Industry Analysis

The Size of the Creator Economy in the U.S.

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Twenty pieces of information, data, and supporting statistics surrounding the US creator economy have been provided below. In addition, information on the types of creators across four social platforms i.e., Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, popular creators in each type, their number of followers, and income has been provided in the attached spreadsheet.

PART I: CREATOR ECONOMY — FACTS & FIGURES

According to NeoReach, “Creator Economy refers to the class of business that focuses on independent content creators, curators, and community builders. This can include influencers, bloggers, videographers, and the various software tools and services that assist them in their work.” Based on this definition, our findings cover information on bloggers, general creators, influencers, and streamers/videographers. 20 pieces of information and supporting statistics surrounding the US creator economy have been provided below. This includes the annual salaries of content creators, the number, historical growth, and earnings of bloggers, and information on the future growth, earnings by platform, and earnings based on the number of followers/subscribers for influencers and streamers (e.g., YouTubers).

Annual Salary of Content Creators

  • According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a content creator/digital content creator in the US is $49,114. Content creators report a minimum salary of $35,000 and a maximum salary of $73,000.
  • Freelance content creators in the US have an average annual salary of $50,198.
  • Social media content creators in the US report an average salary of $50,473 per year.

Number and Growth of Bloggers

  • Estimates from the Statista Research Department indicate that there are approximately 31.7 million bloggers in the United States as of 2020. This includes both full-time and part-time bloggers who updated their blogs at least once a month.
  • The number of American bloggers is estimated to have increased by 14%, from 27.4 million bloggers in 2014.

Number of Bloggers - US

Income Generated by Bloggers

  • According to Glassdoor, bloggers in the US make an average of $33,074 per year. Indeed estimates that US bloggers earn $16.08 per hour or $37,456 per year.
  • The national annual salary of bloggers ranges from $16,000 to $83,000 per year.
  • New bloggers usually make $200 to $2,500 per month in their first year of blogging. On the other hand, established bloggers earn anywhere from $3,500 to $15,000 a month based on their monetization strategies.
  • Some of the top bloggers earn six-figure incomes from blogging. Christine Wang’s blog “The Ski Girl” generates six-figure income per month. Similarly, Pat Flynn’s blog “Smart Passive Income” generates an estimated $125,000 to $167,000 per month. Another blogger, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner earns up to $1.5 million a year from her blog “Making Sense of Cents”.

Blogging Income by Type of Blogger

  • There are three main types of bloggers, including “bloggers who work full-time or part-time for companies, freelance bloggers who offer blogging as a service, and independent blog owners who create their own blogs.”
  • Bloggers who work full-time for a company “earn an average of $40,000 to $80,000 per year.” On the other hand, “experienced freelance bloggers earn 10 cents to $1 per word.”
  • “Blog owners with page views from 10,000 to 100,000 a month can typically earn between 2 cents and 10 cents per page view from advertising, which translates to $200 to $10,000 per month.” In addition, blog owners can earn an additional $10,000 or more per month by selling products, e-books, and online courses.
  • Other monetization strategies such as memberships, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts can help bloggers earn even more.

Income Based on Blog Impressions

Future Growth of Creators & Influencers

  • The number of creators and influencers in the US will continue to increase in the coming years. This growth will be fueled by both youngsters who want to become vloggers and influencers and marketers who plan to spend more of their budgets on influencer marketing.
  • In a study conducted by Lego, 29% of American kids aged 8 to 12 said they wanted to become a vlogger/YouTuber. In fact, kids in the US and the UK are “three times as likely to want to be YouTubers or vloggers as astronauts when they grow up.”

American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts

  • Another survey from Morning Consult found that at least 86% of Americans aged 13 to 38 want to become an influencer. Only 12% of them considered themselves to be influencers at the time of the survey.
  • Making a difference, making money, trying out new products, flexible hours, and sharing ideas, are some of the reasons that motivate young adults to try out influencing. However, motivations to become an influencer vary by age group.

Motivations to Become an Influencer

  • The latest estimates from eMarketer reveal that as much as 68% of US marketers with 100 or more employees will be working with influencers for paid or unpaid brand partnerships in 2021. By 2022, this percentage is estimated to grow to 72.5%.

US Marketers Working with Influencers

  • A 2020 report from Takumi reveals that 61% of marketers in the US have worked with influencers on multi-platform campaigns.
  • The report also found that in 2021, 58% of marketers plan on “working with influencers on YouTube, followed by a further 55% on Instagram, 43% on online advertising, 35% on TikTok, 29% on TV advertising, 20% on OOH advertising, 20% on Twitch, and 10% on Trille.”
  • According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020 report by Linqia, “marketers are doubling down on influencer marketing. Almost 90% of marketers surveyed ran multiple influencer marketing campaigns in 2019.”
  • The report also found that 57% of marketers planned on increasing their influencer marketing budget in 2020, resulting in more campaigns for more influencers.

Annual Salary of Social Media Influencers

  • On average, social media influencers in the US earn $22 per hour or $46,703 per year. Their annual salaries can be as low as $14,000 or as high as $74,500.
  • Sunnyvale, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; Williston, ND; and Manhattan, NY are the five highest-paying cities for social media influencers with average annual salaries of $55,754, $55,239, $53,994, $52,905, and $52,767.

