This 24-year-old has built a YouTube empire out of educational videos, but she says burnout is a real problem
- Lucy Bella Earl is an educational YouTuber who teaches English to more than 1.7 million subscribers.
- Earl spoke to Business Insider about becoming "EduTuber," how she struggled with burnout, and why Instagram isn't about to replace YouTube.
- BI also spoke to YouTube's education boss Malik Ducard about what the company is doing to look after its creators.
Lucy Bella Earl started a YouTube channel in 2016, teaching bite-sized chunks of the English language. Eight months later, it had become her full-time job, and she now boasts more than 1.7 million subscribers.
The idea for Earl's channel "English With Lucy" came when she was on a year abroad during her marketing degree. Earl started teaching English in Madrid, and realising that her grasp of Spanish grammar was shaky, she went looking for videos to help her master the language.
"I noticed they were all about 20, 25 minutes long and it was just really, really slow," she told Business Insider at YouTube event EduCon, which celebrated a new breed of "EduTuber."
At the time she was watching YouTubers like Zoella, whose style was much more personal than the dry videos explaining grammar - and something clicked.
"I just thought if someone could blend education with something really personal and just blend the one-to-one kind of aspect of YouTube, then it would be really cool," the 24-year-old said.
After graduating, Earl decided to try her hand at becoming an educational YouTuber. About two years later, she hit one million subscriber milestone. "It was my full-time job within eight months... I didn't expect that," she said.
Earl says that YouTuber burnout is a hot topic in the close-knit groups she occupies. Burnout refers to a feeling of mental exhaustion some YouTubers experience due to the pressure of constantly uploading new videos to maintain views and ad revenue. Business Insider's sister website Business Insider spoke to YouTube stars PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, and AlishaMarie about their struggles with burnout.
Earl says she too has suffered from the pressure to post. "I was producing too much for one person to produce, and then it hit me like a brick wall," she said.
The final straw was a holiday to Bali which had been part-sponsored by a brand. Earl was meant to be learning a language, but in the end, she cancelled the partnership. "I was like this is my one holiday, and I'm still working!"
It was only after taking on an editor and setting herself some stricter boundaries did she start to get on top the burnout.
Business Insider also spoke to Malik Ducard, YouTube's head of learning, social impact, family, film, and TV, about YouTube's burnout problem.
YouTube recently announced it's investing $20 million in educational videos. BI asked Ducard whether any of that money would go towards providing more of a cushion for its educational creators when they start to burn out. Ducard was not specific, but said generally, YouTube tries to take care of its creators.
"We're focussed on creator wellbeing... we do not want creators to burn out," Ducard said. "I'd say specifically with education, we are focussed on as part of the building blocks how can we make it a better place economically as well."
Earl seemed hopeful that YouTubers are learning to respect their limits. "I think we've gone from oversharing [on social media] to being much more careful about it," she said.
She added that YouTubers are embracing "digital detoxes" more, having initially been scared that if they vanished for even a week, their audiences might get crushed. When Earl returned to YouTube after taking a break, she found her numbers hadn't dipped at all.
"I think everyone is going through some sort of social media overload," she said.
YouTube vs Instagram
Earls is keenly aware that platforms like YouTube are ever-changing and so she has to diversify across the web. Consequently, she prefers not to call herself a "YouTuber" - even though it is her main platform, ahead of Instagram and Twitter, where she has 144,000 and 13,000 followers respectively.
YouTube is also the only company where she has a personal relationship with the behind-the-scenes employees. Once she hit 70,000 subscribers, she was assigned a "partner manager" from YouTube to help her grow her channel. Since then, she's worked with multiple partner managers.
Conversely, she says Instagram has invited her to one "feedback session" where she was asked what it's like being a creator on the platform.
In June 2018, Instagram launched IGTV, a vertical video platform seen by many as a move onto YouTube's turf. But Earl doesn't see IGTV dethroning YouTube any time soon.
"I just don't know if they've got the interactivity down," she said, adding: "All I do is get recommended really awful makeup videos, and I don't follow any makeup channels or anything."
Earl added that making high-quality videos for IGTV as a creator is high-cost. "I don't see it as an investment at the moment. Maybe I'll be wrong, I'm willing to be wrong," she said.
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