YouTube CEO to Burned-Out Creators: Data Shows It’s OK to Take a Break From Posting

Stressed-out YouTube creators anxious that their channels will take a traffic hit if they take a mental-health break shouldn’t worry, according to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki: She says a data analysis showed that, on average, YouTubers get even more views when they return after a hiatus.

In a Nov. 21 open letter to creators, Wojcicki said that YouTube is continuing to work on supporting the well-being of the platform’s creator community.

“Many of you have shared your stories about burnout, and we appreciated your honesty,” the CEO wrote. “We want to encourage you to take care of yourself and invest in recovery.”

According to Wojcicki, she asked YouTube’s product team to run a data analysis on the effect on video views after creators took a break. Based on data over the past six years, compiled across millions of channels and hundreds of different time frames for breaks, the study found the same thing: On average, channels had more views when they returned than they had just before they stopped posting.

“If you need to take some time off, your fans will understand,” Wojcicki said. “After all, they tune into your channel because of you.”

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Burnout among YouTubers who feel exhausted from a grueling pace of creating videos has been a growing issue, with top influencers including Lilly Singh, Alisha Marie, the Dolan Twins, Jacksepticeye, David Dobrik and Jake Paul among those suspending their upload schedules temporarily over the last two years. Some creators have blamed YouTube’s recommendation-algorithm tweaks for increasing the pressure, because the site has favored videos from channels that post more frequently, have higher engagement and have longer average watch times.

In September, YouTube began changing the way it publicly displays channel subscriber counts to provide only rounded figures instead of actual follower numbers. Besides providing more “consistency,” YouTube said that was to address “creator concerns about stress and well-being, specifically around tracking public subscriber counts in real time.”

In her letter, Wojcicki also said YouTube is still in the process of updating its harassment policy guidelines, a review prompted by a situation involving a right-wing vlogger who had chronically bullied a gay Hispanic video journalist. “As with all our policy updates, we’re talking with creators to make sure we’re addressing the issues that are most important to the YouTube community,” she wrote.

Other news from Wojcicki’s fourth-quarter 2019 letter, part of the CEO’s regular series of communications:

  • YouTube launched a test program to identify advertisers who are “interested in edgier content,” like studios looking to market R-rated movies, which other brands may not be comfortable with.
  • YouTube plans to update its policy on violent content that will differentiate between real-world violence and gaming violence, with fewer restrictions for violence in gaming content.
  • Wojcicki reminded creators that YouTube is changing how it handles kids’ content as part of a $170 million settlement with the FTC and the New York Attorney General. As part of that agreement, creators must designate whether their content is made for kids. In addition, starting in January 2020, certain features that rely on user data, such as comments and targeted advertising, will no longer be available on content made for kids.
  • In the next few months, all YouTube creators will be moved to the new YouTube Studio. “We’re making this switch because Classic Studio was built on older technology that doesn’t allow us to put out bug fixes or introduce the new features you’ve requested as quickly as we’d like,” according to Wojcicki.
  • The number of YouTube creators with 1 million or more subscribers has grown 65% year-over-year, and the number of creators earning at least $10,000 annually has increased more than 40%.
  • YouTube in the past year rolled out more than 2,500 updates to the platform — and Wojcicki promised to a “better job” of communicating the changes and their impact on creators.

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