8 Challenges Even Millionaire YouTuber Ali Abdaal FacesOct 31, 2021
You want to be a content creator. You’re sure you can be great. You’ve seen enough success porn to know all you need to do is work hard and one day you’ll make it. You’ll have the life of your dreams and live happily ever after.
Sorry, it’s time to burst your bubble.
The reality is different. I’ve grown exponentially in the last year myself and outearn my old-day job so some would think I’ve made it. They don’t see the challenges I face and how much thought goes into what I do.
Yet Ali Abdaal is a couple of years ahead of me. He’s become one of those semi-mythical beasts. A millionaire content creator. Surely Ali has made it? He must not worry about anything at all.
Wrong. He recently posted a life update and it warmed my heart to see how many of his problems I could relate to. If you dream of making it big, you must understand the realities of what this actually means.
Some of the dilemmas you face now will stay with you for years to come. You shouldn’t feel shame for being unsure as even Ali Abdaal is too.
#1 Medium to long term planning
I never thought I’d still be writing 2 years after I started. It was a new year’s resolution. As 80% of these fail, I would have been impressed if I wrote more than five pieces.
I kept going until one day I reached a tipping point. The excitement of a fresh hobby had faded. Focusing on putting out content every week became a chore. I realized I was running on a hamster wheel.
Ali’s early goal was to post two YouTube videos a week. Weekly targets create constant pressure but take you away from the big picture. It takes a certain type of person to be happy being a content mill and it’s not me. It’s not Ali either.
He’s now working on a mix of different projects, some with longer cycles than others like writing a book. He’s launching new products where he can build something long-term rather than the temporary nature of most content. You should think about doing the same to keep the passion going.
#2 What do you want from life
This planning fits into the bigger question of what’s the point of it all?
In normal careers, you follow a clear ladder of progression. You aim for the next promotion whilst trying to balance everything else on the side. In content creation, the appeal of more followers and views fades fast. The intensity of high from my first 5k followers was much greater than when I gained 50k.
We’re sold the idea becoming a content creator means freedom but how many of us live the way we dream about?
Ali has all the resources to live the way he wants but still wonders why he doesn’t live that way. Make sure you always think about how content creation fits into your wider goals for life. Some of you will want to become famous. Others would rather keep their privacy.
Know what you want so you don’t sleepwalk into a life you hate.
#3 Organizational design
Many side hustlers have unrealistic expectations of what life as a full-time content creator is like. It’s not all sunshine. Administration gremlins eat away at your day but you can’t shake them. I’m sorry to ruin your fantasy if you thought you can sit there and be creative all day.
Ali has an immense machine powered by 20 employees supporting him. You can’t reach such a scale alone unless you hate your sleep, your friends, your family, and your mental health. I don’t advise trying. I have three people working for me because I value my time.
Yet none of us know the best way to run this type of organization. It comforts me to know even Ali struggles with whether he’s managing things in the right way. Before you quit your job to become a content creator, make sure you understand it means becoming an entrepreneur too.
#4 Trying to make good content
Here’s a confession, I have tuned out of Ali’s content in recent times. He was flirting with clickbait too much and I felt it was inauthentic. I worry people will do the same to me.
Ali won me back in this video though. I was impressed he admitted he stresses about the same things I do. The temptation to get lost in the numbers can be too much sometimes and you forget what makes you worth listening to in the first place. He actually deleted the videos which I had rolled my eyes at. Top marks.
None of us are perfect and we’ll all make mistakes by following the bright lights. The simple solution is asking yourself the same question Ali asks himself:
“Am I proud of this?”
#5 Experimenting with different platforms
Newbies wonder if they are starting on the right platform.
Experts wonder if their platform is dying.
It’s funny how every platform has its own doomsayers. They shout loudly and tell everyone else the game is up! They do this for months without leaving the “dead” platform. It causes unnecessary panic for everyone in their radius.
I’m entering the YouTube world now. Ali is wondering if he should focus on TikTok instead. He doesn’t want to make TikTok content but he is scared of being left behind.
Stable times are the exception, not the rule. There will never be an extended period where you feel 100% confident you’re doing the right thing. You must accept this and back yourself to adapt if it comes to it. Panic without action is exhausting.
#6 Having a niche vs not having one
I’m sure you’ve gone through this same battle. Many people are firmly in one camp or the other in public but in private, we all doubt our decisions.
Ali knows his productivity and finance-related content make him the most money. From a business perspective, he should focus on this niche. The problem is he prefers making content about a variety of topics. Does he choose money or fulfillment?
Like everyone else, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
My niche is now looking at how ambitious people can find balance. I feel like this will be a lifelong mission for me and I can maintain it for a long time. I hope my passion intersects with long-term income but only time will tell.
What I do know is I will never make content that is driven only by dollar bills.
#7 Day job
The ultimate decision for content creators is whether to take it full time. Most people would quit their day jobs instantly if they were bringing in $27k a week. Not Ali. He works as a qualified doctor for one day a week even though he doesn’t enjoy it.
The “doctor” label brings him respect. He’s embarrassed to call himself a content creator or a YouTuber despite his success. I can relate as I procrastinated updating my LinkedIn as long as I could. I’m still useless at telling people what I do.
People will always need doctors but there’s a tiny chance his content could get canceled. This negligible risk stops him from fully committing because he feels it gives him a backup.
It’s your personal decision to be full-time or a side-hustler but don’t let our people’s judgments keep you in a job you don’t like. Life’s too short. The skills you learn from being your own boss are highly marketable and I’m sure Ali could easily make several times his doctor salary even without a personal brand now.
#8 Time for yourself
The curse of the content creator is reaching an income target but being too insecure to take your foot off the gas.
You’d be surprised how stressed out the top writers I know are despite them easily being in the top 0.01%. It’s as if they lose perspective of how much they really need. I can spot the irrationality in others but sometimes I can’t stop myself from acting in the exact same way.
Ali knows his business doesn’t need to grow at an “exponential rate” yet struggles with accepting this. He still feels guilty when he’s having fun but he understands the importance of changing his mindset.
Wake up if you are neglecting yourself right now because of loyalty to the hustle. Mental health isn’t something you should focus on only when you have hit a certain number of views or followers. Build it into your routine now and I hope you’ll be much happier because of it.