for my final internship, at Nexity, one of the biggest real estate developers in France. I wore a suit and tie, I had very important meetings (or so I thought), and I quickly got a job offer to handle their WebTV. Yep, a YouTUBE channel, that was my first job. It wasn’t advertising, it required me to commute to Toulouse (1h flight) 2 days a week for filming these videos, and I enjoyed it a lot.

After a year, they decided it didn’t generate enough revenue, and so opted to give me control over the mobile app, the mobile website, and soon after, the whole desktop website as well. Well, control is a big word, I had a boss who decided, and I executed, proposing a few ideas in the process. Since I liked working alone on some “garage” projects, they also progressively gave me everything innovation related, I worked on an online configuration tool to let clients choose their floors, paints, kitchens, tiling, and more, before their flat was constructed, I worked on a Google Glass app (before it was summarily thrown to the Google Graveyard), I worked on livestreaming visits for flats to multiple potential clients when Periscope and Meerkat didn’t even exist, and Twitch was barely starting, and a lot more exciting stuff.

But this wasn’t advertising, I wasn’t “creating” anything, apart from features to get more people on the website and buying flats. Also, I got passed over for a promotion I really wanted, because internal politics were pretty cutthroat, and I wasn’t really good at it. So, after 5 years, when my bosse’s boss asked me to join him on a new project he was kickstarting, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. I was Marketing Manager, in title only at the start, and we created a new website from the ground up, something called Bien’ici, basically Zillow but in France, and with the express goal of not having ads, not gouging realtors for visibility, and giving ALL the information buyers and tenants might want: location, prices, diagnostics, internet connection quality, the ability to search by commute length, a real time sun meter to see if your place would receive any illumination, and more. It was awesome. For a time.

Then this website got bought by a conglomerate of all the major French realty networks, and it all went in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with. We started adding ads to the listings, something we said we’d never do, the new “features” were designed to obfuscate the information the potential buyers could see, generally it all went pear shaped as far as I was concerned. It had been 2 and a half years, I had a team of 3 people, I still wasn’t “creating”, and in the meantime, I had divorced my now ex-wife, and had little reason to stay in Paris anymore. So I looked for other opportunities, and I found the perfect one.

In Brest, where I had studied and where all my friends were, close to the sea, a small job as a product owner, for a new “garage project” at a company that made software for real estate, we had a team of 12, I was basically the only candidate they could pick for the job. I went to the interviews knowing I’d get the job on the spot, and I did. So I moved back to Brest, and it lasted 3 months. After that, a new CEO was named, who decided that project didn’t have potential and had cost too much already, so they canned it, and they named me Chief Product Officer. At a company with 250 people. A management role I had never filled, I had no idea how to fill, at a company who only kept their clients because there was basically no alternative on the market, and was pretty much hated by everyone who had to use their product.

I stayed another year and a half, and I got the hang of it quickly. I even enjoyed a lot of aspects of the job. But it wasn’t what I had signed up for, and I wanted a simpler life. At that point, all notions of having a great career were past me: I already HAD a great career. I was manager at 27, C-Suite executive at 30. I was done. But I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, so I panicked, and got another Project Management job at a new startup that dealt with private aviation. Most of the team there was part of my previous canned project, so I knew them all, and we worked well together. I had fun while it lasted, but as always, after 2 and a half years, the project just wasn’t interesting to me anymore.

Breaking point

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The candle that burns twice brighter burns twice as fast.

Since I had started my Youtube channel back when I was CPO, I wanted to focus more on it, so last July, I quit, and decided to go Youtube full time. That’s when my boss called me, and told me he wanted to keep me as a freelancer. And for some reason, I decided to say yes. Maybe it was fear of failing financially, maybe it was to retain some skills that could keep me employed when Youtube failed me, I don’t know. All I know now, is that I should have said no.

