Part 1 – The Economics of Content Creation – Tanya Khanijow
I’ve been contemplating this post for a while now for many reasons. The first is the number of questions I get asked about how this career even works! Secondly, it’s for the relatives and their kids, uncles, and aunties who wish to schedule calls with me because their friends/kids “also wish to become YouTubers”.
Haha! But jokes aside I’m sure most of the uninitiated readers here have wondered at least once, how a creator can “afford” a luxury car or can travel first class and I was no different when I started off!
I’ll mostly talk about it from the POV of travel alone because that’s the use case I’m the most familiar with. We all know that travel requires an investment. And whatever your means may be, you have to manage to travel within those means, whether you’re planning a leisure trip or from the pov of content creation. It is as simple as, your expenditure should be less than or equal to the savings that you’ve made towards your travel fund or how much you can shell out on travel once you’ve incorporated your fixed expenses, recurring payments, investments, and monthly needs and wants.
For example, I worked in a job that paid me a fixed salary for a year and a half before I quit and turned to YouTube full time. Within that time, I would
1. Work towards minimizing expenses on my wants like movies, shopping, partying, etc.
2. Save 15% of my salary towards investments for securing my future.
3. Work towards saving at least 30% of my salary for buying new gadgets required for the immediate future like a professional camera, GoPro, mic, hard disk drives, fast SD cards, etc. or for paying the EMI on these fully calculated at the start of purchase till the day I finally quit.
4. 30% of it monthly was spent on a travel fund as well, either for taking short weekend trips or planning a longer trip to a different country.
5. I did not have any fixed expenses at the time because I wasn’t paying rent, bills, or hiring talent (I was my only asset initially), which is in contrast to my spending patterns currently as I have my own house-cum-studio plus 3 full-time team members.
6. The final 25% was saved as liquid assets for incidental spending.
With this spending/savings habit in place, I started creating content on the side to work towards building an audience on YouTube and Instagram which were my first choice of platforms for travel content creation. YouTube was more so of a priority because it has a monetization policy in place which pays creators in India, in the range of $0.5-$5 per 1000 views. This may not sound like a lot, but it is something that adds up once you start looking at the economic model of content creation when you pursue it as a stand-alone job!
From then to now, a lot has changed in terms of how I spend, but even how I earn has changed dramatically. Which I will talk about in detail in part two! Tell me your questions, and I’m here to answer them!
Part 2 – The Economics of Content Creation – Tanya Khanijow
Where do I begin?
It was 2018 after I had just quit my full-time job and was headed to Bali, banking on my savings alone. I had picked up a freelancing job as a social media manager, which paid me a sum total of just $300! Midway through my trip, I realized that I couldn’t juggle between two jobs (I felt that creating YouTube videos was full-time work in itself)! So I stopped working on the freelancing gig, only to realize that YouTube won’t pay me just yet! So now I had to find a way to:
1. Minimise my expense on travel
2. Create videos diligently to gain an audience
3. In turn get paid for this “job” in a near future.
This is a short story of how it started and now, I have built many streams of revenue by 2022. You see if you truly create with intention, you’ll realize that social media has immense potential. For example, you can look for mutually beneficial associations with brands or travel companies. That’s where travel can be relatively cheaper if you collaborate with travel hosts in exchange for your service of creating content for them. Please bear in mind that this is an exchange of service and not “free travel”. So that is how you must position yourself. Immediately after Bali, I traveled to Taiwan for a trip hosted by the tourism board. I was to create a travel series on YouTube about my experience and they hosted me for a 7-day all-inclusive trip. And these opportunities do come along when you grow in this field.
At just 5000 subscribers, I began getting noticed and got an opportunity to attend big events, travel with a tourism board, be approached by domestic travel companies and established tourism companies to consult for them, etc. Now imagine, will you be able to fit 5000 people in a 1000 sqft room at once? Or will you be able to fit 10,0000 people in Eden Gardens, Kolkata? I think the answer to both these questions will be no! This example is to give an idea of scale. And truly, that is why even a small number of an engaged audience matters! Because it’s a lot of people. And that is why influencers matter and are great for any business.
The third aspect is, earning via social media. So at around 20,000 YouTube subscribers, I received my first few paid opportunities. Initially, these opportunities paid in a few thousand and then eventually in lakhs of rupees as my reach grew. And that’s how most influencers in India earn 70% of their revenue. This goes without saying, that growing in any niche is a process, one that takes time & a lot of effort. And payment tiers are judged on the basis of audience category, production, brand IP, and reach. So, this is a lucrative career for sure but when it comes to travel, one has to juggle between earning a substantial revenue and spending on travel or collaborating effectively which aligns with your brand values!