This post demonstrates how much money you can make as a content creator and contrasts the content creation and restaurant business models.
Content creators can make a lot of money and enjoy a nice lifestyle:
- make money, even when you take days off
- location independence
- minimal logistics
- no boss or meetings
Owning a restaurant is the opposite business model in a lot of regards:
- high employee turnover
- complicated logistics (perishable inventory)
- lots of competition
This post will show you that it’s less work and more profitable to start a content creation business instead of a logistics intensive business. Content creation isn’t for everyone because most people aren’t able to create engaging content. For those of you that are capable of creating content, it’s probably a better career than brick-and-mortar.
Let’s start by looking at the core skills that talented content creators possess.
Creator skill set
The best content creators typically have the following combination of skills:
- likeable personality
- technical expertise (backed up by real world accomplishments)
- intuitive ability to make content that’s engaging
Most people don’t have this skill set and will not succeed as content creators.
The small amount of folks that can make good content, don’t find it a struggle to create blog posts or videos. They’re already subject experts, so talking about something they’ve already mastered is relatively easy.
Let’s take a look at some different content creators, starting with the ones that reveal how much they’re making.
Real estate investor / scam reporter
Spencer Corneila made $59,000 from his YouTube channel in November 2021. His YouTube channel has 335,000 subscribers and here’s the video where he talks about its profitability.
Here are the main reasons Spencer is successful:
- He makes factual videos on controversial topics. He doesn’t troll, but isn’t scared to call out unethical behavior. Controversial topics get views!
- His videos are well organized and present the material in a linear, easy to follow manner.
- He makes videos that get a lot of traffic in the short term (e.g. reporting on current events), but also makes content that gets less views but is more aligned with the long term vision of his channel (exposing scammers).
- He exudes friendly, positive, confident energy.
Spencer is a great example of how high quality content will get ranked by the YouTube algorithm and can make you a lot of money. His videos are monetized with YouTube ads.
Ex-Amazon content creator
Daniel Vassallo is a content creator with a strong Twitter following. Daniel publicly talked about why he quit his $500,000 a year Amazon job to work in content creation.
Daniel shows his income from info products by month:
He makes up to $50,000 from info products some months.
He made a graph that compares the income from SaaS products, info products, and freelancing.
Freelancing is stable, info products are risky, and SaaS products have long term potential.
He encourages multiple income streams, which is a wonderful idea.
Daniel is popular on Twitter. His personality works better on Twitter compared to a platform like YouTube.
You don’t need to be great at multiple social to build an audience that’s big enough to make good money as a content creator. YouTube works for Spencer. Twitter works for Daniel. Getting good at one marketing platform is enough.
Kat Norton markets her Excel courses on Instagram and TikTok and is making up to $100,000 a day.
If she’s not actively making a new course, then she only works 15 hours per week.
Her personality is exceedingly bubbly and her story is inspiring:
Her content is clearly optimized for the TikTok format:
Miss Excel is a content creation genius, a true natural.
Hungrybox is a professional Super Smash Bros gamer with a solid YouTube following, here’s an example video:
Hungrybox didn’t spend a lot of time creating this YouTube video. He did a Twitch livestream and his editor made a highlight reel that’s optimized for YouTube.
Hungrybox is a top Smash pro, has won a lot of tournaments, and has been part of the competitive Smash scene since the beginning. He has a lot of authority in the Smash community and a hilarious personality, so it’s not surprising he was able to build a Twitch/YouTube following.
It’s easy to make high quality YouTube content for video games, which are designed to be visually stimulating.
Video game streaming is highly competitive and it’s comparatively hard for streamers to make money and build a following. It’s probably one of the worst areas for content creation. It was great back in the day when hardly anyone had video capture cards, so few people had the tech to make videos.
Top pros will easily be able to build a following. Regular gamers should focus their content creation efforts in less competitive domains.
Louis Rossman has built a massive YouTube following talking about his struggles running a brick-and-mortar business in New York City, buying a house, renting an office, and fighting for the right to repair technology products.
He has great success as a content creator. It’s ironic that most of his content discusses his struggles operating in the physical world. This video has great background on his life story:
Some key bullet points from the talk:
- He couldn’t afford to lease a decent store when starting his business because New York commercial rent prices are high
- Computer / cell phone repair is a low margin business
- He worked a day job from 10AM-8PM then worked on ebay side jobs till 2AM-4AM in the morning so he could pay a $10,000 store deposit. It’s been a real struggle for him to build a business and survive.
He regretfully mentions that he’s suffering from imposter syndrome and “the reason I had to do what I did is because I don’t belong here”.
He mentions that getting 400 five star reviews and having 12 employees that get paid 20-40% more than what other repair shops offer didn’t make him feel like he belongs in NY either.
It goes to show how even a smart, ambitious New Yorker can barely scrape by if they’re in a highly competitive, low-margin business.
Rossman is a talented content creator and probably would have been better off moving to a low cost area, focusing on content creation, and avoiding spending time on running a brick-and-mortar business in NYC.
Let’s take a look at the ramen business in Japan which provides another example of how difficult it is to operate a brick-and-mortar business with complicated logistics.
Ramen business in Japan
Here’s a great mini-documentary on owning a ramen shop in Japan:
Here are the key points from the video:
- Owners work long hours
- It’s easy to open a shop, but hard to keep it in business
- You can set up a shop from scratch for $270,000 or taking over an existing shop for ~$20,000
- Only 30% of shops survive longer than 3 years
- Owners work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, and make around $15 an hour
Some ramen broth can be cooked in big batches and stored, but other broths need to be made fresh, so the logistics of the business are always complicated.
The biggest challenge facing ramen shop owners is finding employees. Owners are worried about giving employees too much responsibilities and teaching them the critical components of cooking ramen. They don’t want their employees to steal their recipes and start a competing business.
The ramen industry in Japan is fragmenting into owner operated shops (the opposite of consolidating and scaling). The industry used to be 60% national chains / 40% owner operated shops in 2000. Now, the ramen industry is 60% owner operated shops. From an economies of scale perspective, the industry is getting less efficient.
There is a long history of ramen in Japan and many shop owners are passionate about ramen. That’s why some are willing to sleep in their restaurant overnight and monitor the broth. Many owners aren’t in the ramen business for the money.
Ramen-like businesses are great for some, but horrible for people that don’t want to pour their life into a business.
Most people prefer the lifestyle afforded by content creation instead of the brick-and-mortar slog.
Many individuals paradoxically choose to start a business that’s a logistical mess / constant headache, even if that’s not aligned with their ideal lifestyle.
Content creation isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great option if you’re a capable creator.
If you’re passionate about ramen and want to work 12-hour days, go ahead by all means. If you’re looking to make money and have a great lifestyle, try other options.