Millions of people are opting out of a “traditional” career, hoping to make big bucks in social media. Most of them won’t succeed.
YouTube sensation and San Luis Obispo resident Rich Ferguson has about 2.6 million subscribers and makes six figures doing magic tricks and pranks on YouTube. He says a small portion of his income actually comes from ‘views.’
“If you see a million views, that’s about a thousand bucks. If you see a video that’s got 50,000 views, it’s 50 bucks,” Ferguson added.
Product placement, endorsements, or licensing videos are where real money can be made, according to Ferguson.
“The Fuji channel in Japan pays me thousands of dollars to use a 20-second piece of one of my pranks,” Ferguson said.
To many millennials, Ferguson is living the dream.
“People ask me all the time, ‘how do you make money on YouTube, what’s the secret?’” Ferguson said.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, Ferguson says a major key in becoming successful on YouTube is finding your niche and being really good at it. But there’s a lot of competition.
“There are 1.3 billion users on YouTube. Of those, there’s a fraction of a percent of people who are making real content, we’re talking people who are uploading daily to make money,” Ferguson said. “Of those 50 million people, it’s literally one-hundredth of a percent of those channels that make enough money to make a living. That’s about the top 5,000 channels”
It’s becoming harder than ever to make money on the social media site because YouTube is getting pickier about what it thinks is suitable for advertisers.
“You have to ride the algorithm and play the game a little bit. If someone is going to hop into it now, it’s not the wild, wild west anymore,” Ferguson said.
If you are successful in building a brand, Ferguson says it’s important to deliver content weekly, otherwise your subscriber numbers drop off immediately.
Even if you’re not the next social media star, researchers at Cal Poly say having a strong social media presence is a plus to many potential employers.
Jobs are being created to help companies connect with social media influencers like Rich Ferguson.
“For example, if you have a blog you’re posting on, you have an influence on Instagram, or if you have a YouTube channel, all of those things signal to your employer that person knows what they are doing,” said Joachim Scholz, a professor at Cal Poly.
Companies are now viewing social media as another way to reach more consumers.