Debunking Common Myths About Influencers
Becoming a YouTuber is now young people’s number one career aspiration. According to a survey, by The Sun, over three quarters of the participants were considering some sort of career in online video. It’s pretty amazing, considering it wasn’t even a career option until recently.
But exactly how professional YouTubers operate remains a mystery to most. How do they make money? Do they do it all by themselves? Do you need to have millions of subscribers to make a living?
Myth: YouTubers make all of their money from views.
Truth: Branded content, merch and licensing deals are all far more lucrative than YouTube ad revenue.
“YouTube ad revenue is a really inconsistent way of earning money,” said Rachel. “It fluctuates throughout the year, with advertiser heavy November and December being the highest revenue months and post-holiday January and February being the lowest. You might have some really strong months where multiple videos go viral and you're feeling confident! But you'd better save those checks, because when January rolls around you’ll start to panic, thinking, 'I shouldn't have celebrated this New Year's with a gym membership and a new haircut!'"
Lisa commented, “People always want to know exactly how much you earn, per view. They want an exact number. The truth is, not even YouTube employees can answer that question because there is so much that goes into calculating that number; everything from how advertiser friendly the video is to audience demographics. As a very loose general rule, I tend to estimate about $1,000 per million views, but sometimes it can be significantly more or less. They key is to diversify your revenue through merchandising, branded partnerships and crowd funding.”
Myth: You get paid based on subscriber number.
Truth: Subscriber number doesn't affect your pay.
“When we hit a million subscribers, and people saw us unboxing that beautiful, shiny, gold play button from YouTube, we had loads of people asking us if it meant we got a bonus or if we started earning more money. I wish! There is no monetary bonus associated with achieving more subscribers. It always shocks me that so many people think that's how it works," said Rachel.
Myth: You need huge numbers to be successful in this industry.
Truth: There are tons of opportunities for micro-influencers.
“When we were first starting out, back in 2012, nobody would give you the time of day if your channel had under 100,000 subscribers," said Lisa. "When we had 10,000-20,000 followers, back in 2013, people in the industry would say things to us like, ‘You have no audience.’ Nowadays, in 2018, things are completely different! Brands love working with micro-influencers. We often go on influencer trips, where brands have invited channels of all sizes. There will be influencers there who get less than 1,000 views per video and 100 likes per photo. Some of my friends from high school get more likes than that! What's important to brands is finding a creator that fits their brand messaging and that has the aesthetic that they're looking for. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and views and numbers are just one piece of that. If the influencer has a strong brand, or they're in a niche market, that can be good enough."
Lisa continued, “I always tell people who want to break into the influencer industry, but feel intimidated by how much competition is already out there, is that there are way more opportunities now than ever before!
Not every brand can afford to hire someone with ten million followers for one video. Nowadays, it feels like almost all brands have some kind of influencer marketing budget and are willing to work with creators of all sizes.”
Myth: Influencers do everything themselves.
Truth: They often have teams of people working around them, such as an editor, a manager, a lawyer, etc.
Rachel said, “Those Instagram photos won't take themselves! Almost everyone uses some form of outside help, whether it’s the resources provided by a manager, a network, an agency, an editor, a lawyer, etc. This is something that really varies depending on the influencer. Some influencers require a lot of assistance with their day-to-day activities, whereas other influencers are more independent and may only bring on outside help for special projects.