I started paying my bills with YouTube money around the time I hit a million views a month. My content was admittedly low budget and “views” isn’t necessarily the best metric (what it means changes drastically based on platform), but I want you to take a guess at how many YouTube channels now get more than a million views a month? A couple hundred? A thousand?
How about 37,000.
For context, Facebook has 12,000 employees.
At 100,000 views a month, you’re still making a fairly significant bit of income from YouTube. If you can do it consistently, about $2,500 per year. How many people hit that barrier this month?
Gone are the days when every successful creator got their own New York Times profile. Nowadays, professional internet creator is just another job…a job that thousands of new people have every month. If “internet creator” were a company, it would be hiring faster than any company in silicon valley.
I’ve spent the last ten years as a part of this explosion in independent (and not-so-independent) online content creation and it’s mostly been an absolute joy. Occasionally, however, I have watched creators get strong-armed and even swindled. I’ve watched people lose their channels. I’ve watched them flee from abuse.
The landscape of professional creation continues to get more complex. Organizations and platforms of all sorts are vying for a slice of the value created by the relationship between creators and their audiences. Creators, on the other hand, are only loosely connected through friend groups and occasional collaborative projects.
When something goes wrong, it’s up to individual creators to take time off from their lives running small businesses to look their gift horses in the mouth. No one wants to complain about platforms or advertisers, they’re our meal ticket. No one wants to be the creator with the reputation for bad mouthing sponsors!
There is no system for protecting creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone the notoriously cut-throat entertainment industry. I’m ten years into this and I kinda can’t believe that there’s still no centralized organization representing creators.
So I’m creating one.
I am not, however, going to run it. I’m simply starting this organization out with a few tenets and two very valuable assets.
- $50,000 dollars. This money is coming from VidCon because, obviously, VidCon benefits hugely from the explosion in online content and we’re always looking for ways to give back.
- Laura Chernikoff, who will be the ICG’s executive director. Laura has worked with VidCon since our very first year (one of only two team members who can say that.) She’s been our guest manager for the last few years and knows more about the wants and needs of online video creators than anyone I know. This makes her perfect for her job, and also makes it very difficult to give her up for it.
Here are some things we want the ICG to do
- Help the press talk intelligently about online video.
- Share stories and strategies from professional creators that will be available only to members.
- Increase transparency about what creators do and don’t receive from MCNs, advertisers, agencies, and managers.
- Act as a bridge between creators and platforms and advise platforms on how to best serve creators.
- Help to clarify the role of new products and developments in the world of internet creation.
- Share useful information on everything from dealing with stalkers to understanding your audience.
- Advise conferences and events (including VidCon) on how to create great conversations about internet creation.
- Foster diversity in online video content, including but not limited to language, age, race, gender, and economic opportunity.
- Provide case studies of successful strategies for community building and monetization.
- Provide and explain sample contracts for sponsors, managers, MCNs, merchandise, and agencies.
- Unify the voice of online creators to create change.
Here are some things the ICG WILL NOT DO
- The ICG can’t get into the game of picking and choosing what kind of content is or is not good for the world. That must be left up to individuals to decide because otherwise the ICG will become the internet morality police, which sounds like an awful job.
- Riling up angry mobs. The ICG is committed to working with all stakeholders. The ICG will amplify voices and it will take positions, but it will always strive to understand the complexity of these issues, explain them to members, and work with other stakeholders to move forward.
- Tech support. Not sure what’s wrong with Premiere? Your upload is taking forever? YouTube is down? That’s not our thing.
You keep talking about membership…
Yeah, we want to make this a sustainable organization and it’s gonna cost you…$60 a year. We figure you can spare $5 a month for this…and if we can’t provide enough value to make that investment more than worth it, we’re not doing a good job.
I’ll also say this now, as with all organizations of this sort, dues will not stay flat. As the organization provides more value, dues will increase, but never more than once per year.
If you are making all or part of your living making stuff on the internet, or are working toward that goal, you are eligible to be a member. To start, we are focusing on online video creators (because that’s what we know about), though I think many of our resources would be helpful to creators of all sorts (hence the broader name.) If the majority of your business is creating content, you can be a member.
