Hobby or Career: the age of the vlog

In this ever-growing digital age, new professions based around technology are constantly being created… then criticised. With the internet just a ‘tap’ away, it’s becoming progressively easy to create, upload and share your content with the world. This has cascaded into a variety of online careers such as Instagram influencers, social media personalities and YouTubers, who seemingly sustain their livelihood through what others may see as an ‘internet hobby’. 

It is the vloggers, in particular, who seem to arouse the most unjustifiable controversy due to the nature of their job. Vloggers are ridiculed for their form of career, due to the ignorance of the general public and lack of information about the field, whereas, our society needs to come together and support the diminishing creative jobs in an increasingly automated world. 

Vloggers

The vlogging phenomenon that has taken the younger generation by storm is one of the most lucrative forms of platform entrepreneurship. It is inviting with low start-up costs, easy access to digital services and freedom to produce any type of content. Vloggers document their daily lives, routines and activities, then upload them to YouTube and receive a payoff through their view countand sponsored adverts.

The concept of sharing one’s life on the internet certainly isn’t new, with platforms such as Myspace dating back to 2003. The shock now, is that individuals can build actual careers and earn large profits from doing so when at one point it was just a hobby. 

When it comes to vloggers, their personality and identity become their brand. They build their following from being likeable and, more importantly, relatable. Portraying their ‘authenticity’ and ordinariness to blur the lines between their public and private life increases their following as the younger generation feel like it could be themone day. 

 

The controversy 

“YouTube isn’t a real job!”is the most typical insult hurled at the vloggers, for reaping the benefits of simply filming their day. It is easy for the audience to assume that vlogging is a straightforward, or even lazy, form of content creation as it may seem menial in comparison to more traditional jobs and workplaces. Is the intense frustration displayed towards vloggers fuelled by jealousy? People may be uncomfortable with the way the world of work is changing and growing, reflecting this frustration through hate towards the ones who are successfully adapting.

Year on year, the income statistics of YouTube vloggers are progressively more shocking. Famously the top YouTube stars have made millions from their YouTube careers, such as six-year-old Ryan who made a staggering £8.5 million in 2017 from his toy review channel. These are undoubtedly intriguing figures that raise eyebrows to the legitimacy of the jobs.

These publications of vloggers’ earnings make it seem glamourous to the next generation; “In a survey last year, 75% of children said they wanted to be YouTube stars”, which proves that vlogging is becoming a career which is aimed for. Will this harm the next generation by creating an army of narcissistic mindless young adults who are disheartened from pursuing STEM subjects due to the perceived success of vloggers? These ‘vlogging career aspirations’ are worrying, as actually turning it into a lucrative, profit-generating career is more of a challenge than it seems.

The Reality

We are taking for granted the truth behind the camera. Although it may seem simple to record and upload a video, more often than not it is a large-scale operation where just one video could take hours, or even days, to finalise. Moreover, there are a plethora of vloggers who don’t film themselves buying a coffee, but who actually create impressive productions and share valuable information, where it is evident that they have worked hard on the project. 

It is arguably more difficult to create and sustain a successful career through YouTube, rather than applying for a ‘normal’ job. The sheer concentration of the vlogging market in 2019 is nearly impossible to penetrate. The uniqueness required to grab the attention of a new audience and build a following is difficult to achieve as almost every niche has already been dominated. 

Furthermore, the impressive incomes that shock the public only account for an extremely small top percentage of YouTubers. In fact, 96.5% of all those who are trying to become vloggers won’t even make enough money to ‘crack the U.S. poverty line’. Writer Gaby Dunn document’s her experiences of YouTube fame after she worked for Buzzfeed. Surprisingly, the majority of these minor internet celebrities, who seem extremely successful in what they do, are still struggling to pay the bills; especially when working for a multi-million dollar company such as Buzzfeed. This proves that even the recognisable vlogger names may not have as glamorous a life as portrayed on the internet. 

Conclusion

The clear controversy surrounding vlogging indicates that people don’t realise the harsh realities of the job; extremely long hours, discipline, hard work and a struggle to succeed. The media publish propaganda, such as shockingly high profits, which romanticises these careers, making them seem easy to achieve. This alienates the general public, instigating an atmosphere of jealousy and rage. Instead, we must grow together as a society and adapt our expectations of jobs for the future, by supporting each other through the changes these fast-paced technological advancements cause.

The reality is, creative careers are the future of work. 

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