The Startup Studio
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The Startup Studio

The Economics of Vlogging

Video blog, or Vlog. Breaking down how vloggers can prosper, both digitally and financially.

Background

There are so many social platforms to choose from these days. Although YouTube comes in in second place by quantity of active users, it is easily the most engaging platform and thus the platform which is leveraged the most by vloggers.

We watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day, more than Netflix and Facebook video combined. Putting this into context reveals that on average, each person in the world with access to internet watches 13 minutes of YouTube a day, or each person with a YouTube account watches 30 minutes a day.

500 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded every minute to YouTube! So, what is the art to making it in this world and how can one monetize on this crazy trend?

The Algorithm

Many of us have watched videos on YouTube at some point in our lives. We compare our 9–5 lives with travel vloggers or tutorial makers and question whether we have chosen the right career. Our lives and jobs might seem restricted and monotone in comparison. But are these vloggers as free as they appear to be?

Everyone has heard of an algorithm, and most of us know that it is what runs all social media platforms. It guides your social media experiences and encapsulates you in the platform. Many people talk about user addiction that these algorithms strive to produce, although not many people talk about how it affects the lives of the people uploading the videos.

Vloggers income and lifestyles ultimately lie in the hands of these algorithms. One small change in a platform’s algorithm could reduce views drastically. I even ask myself whether the vloggers themselves change their video styles to please the algorithm? Well I am right; although it seems like you are free to post whatever content you want, there are certain criteria’s one must meet to succeed on YouTube.

Vloggers need to be on top of how the algorithm works to create the most engagement possible from each video. Vloggers need to nail their tags and thumbnails. The topic of the video is incredibly important as well. Channels need to hone in on a single value proposition and stick to that, be it photography tutorials, business tips, or yoga. They need to know this market inside out and know who they are targeting. Topics need to be recent, like news or new releases. Vloggers need to create a core audience but at the same time be adaptive to appeal to emerging audiences. Some vloggers even create certain videos each week to capture various platform users. One video to capture subscriptions, one for engagement (to keep the subscribers happy by discussing the core topic of the channel), one for views, one for monetization videos (products or themes that are hot right now and have plenty of marketing behind them).

These are some of the things that vloggers need to keep in mind when creating content. As their career appears to be in the hands of an algorithm, they need to diversify and seek other sources of income, as to not rely solely on the platform’s advertisements.

Income streams

Most businesses create their product or service first and then begin to build a brand to grow and appeal to a wider audience. Vloggers operate a hybrid version of this. They start off by building their brand and when they have sufficient engagement they turn to products and services.

One of the easiest ways of creating an income from YouTube is through affiliate marketing. This is when a channel places a link to a product on their video and a user clicks the link and goes to purchase the product. Many of the arrangements are percentage-based, and a typical affiliate commission falls between 5 and 30 percent.

Display advertising is another income stream. This can end up being a nice passive income stream for them and all they need to do is use a provider and place a code in a certain section of a website. Vloggers then get paid either by cost per click (CPC), or cost per thousand (CPM) whereby the vlogger earns a certain amount per thousand impressions they receive and does not rely on consumers physically clicking on the ad. Most advertising networks require a minimum of 25,000 website sessions per month.

Sponsored posts and brand campaigns are next. With these, brands ask the influencer to promote their product directly in exchange for compensation. If this runs on for an extended period of time and a contract is in place, then it falls under the brand ambassadorship category.

Vloggers then might look to creating their own product. From courses, to e-books to merchandise. They might also offer subscriptions to additional content like on Patreon or similar platforms.

Vloggers hosting events and retreats are becoming more and more popular. Many have followers who are eager to get to know them in real life and jump at the chance to visit a new destination and meet their favourite influencers in person.

Vloggers might run their own free-lance video and photo business in tandem with their vlogging as the skills required for both professions complement each other nicely. They might work on a once off basis with a client, or else shoot images for a stock photo website where they can once again create a passive income stream.

As you can see, there are many ways a vlogger can diversify their income streams and they are becoming more innovative with regards to monetization every year.

Cashflow and taking out a mortgage

Vloggers lead a very precarious life. Their career is not quite as stable as most of ours. Social medias get outlived with the length of platform popularity decreasing rapidly each year. This year we have even seen state intervention with the likes of the Tok-tok US case. Human trends are rapidly changing as well as numerous allegations into data privacy violations. Although the career seems precarious, vloggers maintain a surprisingly steady income. It takes a lot of work to get to this stage but when you reach a certain level of engagement vloggers can end up doing well for themselves.

I asked myself how can a vlogger who relies on multiple income streams lead a normal life and deal with common things like taking out a mortgage? Vloggers fit under the sole trader category when applying for loans. A survey carried out by The Mortgage Lender in the UK found that a quarter of freelancers said they believed they would be refused a mortgage if they applied. Generally, you are asked to provide at least two years’ worth of accounts to prove you have a roughly steady income stream. Vloggers are best off saving up enough to provide a deposit that is substantially larger than is required. It is also advised that they seek out some contract work and do not have recent gaps in their client/ contract history.

As you can see it is not as easy to secure a loan over having a regular job due to precarious cashflows. Even though it is difficult, it is not impossible. So what does a vloggers monthly salary look like you might ask?

Example of a Vloggers monthly wage

“That Icelandic Guy” is a vlogger who creates photography tutorial videos. In the middle of 2020, he had 20,000 subscribers. This is the rough breakdown of his months wage.

He made 640 from Youtube adds, 180 from Amazon affiliate links, 455 from various other affiliate links, 114 from stock footage, 1490 from Luts and Presets, and 875 from brand deals. His monthly gross total comes in at 3,754 for a month. This is not bad considering he only has about as many people subscribing as would live in a large town.

Conclusion

If you have reached here then I appreciate it! I hope you can take away something from this article, be it answering a question you might have had, or inspiring you to delve further into the idea of becoming a vlogger/ business owner.

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