I remember the feeling when one of my Instagram posts received a couple hundred likes: “This is my career now—I’m an influencer.” Sadly, I have yet to reach those dizzying heights again, not that it matters: A few viral posts do not a full-time influencer career make. To really earn money from social media, an influencer generally needs to have amassed at least a few thousand followers and racked up many more views. How many exactly? A music licensing company Lickd.co has created a calculator to help you figure that out.
How the calculator works
Lickd.co’s “social income calculator” (found here), will tell you how many followers, views, and sponsorships you’ll need to generate the amount of income you expect (hope?) to earn. For example, the company points out, to earn the average full-time U.S. salary of $34,103 per year, you would need at least one of the following:
- TikTok: A minimum of 10,000 subscribers and 93.2 million yearly viewer
- YouTube: A minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 8.2 million yearly views
- Instagram: A minimum of 5,000 followers and 105 sponsored posts a year
Of course, as a content creator you’re not restricted to just one platform—depending on the content you create, there might be some overlap between the different platforms for your content, which would boost your income further. However, even if you hit the full trifecta and manage to $102,309 per year, you’ll still have to pay around 30% of that in taxes, plus any costs associated with producing all of your video
The key metric is views, not followers
According to the calculator, if you wanted to make $100,000 a year on YouTube alone, you need to generate approximately 24 million annual views. That works out to 461,568 views a week. Therefore, a 5-day work week would require around 92,000 views per day, which is why a minimum number of subscribers or followers who will reliably be exposed to your content is also important.
What a calculator doesn’t tell you is that the real challenge is how to attract and sustain half a million views per week. Because the truth is, that’s very hard to do. On YouTube, 3% of the content creators make 90% of the revenue, and many of the top-earners are already celebrities. To make a go of it as a popular content creator across all platforms, you’ll need high production values, some sort of niche that is interesting or unusual; and you’ll need to post often—perhaps twice a day if you’re a fledgling channel.