Youtubers: Challenging the Traditional 9-5

Over the years, YouTube has skyrocketed from a simple video-sharing website to a huge power house - a multifaceted corporation - that is now competing with and even leading the top digital video service providers. It truly has formulated a community among viewers and uploaders, with billions of people watching videos every day. However, in a new development, the website is now paying people’s bills as well.

The YouTube community is one that has grown and evolved exponentially, and for many reasons, but especially one; more people than ever are uploading video for consumers to watch, because this comes with incentive. Individuals posting videos around the world all have the opportunity to monetize their videos through the advertisements on the sites, making money just by having people click on their videos. Over the years, the pay grade has changed, lowering monetization salaries for certain advertisements, which makes it slightly more difficult for greatly viewed videos to rake in revenue as they did in the past. But still - with increasing viewership and subscribers, and still some level of monetization, normal people are making their livelihoods from YouTube: being a YouTuber has truly become a full time and life sustaining job.

The salaries of YouTubers are fueled by the high view count on their videos, but additionally by the advertisement deals that come with achieving popularity or notoriety. Companies will see a Youtuber of acclaim receiving lots of attention and admiration and then send their product to the Youtuber, often with some kind of payment as well. In return, the Youtuber will incorporate it into his or her videos to spread information to their viewership. Through these two methods (ad monetization and company sponsorship), YouTube has turned even couch potatoes playing video games in their basement into millionaires - literally. Felix Kjellberg, better known by his screen name ‘PewDiePie’, began on YouTube by filming his reactions to video games while playing them at home. This was a decade ago. Now, PewDiePie has over 17 billion channel views and an annual salary of over 10 million dollars. And he is not alone in having achieved such a career; many YouTubers who make over a million dollars a year from their viewership and advertisements. There are over 2,500 that are making these sums of money by filming themselves and putting it on the internet, which seems extremely remarkable. In fact, YouTubers who get started young enough often are able to avoid college and make producing videos a career.

Turning YouTube into a career and lifestyle is no longer an anomaly, it’s a full on trend: there are over 2,500 YouTube channels that exceed a million subscribers, a feat that, just four years ago, was considered to be a huge milestone, but is now child’s play, merely a right of passage. But is becoming a YouTuber a career we should be encouraging? That is a question many have about the legitimacy of a job that only requires a digital camera and some experience in iMovie. Some of the most popular YouTube stars are making money off of stupid stunts and challenges, like the ‘cinnamon challenge’, the ‘7-second challenge’, the ‘whisper challenge’, or just by sitting and reacting to someone else’s videos. These and many more seemingly simple-minded trends are making accounts thousands of dollars per video.

It is argued that a career that requires such low skill set and attributes should not be nearly as highly paid as it is. After all, should the man playing video games in his basement be making substantially more than the college grad that is working 9-5 days, a total of 40 hours a week? This is the debate and grievance many hold toward YouTube stars. But at the end of the day, YouTubers are entertainers, the same as actors, dancers, comedians, and singers, and their livelihoods should not be treated as any less so because of the platform they use to share their content. And when it comes down to it, the accounts that are so greatly monetized are the ones that people are choosing to watch: it is their chosen form of entertainment. YouTube is now an extremely respected video service provider, and as this site continues to grow and dominate, so will those that produce the videos that you spend hours a night watching.