Categorization of Influencers

  • Influencer rates are determined by a number of factors including, but not limited to, influencer type (by industry or specialization), content format, influencers’ reach (number of followers), engagement, platforms/channels used, usage rights, and exclusivity, among several others.
  • StarNgage groups influencers into three categories:
    • Micro-influencers: “Everyday consumers who have 500 to 100,000 followers and drive 25% — 50% engagement per post. They have the highest brand relevance and resonance on the spectrum of influencers, with influence driven by their personal experience with a brand and their strength of relationship with their networks.”
    • Macro-influencers: “Professional bloggers, and YouTubers who have [a] large base of 50,000 to 500,000 followers and drive 5% to 20% engagement per post. They have the highest topical relevance on the spectrum, with category-specific influence — such as lifestyle, fashion or business.”
    • Mega-influencers: “Actors, artists, athletes and social media stars who have 500k+ followers and drive 2% to 5% engagement per post. They have the highest reach on the influencer spectrum.”
  • Influencer Marketing Hub categorizes influencers based on their reach. Depending on the number of followers, influencers fall into the following categories:
  • Variations in these categories are common and can be observed in different marketing publications. For example, some reports do not label nano-influencers and consider all influencers with 1,000-50,000 followers as micro-influencers.

Number of Followers — Instagram Influencers

  • According to Socialbakers, more than 70% of Instagram influencers in North America have less than 10,000 followers.

Instagram Influencers Split by Audience Size

Influencer Earnings — Instagram

  • According to the 2020 Influencer Pricing Report by Klear Research, American influencers made $463 on average for an Instagram collaboration in 2020.
  • Influencer Marketing Hub provides insights into how much influencers make per Instagram post, based on the number of followers they have. According to their estimates:

Influencer Earnings — TikTok

  • Influencer Marketing Hub provides insights into how much influencers make per TikTok post, based on the number of followers they have. According to their estimates:

Influencer Earnings — Twitter

  • Influencer Marketing Hub provides insights into how much influencers make per Twitter post, based on the number of followers they have. According to their estimates:

Influencer Earnings — Facebook

YouTube Channels by Number of Subscribers

  • Only 700 YouTube channels across the globe have more than 10 million subscribers. Most of these, i.e. between 200 to 250, are from the US.

YouTube — Growth

  • According to recent, global data released by YouTube, the number of YouTube channels that earn a six-figure income per year increased by over 40% year-on-year.
  • “The number of channels earning five figures per year on YouTube grew more than 50% y/y.”
  • “The number of channels with more than one million subscribers grew by more than 65% y/y.”

YouTube — Top Earners

  • The top 10 YouTubers combined made $211 million between June 2019 and June 2020.
  • This shows a 30% increase from the previous year when the top ten YouTubers generated $162 million in total earnings.
  • From June 2017 to June 2018, the top ten YouTubers earned $180.5 million combined.
  • Most of the top ten YouTubers are US-based.

Influencer Earnings — YouTube

Ad Income — YouTube

  • Forbes estimates that an average YouTuber makes $5 per 1,000 views. Hence, a “YouTube video with 1,000,000 views can make upwards of $5,000.
  • To be able to earn money from YouTube videos, “creators must have 1,000 subscribers, and their content must have been viewed for 4,000 hours” over the previous year.
  • The top 3% of the most popular channels on YouTube attract an average of 1.4 million views per month, generating an annual ad income of $16,800. However, this ad income alone is “less than one-third of the U.S. median household income.” This indicates that the remaining 97% of YouTubers earn even less than that if they rely on ad income alone.

Annual Salary of Youtube Content Creators

  • According to ZipRecruiter, full-time YouTube content creators in the US earn $22 per hour or $45,242 per year. Their annual salaries can be as low as $18,500 or as high as $90,000.
  • Sunnyvale, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; and Santa Rosa, CA; Williston, ND; and Manhattan, NY are the five highest-paying American cities for YouTube content creators with average annual salaries of $54,011, $53,512, $52,306, $51,252, and $51,117 respectively.

Earnings — Twitch Streamers

Research Notes

  • More recent information on the number of creators in the US and the collective income generated by these creators across different platforms was not found. As such, information provided in the initial round of research based on the Re:Create Coalition report is the latest available information.
  • Any information on the average number of followers for US/North American creators was not available for most platforms (except Instagram and YouTube) in industry reports by SocialBakers, eMarketer, and Statista; marketing publications such as MarketingDive, Influencer Marketing Hub, and Business of Apps; news and media resources such as Forbes, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, CNBC, and Business Insider; and official platforms reports.

PART II: TYPES OF CREATORS

Information on the types of creators across four social platforms i.e., Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, 2-6 popular creators in each type, their number of followers/subscribers/viewers, and income has been provided in the attached spreadsheet.

  • The types of creators were identified using multiple marketing and media resources.
  • Information on the average income of different types of creators on each platform was not available in news, media, advertising, and marketing publications. Hence, we have provided the platform-specific income of popular creators instead.
  • For some TikTok creators, platform-specific income was not publicly available either. In that case, we have provided estimated earning ranges based on the number of followers.
GLENN TREVOR
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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