One of the cool thing that has popped up online over the past 20 years is online platforms paying their creators.
There’s a shady dark side here (most platforms keep almost all of the money to themselves). That said, let’s go over the platforms that are helping to build the creator economy (and which ones aren’t). Starting with this quick table, then going over each of them in-depth.
|Platform||Revenue Split||Min Traffic Requirement|
|YouTube||55% of Ad Revenue goes to Creators||1,000 subscribers, 4000+ watch hours, 18+, advertiser friendly content.|
|YouTube Shorts||Flat $100M Fund.||YouTube Selects who qualifies.|
|TikTok||Flat $200M Fund||10,000 Followers, 100,000 views last 30 days|
|Meta’s Creator Funds (Facebook & Instagram, Horizon Worlds)||Flat $1B Dollars||Invite Only|
|Medium||Unpublicized. Estimated 25%-ish of ad revenue.||100 followers. At least 1 article. Over 18. Live in select locations.|
1) The YouTube Creator Fund
The YouTube Partner Program is the most generous creator platform out there. Full stop. 55% of YouTube’s ad revenue goes to content creators.
Maybe it’s sad that a 55/45 split is extremely generous. But, when you study what other creator platforms are paying this one is by-far doing the most for its creators.
I wrote an entire post on how much a YouTube with 1,000 subs will make with AdSense. The TLDR version is $10 to $300 per month. But, check that post for way more details.
Adsense alone is not the best way to monetize your YouTube channel. You’ll make dramatically more by creating & selling your own product or through YouTube sponsorships. That said, Adsense revenue can add up. If you have 100,000+ subscribers and an engaged audience you very well could be making more than you did at your day job through this program.
And the qualifications for Adsense aren’t that tedious. You need the following.
- 1,000+ subscribers
- 4,000+ watch-hours
- Live in an eligible country
- Have no active community guideline strikes against your channel.
2) The YouTube Shorts Creator Fund
The YouTube Shorts Creator Fund is $100M as of this writing and claims to pay creators who qualify between $100 and $10,000 per month.
YouTube doesn’t have public stats available for who qualifies for this program (they select you & notify you via email). But, based on some Internet sleuthing here’s what I’ve been able to discover about it.
- People on Reddit are claiming to be making $1 to $10 per MILLION views. Here, here, here, and here.
- People with thousands of views aren’t being selected for the program.
- Creator must be over 18 years old, 13+ is eligible with parental consent.
- Creator must live in select countries.
I wrote this in mid-2022 and the Internet changes extremely fast. So it’s possible moves in the future as YouTube shorts get more established. But, for right now, creator fund does not pay much at all.
That said, YouTube shorts can be a good strategy for getting new people to subscribe to your channel. Which would allow you to monetize them with YouTube’s main creator fund.
3) The TikTok Creator Fund
TikTok currently has a flat $200M creator fund that they announced in 2021. That said, the Internet changes fast and one would hope this number would increase dramatically over time.
They also have fairly defined requirements for qualifying (unlike YouTube Shorts). You need the following.
- 10,000+ followers
- 100,000 views past 30 days
- Be over 18 & based in select countries.
However, after YouTube shorts and TikTok you start to see how creator funds can be incredibly stingy. TikTok’s fund is $200M in a year where they were set to make $58 billion dollars of revenue. Meaning TikTok kept 99.7% of the revenue.
While that may seem favorable compared to YouTube Shorts abysmal fund, it’s not. At least with YouTube shorts you’re gaining subscribers for your main channel which is monetized appropriately via Adsense.
With TikTok there’s currently not a great way to monetize the subs you’re picking up. We’re at an infancy stage with TikTok sponsorships (you’ll need an exceptionally large channel for that to work).
Overall, I’m glad this creator fund exists. But, until TikTok has a revenue split that’s even a quarter of what YouTube’s is it’s a bad deal for creators overall (even if a handful of extremely large creators are doing great with it).
4) The SnapChat Creator Fund
Snapchat Spotlight was reportedly giving out a million dollars a day in late 2021 as reported by CNBC. If that rate was maintained for a year, that’s nearly double the size of TikTok’s creator fund with a fraction of the users to compete with.
It’s a little vague who exactly is getting this money from SnapChat as they define it as being split between whoever applied, was accepted, and is getting the most views that day.
And while none of these creator platforms for “shorts” style content are particularly rich. I do think there’s a way to make money and gain a following off of YouTube Shorts, Instagram reels, TikTok, SnapChat and Google Web Stories by syndicating your content across platforms.
5) Meta’s Creator Fund(s)
You’d think that when a company pledged to pay creators one billion dollars that we’d all take notice and sing their praises. But, lets really dive into how to tap into these funds.
Facebook & Instagram Creator Fund
In July 2021 Facebook announced it would invest at least a billion dollars in Facebook and Instagram creators by the end of 2022. That program can be found here.
