Self image is weird. Some of us will traverse life never thinking twice on how they are doing, or how “good” they are at their jobs, their projects or passions, and some others will always doubt their own work, thinking it could have been improved, or that someone else did it, or could do it better than them.
I’m definitely in the second category, but I’m not alone, and I think that’s a good thing.
Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been away for a few weeks, and there are two reasons for that. The first one is that I’m moving, and it turns out buying your own place is really time consuming in France. The second one is I was starting to really question my work on YouTUBE, and wanted to take a step back and really look at what I was doing.
The channel had been growing really nicely, and I was really satisfied with it. Sponsors started coming in, invitations to podcasts, devices to review. It was much, much more than I was expecting when I published my first video in February 2018, and it was extremely nice. At the same time, it was extremely scary.
You see, when you’re starting out, no one has expectations. You can post whenever you want, you can screw up, and not many people will notice. You also have low expectations for how your own work is doing. But when you start to grow, you start feeling like you owe something to your subscribers, followers, readers, listeners, whatever. You need to one up yourself all the time, you need to stay on schedule.
Once you have sponsors, you also need to make sure whatever you’re posting for them does well, so the subjects need to be carefully vetted, the video quality has to be good, and you start feeling you have no control over the thing you’re selling them, which is visibility. After all, your content only does as well as the number of people willing to look at it.
There is also the numbers trap. Get used to a certain number of views, clicks, listens, subscribers, or whatever, and the moment these numbers don’t match your expectations, you start questioning yourself and whatever you’re doing. The numbers trap is vicious, and can be devastating.
This all builds mental pressure, and I was ill-equipped to deal with that. I wasn’t ready to start feeling like I “owed” something to you guys, or to my sponsors, and that scared me. With my available time shrinking, it became more and more complicated to keep up with the perceived demands of the channel, so I simply… stopped. I turned down really interesting offers for podcasts, delayed my main sponsor (thus creating more fear that they wouldn’t pick me back up when I came back), and put stuff on pause.
Then the reception to that hit me: nobody cares.
In a good way. Like “okay, take your time, and be well” kind of way. No one actually minded that I wasn’t posting anymore, and it made me realize: people only want to enjoy your content because it’s good. They don’t want you to burnout because you need to give them a video every week, and article everyday, or a podcast every month. They just want good stuff, made by someone who feels good about what they’re doing.
And with that, pressure lifted, I came back to my channel, with a great reception. My latest video, posted yesterday, has been gaining view faster than most other videos I’ve made, just like I was never gone in the first place. My sponsor seems fine with me taking some time off, and generally nobody gave a rat’s ass that I was gone.
The video in question:
This is really sobering, and reassuring at the same time. It made me realize having doubts is actually a good thing. When you think you’re not good enough, you end up tying new stuff, to prove to yourself and others you’re capable of progress, of making better things. People who never doubt can be prone to always settle in the same patterns, and not renew themselves as much, not try to push the envelope.
Next time you doubt your work, don’t quit it, just try to think what makes you doubt
Doubt is good, and doubt makes you go forward.
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