Is it possible to make a living out of making videos? Rachel Farrell investigates.
The famous “do what you love” quote has led many to pursue a hobby as a career. That’s how thousands of millennials worldwide came to hold the job title of “full time YouTuber”. Covering every topic from makeup tutorials to video game tips, YouTube is the go-to place for those in search of advice or entertainment. Video content has exploded onto the digital media sphere over the past decade, and those creating the content can now make a living from it.
In 2016, the highest paid youtuber in the world was PewDiePie, raking in 15 million euro over the year. The Swedish video star, who boasts over 57 million followers, gained internet fame from posting his commentary and reactions to various video games. He has since created his own game, and he released a book in 2015.
Similarly, in the Irish YouTube scene, gamer Daithi de Nogla is said to have generated one million euro from creative videos last year. The 25-year-old Limerick man told The Irish Examiner he doesn’t need more than the €38,000 salary he took home, and he enjoys “simple living”. While there have been questions over how someone can earn so much money from simply posting videos online from the comfort of their own home, it’s clear that a lot of time and preparation goes on behind the scenes.
Irish youtuber and blogger Shona, behind the user EllieJayden, says it takes hours to create even a short ten-minute video. “It usually takes me an hour to edit a video and about an hour to render it in HD. Then I have to make a video still from scratch, upload the video to YouTube and add all the additional information and social media links. In short, in can take hours when you factor in the preparation, recording, editing and uploading”.
With 55,000 followers, Jayden’s content ranges from cosplay, reactions to topical issues and fun videos like “Irish girl trying American candy”. Although she describes herself as a part-time YouTuber, she explains that subscriber count isn’t all that matters when it comes to living the full time YouTube dream.
“Subscriber count means nothing these days. For me, a lot of my content has been hit in what is known as the “adpocalypse”. This is where YouTube takes away your ability to make money off a video. It sucks, and I know a lot of people who have the same issue. I know many popular YouTubers who still work regular jobs,” Jayden said.
Stiff competition is another thing Irish YouTubers face when trying to turn their hobby into a career. With viewers expecting content regularly, content creators often feel pressured to keep up with similar YouTubers in their field. The idea of “churnalism” among journalists, or throwing breaking news up instantly online, isn’t too dissimilar with the YouTube scene. “The more videos you have, the more searchable content you have. If your content is time sensitive you have to get content up quick, for it to be fresh and hopefully one of the first videos speaking about said content,” said Jayden.
In recent years, YouTubers have signed book deals and brought out makeup lines. Irish blogger and content creator Suzanne Jackson of SoSueMe did both. With over 45,000 YouTube subscribers,  225,000 Instagram followers and voted by Sermo as Ireland’s leading blogger internationally, Dubliner Suzanne has built a business empire for herself outside of making videos and writing blogs. Although it brings up the question of whether youtubers are qualified to create these products outside of making videos, Jayden believes that branching out might be the future for those looking to make a living from YouTube.
“YouTube is dying in my opinion- it's pushing people off the platform with the “adpocalypse” situation. People who were once paying their rent with YouTube, are now suffering. Sadly, I know
many people who are feeling the hit, and the only way to stay afloat is to branch out. Of course, not many people will get book deals, but there are others ways to make it work if you are lucky. Some people get jobs on TV or with companies who sponsor their content,” Jayden said.
Some may deny it, but YouTube has become a phenomenon over the last decade, with YouTube stars gaining celebrity status in their own right. While career guidance teachers may shake their heads at the future generation listing “YouTuber” as a possible career, doing what you love and getting paid for it can only be a good thing.