I’ve been on the verge of becoming a full-blown content creator for almost 6 years now, and mainly because everyone continually tells me I should be. Plus, it’s a bit seductive to think I could make an income from just living my life, right?
When I left academia back in 2017 to get into Tech by teaching myself to code, people told me I should write about it. So I did.
When I became a successful UX Designer at a top company making 6-figures, people came to me looking for mentorship. So I became a mentor, and I wrote about it too.
When I started working remotely and sold everything I owned to move into an RV to travel full-time, people told me I should start a YouTube channel…I didn’t, but I did write about it and post a few updates here and there.
When we became completely debt-free by 27 while traveling full-time, people told me I should start a personal finance blog. I wrote a single article about how we made it happen.
When I saved up to quit that dream job and travel for a year, people told me I should become a full-time content creator. I wrote a few articles, updated my Instagram every now and again, and started a blog about my favorite travel gear.
That’s as far as it went.
It’s been 2.5 years now since I quit to travel, and instead of going back to that shiny career that I worked my ass off for, I accidentally became a Housewife. Spoiler alert: it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.
Millennials have been dubbed the burnout generation, while Gen Z has come of age during a global Pandemic and the highest inflation rates we’ve seen since the 1980's. In response, we’ve seen things like the great resignation; while cottagecore, homesteading, and the stay-at-home-girlfriend are trending on TikTok. People are craving more stress-free lives in response to living through multiple “once in a lifetime” events.
Again, it feels like a perfect time to become a content creator as an accidental housewife who travels wherever and whenever I want. But I haven’t.
Over the past 6 years, I’ve lived the lives of tons of different kinds of Influencers. I’ve documented things here and there, but it begs the question of why I’ve never fully committed. Not only from family and friends, but also from myself. I’ve bought courses, picked up skills, and done some of the work. But I can never seem to stick with it.
Today, I want to share the reasons why.
Not because I think it’s going to garner a ton of readership. Not because I think the title will be clickbaity. Not for any particular reason other than it’s been on my mind for a really long time and I feel like it’s something I want to share and work through here.
Because frankly, I don’t need to make money from my content, so I can pretty much do whatever I want…which is a really nice and honest position to be in.
Let’s dive in.
You become the product…and people can be assholes
With most jobs, you perform your skills and leave when the job is done. It’s relatively easy to have some level of compartmentalization with the standard setup. That’s not the case with lifestyle content creation.
In case you were curious: “Lifestyle content creation — Being authentic and creating content that shares your personal interests and hobbies (Izea)”
You literally ARE the product.
Your thoughts, beliefs, and lifestyle. It’s all you. Engagement (positive and negative) drives algorithms to push you to new audiences, and so it becomes part of the package to take criticism for everything you do and believe. Hell, you do BETTER if you can get people pissed off and interacting with your content (unless you get cancelled of course).
In no other way do we actively invite people in to critique everything we say and do in our personal lives like we do on social media. And because of that, it becomes particularly difficult to compartmentalize or not take things personally when it quite literally IS personal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put a lot of active thought and energy into all of my life decisions and so they’re fairly defendable when need be. But that doesn’t mean I want to spend all my time defending those decisions to people whose opinions I can’t know whether or not I should even value.
I’ll not mince words on this one…people can be assholes. In person, but especially online.
The other side of this is that I have absolutely NO CHILL as a person. I had to defend myself A LOT growing up. I was always the new kid (we moved every 6–12 months up until High School). I had a lazy eye, giant glasses, hand-me-down clothes, and I’ve always been particularly small (Even today as a full-grown adult I’m barely above 5 feet tall). An easy target. I got my hair chopped off in class, I was drawn on, kicked, and I even had a girl throw a handful of sand in my eyes because she “didn’t like the way they looked”.
I turned in for a long time, but eventually I turned out.
I don’t take shit from absolutely anyone now.
If someone wants to say something mean or rude to me, I’m absolutely going to respond, and I’m going to respond in depth. I’ve never had a ton of followers, so it’s been pretty manageable. I imagine for large accounts, that’s probably not even an option unless they want to hire someone to do it. Which honestly, is probably something I’d be petty enough to do.
A solution to this is obviously to ignore people, but I’m not particularly good at that.
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you know that dealing with idiots is tiring, and I’ve gotten much less understanding of it (and more combative) over the past few years. I think most of us have.
Choosing to share these intimate details of my life and my thoughts with the entire world to make a little bit of extra money just doesn’t feel very balanced.
