The Root of YouTube’s Revenue Decline, And Why Being A Creator Is The Ultimate Career Hack

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This Week: Ad Pullback continues as YouTube revenue declines. A Gen AI breakthrough adds recursion and autonomy. New study debunks the middle class in the creator economy – but I see it differently (it’s all about the school of hard-knocks). Plus, updates on LinkedIn, TikTok, Wattpad, Bored Apes, and more…. It’s the first week of May 2023 and here’s what you need to know NOW!

Ad Pullback Continues: Although Google had a good quarter, YouTube revenue continued to decline. Ad revenue was down 2.6% from last year’s 2nd quarter, albeit a better YOY decline than first quarter. It’s both structural and cyclical. Cyclical, as ad revenue has been broadly down (although Meta was up 3% YoY, with 24% higher Reels views which is a bright spot). But also structural as more viewers move to Shorts, which is likely cannibalizing longer-form views and revenue. Getting Shorts monetization right is critical, but so is blunting TikTok’s time-spent. I won’t rehash our Shorts updates from last week, but it even as views are growing the clock is still ticking on unlocking Shorts revenue.

The latest Gen AI breakthrough: You need to know about Auto-GPT, which adds recursion, autonomy and self-prompting to ChatGPT. It’s well worth checking out. I could see a multi-step Auto-GPT process that evaluates and updates video clips for a daily news summary video or iterates headlines and thumbnails at light speed. Here are 5 early AutoGPT efforts to help you brainstorm potential creator economy applications.

New Study Debunks the Middle Class: Seems like everyone wants to release a study about the Creator Economy. This week’s newest entry is from Goldman Sachs, predicting that the global creator economy will grow to 500B by 2027. Goldman, alas, doesn’t see the emergence of a middle class, predicting that only the top 4% will make over $100k a year even as the pie grows. Simon Owens refutes this report – and Citi’s March study – and says a middle class indeed does exist. According to Owens we need to see creators as startup CEOs, and shouldn’t expect profitability for a while. I see it slightly differently – see below.

The Value of a Creator Education: Lots of noise around the unlikely career prospects for creators – particularly in this FT story sent to me by reader @Don Anderson. I don’t necessarily agree with the article thesis though. Yes many (most) creators won’t find it a sustainable long-term career. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Any creator with over 50,000 followers has (like it or not) become the CEO of small – or not so small – direct to community business. There are many avenues to building sustainability even as your community growth stalls (see Kajabi, Orca, Gumroad and many others).

But even when the rainbows and unicorns fade, there’s value remaining. Becoming a creator isn’t a dead end. Stick at it, find some success (if fleeting), and it’s equivalent to a graduate degree in social video. Those skills you learned telling stories, optimizing thumbnails and headlines, planning and editing videos, scouring analytics, developing a community and building a support team are all eminently transferrable to the corporate world.

That TikTok MBA, YouTube MS or PhD in LinkedIn is your ticket to a lucrative career telling corporate stories on digital video platforms. Smart companies are already realizing they need a chief TikTok officer, YouTube Director or social video strategy expert.

And if you run a business, perhaps your next hire should come from the ranks of the creator world. They might be a bit raw after working on their own, but with mentorship and support she just might be the best hire you make in 2023.

Being a creator isn’t dead-end. It’s a hard-knock entrée into even bigger success – both for you and the lucky company that hires you.

Related – Exec recruiter ForceBrands launches a new division focused on placing execs into creator businesses and creators into traditional brands



Tip of the Week: The 8 key YouTube metrics you need to know – and WHY they are important – from Tim Schmoyer and Video Creators

What I’m Watching: TikTok CEO Shou Chew talks at TED 2023.

Thanks for reading and see you around the internet. Send me a note with your feedback, or post in the comments! Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!

If you’re interested in working together as a sponsor to reach the leaders in the creator economy, check out Inside the Creator’s sponsorship packages and/or email me at

And don’t forget to listen to The Creator Feed – the weekly podcast Renee Teeley and I produce – get it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher!

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