Out of Office

Can creators take time off?

Illustration by Garrett Golightly

Can Creators Ever Take a Vacation?

As a creator you’re both the producer and the product. The baker and the bread. So when it comes to taking a vacation, it’s not as simple as setting an out-of-office email, letting your coworkers take over, and returning to work with a new tan as if you never left.

When creators take a break, the work *actually* stops. And that can be scary because your mental health requires vacation time—but the algorithm doesn’t usually reward it.

So what does it actually look like for a creator to pause, relax, and walk away from creating content for a couple of weeks? What happens to their mental state? Their business?

Lucky for us, we know a guy (or two) with the answers. Last month, Colin and Samir took two weeks off from their YouTube channel for the first time in nearly a decade.

The break was kickstarted by Samir's honeymoon. He was anxious about what might happen to the business while he was away, and after discussion, they decided it was best for the full team to take the time off as well.

When they left? Anxious, burned out, stressed.

When they came back? Refreshed, reaffirmed, brimming with creative ideas.

Here’s what they learned—

Lesson 1: Your creativity requires new experiences. 

“As a creator, a vacation is completely necessary. If you want to have new ideas, you have to see something new. You have to exist in a new environment,” Samir said.

Colin, Samir, and the video team work in the same office every day. Taking a break not only offered a respite from the day-to-day stress of creating, but also helped them view their work from a new perspective.

For instance, Samir gained new insight on the economics of in-person courses after taking a croissant-making class in France. He shared that insight with the Publish team upon his return—and now we’re all thinking about how we can emulate the croissant instructor to maximize our value-add time.

Lesson 2: Some of your fears are justified.

The number one fear Colin and Samir had going into the break was the potential of losing views. Turns out it was at least a little warranted: “Frequency on YouTube absolutely matters. We saw a significant dip in viewership when we took our break and it’s been hard to recover from that,” Samir said.

Missing an opportunity was another fear realized. “We work in a fast-paced industry and you have to be available to take on opportunities,” Samir said. “The Sidemen reached out to shoot with us in LA while we were on vacation, so we missed that opp.”

But the good news? Now that Colin and Samir are back, they’ve been able to regain speed. “As we’re looking at today, we have a new perspective on the show, which has been really beneficial. We’re still getting opportunities as we come back and we haven’t lost relevancy,” Samir said.

Lesson 3: Schedule posts in advance of a break.

Colin and Samir explained that they’ll make a few logistical tweaks before the next vacation, one of which is scheduling. In the future, they plan to adjust their posting schedule before setting that OOO, similar to how Good Mythical Morning works.

“If you’re going to take a break, it’s better to take a posting break while you’re still in the office or not on vacation,” Samir said.

That could look like this: Take two weeks off from posting, but spend that time working on new videos. After the two weeks are up, take your vacation. And before you leave? Set those videos you just recorded to publish while you’re away.

“Then when you’re back, you can build off that momentum of the videos that were batched and released while you were on break,” Samir said.

Our Take

The creator industry is far from the wild west it used to be—it’s become more professional and more legitimate, which are both good things. But that said, our industry has lagged in mimicking the better parts of corporate American culture…like OOO standards.

Colin and Samir have suggested a break button that creators could use on their YouTube channel to notify followers of when they’re on leave—but until that or some change to the algorithm that allows for time off comes into play, creators may want to workshop a longer-term production schedule to ease the anxiety of missing an upload. Preparing a plan for your content in the time off will help you feel better about unplugging so the time away is actually enjoyable.

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Publish Press readers share a problem they're facing and creators Colin & Samir respond with their advice.

Q: My friend and I have been putting out a podcast pretty regularly for two years and we’re coming up on our 100th episode. We wanted to do something to commemorate the milestone so we’re planning to do a video podcast on YouTube. All of our previous podcasts have been audio only with graphics put on top.

Any advice for someone doing a video podcast for the first time? Are there any tips you have, or anything you wish you knew/thought about before your first one?

–Chris J.

A: Congrats on nearing your 100th episode! Video podcasts are a low-lift way to maximize your content—not only can you repurpose the sound as audio-only for uploading separately to Spotify or Apple, but a longer video often means more listening time and higher retention.

A couple things to keep in mind:

Adjust your priorities to the medium. Is your setup visually interesting? Taping in a closet won’t cut it for video—you’ll need to set a scene with a table and chairs and create a sense of place.

Set up your cameras properly. If you have more than one camera, set them in different places so you can toggle between different shots in post-production—some that are tighter on the speakers, others that are wider and capture the whole scene.

Narrate accordingly. When on video, it can be easy to forget that some people will be listening without watching. If you’re referring to something visual in the conversation, describe it. You can add a visual cue in the video version, but in audio? What you say is all the audience gets, so paint a vivid picture for them to understand and stay engaged.

–Colin & Samir

Facing a creator problem you want help with? Share it here→


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