Alisha Marie On YouTuber Burnout

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Alisha Marie is one of those YouTubers who has been around forever. In the YouTube world, forever is ten years. Think back to the big YouTubers from a decade ago. Chances are that they’re working a normal job, not making videos watched by millions of people.

But Alisha Marie has continued to grow every year, since her start. With over seven million subscribers to her main channel and over two million on her vlog channel; she’s as popular as ever. The key to her success has been adapting to the times and consistently posting great content.

But that pressure of delivering new videos every week, led to burnout, so she decided to take a break from her main channel.

YouTuber burnout is a thing.

Her normal week would look something like this: She’d spend the beginning of her week writing and prepping for her shoot. Then she’d bulk film on Thursday and spend dozens of hours on Friday and Saturday editing, in order to post on Sunday.

That’s only part of her job, though. She has to manage her social media, do press, work with brands, take meetings, etc.

There are no days off for a successful YouTuber.

And you thought that they had it easy.

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Tom Ward: Much has been made about your recent hiatus from your YouTube channel. How are you feeling and what have you been doing?

Alisha Marie: That’s everyone’s number one question. It took me a while to decide that I needed to take this break. I took a week break from Instagram, without even realizing it, and then took a week break from my vlog channel. It wasn’t what I expected. I think what I expected was that I was going to take this break and just detach from all social media and…

Ward: Meditate?

Marie: Laughs. Yes! Mediate, and do yoga, and all that stuff. Laughs. But none of that really happened. It was very hard to sit still, and not work, which made me realize that I need to work on this more, because that’s a problem.

Ward: In preparation for this, I watched a ton of your videos and my favorite, by far, was the video where you announced that you were taking a break, because you were honest and raw. That’s rare because everyone tries to portray this perfect version of themselves. Have you ever done that before?

Marie: No. And there was something so special about that video, that I loved, for that same reason. I think I took it to too much of an extreme, because I wanted to have people come to my channel and have a happy time. I never wanted for them to see me being sad. Like, I never showed myself having a breakdown or crying. But people now just want raw and real and genuine content. And the one thing this whole break has taught me is that I want to show that side of me too. I don’t want to be this picture perfect person. Hopefully, I won’t be crying in every video now. Laughs. But I definitely want people to see that side of me more.

Ward: What’s the reaction been like?

Marie: Amazing. I was so nervous to post this video. And it’s funny because I kept telling myself, “I can’t take this break. I can keep doing it.” And then looking at the response, I don’t think I saw one negative comment. I got so much support. I don’t know why I hadn’t done this sooner. After I posted it, I saw a lot of my fan pages saying that they were going to take a break too. I was like, “Good for you!”

Ward: What led to your break? Was it one specific thing or was it a slow thing, like how anxiety and depression kind of creep up on you?

Marie: It was definitely the slower. I would go through these waves, where the stress would be so much, and then I’d have a breakdown and be crying. And after that I’d feel better.

Ward: Was it about anything specific?

Marie: I don’t know. I think it’s something inside of me. I do have those tendencies to want everything to be so good. So, I think just the stress of that. And I also have a big problem saying, “No.” And I think this is something that people don’t understand, unless they do social media for a job: there’s literally no structure and no balance. I almost miss having the structure of school or a normal job.

Ward: Where after five o’clock, you’re off and you’re not checking emails or talking to your boss.

Marie: For me to not check emails until 10AM is unheard of. So, being on all the time and also the content was something I was really struggling with. I just wasn’t proud of my main channel for the last eight months.

Ward: Why?

Marie: A lot of my videos were views driven. And I think I’m a funny person, but my passion isn’t comedy. And I look back at my channel, and I was doing so much comedy just because that’s what was doing good. But I love cinematography, and film, and so much more.

Ward: And your editing is great.

Marie: And that’s all me, but that’s something else we can talk about.

Ward: You need to outsource that.

Marie: I know and that’s one thing that was hard for me to let go. I prided myself that I did everything myself. Where a lot of my friends started getting editors, and I was holding onto it. Where now, I’m very much open to working with people, and having them help, because I can easily edit a video for ten hours. And it’s just not realistic when you’re trying to do bigger projects. And I sat back and looked at my channel and I just hit ten years.

Ward: Congrats! Ten years in the YouTube game is very rare. It’s hard to stay that relevant.

Marie: It really is and my channel always had the slowest incline. And I loved that. But I think a lot of the anxiety was like, “It’s all going to come down at some point. When it’s going to come down?” It’s funny because you’re premeditating what isn’t even happening.

Ward: It’s just in your mind. It’s not reality.

Marie: Yeah. And moving to LA (was a cause of stress) because I’m like, “How am I going to keep this up for a career?” So the stress and anxiety was something that I really started to struggle with.

Ward: Now do you think that anxiety, and almost obsessiveness, helped you get to where you are? It’s almost a double-edged sword. I interviewed the Merrill Twins and they had a great quote. They said, “When we started to get serious we said that we were going to post every Tuesday, no matter what’s going on. Whatever is going on, finals or travel or whatever, we’re going to post every week.” And they’ve never missed a Tuesday. But that also helped to get them to where they are. That obsessiveness, that consistency, that attention to detail helped them to become successful. Is that in the back of your mind too? Where you say, “Alright I’m going to take a break and outsource all this other stuff. But is it all going to come down now?”

Marie: I’ve got a couple of things on that. Laughs. I also said, “I’m not going to miss a Sunday.” That was my posting day. But it got to a point where I just couldn’t do it. I’d get busy and, to compensate, I’d just put stuff out there that I wasn’t proud of. It’d be Friday and I’d be like, “What am I going to put up on Sunday?” So, I’d bulk film on Friday, bulk edit on Saturday into Sunday morning, and then post. And I’d be so burnt out from that.

Ward: That was your whole weekend.

Marie: So Monday and Tuesday I’d be so burnt out that I wouldn’t film anything, and then I’d get busy with work, and then it would be Friday again. So the last eight months have been that schedule. So, I didn’t have time to pre film. I was that much behind. And that stressed me out so much. But back to the laser focus thing; I would never miss a post, because that’s just how I am. And I have a lot of friends who would not upload a lot, and that’d be fine for them.

Ward: But are those friends as successful as you? Probably not.

Marie: If you’re just looking at numbers, then yes. But it’s hard.

Ward: Because then there’s quality of life too.

Marie: Because maybe they have a social life? Laughs. No definitely.

Ward: Have you priorities changed now that you’ve taken a break and had some time to reflect?

Marie: My biggest priority, as I continue to expand my business ventures, is finding a healthy balance! I’ve never achieved a happy balance between my social life, career, remaining active, etc. It’s all or nothing, which was a huge contribution to this burn out. Let’s face it, I’m a workaholic. But I’m going to have to put my computer down and live life. It’s all about finding a perfect balance. That’s the goal!

Ward: When are you coming back?

Marie: Soon! Laughs. And I’m not even kidding. And there are a lot of other projects I’ve got coming up.

Ward: Finally, what advice do you have for other YouTubers who are working themselves ragged in order to build a successful YouTube channel?

Marie: My biggest piece of advice would be to not rush anything. It’s about quality over quantity. Find what makes you stand out and run with that. Being a successful creator takes time, but more importantly it takes respect from your peers. Don’t change who you are for the sake of views. Do something because you genuinely love it and want to share your voice.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

InterviewsTom Ward