Come February 2023, I’ll have been running my YouTube business full-time for exactly a year.
It’s customary at this stage to say “it’s been a hell of a ride”, or “I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner”. While both of those statements are true, they do feel rather clichéd.
I know of several people who are currently running a business like mine on the side and who are desperate to break free of their full-time gig to make their real passion the thing they do every day.
I can’t recommend it enough. You only live once, and if you don’t follow your nose when it comes to your career, you’ll waste a sickening amount of your life doing something you don’t enjoy. I’ve never seen the sense in that.
But the reality of being a full-time content creator/YouTuber/influencer (delete as appropriate) is eye-opening and it isn’t for everyone. Certainly, if you’re going for this, you need to be prepared.
This is what I’ve learned since I went full-time with YouTube earlier this year.
1. It’s much harder than any of us think
Whenever you watch someone else doing what you desperately want to do, you’ll inevitably focus on the perceived good stuff.
I did that with this content creation malarkey. I’ve always wanted (either actively or subconsciously) to make stuff for a living and to be my own boss. Consequently, for years, I spent every hour I wasn’t working or being present with my family, creating. Whether it was making music in my bedroom studio, writing on my personal blog, or learning photography, I devoured the creative process.
To see people doing that for a living made me both immensely jealous and determined to forge that path myself one day.
I imagined those creators heading to bed each night as though the following day was always Christmas Day. Imagine wanting to get up for work, I thought. What a life!
Now, I know that isn’t quite how it plays out. It is much, much harder, as the rest of this list demonstrates.
2. Anxiety can set in
I’m fortunate enough to have never suffered from severe anxiety, and I’ve never experienced depression. However, I have experienced a far more manageable form of anxiety with which I think most entrepreneurs will be familiar.
I’ve had this ever since I left ‘real work’ and dived head-first into self-employment. The nagging sense of imposter syndrome and the genuine belief that, one day, I’m going to wake up to an inbox full of cancelled customer contracts has always been a constant in my life as a business owner.
I’ve experienced it far more since going full-time with Mark Ellis Reviews. Deep down, I know there’s a degree of talent and experience that has enabled me to build an audience and keep them coming back for more. But I’m far too British to remind myself of that each day; I’m still more inclined to think I’m winging it.
It’s important to reiterate that this is indeed a manageable form of anxiety which is, arguably, healthy. It means I remain humble, hungry, and constantly on the case of building a profitable, sustainable business.
3. The creator community is wonderfully supportive
I’ve made some brilliant friends in the creator sphere. Beyond the amazing support I receive from my girlfriend, my fellow YouTubers have been a lifeline over the last few months.
We share troll comments, laugh at the absurdity of what we do for a living, and openly discuss business strategies. There’s no competition, no one-upmanship, and not a sniff of a pissing contest. These are friendships which I have a feeling will last for a lifetime and which are one of the main, unforeseen reasons I do what I do.
I’ve not experienced this level of camaraderie or industry support in any other sector. It is absolutely wonderful (and a right laugh).
4. I was right to start with a business mindset
I’ve never been shy about the business aspect of this YouTube brand. It is a business, through and through and I make no bones at all about constantly seeking new ways to make money and grow my established revenue streams.
There was no formal business plan for Mark Ellis Reviews, but there was a mindset right from the start which focused on generating turnover and ensuring my overheads were low enough to turn a decent profit.
I spent two decades working ‘normal’ jobs before starting this business. A significant portion of my previous career was spent in the boardroom and travelling the UK selling products. I knew that if I wanted this new venture to be successful, I’d need to apply all of that knowledge and experience.
If I hadn’t done that and had instead treated this as more of a hobby – or, worse, listened to those who inexplicably have an issue with people making money from creating free content – I wouldn’t have an active monthly audience of nearly one million people (nor would I be able to pay the mortgage).
5. I need help
I knew this time would come. I knew that, at some stage, I’d need to ask for help running Mark Ellis Reviews. This is, after all, a full production studio with just one guy at the controls who also happens to be the only person creating the content.
I’ve already outsourced PR, bookkeeping, and accountancy, but there are still large chunks of the behind-the-scenes engine that need to be delegated. The number of repetitive tasks I undertake each week is rather frightening – particularly when you consider what else I could be doing with that time.
Rest assured, 2023 is the year I’ll build a small team of some description. I have no idea what form it’ll take or which responsibilities will be outsourced, but I know that I’ve got to do it if I want Mark Ellis Reviews to grow significantly.
6. It’s the best job in the entire world
I hope the first five points above haven’t put you off getting into this game. If you scan the headings, it all sounds a bit too much like hard work, doesn’t it?
That’s why this final point is the most important. Running Mark Ellis Reviews is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best job I’ve ever had. Although I’ve never worked this hard, it never feels like work. I’ve not had that horrible Sunday night feeling since I started the business, and I never, ever clock watch (quite the opposite – I wish there was more time).
So, if you’re thinking about following my path and starting your own content-based business, I recommend it wholeheartedly. Just make sure you’re ready for everything that comes with it.
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