Should You Skip College to Pursue a YouTube Career?

Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on September 7, 2017 at 9:00 am
Should You Skip College to Pursue a YouTube Career?

The rising cost of higher education coupled with the apparent ease of launching a successful internet career has more people saying they’d rather be a YouTube personality than have a traditional career, according to a survey recently covered by The Sun.

Rise of mobile

Over the last decade, the use of mobile devices has grown dramatically. Flurry Analytics has analyzed trends in mobile use for eight years. Its report for 2016 indicated mobile use was up another 11% and people were spending 69% more time inside mobile apps compared to the previous year.

The most substantial growth was in messaging and social apps, at a staggering 394%. In part this was due to influencer favorites such as YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. This has played a significant role in the rise in popularity of influencers.

According to a recent poll of marketing professionals, for every $1 a company spends on influencer marketing they are seeing a return of $6.50. Nearly 60 percent of marketers had plans to increase their budgets for influencer marketing in 2017 while only 10 percent planned a decrease. The poll also found influencer marketing was the fastest method of customer acquisition – better than email, paid or organic search, affiliate marketing, and display advertising.

Social media influencers

YouTube is arguably the largest arena for influencers. Its official statistics tell a compelling story:

  • More than a billion YouTube users – 1/3 of all people on the internet.
  • YouTube has billions of views daily.
  • YouTube mobile reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any U.S. cable network.
  • Channels earning six figures increased 50 percent year over year.

The money that influencers make is not directly linked to the number of subscribers they have or the income from each ad view. Instead, it comes from individual campaigns. Forbes maintains a list of the top influencers in nine categories across multiple social media channels.

Students interested in becoming influencers may be looking at the numbers for those who have millions of subscribers and extrapolating their personal potential without fully understanding the amount of work and luck involved in generating those types of numbers.

Forbes further broke down how much money these massively popular influencers make per post. For YouTube, which is by far the most lucrative, the numbers were:

  • 1-3 million subscribers – about $125,000 per post
  • 3-7 million subscribers – about $200,000 per post
  • 7+ million subscribers – about $300,000 per post

This is far more than the average doctor or lawyer is able to make in a given year. However, it is not the average amount made by influencers. It is what is made by the superstars in the field.

Micro influencer marketing has also increased, along with the rise of mobile use. In part, this is because those with a lower number of subscribers have a higher level of engagement with their followers. For example, a study from Experticity showed 4.5% engagement for users with 1,000-4,000 followers. In comparison, the rate for those with more than 100,000 followers is only around 1.5 percent.

It is far more realistic to expect to reach thousands of people than millions. For these micro influencers, the average rate per post is a few hundred dollars.

Realistic career potential

Students thinking about skipping college in favor of growing their social media numbers need to consider the long-term earning potential of this life path. The industry has only been around for a few years and the amount of money made in the field varies dramatically depending on the niche, number of subscribers, and level of engagement with fans.

Many current influencers don’t see it as necessary to choose between becoming an influencer and pursuing an advanced degree.

Foo Conner is an established influencer with more than 100,000 followers who has worked with numerous brands and is primarily based on Twitter. He says, “Higher education will always give you more tools to access for being the best creator you can be. The flexibility of being an influencer online can allow you to attend school at the same time, which I did and recommend. You can do both. You can be a rock star and a doctor.”

Students who are considering creating social media accounts to rise in the ranks of influencers shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged from doing so. There is great potential in this emerging field, one that could pay for their education. That education could then be used to further expand their reach and secure their future should the industry collapse.

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa is an award-winning marketing professional who loves to write. During the day, she wears her marketing hat in her marketing director role and at night she works as a freelance writer, ghost writing for clients and contributing to publications such as Huffington Post and Social Media Today.

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