• More than half of those born from 1997-2012 say a career as a full-time influencer or content creator is their ideal career.
  • Gen Z and Gen Alpha members believe content creation is a reliable and lucrative career choice.
  • Younger generations see their social media as an extension of themselves, not just as a digital platform.

So, What Occupation Do Gen Zers Want Most — Influencer

Approximately 53% of Gen Zers believe becoming an influencer is a reputable career choice, and a similar percentage say they would quit their current jobs if becoming an influencer paid enough to maintain or improve their current lifestyle. Nearly one-third of young people surveyed said they would even pay to become an influencer.

The numbers are in line with a 2019 report from Morning Consult that shows the draw is still there for young social media users, even though platform changes have been controversial and influencers have undergone scandals of their own.

Young people know that making money online can be easy, and that’s the number one driver behind Gen Z’s interest in influencing as a career. Flexibility and the prospect of doing fun work are also major drivers. 

Young people report that they are least interested in creating content about drinking alcohol, home design, or politics/social causes.

So, what type of content do Gen Zers say they’d want to make if they were influencers? While 20% said they weren’t sure what their niche would be, most had a clear idea in mind:

  • 22% said they would create content about gaming
  • 13% would create food or cooking content 
  • 10% said they’d focus on beauty and skincare content
  • 8% would create music-related content

Why Do Gen Zers Believe Being an Influencer or Content Creator is a Legitimate Career?

Influencers Trustworthiness 

As social media grows, more young people say their dream job is to become a content creator or influencer. A 2021 YouGov poll found that becoming a vlogger, YouTuber, or professional streamer was the top dream job among teens aged 13 to 17.

Young consumers say their trust in celebrities, athletes, and social media influencers has grown over the past few years. In fact, they’re the only category of people that saw an increase in trust between 2019 and 2023. 

The two most popular platforms for influencer content are YouTube (which tends to be more popular among millennials and men) and TikTok (which skews toward Gen Z and women). When it comes to the type of content that is most popular, users flock to influencers who post food and music content.

You Can Start a Career Young

Those that go to college typically start their careers after graduating at age 22 or 23. But many influencers have already spent years building an audience and creating content by the time they’re in their early 20s. On apps like Instagram and YouTube, you’re legally allowed to join at 13. Although you won’t be making money as a minor, joining early gives you time to find your niche and come into your own on social media.

But just because you’re legally allowed to join social media sites at this age doesn’t mean you should. Being an influencer is a tremendous responsibility and many minors don’t understand the ramifications of putting themselves online at a young age. They rely on parents or guardians to keep them safe, even online.

Success as an influencer isn’t guaranteed and it’s nearly impossible to know what will gain popularity online. Consistency and a well-defined niche are just two pieces of the puzzle.

Easy Content Creation

Creating content online has never been easier. Smartphones have high-quality cameras and there are a host of editing apps, so you no longer need special equipment to make a vlog or create the next viral clip. This makes the barrier to entry low, allowing anyone to get started.

Celebrity & Brand Collaborations Endorsements

Brand endorsements or collaborations are when a brand pays a content creator to post with their product. This could be anything from a video review to a simple photo of the product. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to land brand endorsements. Many brands now look for influencers with small but loyal followings to collaborate with.

The most successful brand endorsement deals are mutually beneficial for both parties. It should fit with the influencer’s online presence and appeal to their followers while exposing the brand’s product to a wider audience than they’re able to reach on their own.

Brand endorsements can be lucrative for influencers and help them establish legitimacy, so it’s easy to see why they’re the goal for so many creators!

Change Lives for Good

Influencers hold a lot of sway with certain demographics, and the idea of persuading people to use certain products or live a certain way can be positive. For instance, someone who posts about sustainability can influence others to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle or a fitness influencer may inspire others to get moving. This is enticing for those who have a passion and want to share it with the world.

Extension of One’s Self

Many members of Gen Z see their social media presence as an extension of themselves. Creating content is seen as a creative outlet for many, allowing them to express themselves in new and different ways.

Most of Us Are Already Influencers Without Knowing It

If you regularly share content on social media, you are likely influencing your followers. Everything from posting about a new restaurant, the book you’re currently reading, or your latest tech gadget can all influence the people who follow you. Even sharing articles that you find interesting can influence people to think a certain way on a specific topic.

While we think of influencers as having thousands of loyal followers, you might be influencing people yourself, even with just a handful of followers.

Understanding the Success of Content Creators

Top 10 Richest Content Creators

#1 MrBeast is the Most Popular Content Creator of 2024

  • Est. Net Worth: $82 Million
  • Followers: Over 312 million
  • Content: Big-budget stunts
  • Age: 25
  • Born:  May 7, 1998 (Wichita, Kansas)
  • Connect: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram

Who is MrBeast?

