Some laid-off workers turn to content creation instead of traditional jobs

Content creator Cynthia Huang Wang works below the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco, Monday, April 8, 2024.
Content creator Cynthia Huang Wang works below the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco, Monday, April 8, 2024. Copyright Eric Risberg/AP Photo
Copyright Eric Risberg/AP Photo
By AP with Euronews
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Content creation holds appeal for laid-off workers seeking flexibility.


Grace Xu took to TikTok to announce to roughly 300,000 followers she was laid off.

But she was planning to pursue a different career anyway as a content creator.

“I guess the decision has been made on my behalf,” she told viewers in the video posted earlier this year. “The universe has spoken," she added.

Despite the US job market holding strong, thousands of people have found themselves out of work, with hiring limited to a few industries.

But some people like 26-year-old Xu are creating new paths instead of returning to traditional jobs.

With online content creation, they can make money from advertising and brand deals while making social media videos.

In an estimated $250 billion (€231.6 billion) industry, four per cent of global content creators pull in more than $100,000 (€92,600) annually, according to Goldman Sachs Research.

YouTube, considered by creators to be one of the more lucrative platforms, has more than 3 million channels in its YouTube Partner Programme, which is how creators earn money.

A spokesperson said the platform paid out more than $70 billion (€64.8 billion) in the last three years.

TikTok, meanwhile, has seen a 15 per cent growth in user monetisation, according to a company spokesperson.

'Less risky'

“I think most employees look at employers now and no longer think that they are going to find security — permanent security — in a job,” said Sarah Damaske, who studies labour and employment relations, and sociology at Penn State.

“I think it makes it less risky to do something like go and be a content creator because employment with a traditional employer is so much riskier".

The pandemic also reshaped how employees consider work, with many preferring more flexible schedules and the ability to work from home.

For Xu, the pandemic allowed her to rediscover her hobbies and she started making content as @amazingishgrace on TikTok.

Her thrift flips, all sewn by hand, went viral and steadily built up a following.

“You just have to have this belief that, like, once your life is wide open for something, it will come,” she said, "otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking about it".

Takes time and resources

Many people turn to full-time content creation only after they've seen a payoff from putting in the work, according to Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor of communication at Cornell University. Or they are forced into it, as an avenue back to employment.

It takes time, energy and resources to turn content creation into a successful career, Duffy said.


“I think if you do something like this, you have to be ready to fail, ready to not make a lot of money,” according to content creator Pot Roast’s Mom.

Some content creators rely on savings from their traditional careers to plug the gaps while they wait.

Cynthia Huang Wang tried her hand at full-time content creation after she was laid off from her brand marketing job in February 2023.

In January, she posted a TikTok about returning to the workforce, taking her 164,000 followers along as she updated her resume.

With the job market improving, Wang said she sees the appeal of returning to a stable income. Maternity leave at a corporate job also has pull as she and her husband consider starting a family.


There are limitations, though, to what she’s willing to return for, including pay, title and work she’s interested in doing.

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