We often talk about the power of the creator economy and its financial potential. However, there is a huge misconception that being a creator is an easy job – you film a little video, piece it together and post, right? No. It’s extremely hard and there are many statistics to monitor and tiny jobs that creators often have to complete on their own.
I have an influencer friend who has accumulated almost 200k followers on Instagram and over 450k on TikTok. She often receives messages from followers claiming that they dream of being an influencer. What they often don’t realise is that an influencer’s career is often full out burn out and sacrifice.
Imagine having to document every single day. Having to feel good about yourself every day and on days where you don’t, having to smile for the camera. Making extra content to bank in case you catch the flu that week but still have food to feed your followers. Having to brainstorm content and manipulate the algorithm as it changes. Keeping up to date with the hottest latest trends, filters and editing softwares so your content doesn’t look dated. Having to awkwardly ask your friends if they mind you vlogging mid dinner and feeling lowkey judged by their gaze… It’s a lot.
Furthermore, there are financial costs involved. As your following grows, they will expect higher quality content. This means higher cost equipment. For example, you could spend anything from £50 ($62.16) on a cheap USB mic up to £200 ($248.66) on an XLR broadcast mic,” Freear added. “If you choose XLR, there are additional costs such as microprocessors, audio decks and so on, for them to work. That could quickly amount to £400-600 ($497.32 – $745.97) for an audio setup your audience won’t see, they’ll just hear the difference.
Additionally, embarking on a creator journey is often the hardest part. Money in the beginning isn’t so frequent and so making connections requires a lot of energy. “Being in the beauty industry myself, in order to keep up with the latest trends, I have to buy the latest products,” a beauty influencer told Digiday. “I don’t always get sent them, so those costs have to come out of my own pocket. If I don’t get paid much in one month, that can start to get tricky”.
Similarly, influencer Sophie Hughes (@sophwithlove), who has 31.8K Instagram and 9847 TikTok followers respectively, agreed that as a creator, you have to invest in some of the brands you want to work with initially, in order to make any money.
“I currently have a huge ASOS parcel of clothes to use for a brand haul video for example, which cost around £400 ($497.32) so I can do a bunch of styling videos in December as it’s a quieter month,” she said.
Knowing and learning how to do your taxes as a freelance creator can also be tricky. Many influencers even recommend having an accounts team to organise and address your quarterly and annual filings to ensure you don’t get any surprise tax bills. The team can often be costly but you’re saving your butt in the long run.
Mental health can also amount to being a huge cost for creators and setting boundaries is crucial. Most creators, realistically, have to be “on” 24/7. A huge cost is the ongoing investment of time, to ensure you’re posting frequently and responding to comments. You have to be able to take criticism while also making changes to your content to improve and continuously grow. Managing, creating and even promoting content is imperative. But it takes up a huge chunk of time. You have to be ready to handle it without burning out.