James Stephen “Jimmy” Donaldson, known online as MrBeast, is an American internet personality, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His signatures are fast-paced videos with elaborate challenges and huge giveaways. With over 300 million subscribers, he has the most subscribers of any individual on YouTube and has the channel with the second-most subscribers overall.

His power and popularity stem from his high production value videos and stunts like surviving in Antarctica for 50 hours and building a Wonka chocolate factory. With this popularity, he has earned a small fortune from ad dollars and built an empire in the real world with brands like Feastables snack bars, MrBeast Burgers restaurant, and–of course–a line of merch.

#2 Olajide Olatunji (KSI)

  • Est. Net Worth: $24 Million
  • Followers: Over 112 million
  • Content: Boxing, music (rapper), and funny skits 
  • Age: 30
  • Born: June 19, 1993 (London, England)
  • Connect: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram

Who is KSI?

Olajide Olayinka Williams “JJ” Olatunji, who is known online as KSI, is a British social media influencer, pro boxer, and musician. He co-owns several companies, including Prime Hydration, XIX Vodka, Sidemen Clothing, restaurant chain Sides, and cereal brand Best Breakfasts, and is the CEO of Misfits Boxing. He got his start back in 2009 with funny FIFA video game reaction videos on YouTube.

Since starting on YouTube, he has added boxer and rapper to his resume. He released two singles in 2023 and secured a multiyear distribution deal for Misfits Boxing. Alongside fellow YouTube star Logan Paul, he’s the face of Prime Hydration. Like many creators, KSI has faced controversy for his boxing decorum, misogynistic content, and use of slurs, but he manages to turn the scandals into views.

#3 Jake Paul

  • Est. Net Worth: $34 Million
  • Followers: Over 66 million
  • Content: Controversial stunts and pranks; boxing
  • Age: 27
  • Citizenship: United States
  • Born: January 17, 1997 (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Connect: Instagram, YouTube, TikTok

Who is Jake Paul?

Jake Paul is a YouTuber, professional boxer, and one of the most controversial content creators online. He got his start on Vine in September 2013, where he amassed millions of followers, and he even played Dirk Mann on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark for two seasons. 

He started his YouTube channel in May 2014 while still active on Vine and has since ranked on the Forbes list as one of the highest-paid YouTube creators in 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2023. He has attracted a host of controversies including sexual misconduct allegations, scamming fans and viewers, and an SEC charge for not disclosing a cryptocurrency sponsorship. 

#4 Rhett & Link 

  • Est. Net Worth: $35 Million
  • Followers: Over 51 million
  • Content: Comedy and music
  • Age: 
    • 46 y.o. Rhett James McLaughlin
    • 45 y.o. Charles Lincoln Neal III
  • Born:
    • October 11, 1977 – Rhett James McLaughlin (Macon, Georgia)
    • June 1, 1978 – Charles Lincoln Neal III (Durham, North Carolina)
  • Connect: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram

Who are Rhett & Link?

Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III have been best friends since elementary school and are YouTube veterans. They started posting comedy shows on way back in 2006, just a year after YouTube launched! They’re best known for their YouTube series Good Mythical Morning. The success of that series has allowed them to found an entertainment company–Mythical–in Burbank, CA. Mythical employs over 100 people who create various YouTube series. In addition, Rhett and Link stay busy with their podcasts, touring, books, and more.

#5 Charli D’Amelio 

  • Est. Net Worth: $17.5 Million
  • Followers: Over 133 million
  • Content: Dance videos, lip-syncing, lifestyle content
  • Age: 20
  • Born: May 1, 2004 (Norwalk, Connecticut)
  • Connect: TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Website

Who is Charli D’Amelio?

Charli D’Amelio got her start on TikTok in 2019 with dancing videos. Five years later, she’s one of the highest-earning TikTokers, having earned tens of millions from the app and various brand deals with companies like Dunkin’, Invisalign, and Morphe. Her popularity on TikTok even landed Charli and her sister, Dixie, a reality show on Hulu!

Her family has launched their own company, D’Amelio Brands, where they plan to release D’Amelio-branded products like shoes and skincare. 

#6 Logan Paul

  • Est. Net Worth: $21 Million
  • Followers: Over 74 million
  • Content: Controversial skits and pranks, wrestling
  • Age: 29
  • Born: April 1, 1995 (Westlake, Ohio)
  • Connect: Instagram, YouTube, TikTok

Who is Logan Paul?