Speaking of money:
It’s not some passive hobby, it’s a whole-ass career. Except it might not pay very well and isn’t super stable.
Alright, I know what you’re thinking here.
If you’re living this way and already taking pictures and videos, why not cash in? Although that sounds great in theory, that’s really not all it is. I do those basic things and even quite a bit of video editing, and my 310 followers on Instagram shows it’s not enough.
You need some way to deliver value through your content. Content creation done well is truly another job.
There are tons of skills that you need to learn to do well. Photography, videography, editing, content management, marketing, taking advantage of trends, keeping an eye on platform-specific changes, writing, creating freebies to grow your email list, tons of organizational skills (and software) to keep it all running smoothly, (+ MANY more). A single well-made blog post with everything I mentioned above can take upwards of a week to put together fully, and I’ve rarely seen anything come of it in terms of money.
It takes a ton of time to do all of those things and you have to remain fairly consistent across all of your platforms.
Can it be done? Yah, it definitely can, but it’s not some passive thing like most people who aren’t doing it think it is. That’s why social media management is such a blossoming career opportunity….because it’s an entire career.
I’ve got friends that do this for a living, and they worked their ASSES OFF to get the results they do. I have nothing but respect for them.
But that doesn’t mean I want to do it just because my life might lend itself to it. Now, maybe the capitalist American in me would find it more appealing if the payoff was easier to see, but currently, it doesn’t feel all that worth it.
Over 6 years, I’ve made less money from my content than I used to make in a single week as a UX Designer at a normal job.
For some content creators, there’s a huge payoff. But to keep things in perspective, only 48% of all full-time content creators on a platform like Instagram make any money at all.
The chances of making money skyrocket once you have a large following. For example, Influencers with 100,000 + followers can charge $1,000 — $5,000 per sponsored post.
If you do manage to make money doing it, one of the worries that you’ll have (unless you build up other streams of income), is that the platform will make changes that affect your profits. It’s constantly happening.
There’s also really high rates of burnout. 80% of creators suffer from it. Realistically, if I wanted to get rich, I’d do it by starting, designing, or partnering with some kind of SaaS company (a tech company that makes money from monthly recurring subscriptions). Not monetizing my life.
Living a cool life doesn’t mean you’re required to share it with others
This one always gets me. I’m torn.
On the one hand, I feel like I’ve prioritized living this really amazing life and have learned tons of lessons that I want to share with others. In many ways (not trying to sound conceited here), I’ve lived so many people's dream lives at one point or another over just the past few years. I’ve had experiences that people could take something away from (I know I certainly have), and I’d love to be able to share that.
It sometimes feels like a waste that I’m not.
From getting out of poverty, tiny living, minimalism, financial wellness, design thinking applied to your life, lessons on contentment, traveling affordably etc. just to name a few. I certainly don’t feel like I have all the answers, but I do feel like I know a great deal about these particular things.
Simultaneously, just because I’ve lived these different lives and learned so much, doesn’t mean I’m actually required to pass along that knowledge. But I struggle with that.
I think we live in a time where access to information is easier than ever. That means we expect it. I feel guilty for having access to info and NOT giving it away. I partially feel like it’s my duty to serve those lessons up for those looking for it. And perhaps even to help people out who don’t even realize yet that they need it.
BUT…do I really want to have to go through everything I mentioned above to share those experiences with the world?
Although the workload doesn’t seem all that appealing to me, I’ve always been drawn to sharing and teaching people who are interested.
….But the workload and other things that come along with it don’t seem all that great if I’m being honest.
Although I want a better world with happier people, I also like the time and space I’ve purposely built into my life at this point.
I feel like I deserve to enjoy that.
Building an audience and choosing a niche is something I’ve always struggled with
Choosing a niche for your content is the #1 suggestion for growing your audience. That means picking a topic and focusing on that one thing (or variations of that one thing). When you do that, people know what they’re getting and what they can expect in the future. You build a consistent brand. But here’s the problem…
My life is all over the place. (literally and figuratively).
From my lifestyle to my interests, it’s always changing. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. I obsess over something, get really good at it fairly quickly, get bored, and move on to the next thing. It’s who I am. And although it can be annoying (to myself and probably to others), I also LOVE it and it keeps my life fun and interesting (and my hobby-closet full 👀).
That doesn’t work particularly well if you build an audience around something like RV life for example, and then drastically change what you’re doing. It feels like a waste to pivot and lose most of your audience, have to rebrand everything etc., which is why I’ve always been hesitant to focus on one thing in particular with my content. Sometimes I’m backpacking across Europe for months at a time, swimming in mermaid tails in the Springs, or cooking everything you can imagine from scratch in my kitchen.