The ICG is for people, not for corporations. This is a guild, not an industry association. But of course, creators within (and employed by) these larger organizations are also eligible for membership. You do not have to be an independent creator to be a member of the ICG, you only have to be a creator.
If you’re interested in becoming a member, please let us know now.
Our Board of Directors
Our board of directors is responsible for making sure the organization is sustainable and achieving it’s mission in the most effective ways possible. Our founding board draws from a broad array of online video creators in an attempt to be as representative of this community as possible.
Anna Akana is a comic, actress, filmmaker and online content creator who lives with her 4 cats in Los Angeles. She’s known for creating weekly comedic content, short films, and serialized shows. She also co-hosts the podcast Explain Things To Me, has a monthly stand up show at Nerdmelt, and runs the clothing company Ghost & Stars.
Erin “Aureylian” Wayne has been a nerd her entire life, but got involved with both live and VOD content creation in 2012. Currently the Lead Community Manager at Twitch, she is also involved in charitable efforts with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Extra Life, and Game Changer Charity.
Wengie is an Australia’s #1 Asian Lifestyle Influencer, and has previous experience in accounting and marketing. She created her channel part time while having a full fledged career and believes that if you really want to achieve something you can. Sharing her experience in marketing and business to help others is her passion.
Satchell Drakes is a video producer and designer living in New York City. He presents analysis on games and films at the intersection of art and culture, and is passionate about internet ethics and creative productivity.
Jonathan Katz is an entertainment lawyer and advocate for internet creator rights. After seven years of traditional media law practice, he now focuses on the challenges facing online video creators, particularly those victimized by online harassment and exploitation. He most recently founded Clamour Events to provide safe spaces for creators to connect with one another, share experiences, and collaborate on projects.
Ashley Mardell is a vlogger with strong perspectives on social justice and a passion for giving a voice to the community of small creators on YouTube. She’s on the path to becoming a full time content creator and also is working on a documentary featuring small creators, as well as converting her web series “The ABC’s of LGBT” into a published book.
Olan Rogers is a comedian, filmmaker, animator, and entrepreneur. In addition to creating YouTube content, he develops meaningful connections in his community through projects like a Soda Parlor, summer outdoor movie & concert series, and clothing store in Nashville.
Our Advisory Board
Our advisory board exists to provide support and advice when times get tough, and to come to us with ideas for what the organization needs to be doing. The ICG’s advisory board is still being built, but thus far we have:
Burnie Burns: a writer, actor, producer, comedian, host, and entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas. He co-founded Rooster Teeth, one of the first online video companies in 2003. He continues to be a powerful innovator in the online video and gaming industries, creating high production value content such as Red vs. Blue and fostering community connections at the annual RTX event.
Hank Green started making YouTube videos in 2007 with his brother, John. They thought it was a pretty dumb idea, but it turned out quite good. Hank has worked to help encourage thoughtful practices in internet creation and to help more people make a living making stuff on the internet with DFTBA.com, a merch company, and Subbable, a voluntary subscription platform that was acquired by Patreon.
Akilah Hughes is a writer; standup, sketch, and improv comedian; and YouTuber based in New York City. In addition to her insightful and hilarious channel which often focuses on pop culture and race, she has contributed to Fusion, MTV, Hello Giggles, Femsplain, and Refinery29.
Casey Neistat is the co-founder of Beme and a YouTuber. He has also produced two feature films, written and directed an HBO series, and created a number of short films for the New York Times. In early 2014, Casey shifted his focus to creating Beme, a platform that enables users to share their experiences and perspective via video without the burden of having to edit, create, or upload.
Louise Pentland is a mother and lifestyle vlogger and blogger based in the United Kingdom. She shares her experiences, family, beauty tips, and self empowerment recommendations online as Sprinkle of Glitter. She has recently been part of an initiative in partnership with the U.N. as an ambassador for gender equality.
The ICG’s goal is simply to increase the number of people in the world who can be creators professionally. It will do that by providing the protection, representation, and guidance that, thus far, has been tremendously lacking. You can go to InternetCreatorsGuild.com right now if you’re interested and sign up to know more as we approach our launch, which will happen in late June.