Logan Paul–brother of number 3 on our list, Jake Paul–first went viral on Vine. He used that momentum to start his YouTube channel where he posted vlogs, stunts, giveaways, and fights. Today, he has over 23 million subscribers on YouTube but has toned down his content after a few controversies. After a short stint in wrestling, he started a podcast called Impaulsive, where he interviews celebrities and other online personalities.

#7 Elliot Tebele (F-ckJerry)

  • Est. Net Worth: $30 Million
  • Followers: Over 17 million
  • Content: Comedy and memes
  • Age: 33
  • Born: February 22, 1991 (Gravesend, Brooklyn)
  • Connect: Instagram, Jerry Media, Website

Who is Elliot Tebele?

If you’ve seen memes on Instagram, you’ve probably seen Elliot Tebele’s work. He founded or co-founded the popular brands What Do You Meme?, JAJA Tequila, and F-ckjerry. In 2011, he founded Jerry Media, which is a media company that aggregates content and memes. Across all platforms, his accounts have over 17 million followers.

#8 Emma Chamberlain

  • Est. Net Worth: $20 Million
  • Followers: Over 28 million
  • Content: Lifestyle, fashion, and humor
  • Age: 22
  • Born: May 22, 2001 (San Bruno, California)
  • Connect: YouTube, Instagram

Who is Emma Chamberlain?

Emma Chamberlain is a YouTuber, podcaster, businesswoman, and model. She started posting YouTube videos in high school and now has over 28 million followers on all platforms. Her signature vlogs include her dry humor and passion for fashion, the popularity of which has allowed her to build a lifestyle empire.

She has partnered with brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Lancome, Aritzia, Levi’s, and Canon cameras. She has a podcast called Anything Goes and a popular beverage company, Chamberlain Coffee.

#9 Matt Rife

  • Est. Net Worth: $25 Million
  • Followers: Over 22 million
  • Content: Standup comedy, comedy skits
  • Age: 28
  • Born: September 10, 1995 (Columbus, Ohio)
  • Connect: Website, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram

Who is Matt Rife?

Matthew Rife is an actor and comedian, best known for his self-produced comedy specials Only Fans, Matthew Steven Rife, and Walking Red Flag. He also landed a Netflix special in 2023 called Natural Selection and had a recurring role on Wild ‘n Out. With his comedy videos, he’s able to attract new fans and sell out live shows. 

#10 Brent Rivera

  • Est. Net Worth: $17.5 Million
  • Followers: Over 96 million
  • Content: Funny skits
  • Age: 26
  • Born: January 9, 1998 (Huntington Beach, California)
  • Connect: TikTok, YouTube, Instagram

Who is Brent Rivera?

Like many of the creators on this list, Brent Rivera got his start with comedy videos on Vine. He then branched out to YouTube and TikTok where he reached new heights with tens of millions of fans. He has partnered with brands like Starbucks, Xbox, and Prada, in addition to starting his own media company, Amp Studios.

#11 Khaby Lame 

  • Est. Net Worth: $15-$20 Million
  • Followers: Over 160 million
  • Content: Reaction videos, funny skits
  • Age: 23
  • Born: March 9, 2000 (Dakar, Senegal)
  • Connect: TikTok, YouTube

Who is Khabane “Khaby” Lame?

Khaby Lame is a Senegalese-born Italian influencer. He is known for his TikTok videos where he silently mocks overly complicated “life hacks”. In 2022, he was listed in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and Forbes’ 30 Under 30. 

#12 Alexandra Cooper

  • Est. Net Worth: $20 Million
  • Followers: Over 5 million
  • Content: Life and relationships
  • Age: 29
  • Born: August 21, 1994 (Newtown, Pennsylvania)
  • Connect: Spotify, TikTok, Instagram

Who is Alexandra Cooper?

Alex Cooper is the host of the wildly popular podcast “Call Her Daddy”, which landed her a $60 million deal with Spotify. This made her the highest-earning female podcaster and the second-highest-paid podcaster, with only Joe Rogan getting a bigger payday.

She was labeled “Gen-Z’s Barbara Walters” by Rolling Stone for frequently landing high-profile celebrities and influential individuals to be guests on her podcast. 

Top 10 Most Viewed TikTok Videos (as of 2023)

#1: 2.3 billion views – Zach King – Harry Potter Magic Illusion

#2: 1.7 billion views – James Charles – Welcome to Sisters Christmas Party!

#3: 1.1 billion views – Zach King –  “Hide and Seek Illusion” 

#4: 966.9 million views – Zach King – “Do You See the Glass As Half Full or Half Empty” 

#5: 794.5 million views – Bella Poarch – “M To The B”

Why Should You Be an Influencer? Well, Why Not? 

