Lessons from the YouTube identity crisis

identitycrisis-copy_860Lately, YouTubers have been going through an identity crisis.

What is it? It started when BFvsGF or PVP  publicly announced their breakup and stated (amongst other reasons) that YouTube and daily vlogging had put too much of a strain on their relationship. That having to constantly record their lives and show the best moments had been too demanding.

After that, Casey Neistat – probably the fastest growing channel for a daily vlogger – announced that he was quitting YouTube because he wasn’t feeling challenged anymore and felt like he was no longer producing the best content he could.

Most recently PewDiePie, YouTube’s biggest star, published a video about forced positivity on YouTube.pewdiepie-revelmode In it, he talks about how he used to think it was important for him to fake positivity in his videos because that was what people would enjoy. His realisation is that in order to continue doing his job, he needs to be honest – sometimes he hates the games he plays.

I know, “the poor guy plays video games for a living and is unhappy”. But I there are some valuable lessons to be learnt.

Lessons learned

  1. Know when to stop. In his video about quitting YouTube Casey Neistat says he started daily vlogging in order to challenge himself. But then it became easy, “the creative challenge faded away”. Stopping was the brave thing to do, he easily could have continued to surf on his success. Many YouTubers continue to pump out content day after day, week after week, which is utterly meaningless and has no value. Whether you believe Casey’s motivations or not (soon after he announced his move to CNN), the intention is admirable and many would do good to heed it.
  2. Keep a filter. Many daily vloggers are letting people into their everyday life. Sure they only show 10 mins out of a day but nevertheless they have to film at every occasion, be upbeat, positive, excited… Often vloggers feel like they need to make the day as exciting as possible for viewers. The reality is, that can become exhausting and is enough to make anyone anxious, on edge, depressed… Back to Casey, he rarely let viewers into his real life. A lot of his videos were montages of him travelling from A-B, eating out, meeting friends, working in his studio…
  3. Be yourself. PewDiePie is right, pretending to be someone you are not will not make you happy both on a personal & professional level. No matter what your profession, if you have to pretend to be someone else every day how will you feel in the long run?
  4. Push your limits. Complacency is the worst, and can happen to the best of us. Why move out of your comfort zone? Stepping out of it and seeking new challenges is the only way to progress. Would you feel happy with yourself if you were regularly posting the same, boring content every week? How many “get ready with me” videos can be made before it becomes repetitive for you and your viewers?
  5. YouTubers and online influencers are entrepreneurs. Many people laugh or scorn YouTubers for their “hard done by” attitude and indeed, you might wonder why they’re complaining when they get to make videos for a living. But let’s face it, they are running a business. They need to keep their audience & agents happy, publish regularly or risk losing fans (consistency is one of the main keys to success), decide which brand deals will fit best for the audience (or be booed immediately) etc. When seeking to work with influencers, remember that though they may seem young and carefree, they have their own company to run – themselves.
  6. Influence is not synonymous of quality. Some of the biggest YouTubers are not necessarily producing quality content anymore, they’ve fallen into a funk (think Zoella). If you’re deciding to work with influencers don’t necessarily go for the big names but look for the ones that really fit with your idea and who you trust will develop the type of content you’re after.

A few recommendations:


Health & Fitness

  • Yoga with Adriene. Funny, easy, feel good and free yoga videos https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Vlogging/ Filmography

  • The Michalaks. London family who do weekly vlogs, their filmography and editing skills are stunningly beautiful https://www.youtube.com/user/alittlebeautyvlog/videos


  • 1 Million Dance Studio – Korea. Regularly publish dance videos showcasing their teachers, students and skills overall

What are yours?


Published by emmacdo

Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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