This is Why YouTubers are Quitting Their Day-Jobs

2019 was flooded with popular YouTubers posting “I quit my job and here’s why” vlogs.

Think: Lucie Fink, Natalie Barbu, ZoeNotZoey, and the stars of this article, Michelle Reed, Brooke Miccio, and Katy Bellotte.

I spoke with this trio to speak about their decisions, the “quitting trend,” and how Hustle Culture played a part.

Each of these videos starts with their reasons for pursuing YouTube as a full-time career.

“I was very opposed to doing it full-time [when I was in college],” said Reed. “I definitely believed that stigma of people who do YouTube full-time are kind of lazy or out-of-touch with the real world.”

What this Quitter’s Club, as Reed calls it, quickly discovered is that content creators are anything but lazy, and they certainly learned the hard way.

“At one point I hit a wall where I was like, ‘why am I doing this to myself when I don't have to?’ I really assessed it all and I was like, this is true burnout,” said Miccio.

Her burnout came from months of working a full-time sales position at a large company and managing her 204,000-subscriber channel and 70,000-follower Instagram page simultaneously, all while trying to maintain a social life in a new city.

“I was irritable all the time back when I was balancing too much,” noted Bellotte, “I was bitter and angry over something I was completely in control of.”

It may not sound like a lot, but when your 9-5 job is actually an 8-6 job and you spend your evenings and weekends working your other job that’s only becoming harder to keep up with and you’re 22-years-old living on your own, it’s more than a “challenge.”

 

But what about relatability? Reed claimed in her recent vlogs that many of her new followers were attracted by her “work week in my life” videos, mostly because they could see their own life in hers. Will ending the 9-5 content turn them away?

“I felt like my channel was so much about just like my life, and I felt like my followers really like seeing, ‘oh, she's the normal girl who has a normal life, but also does YouTube,’” said Reed.

“I kind of wanted to keep up that sense of normalcy and never feel like I was out of touch with my followers. So, I didn't even really dream about [doing YouTube as a career]. It was something I started considering when it was literally like taking a toll on me in terms of the number of hours I was working.”

It comes down to a traditional versus non-traditional work-life. “YouTuber” is not exactly a term yet included in the working-world, but “freelancer” and “self-employed” are. Being a YouTuber is a job like any other, but college YouTubers face a pressure upon graduation that other young professionals don’t.

“All my friends were getting jobs or continuing on their education to grad school, so it was either go to school or get a job,” said Miccio. “A part of me just wanted to be ‘normal.’ It's a pride thing too, to be like, ‘yeah, I graduated college and I took this job.’ That's what your friends and family want to hear from you. I wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to prove to everybody online that I could get a job. It was definitely a pride thing.”

What Reed and Miccio both wanted after college? Pride and normalcy, both huge factors in their decisions to go into a traditional job post-graduation.

Not to mention every YouTuber is facing the scrutiny of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viewers.

Another commonality, though, is that neither of them considered giving up YouTube at any point. It was always the corporate job that had to go.

Miccio: “I think I knew after the second year of college that I was deep into [YouTube]. I was like, ‘I just gotta keep going at this point.’ And I love the community that I built, so it was never really a question of stopping that.”

Reed: “A lot of people have this thing in their mind where they're like, ‘oh, she's quitting her job and now she's doing a very unstable job.’ But financially, if I were to equate the two and just do [the traditional] job, I would not have enough money.”

These young women are forging a new path of working and figuring it out along the way, mostly on their own. Some have managers and coworking spaces, sure, but it all seems glamorous in front of the camera. What we don’t see are the bills being paid, made up by hours of editing and filming footage, writing captions, negotiating with corporations, answering emails, comments, and DMs, and finding time to live the life of a young 20-something in a big city.

“Honestly, I laugh at the concept of quitting one job to pursue another job as being labeled as ‘trendy,’” said Bellotte. “I simply chose one of the two of my very full-time jobs to pursue with all of my energy! Someone somewhere does this every second of every day.”

There is no guidebook to YouTuber life. Miccio, Reed, Bellotte, and the other young women on this path are taking the steps necessary to cultivate the life they want. The only difference is that they’re doing it on camera.

When I first set out to write this article, I was prepared to publish a scathing op-ed about the glamorization of social media careers, and equate YouTube work to narcissism, superficiality, and shallowness. What I neglected to consider was the many hats these young women wear. This Quitters Club is made up of directors, producers, videographers, writers, actors, photographers, talent managers, and on-screen-talent; all considered “real jobs,” but they don’t get to carry the title.

“Hustle culture is a toxic phenomenon that has arisen over the last decade,” according to Bellotte. “I used to have a “HUSTLE” print above my desk in college. It’s important to understand that hustling too hard causes burnout. I learned this and have since pivoted to prioritizing the things that are most important to me.”

These women are creators changing the face of working. There is no handbook to living on your own at 22, managing your own small business, and singlehandedly negotiating the value of your content.

“I feel like my parents really raised me that like, you shouldn't just like do things in your life because they make you happy,” said Reed, “but you should actually do things that make you fulfilled.”

And, in the end, aren’t we all just chasing that fulfillment?