Ready for some content creator statistics that will blow your mind?
Sometimes we don't realize just how great of an impact the Internet has on the creative class. Considering platforms like YouTube aren't even 20 years old yet, it's awe-inspiring to think just what the future holds for creative people with cameras, microphones, and keyboards.
But let's also think about all the ways other traditional industries embrace content as a pivotal part of their brands. Because while we're talking about "content creators" as people who primarily make video, audio, and text content to share and monetize digitally, the truth is the term applies to a lot more than just those individuals.
You've got the athletes who use digital platforms to expand their brands. You've got experts who dip into education and community building. And you've even got things like mom and pop bakeries building global followings with their captivating social media content.
So keep in mind this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Number Of Content Creators
There are an estimated 207 million content creators globally. This number includes anybody who frequently creates content to be posted on the Internet, so that doesn't mean they're "professional" by any means. But it does mean they're people who have the potential to monetize their audience.
While you may think the majority of these creators don't get much traction on their content, that's actually not true. In 2021 an estimated 139 million creators had somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. Roughly 2 million creators had between 100,000 and 1 million followers, with an additional 2 million creators having north of 1 million followers.
This number is, of course, disputed. Some figures state there are actually about 50 million content creators worldwide, with roughly 2 million "professional" creators. The reason for such a discrepancy more or less comes down to the fact that we still don't have a hard and fast definition of what constitutes a content creator. It's not as simple as something like saying you work in healthcare or education.
Plus, very few creators go straight into making content full time. Many content creators still operate on a professional level but supplement all their income with various other jobs (both related and unrelated to making content). Going from not making any money from your content to making some money is a pretty difficult task, depending on the field of content you're focusing on. But once you start monetizing regularly, consistency and dedication can lead to a substantial increase in revenue overall.
The Most Popular Platforms For Content Creators
So where are most full-time creators making their money? Not a huge surprise here if you've been following along: YouTube. The video giant qualifies as the main platform for nearly half of the professional creators, if we're taking Forbes' 2 million figure. After that, Instagram accounts for about 500,000 professional creators, while livestreaming platform Twitch hosts 300,000 full-time content creators.
Speaking specifically of YouTube, there are more than 51 million YouTube channels, 2 million of which have more than 10,000 subscribers. More than 22,000 YouTube channels boast over 1 million subscribers.
Of course, if you've been reading the Learn Stuff section for a little while, you know that diversification is key to the content business. So while people may be making a lot of money directly from YouTube ads and other platform monetization, don't forget about all the revenue from things like merchandise, courses, private consultations, and professional work these creators land in addition to the content they create.
Let's also consider how popular platforms are in relation to certain types of content. For instance, TikTok has easily become the most important platform for musicians looking to build an audience from the ground up. The short-form video giant has singlehandedly launched thousands of independent artists to making music full-time — but the money isn't really coming from TikTok itself, it's coming from the streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
No surprise here, but the majority of content creators skew younger. Up to 40 percent of people between the ages of 24 and 35 consider themselves content creators, while up to 30 percent of people between 18 and 24 consider themselves content creators.
There are 8 percent more people who identify as women than men and a little more than 60% of content creators are white. Of course, these numbers should also be taken with a grain of salt, as the fluid concept of what constitutes a content creator means it differs greatly depending on the niche.
However, the United States certainly leads the content creator universe. If we're taking the 50 million content creator number, that means the United States makes up over one third of the total number with 17 million creators alone. For comparison, the highest "traditional" industry in the U.S. is public schools, with just over 7 million employees. (If you're curious, the next two are hospitals/healthcare with 5.8 million and the restaurant industry with 5.2 million).
The one thing that hasn't changed? Content creation's influence on younger generations. Becoming a YouTuber is now one of the most-cited inspirations for younger people.
Show Me The Money
Now, keep in mind that statistics around money and content creators vary widely. Especially when we don't even all agree on what actually constitutes a content creator and what revenue we're talking about. So most of these numbers are probably underestimates. And they're still impressive.
The global content creator economy is estimated at $104 billion. Furthermore, the global digital content creation market is on pace to hit $38 billion by 2030, meaning companies and brands really understand the value of digital content in this day and age.
At the height of the pandemic, creators who rely on ad share revenue saw a dip of about 20 percent in earnings. This is because a lot of companies stopped advertising altogether, creating a rare scenario where advertising (particularly digital content) was incredibly cheap. Because a lot of content creators who earn ad revenue get paid based on how much the platform itself makes, that means they made less, too.
However, in 2021 Patreon reported paying out nearly $24 million to creators, an increase of 23 percent over the previous year. Patreon's continued rise shows a lot of creators are now valuing the concept of direct, sometimes niche fan monetization versus the traditional model of building a large audience to try to leverage for ad revenue and brand deals.
The average Twitch partner (of which there are nearly 30,000) earns between $3,000 and $5,000 per month from the platform when streaming 40 hours per week. This figure doesn't include potential brand deals, merch sales, and other forms of income.
And when we consider music artists, Spotify's Loud & Clear reveals nearly 18,000 artists earned over $50,000 in 2022 from Spotify alone. Basically, there are too many variables to say what the "average" content creator earns, but there's no shortage of earning opportunities.
There are clearly a lot of variables to consider when we talk about content creator statistics. It's still a relatively new career path, making it all the more nebulous as we try to talk about just what the scope of creators and their economic output is.
But one very clear takeaway is that — no matter how you define it — content creation and the "creator economy" are booming. More people are making more money more ways. And that's a very good thing.
But it does mean the creator world is only going to get more confusing. We need to be identifying the value of not just the content, but the creators themselves. (Not in like, a gross "people are objects" way, but in a way that helps creators actually get the compensation they deserve from the value they generate). And we need to keep up with the hundreds of platforms creators use to make it all happen.