Content creators aren’t making as much as you think – here’s why


About 72% of creators made less than $500 in the last 12 months, Linktree’s annual Creator Report has revealed.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 12: Dixie D'Amelio and Charlie D'Amelio attend the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Catherine Powell/Getty Images for MTV)
Content creators aren’t making as much as you think – here’s why. Creators Dixie D’Amelio and Charlie D’Amelio pictured. Image source: Catherine Powell via Getty Images

With more than 200 million creators (or roughly 5% of social media users) competing share of the market, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to grow their audiences – and their income, the report reveals.

About half of all creators have made money from their content in the last 12 months – but 72% made less than $500.

A further 17% made between $500 and $5,000, 5% made between $5,000 and $10,000, 4% made between $10,000 and $50,000 and just 2% made more than $50,0000.

Yet, one third of adults and more than half of Gen Z and millennials say content creators influence their buying decisions. In fact, affiliate link creation has increased more than 60% and monthly clicks have doubled since 2022, the report found.

“It’s an incredibly competitive space,” Linktree CEO Alex Zaccaria tells Forbes Australia. “Cutting through the noise, reaching and growing an audience is not always easy for creators. They’ve also got to keep up with forever-changing algorithms.


Algorithms determine what content audiences are shown on social media. But according to a recent survey of 1,500 creators by membership platform Patreon, many creators feel algorithms are hurting their ability to grow their audience. In fact, a large percentage (73%) didn’t like how algorithms dictate what content they need to produce. Linktree’s report echoed this: three-quarters of creators felt they wanted to diversify what they create, but felt pressured to keep up with the algorithm.

“Across platforms, attention is scarce, and you only have so much control,” Zaccaria says. “When you only have a split-second to capture someone’s attention, first impressions really matter. We encourage our creators to be their own algorithm, rather than trying to cater to the algorithm (which leads to “content collapse”) and to really own their audience.”

How big is the creator economy?

According to a recent report sponsored by YouTube, the creator economy – and other e-commerce and media platforms – contributes about $9 billion to the Australian economy each year. Globally, the size of the creator economy is estimated to be worth between $29 billion to $152 billion each year.

“We’re seeing growth across all platforms as creators continue to diversify their content,” Zaccaria says. But Australian creators have a ways to go before reaching heights of their US peers.

Alex Zaccaria, CEO of Linktree. Image source: Linktree

Forbes, which recently launched its Top Creator List, found the 50 honourees earned a combined US$700 million from their 2.6 billion following. That represented an increase of more than 20% on 2022 earnings.

Topping the list was YouTube titan Jimmy Donaldson, more commonly known as MrBeast, who has a combined following of 312 million that has seen him earn more than US$82 million. He has used his social media cult following to build a real world empire than includes Feastables snack bars and MrBeast Burgers restaurant chain.

In 2023, brands would spend an estimated US$21 billion on creator marketing, up from US$1.6 billion seven years ago – that’s according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

“Population size plays a crucial role in shaping trends, and the creator landscape in Australia differs from the global scene,” Zaccaria says. “In larger populations, the potential for niche content to thrive is amplified. Like shops in big cities that sell one type of drink excelling, creators in larger markets are increasingly finding success focusing on crafting specialised, niche content.”

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

More from Forbes Australia