Hell, I’d love to know where my life will be next year, but I legitimately have no idea what’s next. So why spend all my time and energy building an audience that’s just going to disappear (more than likely) during the next stage of my life?
On that note, I also don’t want to partake in something that feels like it incentivizes me (monetarily or socially) NOT to change. Part of growing as a person involves changing your views based on new evidence and experiences. I’d never want to purposely stunt myself developmentally because of some real or perceived pushback against those changes. If large amounts of money were involved, I imagine that pressure would be even more real.
Am I saying it can’t be done? No, absolutely not. I just don’t personally know how to do it.
Feel free to let me know if you do.
I don’t want my friends and family to hate me…or themselves
Aside from the things that life has thrown at me that I can’t control (a pandemic, family deaths etc.), my life has been really really good over the past few years. Far better than it ever was growing up. In terms of finances, love, travel, and so much more.
Part of me feels guilty for sharing that.
When I start a sentence off with “When I was in ___ (Insert foreign country here)”, I cringe at how douchey it probably sounds.
I never want a catchup session to make another person feel bad about themselves, because I know comparison is real and can build an emotional wall. I know for a fact that just from the relatively small amount of sharing that I’ve already done over the years, family members have weaponized it to make others who are around my age feel bad about where they’re at in life (or they just do on their own). And I hate that. I hate that for them, and I selfishly hate that for me. I want relationships with these people, and I don’t want them to grow to resent me because they’re being told they aren’t as successful (or just feel like they aren’t). I don’t care at all about how much traditional “success” someone has, I just want to be able to have good and healthy relationships with good people. Negative comparisons using me aren’t going to help that.
Ideally, everyone would be living lives they love and be confident about it. But that’s just not realistic.
Sure, we’ve worked hard to get where we are, but I’m extremely aware of how far from average our situation is. We currently make almost double the national household income with a single earner. We were completely debt-free by 27, and our net worth is 22x higher than the median for anyone under 35 in the US (we’re just 29 now). I’ve also personally been able to travel to 7x more countries than the average American has in their entire lives already. We have a lot more money and freedom to design our lives than most people our age do, and more than most people in the world probably ever will. We’re certainly not the top of the top, but it’s also not a fair comparison to the average.
Coming from the place that I grew up (relative poverty in the US), that means that statistically most of my family and the people that I grew up with will probably find themselves financially below where we’re at, and most won’t be able to share or relate to a lot of my experiences. Although we don’t live extravagantly and have traditional markers of success like fancy cars or a big house, that doesn’t mean we don’t prioritize the amazing experiences that I always dreamed of now that we can.
Something just feels wrong about coming off like I might be rubbing their faces in it.
In many ways, the past 6 years have felt like multiple separate and thrilling lifetimes.
I’ve learned and experienced a ton, have reprioritized my ideas of success, and have no idea what the future holds. I’d love to share that with the people that are looking for it.
Committing to sharing those experiences with the world as some kind of authority figure has always felt a bit disingenuous. It almost implies that I feel like I have the answers for everything at any given time, when that’s far from the truth.
The more I’ve experienced (especially by traveling), the more I’ve learned first-hand how gray the world and our lives truly are, as compared to the more black-and-white thinking I had when I was younger. I’m just out here living the best life I know how to, and it’s ever-changing. As I feel it should be. I want that space to experience and grow without wondering if some proposed income stream is going to dry up because of those changes.
I don’t want to come off as disingenuous, I don’t want to be part of the mental health problem that’s caused by rampantly comparing our lives to others, and I don’t want to come off as an entitled ass.
Currently, I share what I want when I want. I haven’t ever niched down, I don’t follow trends to grow my follower count, and I make it a priority to share the good and the bad of our experiences.
Ideally, I’d create a space where I can connect with others who feel like they want to hear about my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned as I grow throughout my life.
It would be pretty awesome if I could make money doing it. (For those that have made it a full-time income already and love it, kudos to you 👏)
For now, I’ll keep writing openly and honestly here. Feel free to follow along. And if you want to see my daily life with some occasional updates and lots of unfiltered stories, you can check out my Instagram.
Who knows what the future will hold? Certainly not me.
Thanks for reading!
Keep chasing your dreams, keep chasing your freedom! 💕
For updates when new articles come out and access to freebies like my personal packing checklists, you can sign up here.