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What no one tells you about content creators income

by Tavia

Hello my dears!

I got asked many times how Does Living in U.S. impact Content Creators Revenue? The question is simple question but the answer is so complex because many variables are involved.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

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There are noticeable differences in revenue between U.S. and worldwide content creators. Beginners and those working on their channels to get to a stable level will sense this the most but also your niche can make a huge difference on how fast your business is growing and how profitable it is.

From my 12 years experience as a full time content creator I can pinpoint the most relevant factors that influence your revenue. It depends on you to evaluate them, make decisions and work towards your goal of turning your blog, Youtube channel or platform into a profitable business.

I’m addressing those who want to earn a stable revenue and be full-time content creators, but even if you see it as a hobby or part time job, stick around as you have lots of things to learn.

 

How Brands approach content creators depending on their location

 

While there are huge differences between how content creators are approached by brands in Italy, Romania or UK, there’s definitely a general different approach for U.S. or Canadian content creators.

Over the years I’ve connected with bloggers from different continents and their experiences are completely different, therefore the strategies must be as well.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

The Past is still The Present in Many European Countries

For U.S. readers and content creators may be hard to imagine that someone from Europe doesn’t have access to basic info regarding upcoming collections or that the support of brands is nonexistent. I must confess I lived such times back in Romania where brands weren’t taking bloggers seriously and were still focused on magazines and beauty editors. By the time I moved to London in 2017 the situation improved in Romania but not enough for me to stick around.

Brands are more willing to collaborate with you if you are based in U.S. but they will turn you down when they hear you’re living in another country. The beauty scene is more alert in the States and brands have more budget for U.S. based content creators compared to other countries which is definitely a disadvantage.

That’s why I couldn’t agree more with what lovely Youtuber Angela Van Rose has to say on the matter:

I started my YouTube channel in the Summer of 2017 and my blog, AngelaVanRose a year later. I can’t afford to be a full-time content creator because for the past 3 years my Youtube, blog and affiliate links revenue didn’t even cover the initial investment I made for a filming camera, lights, editing software etc.

Since I’m based in Italy my chances of receiving PR are small and very few brands are willing to send to European content creators. On my channel I only show products that I believe are 100% worth the investment because I cherish and respect my audience.

Recently I’ve been approached by 2 luxury brands who said they love my content and they would love to send me PR so I was beyond happy when they reached out to me because I saw it as a small reward. When I told them I’m Italy based they never replied, so my location was a huge deal breaker even though they love the quality of my content.

I was so happy when I got accepted by a platform that offers PR until it turned out brands wouldn’t send products to Europe. Officially they write that all content creators based in the U.S., France, Italy, Netherlands etc. are welcome to apply, but in reality they only send products to U.S. I contacted them to ask for a simple explanation since my application was approved. Why I can’t receive PR? The answer was: we currently can’t offer anything for Europe.Unfortunately European content creators do not have the same opportunities as the ones based in the US.

In other countries brands don’t have a PR department who can keep content creators in the loop about their launches, sending PR, inviting them to events and so on. Most established brands were not collaborating with bloggers and I was one of the pioneers of those times back in 2010 who tried to explain brand managers and even company directors that the beauty community will move towards online information. Those times are gone and many consumers get their infos online but there are still countries where brands don’t invest in keeping a relationship with content creators.

Since 2008, Chicprofile was written in English but even years later, the majority of brands representatives in Romania were not interested in collaborating with an English written blog. Getting PR was many times impossible as these brands didn’t have budget for smaller countries, as they were pushing into U.S. and UK content creators. I had more success e-mailing brands directly in U.S. and explaining my situation but in 2010 things changed again and many companies didn’t want to ship internationally. This was a huge drawback for me but I didn’t give up.

What Changed When I Moved to London?

 

Things were completely different when I visited London back in 2015 and I prospected the market to make a decision about switching countries. The competition was tough but brands had a totally different understanding towards bloggers and offering more support. They were answering e-mails within a day or two, hosting more events and sending out a lot more info.

Everything was different, from events that you could attend for only 15 minutes to gather your info and photos and then get back to blogging, to collections being released much earlier and getting to see the entire range of shades and products that were not being released in Romania.

Without updates from brands directly, a content creator is forced to gather her own info, which takes time, research and making connections with different people in the beauty industry that may have insightful info.