People have different reasons for becoming influencers. Some do it for the notoriety and potentially lucrative pay, while others genuinely like to share things they love and are passionate about. Additionally, some enjoy building and being part of a community. 

No matter your reason for wanting to become an influencer, it’s important to understand the pitfalls and responsibilities you could be undertaking. While amassing millions of fans sounds great to a lot of people, it can also come with a lot of criticism. This is something to consider before taking steps to become an influencer.


How much do influencers make?

The amount of money that influencers make depends on several factors including their following, which platform(s) they have monetized, and their niche. In a 2023 survey, only 12 percent of full-time creators reported making more than $50,000 a year.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform for creating short videos. Unlike YouTube, where longer videos perform well, the most popular TikToks are under one minute. Comedy sketches, dance videos, and commentary all perform well on TikTok. The app has over 1 billion active users monthly, making it the 4th largest social media platform in the world.

Who are the top 10 most followed creators on TikTok?

As of January 2024, the most-followed TikTokers include:

  1. Khabane Lame – 161.6 million followers
  2. Charli D’Amelio – 151.7 million
  3. Bella Poarch – 93.9 million followers
  4. MrBeast – 92.6 million followers
  5. Addison Rae – 88.7 million followers
  6. Kimberly Loaiza – 72.2 million followers
  7. Zach King – 80.6 million
  8. TikTok – 77.9 million followers
  9. Burak Özdemi – 74.6 million followers 
  10. Will Smith – 74.2 million followers

Who is the richest TikToker? 

According to a 2023 Forbes article, Charli D’Amelio is the richest TikToker with a net worth of over $17.5 million and 152 million followers on the app.

Does TikTok pay money?

While the exact amount of money that TikTok pays isn’t straightforward, top creators have revealed that TikTok pays between $0.02 and $0.04 per 1,000 views through the Creator Fund. That’s $20 to $40 per one million views.

How many followers do you need on TikTok to get paid?

You’re eligible to monetize your TikTok account once you have at least 10,000 followers and at least 100,000 video views over the last 30 days. All you need to do is opt into the Creator Fund and continue making high-quality content.

How many users are on TikTok?

TikTok has over 1 billion active users across 160 countries. As of May 2024, it’s the fourth most popular social media app in the world.

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a video-sharing website that makes it easy to create, share, and watch online videos. Launched in 2005, YouTube is now one of the most popular sites and apps, with visitors watching around 6 billion hours of video each month.

How much do YouTubers make?

A 2024 report stated that the average annual pay for a YouTuber in the United States is $74,708 a year. That works out to approximately $36 an hour, $1,436 per week, or $6,225 per month.

Who has the most followers on YouTube?

As of 2024, MrBeast is the most followed YouTuber with over 255 million subscribers. The biggest YouTubers include:

  1. MrBeast — 255 million subscribers
  2. PewDiePie — 111 million subscribers
  3. Like Nastya — 115 million subscribers
  4. Dude Perfect — 60.1 million subscribers
  5. A4 — 53.7 million subscribers
  6. JuegaGerman — 49.9 million subscribers
  7. Fernanfloo — 47.3 million subscribers
  8. Felipe Neto — 46.3 million subscribers
  9. BRIGHT SIDE — 44.6 million subscribers
  10. Whinderssonnunes — 44.6 million subscribers

Who is the richest YouTuber?

As of 2024, Forbes reported that Mr. Beast is the richest YouTuber with a net worth of $82 million. Rhett & Link follow, with a net worth of $25 million. Jake Paul rounds out the top three with a $34 million net worth.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free photo and video-sharing app. Share your own photos or videos and view, comment, and like posts by your friends and other creators. The app has over 2 billion monthly active users, making it the third-largest social media platform in 2024.

How much can you make on Instagram?

Unlike TikTok, Instagram does not have tools to monetize your account at a certain follower count. If you want to make money on Instagram, you’ll need to build a devoted and engaged follower base and land brand deals. The amount of money you’ll make on brand deals depends on your reach, following, and the brand itself. You could make as little as $10, and there’s virtually no upper limit with some large influencers making thousands of dollars on a single deal.

Who has the most followers on Instagram?

As of 2024, football/soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram with over 627 million followers. The top 5 most followed people on Instagram include:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 627 million
  2. Lionel Messi – 502 million 
  3. Selena Gomez – 429 million
  4. Kylie Jenner – 400 million 
  5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – 397 million 

How many users are on Instagram? 

Instagram has over 2 billion monthly users, making it the 3rd largest social media platform in the world. 

Sources: CNBC, Forbes, & Entrepreneur Media.

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