Young And Independent; The Reason Behind The Explosion Of Gen Z Social Media Celebrities

In the wake of a looming financial crisis, many have resorted to alternate ways of making money outside of the regular 9-5 jobs. Content creation is one such better-known alternative for young people. The internet has made it easy to access a vast global market through various social media platforms, and content creators are milking this advantage.

These days becoming a content creator is an aspiration for most young folks as more people are moving into the industry as a career path. 29% of American children say they want to become Youtube/Vlogger stars, compared to 11% who still want professional careers.

In the U.K. alone, 35% of the millions that make up the content creator economy consider it a full-time job. While in the US, 46.7% of content creators identify as full-time. This is not surprising, considering how lucrative the industry can be. Statistics show that 2 million creators worldwide make six figures from content creation alone. While many Boomers and even Millennials may consider this route a cop-out, Gen Z influencers are speaking out about how tough the industry is.

British social media influencer, Alexia Woods, is one of such persons that the pandemic drove to content creation. Woods, whose business in the industry became profitable over the last two years, explains a bit about the realities within; “Content creation is very different from any other kind of career and in some ways it can be even more demanding. At the end of the day, it’s a business, and business owners have to work overtime sometimes. That’s how you make the real money.”

While the job may be challenging, the benefits seem to be more than worth it; Notable Instagram content creators like Valeria Hinojosa, a sustainable lifestyle influencer, make an average of $150K-200K from sponsored content alone. Youtuber Rich Ferguson makes a whooping six figures from creating magic and prank videos.

In a piece for the Washington Post, Hinojosa opined, “Seven years ago, I took a leap of faith and decided to quit my job the day I got a juicy promotion. My boss and colleagues were shocked, but I finally got the freedom I was craving. I was able to write about topics that truly matter to me: ethical fashion, plant-based foods, non toxic beauty and sustainable hotels. Soon after I quit, my savings dissolved, I declared bankruptcy and lived on my mother’s couch for eight months. Those were tough times, but instead of knocking me down, they gave me the strength to follow my calling.”

“Today, I focus on being happier than yesterday, learning and growing every day, and working on my business as a full-time eco-conscious travel and lifestyle blogger.”

One thing is evident, since the pandemic, there has been a steady rise in the number of people choosing to take a chance and pursue their passion.

How The Pandemic Created Stars

Like Woods, lots of young people saw the benefits of online content creation during the pandemic. The lockdown came with job displacements, a high cost of living, and a massive demand for content creators due to the high consumption rate of online content at the time.

“I was really affected by the pandemic. By the time the pandemic hit, I was working as an 18 year old restaurant manager, in a restaurant that I had worked in since I was 14. The pandemic and the lockdowns were really tough on restaurants and so I had no option but to find an alternative. I had always had this passion and so I thought to myself, ‘why not?’ I never expected it to get so big, so fast.” says Woods.

According to the 20-year-old influencer, building a personal brand is more fulfilling than working a 9-5. “Even though this job is really tough, you know you are doing something for yourself and that is the coolest thing.”

Increased Disillusionment With Formal Education

The creator economy has come to stay; the growth rate of this industry is evidence of that. As more people succeed within the industry, it only intensifies the viability of content creation as a career choice, one that doesn’t necessarily require an Ivy League education.

Statistics show that becoming a social media star is the fourth most popular career goal for Gen Z kids. This implies a decline in interest in formal education and higher degrees.

More young influencers are dropping out of school to focus on their brand. According to Woods, “I had always thought of working in the finance sector as a child. I even took finance courses in school, economics, math…But after a while, the whole point of school didn’t make much sense to me anymore; this is not to say that we do not require education to be successful; it’s just that this generation of creatives is embracing more informal education. For instance, I can learn everything I need, from video editing to understanding how algorithms work, from Youtube without going to University. This is the power of the internet.”

The Power of Influence

The motivation for most young people who dabble in the content creation world is the benefits of becoming a social media influencer. Most young content creators have achieved more financial success in life within a short time than was initially possible in previous generations.

The evidence of people making six figures early in their twenties is significant motivation to push lots of interest in the industry. Besides this, other benefits come with being famous, such as exposure to big brand endorsements. Influencers pass as authorities in their niche and have a broad reach that many utilize to make a difference where it counts.

In an exchange with Elon Musk, who said, “Let’s see what happens when Twitter offers good video with higher compensation for creators …” Popular American Youtuber MrBeast replied, “Higher compensation will be hard, some YouTubers get $20+ RPMs (Revenue Per Mille) even after YouTube takes their cut. I’d be shocked if you crack the code.”

Woods, who manages her brand accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and Onlyfans, responded by saying being a successful content creator isn’t child’s play and that monetization is a consistently evolving area.

“People make the mistake of thinking it is easy to work before starting, it is not. You have to plan, create, engage and do a lot of work consistently to ensure you keep being relevant to your audience,” she says.

While lots of work is needed to excel in the content creation space, the industry holds a lot of promise as a sure route to financial success for most young people, hence the surge in the number of content creators. There is no evidence to suggest that that surge will wane soon.

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