While in U.S. the majority of brands keep content creators in the loop with everything going on, in Europe many brands have a poor connection or are interested only if you have a gazillion of followers. I was often retaliating during beauty events when asked straight away about the number of followers on my Instagram without caring too much about my audience on the other platforms. Indie and drugstore brands may be easy to approach but most established brands are super hard to reach even for those who have been London based all their life.

Times change super fast in the beauty industry and I noticed that in 2017 when I moved to London as the beauty scene had changed dramatically compared to 2015. Brands were looking more at Instagrammers and millennials and were less interested in bloggers who put a lot of work into their content without prioritizing social media. The trend of reviewing an entire collection in just one post, where photos speak more than words is still present. This is what brands want… glam photos with more official info and just a phrase of your opinion unless you are praising their products.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

I was disgusted to see that being on a PR list of luxury brands had huge strings attached. Brands want control over your content, you are demanded to deliver 100% positive coverage in order to remain on the PR list to receive constant updates, free products and invites to events. Thanks but no thanks!

Nobody was going to tell you directly that you were supposed to deliver only positive reviews, but I was to find out soon enough why many brands were rejecting independent content creators who made their living from ads and affiliate links.

For me it was a wake up call to see the shallowness and “fake politeness” of some of my dear brands when I asked for a feedback. I wanted to know how is the quality of my content, so I can make changes, improve and keep up with what I thought will be normal demands and fair competition.

I received the feedback only through calls or “out of the record” chats where I was told that as much as they appreciate my content they can’t work with someone who’s “unreliable” because she can’t provide 100% positive coverage.

Many brands didn’t need to say it as I understood it after I published my straightforward reviews about their medium level quality products with super spicy prices. My opinions are my own, I won’t be censored or forced to give up editorial control, therefore there are very few brands that understand it.

Here’s what Gio from BeautifulwithBrains.com shares with us, definitely an experience I can relate to:

I found it really hard to get noticed by brands or even receive PR when I was living in Italy. Italian brands weren’t interested in working with a blogger who wrote articles in English, while UK and USA brands too often weren’t allowed to send PR outside of their countries – even though the bulk of my followers came from those regions.

Here in London, things are different. It’s fairly easy to receive PR and get invited to events hosted by upcoming indie brands, but most established brands won’t even send you a lipstick if you don’t have a gazillion followers on Instagram, can guarantee 100% positive coverage, and hand over editorial control almost completely. That doesn’t sit well with me, so I only work with a very small, selective group of brands on a PR basis only who get that working with bloggers is a two-ways street.

It may not seem like a big deal, but without PR, I’m not able to review many of the new, popular products that hit the market every month, losing out on affiliate commission. That’s the reality for most creators. Affiliate income and brands collaborations often don’t even cover your blogging expenses, such as your hosting provider, social media schedulers, camera equipment etc… I now offer skincare consultations and books to supplement my income.

The natural way to go is to be an independent content creator right from the start and see possible collaborations as a limited edition benefits and not depend on brands.

Build your audience on a platform that you can control 100% and use social media only to direct your audience to that platform. I know many content creators who lost their focus on their blogs and gravitated towards Instagram because they were pressured by PR’s / brands or they saw the trends and a few months or years later they were ditched or their accounts were disabled and they lost their entire revenue.

You know the story of why My Instagram Account Was Disabled back in 2018 but even though I took a hit, it was not a fatal blow since my revenue was not coming from Instagram but from my blog.

 

Advantages of U.S. Based Content Creators

 

Living in U.S. compared to other European countries will give you perks that are super important to grow your blog / chanel. The majority of brands focus their PR efforts on U.S. based content creators, sometimes spoiling them with an entire range of 30 shades foundations while they exclude others. The U.S. beauty market is powerful and has the means to create fertile ground for U.S. based content creators, through its early and limited edition releases (compare to other countries), constant discounts / sales and support that brands show.

Free PR can save you money that otherwise you’d invest from your own pocket (may cost you your annual holiday or postponing blog optimization) allowing you to spend your additional income (from ads, affiliate links, coupon codes, courses etc) on improving your platform, investing in your image or getting extra help by hiring a virtual assistant.

Once you reached a high audience (like 100k on Youtube) and your revenue has grown considerably is easier to spend $500 on makeup from time to time. It may seem like a huge investment but when you have received so many free things in PR for the past few months, plus your blog / Youtube revenue, it won’t seem like a sacrifice. Not to mention that in U.S. is easy to return products even if they are used, without any questions asked while in Europe once you swatched a product is non-refundable.