The details of how this money is doled out is rather confusing. The gist is they’ve set up various metrics around various aspects of their service (IGTV, Reels, Facebook Stars, Digital Collectibles) that you’d be paid for hitting.
A billion dollars seems like a lot. But, Meta made over $40B in profit in 2021 alone and has billions of users. Relative to the size of other companies it’s not as large as it seems.
Horizon Worlds Creator Fund
Weirdly this fund intrigues me more (maybe because I’m very into VR).
But, Meta created a $10M creator fund for people who create cool worlds in their Horizon Worlds app. Measured by the amount of time that users are spending in your world.
It’s hard to measure how generous or greedy this one is. Again, Meta is an outrageously large company making $40+B in profit. $10M is nothing to them. That said, there may not be all that much competition for this creator fund right now as only 8.7M Quest 2’s sold in 2021. And only a tiny fraction of them are creating things in Horizon Worlds.
6) Medium Partner Program
Medium doesn’t publicize the exact percentage of their ad revenue they’re sharing with the writers on its platform.
That said, Medium reports paying over $6M dollars to 30k writers in 2019. And the Verge reported that Medium was on track for $35M in revenue in 2020, which would put the program at about 17% of total revenue. That said, those dates don’t 100% line up and in 2021 TechCrunch reported on Medium’s referral bonus program where they’ll give a 50% of the revenue generated from new paid subscribers referred by the writer.
Add that all up, Medium is probably paying at most 25% of revenues to the writers on their platform.
This is why I have an entire post about why bloggers should write on their own sites instead of on Medium. At least with something like TikTok, you get free hosting for video and their discover engine helps get you outrageous amounts of new subscribers. Medium’s discover engine is tiny by comparison and blog hosting is already quite cheap.
Spotify GreenRoom Creator Fund
Former & Psuedo-Creator Funds
The following platforms have creator funds for underrepresented groups. And while that is to be applauded they’re not available to everybody and in most cases they’re woefully underfunded compared to the size of the platform.
Spotify Greenroom Creator Fund (Dead)
Spotify created a creator fund in 2021 in which they pledged to pay creators. But, they shut it down completely in April 2022 and it was unclear if anyone was ever actually paid through the fund (as reported by the Verge).
This is one of the worst offenders when it comes to funds not always being great for content creators.
Substack Local Creator Fund (Dead)
Substack started offerring $100,000 grants to select local writers in April of 2021 through their Substack Local initiative (as reported by TechCrunch). But, they too shut down a year later in April 2022 (as reported by the New York Times).
Reddit Creator Fund
According to the Verge Reddit launched a creator fund of $1M in April 2022.
The reason I have it listed way down here is because for a company with 430M monthly active users making over $100M in ad revenue per quarter, this is a joke. Less than a fraction of a percent of yearly profit for the firm.
Pinterests Creator Fund
Pinterest created a $500k creator fund in 2021 and upped it to $1.2M in 2022 (according to TechCrunch) specifically for underrepresented groups. This is not to be confused with their $20M creator rewards program launched in 2021 (TechCrunch).
Even at $21M (by combining the two programs), that’s pennies for a company that did 2.58 Billion dollars in revenue in 2021 (actually, 0.8% of revenue, so less than a penny for a site made up entirely of user generated content).
LinkedIn’s Creator Fund
Now if you’re doing the math on that you’d quickly see that only adds up to $1.5M. In theory they’d continue to accept more applicants of the accelerator program until they hit $25M, but I’ve yet to see any reporting on this.
Either way, LinkedIn reports hitting over $10B in revenue in Q4 2021 alone. This is not much of a creator fund compared to the overall size of the operation.
Personal Thoughts on Creator Funds
When the YouTube Partner Program launched in 2007, I thought creator funds were great. That we had just entered a new era of the Internet.
Sure, YouTube keeps almost half of the revenue, but they also provide two very valuable services in exchange.
- YouTube provides you with a potentially massive audience through its discover and search platform.
- In 2007 (and even now), hosting your own videos was prohibitively expensive and difficult. They do that for you.
Compare that to other “Creator Platforms” on the list. Companies like Medium are giving creators 25% of revenue while not really doing much of anything to help the creator (WordPress hosting is ridiculously cheap and easy). Or with a company like TikTok, yeah they’re giving you exposure, but they’re keeping 97% of the revenue for themselves.
So creator funds are evil and you should avoid them at all costs? Not necessarily.
Platforms like TikTok may not be paying creators adequately, but they are hosting your videos and introducing you to a wide audience that you can monetize in other ways.
With each of these funds you really need to ask yourself what value this platform provides in addition to the creator fund. They’re sucking value out of you, you need to ask what you’re getting in return and if you can do better on your own.