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March 24

When Should You ‘Start Over’?

Mental Health, Social Media

If you've been a content creator long enough, you've probably wondered if you should "start over." Whether that means wiping all of your existing content and starting fresh on the same accounts, creating brand new accounts, or scrapping a project altogether, just about every creator has wondered if they need a fresh start. 

Interestingly enough, TikTok recently announced a new feature in which users can essentially "restart" their For You Page. That is, if a user feels like the videos they're seeing on their For You Page don't represent their interests anymore (or perhaps they're just seeing the same videos over and over), they can reset what the app knows about them as a user and "build up" their algorithm again by interacting with videos. 

Sounds like a cool user experience — if only it were that easy for creators to tell apps to forget everything it thinks it knows about their content, too. But why would you want this in the first place? 

Why Would You Want To Start Over? 

There are a few different reasons to want to start over. Some are very practical and tangible, while others may be a bit more emotional. 

The most obvious reason is whatever you were doing before, well, isn't what you want to do anymore. We see this a bit more with music creators and YouTubers. Maybe the band breaks up. Maybe you've got a new idea for a solo project. Maybe your genre changed. Or maybe you just want to start making videos about something else. 

In a lot of cases, it's not necessarily that the old project "goes away" forever — it's just that you're doing an entirely new thing and you have to understand that it will have an entirely new audience. That doesn't mean people won't migrate over, but you shouldn't expect your new project to be a continuation of any previous content efforts. 

There's also the very real possibility that in your early efforts as a content creator you made some mistakes. Like, maybe you bought a bunch of followers or ended up on some bad playlists. And now it seems like you've got really low reach or totally messed up data. In this instance, you're not necessarily "starting over" from a content or branding perspective — just from a data one. 

Because as frustrating as it can be sometimes, social media platforms often dictate our organic reach. And they often change up how they serve users and what kind of content makes it out. If you're already starting from a place of bad data, you're going to be more frustrated than normal (low bar, we know). 

The Different Ways To Start Over

Not all forms of starting over are as drastic as they may seem. Sometimes it's just a matter of a little housekeeping and rebranding. And sometimes it's burning down the house — or just building a new one next to it.

The Soft Reset

The "soft reset" is a great way of leaning into a new branding or signifying to your existing audience that a change is coming — but one that would still be congruent with your overall content and presence. Maybe you've got a new member joining the band. Or maybe you're launching a significant new line of content or product. 

You may see content creators do this from time to time — they'll remove a lot of old social media posts (sometimes all of it), or perhaps rebrand with all new colors, logos, and visuals. They'll make a clear effort to center all of their efforts around a specific campaign or project, sometimes choosing to focus only on a single platform or fan club etc. The soft reset can definitely work if you've got a clear new focus point in mind. It's kind of like a nice long shower for your content.

The Hard Reset

This one is a bit more serious and takes more effort. If your social media accounts received a lot of bot followers at some point, or if you're unhappy with some pre-existing content or don't feel it represents you anymore, the "hard reset" start over is in order. 

This is where you still plan on moving forward under your existing creator name (or band/channel/course etc.) but need to create completely new social media accounts and "hard reset" the data you're used to seeing. It's not the easiest process, but it's doable. Every platform has a different policy. For instance, on Instagram you can only have up to 5 accounts associated with the same email. 

The easiest thing to do is to create a new account with a slightly modified username. Then, in your old account, change your username to something else. Instagram reportedly stores these old names for a little while just in case you want to change it back. But after a bit, the username should become available again — then you can change your new account to the one with your old name (and delete your old account if you want to keep it clean). 

This is all kind of treacherous water and nothing is guaranteed for each platform, but sometimes it's just necessary to do. The easiest thing to do is let your followers know you're creating new profiles and start to build them up again. It's a pain, but it's better than having a useless account filled with bot data. 

The "hard reset" start over may also include things like issuing takedowns for old music or turning old YouTube videos back to unpublished. The good news here is that if you ever decide to re-upload this content or make it public again, that data is retained (provided you use the same ISRC for the song). 

The Clean Start

Sometimes you just need to let some things go and start fresh. In this case, you're creating an entirely new project with new everything — new name, new branding, new social media handles, new website, new email; heck, probably even new bank account and LLC if you're really on the ball. 

This doesn't necessarily mean you're killing your other projects. It just means you're not expecting to leverage any of the existing brand from the other project. Of course, a lot of fans may follow you anywhere you go — like a director going movie to movie, or the rare "variety" content creator. But with the clean start, you should approach it as if you're trying to build something from the ground up and not assume fans of your previous work will follow you there.

It's important to note that if you've already got a project up you're proud of, there's no real need to burn everything else down. Even if your old band broke up, if you're still making a little money from the streaming, keep the content available (plus it probably still means a lot to some people). Even if you're not uploading to old YouTube channels, there's nothing wrong with leaving that evergreen content up as long as you're not "embarrassed" by it. But just remember that the clean start should be approached for what it is — a physical and often emotional exercise of completely beginning again (just, you know, probably wiser than the first time you started). 

How Do You Know When It's Time To Start Over? 

This is really at the crux of it all. Are you feeling frustrated? Is this coming from an emotional place? Do you just need a break?

Or does the thought of something new excite you? 

If the idea of a clean slate gets your creative juices going and reinvigorates your passion, then you're probably coming at it from the right place. If you just feel like you're stagnating in your current space or your heart isn't in it like it once was, it might take a little more self reflection. 

After all, starting over can be very therapeutic — but if you're not committed, you may find yourself with a bunch of "half finished screenplays in your drawer" (to quote a film school cliché). And sometimes that can be even more disheartening. 

The truth is, there's no negative growth trend or income threshold that can tell you when you should consider making major changes. Every creator's situation is a lot more unique than just applying a blanket "if this, then that" solution.

Sometimes you spend your entire first project trying to figure out your voice and your content, and then all of a sudden you realize, "Wow this is a jumbled mess — maybe I should take everything I learned and start fresh." But sometimes people love watching that journey and seeing where you started. 

But here's the most important part: does starting over on a new project sound fun? Because we all know content creators put up with way too much for it to not at least be fun most of the time. When you've got that answer, you've probably got a pretty good idea of the answer to the first question, too.


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