Content Creation: Where’s My Money?

When the era of Web.20 started, the biggest component was the emphasis on user-generated content.  Humphreys defines this in Chapter 5 as, “The textual, visual, or structural material produced by users and user groups.” (Humphreys 294)  It’s the foundation of the Internet that we know and love today.  Social media platforms depend on user-generated content to provide the content on those platforms.  Without the users, the platforms become empty spaces.  But the question becomes, if we’re the ones creating all of this content, should we, as users, be paid for it?  Just imagine if you got paid for every post, tweet, or photo you put on social media…


There are some social media sites that pay you to produce their content.  Instagram and YouTube are two famous examples of how creators of their own pages and channels were able to make a living on their content.  According to Forbes, the YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, or PewDiePie as he’s known by, made over $15 million in 2016.  In fact, the top ten wealthiest YouTubers of 2016 made over $70 million collectively according to Forbes.  A lot of the income that goes to these YouTubers comes from the brands that they sponsor in their videos and from the ads that come before their videos.  Most of the highest paid YouTubers have creating content since the beginning of YouTube in 2005.  When YouTube soared in popularity, companies saw the value in the website and pounced on the opportunity to spread their product to large audience.


Instagram followed suit with a similar idea with their popular users.  Having their users take photos using their product in some way was a good way to market to the user’s audience.  The idea here is that, if you follow this person and they wear a type of clothing or use a type of makeup, then you might be persuaded to go buy that product.  According to the Huffington Post, “some brands pay between $5 to $10 per thousand followers, others offer $100 per 100 followers and still others pay only in free swag….companies across all industries combined spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion per year on sponsoring content on the platform”  One of the most famous examples of using popularity to sell products on Instagram, is through the Kardashians.


Kim Kardshian is able to market the brand Lipsy London by taking a photo of their products and promote their Instagram account.  Now we can’t all be the Kardashian’s and have as wide of an audience as they do.  But today, user-generated content on social media platforms makes it easier than ever to earn a living by creating content for that site. Simply by taking a photo with the product, wearing it, or using it in some way, you can make a living.  Creating content should not be all about trying to make money off of what you make.  Humphreys said that there are “nonmaterial rewards from co-creation… sense of esteem and respect from others” (Humphreys 72)  Creating content should be about creating something that you are passionate about or publishing something to a site that you love.  But if  you can get paid too, well that’s not too bad of a deal.



Bereznak, Alyssa. “How Instagram Photographers Can Make Serious Cash (Hint: It’s Not Instagram Who’s Paying).” Yahoo! Yahoo!, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. <>.

Berg, Madeline. “The Highest-Paid YouTube Stars 2016: PewDiePie Remains No. 1 With $15 Million.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 07 Dec. 2016. Web. <>.

Humphreys, Ashlee. “Chapter 5: User Interaction and Co-Creation.” Social Media: Enduring Principles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016. 63-81. Print.

Ma, Alexandra. “How To Make Money On Instagram.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 30 July 2015. Web. <>.

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