We embarked on a 9 months journey to hell. On paper it sounded cool: working mostly from home, my own hours, independent, everything seemed awesome. I looked up how much freelancers in the same sector got paid, around 350€ per day, but I couldn’t swing that, and settled for far less. And we agreed on 2.5 days per week, all concentrated at the beginning of the week. It was all a recipe for disaster: this was far too little time to allow me to correctly do my job: when I came back to the office on Mondays, I had 2.5 days worth of bug reports, issues to test, mails to triage and questions to answer. This ate my whole Monday, and some of my Tuesday, and then I still had to work on the detailed specs for the rest of the projects we wanted to work on. There was just not enough time.

Stuff went untested for weeks, I just couldn’t get everything done, and I didn’t want to increase hours, as Youtube was the more interesting, creative job I had always wanted. And so the process we had put in place went unchecked. Our bosses always had a tendency to try and bypass our process, adding stuff in the middle of a sprint, changing priorities as the investors told them to, and changing the specs mid-development. We managed to hold them in check with the CTO, but with me not being there half the week, stuff got worse and worse, up to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore.

Youtube was allowing me to live comfortably already, I had forgotten why I had even agreed to go with freelancing in the first place, and I hated every minute of the job. Everytime I received an email, a new issue, or saw there was stuff to test, I got angry. Like really angry, “shout at the computer” angry. Everytime a colleague called me on Discord, I was pissed. It just was time to move on, so I finally told them I would be ending our contract, and here we go! I should now be free at the end of May.

In the end, the pressure of making 3 videos per week on Youtube, and mixing all that with a “real job” just wasn’t doable. I was exhausted, I hadn’t had a single Saturday free in 4 years, I worked 10 to 12h per day, 6 days a week, it just wasn’t sustainable for me. I couldn’t go out, see my friends, have a drink, or take an afternoon off, I couldn’t play video games, watch movies, or generally have a social life. Holidays were basically nightmare fuel, as I had to work even MORE in the previous weeks, to get videos ready fro the time where I wouldn’t be able to make them. I was burnt out, and it’s the day job that took the brunt of it.

Full Timer

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Not my phone.

And so here we go: I’m going full time on Youtube. Now, you might think “this guy only is doing that because he hates his job”. And you would be right. Partly. See, back when I decided to quit, in July, I still liked the job. I only ended up hating it because I forced myself to stay there when I had done everything I needed to do. But the best part of my weeks had always been when I was at home, in the sunroom, with a nice cup of tea, hammering away at a script, or when I was recording a video, trying not to stumble on my own words, or when I was editing the video itself.

THIS was what I always wanted to do, ever since I decided to pick Economics as my major. I thought I wanted to go into advertising, because it was the only path I saw where I could be creative, without being completely hamstrung by finances. What I really wanted was to create stuff, and now I do! The best part of my career was when I was on location, filming a video, and then giving pointers to the editor and the agency so they could turn that into a real video. Picking the lower thirds we’d use, trimming the fat out of a script, publishing the videos, directing the actors… That was where I was at my best, professionally.

And so Youtube IS the natural choice for the next part of my life. It might not last 10 years, or even 5. There are tons of things that could go wrong: Youtube could go belly up and die, my channel could get deleted for some reason, I could lose interest, not have anything left to talk about, get bored. Or you could decide that what I make is stale and boring and stop watching. Anything could happen. And I know that finding a “real job” when this part of my life comes to an end will be tricky. Who wants to employ someone who worked at their own pace, on their own hours, on their own topics, without any management? Probably no one.

But still, I’m approaching this as something that was fated. My first job was running a Youtube channel. I’ve gone full circle. I’ve had a full career in 10 years. I’ve seen multiple companies, company sizes, methods, I’ve worked on hundreds of projects, big or small, I know French realty in and out, I’ve managed people, I’ve been confronted with all management styles I can think of, I’ve made tons of money, and I went broke, I’ve worked a ton, and I’ve worked very little.

It’s time to do something different, something for ME. And that’s Youtube. So, see you there!


Thank You

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