Can you make a living from content creation?

The economy of the content industry is undergoing a dangerous development. With social networking and the emergence of systems for shared access to the Internet or the promotion of personal production, anyone can become a content maker.

It’s hard to understand how much the value of this sector is, but some estimate it at around $ 20 billion, with its rapid growth. However, given the amount of work required to build and earn an online community, it is worth asking: Is it possible to make a sustainable living in the content economy?

Before we get carried away, it is necessary to distinguish between a content creator and an influencer. Of course, the two have one thing in common – they both post content on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and other platforms. But content makers usually fall within artistic interests. In essence, they are creating a good, service or content for their audience. Influencers, on the other hand, seek to influence their audience through content, as they often earn money by partnering with a brand, or by directing their followers to specific products.

See also: “Google” criticizes “Microsoft” for supporting the “Pay for Content” Act

Contact with consumers

Over the past decade, it has become much easier for content creators – visual artists, writers, musicians, comedians, and artisans – to connect directly with consumers who want to support their business. (Honestly, I’ve been playing this complex role of online influencer and content creator for about ten years, and it all started with a blog, which resulted in contracts for four books, speaking engagements, training sessions, and a newsletter.)

The founding of Etsy seems to be an early change in this trend where suddenly anyone with technical skills can sell a product directly to consumers. You are no longer trapped in a specific geographic location, a mobile flea market or a specific fair. You can set your own prices. Of course, Etsy cuts a bit, but it unleashes the feeling of being an entrepreneur in a sortable and scalable way.

Today, there are abundant alternatives for one to make money from his skill without the need for the support of a large company. Newsletters can be distributed via forms that open with a financial subscription through a platform such as Substack, Ghost or even ConvertKit.

Read more: “Twitter” adds a new feature that provides profit for content creators through “Bitcoin”

Content Publishers

Radio or video publishers, musicians, comedians, YouTubers and others can create an account on Patreon or Buy Me a coffee to encourage their community of followers to provide financial support for their business.

In reality, however, it is a dilemma for most content creators to make a living through these platforms.

Sabtsak, for example, says he usually expects 5% to 10% of free subscription owners to switch to paid subscriptions. Content creators control the pricing process, but charging $ 5-7 a month for a monthly newsletter seems like the norm. Keep in mind that getting $ 5 from a newsletter subscriber ends up being $ 4.05 after deducting 10% for Substack and $ 2.9% + $ 0.30 for payment systems.

At first glance, this seems like a big and generous return. When 500 people become paid subscribers, you can earn $ 2,025 per month after fees and before taxes. Depending on the content creator’s production, it can be worth a good amount of money for a very limited amount of work.

personal experience

But my personal experience is different. While the average email opening rate was more than 50% for the free newsletter and the opt-out rate was low, the conversion rate from free to paid subscription did not even come close to 5%. It’s true that this experiment has not yet reached the two month mark, but so far I’ve put in a lot of work (I post two newsletters a week) for little cash. And I’m not the only one questioning the claims that the conversion rate from free to paid subscription is 10%. It is also true that there are prominent stars on the “Substack” platform who can get thousands of dollars a month from paid subscriptions.

Most content creators know that it will take more than one revenue stream to generate sufficient and sustainable revenue. This could mean opening up more revenue streams in the content industry economy or getting a more stable day job to support other projects.

13 thousand manufacturers

Patreon has published the Content Creator Census Report for 2022, including responses from 13,000 content creators. Participants said they get an average of 41% of their revenue through the Patreon platform. The other 59% is for teaching or training, tours, brand partnerships, book and merchandise sales, advertising revenue, subscriptions from other platforms, digital downloads, commissions and a “job related to my creative interests.”

The graph that shows me the percentages of revenue from the different channels includes most of those segments and channels.

Content creators need to understand that a large amount of work on a creative project may not generate enough revenue for them, let alone make them rich. The most useful thing to earn enough to climb to the top seems to be a high quality product, consistency and being one of the first to come up with it plus a little luck. Maybe those long hours spent creating content will lead to other opportunities. But in the current economy of the content industry, one has to be prepared for what happens when these opportunities do not arise.

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