Countless people have catapulted themselves to stardom using YouTube as a springboard.

Casey Neistat, Hannah Hart, Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig are a few examples of online personalities who achieved level of fame bigger than a single YouTube channel. They’ve not only created highly lucrative channels, but they’ve transformed themselves into brands. For these super-stars, YouTube wasn’t an end-goal, but a stepping stone to something bigger.

Still others have found comfort in YouTube. They’ve created channels big enough to make them rich and famous, yet are content to live outside mainstream media. YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie is the perfect example. He’s his own boss and seems to have no interest going mainstream. We may never see him in movies or on TV, and he and his fans are fine with that.

So which is the right approach? Is there such a thing?

The answer, as always, depends on your personal definition of success. Some people have a drive to always do more and are never comfortable unless they’re a little uncomfortable. They’re workaholics and will work even if the work isn’t fun — as long as it ultimately delivers a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Others prefer to settle into routine and get paid to do so. They do what they do because they love it and would do it for free if they had to.

Regardless of what your ambition is, my advice is to have a backup plan. By that I don’t mean a backup career, like my backup career of working at a local pizza joint because… pizza. Rather, I mean backup plans that maintain the trajectory you’ve set for yourself, should the unexpected happen. What will you do if advertising revenue dries up? What if people stop playing the game you vlog about? What if you get a book deal and suddenly have less time for YouTube?

Lots of people see YouTube as a stepping stone toward greater stardom. How they handle unexpected obstacles will be different from those who simply want to make a comfortable living. It’s true that those who manage to make it big in mainstream media achieve greater wealth and fame than most YouTube stars, but trying to determine who’s happier isn’t worth doing. In either case, creators who have a backup plan will have no problem paying the bills.

Get YouTuber.

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