Caroline from CVMakeupLove is a fresh Youtuber, on the market for only 1 year but since she’s based in U.S. she has the advantage of being in touch with recent launches and limited editions:

I haven’t been approached yet by any brands as I am a small youtuber so they are not interested, but yes, I think we have a lot of sales and discounts going on. There’s a sale constantly!

If you are U.S. based you’ll earn more than someone from Europe who has the same number of pageviews and Youtube subscribers. Someone from Europe needs to have a considerably bigger audience (working more) to earn the same revenue as someone from U.S.

I did the comparison between several U.S. and European content creators and the difference in revenue is quite outstanding. I know Romanian Youtubers who have triple the subscribers of a U.S. Youtuber and still get paid 4-5 times less. This requires a more technical approach, info and learning how the algorithm works but also targeting U.S. audience will make a difference.

Because Canada is next to U.S. many tend to think brands apply the same principles.

Let’s hear it from Allison Chase, Montreal based luxury beauty Youtuber:

I think the biggest impact my geography plays on me is access! Here in Canada we often receive collections several weeks or a few months after places like the US, UK and Europe get access to new launches.

This may seem trivial, but when I post a review a few months after every one else has, it means I get less views and therefore less revenue. If people have already watched 3-4 reviews, then they might not watch mine and if they’ve already made the purchase then they won’t be using my affiliate links. It does get quite frustrating at times because it feels like many brands simply cater to the US market.

As far sponsorships and PR go, I’m not certain if that has as much to do with my location but more to do with the size of my channel. I’ve talked about this before on my channel, but because I am a smaller creator I don’t get offered much, and most of the offers that I do get are not that interesting. For example, I might get offered some PR, but many companies that offer this will demand a positive review in return.

These types of conditions simply do not interest me, so I often turn down PR. The same can be said for sponsorships, the few that have been offered to be have been for less than $250. This means they want an entire 10 minute video talking positively about their brand. One video like this can take me anywhere from 8-14 hours make. On top of that, most brands demand a lot of creative control which can lead to reshooting part of the video. All of this combined simply doesn’t make sponsorships interesting to me at the moment.

 

How Exclusive Releases Impact Content Creators’ Revenue

 

Many brands first release their products in the U.S. while some limited edition collections never reach other countries. This highly impacts content creators’ revenue because once a U.S. influencer reviews a collection she has the advantage (earning from ads, coupon codes, affiliate links etc), while anyone who reviews it 2 months later creates a deja-vu for her readers. The audience may have already bought the products and is not interested in late reviews, creating a gap in revenue between content creators.

The audience usually follows those who serve the information first because we all want to see up-close photos, swatches and how it performs. From this point of view U.S. content creators have the advantage but I’m hoping things may be balanced in the future.

Lash year in London brands like Pat McGrath made their launches UK exclusive for a while and I could see the benefits. MAC Cosmetics also chose to release their Summer 2020 Collection in the UK first which was again a huge advantage.

Before being a blogger I’m a beauty addict so I know how frustrating exclusive releases are but I would like to see a balance which can help non based U.S. content creators grow too. There are still countries in Europe where brands are not launching all the collections or the entire range of foundations, concealers and so on. In these cases bloggers/ Youtubers have extra costs because they have to shop through personal shoppers who also charge a service fee.

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2 comments

Lisa May 14, 2020 - 5:09 pm

You have made the idea of considering this a fulltime gig in Europe extremely difficult and unappealing. My current US favorites The Beauty Look Book, and Michelle Wang get tons of PR, give their fair share of negative reviews and have full time jobs in other areas. They do this for fun on the side. They have pretty nice followings. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I hope it will change for your your sake!

Reply
Tavia May 15, 2020 - 6:53 pm

Thank you so much for your input Lisa! It’s true that many content creators also have other jobs if they are doing this part time and just as a hobby. I know living in U.S. represents a huge advantage in this domain as even though brands reach to us here in Europe, once they realize we are not U.S. based they are not interested so it makes it hard to grow. I think the makeup market will suffer a change and many content creators in the beauty niche have already find other methods through their blogs to be able to continue doing this full time. More articles on the blogging topic will follow every Monday. 🙂

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