Social-Media Influencers Aren’t Getting Rich—They’re Barely Getting By – WSJ:

Hundreds of millions of people around the globe regularly post videos and photos to entertain or educate social-media users. About 50 million earn money from it, according to a 2023 report from Goldman Sachs. The investment bank expects the number of creator-earners to grow at an annual rate of 10% to 20% through 2028, crowding the field even further. The Labor Department doesn’t track wages for these creators, also known as influencers.

It can take months or years to earn money as a creator, often through a combination of direct revenue from social-media platforms, sponsorship deals, merchandise sales and affiliate links. But those who stick with it eventually see some returns, surveys show. Creators say that’s because you can learn what kind of posts most resonate with an audience, which can lead to more followers and, in turn, more moneymaking opportunities.

But money doesn’t mean big bucks. Last year, 48% of creator-earners made $15,000 or less, according to NeoReach, an influencer marketing agency. Only 13% made more than $100,000.

There’s money in online influencing, but it’s a game a lot of people (“hundreds of millions”) are playing and more are joining all the time (“10% to 20%”). It’s unclear what percentage 50 million people is out of the “hundreds of millions,” but suffice to say most make no money. In fact, it looks like only 25 million people worldwide make more than $15k a year at it. 

Still, that’s 6.5 million folks earning at least $100,000 a year. That’s what’s spawned the gold rush. Like any gold rush, it won’t last—especially with AI influencing on the horizon (and to some degree already going).