Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Becoming A Well-Paid YouTube Creator Is Almost Impossible

Just as a preface, this is in no way meant to discourage any person’s dream of becoming a full-time YouTube creator. But if we are being honest with ourselves, the chances that YouTube popularity would allow any of us to quit our day jobs or drop out of school are slim, like a razor that was flattened by a steamroller thin.

Looking at becoming a pro creator from simply a competition factor, it will probably help to compare it to an equally unrealistic, yet sought after career path — professional football. Breaking down the figures, according to the NFL Players Association, of the 100,000 or so high school seniors who play football each year, only 215 make it to the NFL. That is a staggeringly low 0.2 percent. Moving to college ball, of the 9,000 athletes who play on a collegiate level, only 315 of those are invited to NFL scouting camps. Subtract that number from how many players are drafted first and you are looking at steep odds.


That’s fine and well for athletes, but what about YouTube creators? Again, if we just scale back and actually look at the pool of creators you compete against for views, the numbers can be slightly disheartening. There are currently over 1 billion YouTube users uploading well over 300,000 videos per day. According to Logics Blog, who did a study on these numbers in 2010, you have a better chance of winning the State Lottery at 4,416,353 to 1 odds than you do of becoming a top 10 YouTube creator. And remember, this study was done in 2010; YouTube has only shot up in uploads, views and registered members since then. Comparing it back to the NFL, looking at those statistics, you also have a better chance of playing fullback for the Raiders than you do of rubbing elbows with Smosh and Jenna Marbles.

But what if you just want to make a living on YouTube and not become a mega star? Well, YouTube creator and blogger Brent of Brent Blogs wrote an interesting “honest letter to YouTubers” recently which details the likelihood of staying financially afloat as a full-time creator. According to Brent, if you were looking to make a moderate living at $36,000 a year, based on YouTube’s ad model of $0.00033 per one view, you would need to have around a million views a month.


Now compared to top creators like PewDiePie and his 2.25 billion total views, a million views a month may seem like small potatoes, but in reality that is around an average of 34,000 views a day. Not to mention that these would have to be all monetized views that people weren’t skipping through.

As I said before, laying these numbers out isn’t some way of keeping aspiring creators down. Yes, the chances of becoming a pro creators are slim, but so are the chances of joining the NFL, yet we still have thousands of kids trying every year to do it. The same goes for YouTubers: it may seem scary or impossible but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Be realistic with your expectations, but don’t give up. As Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”


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