Independent Content Creators

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Future Opportunities in Media for Independent Content Creators

While there is no preexisting information to fully answer your question, we've used the available data to pull together key findings: the top websites to earn money for video sharing include Youtube.com, Dailymotion.com, Break.com, Metcafe.com, and Thevault.break.com; Patreon doubled its number of creators in 2017; and the majority of money earned from video sharing is advertisements, followed closely by merchandising.

Below you'll find an outline of our research methodology to better understand why the information you've requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into our findings.

Methodology

In order to find out the future opportunities in media for independent content creators, we researched on official websites, review sites, related databases, and multiple other sources. We concluded that there are no pre-compiled statistics or projections. Through this research we located historical growth rates for Patreons; the creators doubled in just one year in 2017. We are unclear as to why this info is not available at this time. Perhaps it is due to the rapidly changing nature of the industry or it has not made available to the public.
We then looked for any related articles on key media sites and their projections. To expand our scope, we attempted to locate sources older than 2 years but this did not result in relevant information.
We attempted to triangulate this data. We consulted market research reports from reputable sources, such as Statista and Technavio. Then we consulted market research based news sites including Prnewswire and Businesswire. No information related to projections for future opportunities for individual content creators and producers were available.

After concluding the non-availability of pre-compiled information, We began researching related topics, such as the average amount of money that independent creators will make in 2020. We also searched for information on current rates. With this information, we could calculate the growth rate in terms of earnings. This information, however, was unavailable. We then attempted to research the number of independent creators projected for 2019, 2020, etc. With this information, we could provide growth rate in terms of numbers of creators. Except for Patreon, no relevant information was located.

We consulted market research reports like Cisco's report and Tubular Insights Report. We consulted media articles such as Geekwire and Huffington Post. With no pertinent data, we concluded that triangulation was not possible at this time.

Key Findings
1. Vlogging(video blogging) is a relatively new, popular online trend in nearly every niche and industry.
2. In only one year, Patreons has doubled its creators. There are more than 50,000 active creators. On Patreon, creators earn 50 to 10,000 times more from a direct fan membership they do from a fan's advertising revenue cuts.
3. The top five websites used to earn money for sharing videos are Youtube.com, Dailymotion.com, Break.com, Metcafe.com, Thevault.break.com.
4. On YouTube, Travel vlogs get four times more social engagement, measured by likes, comments, shares, or favorites, than other types of travel content.
5. Video creators acquire most of their money through advertising (46%). They also are able to sell their own products, accounting for 19% of their revenue.
6. According to Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), by 2021 there will be approximately 1.9 billion Internet video users. This is an increase in 5 billion users since 2016.

Conclusion
Despite researching on official websites, review websites, and related databases, there is no preexisting statistics or projections for growth of content creators and producers. This may be in part due to the dynamic growth in the industry or because this data has yet to be released as public information. We were able to locate minimal growth data for Patreon as well as broad data from Cisco Visual Networking.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Viewership Projections for Independent Content Sites

After searching extensively through the official websites, review sites, and the related databases of platforms that offer content created by individuals (such as Youtube, Vimeo, Patreon, Dailymotion, Metacafe, Veoh, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo), I’ve determined that the information you requested about those platforms' predictions for viewership in the next 10-20 years is not publicly available either due to the rapidly changing nature of the content site industry or to privacy restrictions that those companies hold upon their own growth projection statistics.

However, I used the available data to pull together key findings: the predicted growth rate for Youtube (50% in the next 10 years, with an expected 5-year projection of about 1.58 billion viewers in 2023); the historical growth rate for Vimeo (80% annually) and its number of monthly viewers (170 million); 2017's growth rate for Patreon (200%) and its number of monthly active paying patrons (1 million); Dailymotion's drop in the number of ad-supported site viewers per month two years ago (from 10 million a month in June 2015 to 2.5 million in June 2016); and the number of visitors per month for Metacafe (50 million), Veoh (15 million), Kickstarter (5.5 million), and Indiegogo (1 million).

Below you'll find an outline of my research methodology to better understand why the information you've requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into my findings. 

METHODOLOGY

I first scoured through industry reports, review sites, and industry databases, and I was able to discover that in addition to Youtube, Vimeo, and Patreon, other popular platforms offering content created by individuals are (in order of performance and viewer base size): Dailymotion, Metacafe, Veoh, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo

Once I was able to put together a list of the top 8 platforms that offer content created by their users, I proceeded to search in detail through these companies' official websites, industry-specific news, review sites and reports, focusing on finding publicly-released statistics on 10-20 year viewership projections for each of them. I found an abundance of repetition in the information that was found (which mostly involved historical growth rates for some sites, viewership counts, monthly ad-view statistics, and total yearly number of subscribers), which further confirmed my conclusion that limited data is available to the public.

The information also pointed towards the fact that the nature of the independent content-creation platform industry is a rapidly changing one, and for this reason I did not attempt to triangulate information for such a long period (10-20 years) as this would have been largely inaccurate. To further understand the staggering pace of volume growth that is expected for user-generated video content and how rapidly changing the landscape can be for the platforms that host it, refer to this statistic by Cisco: "It would take a single individual over 5 million years to watch the amount of video content that will travel through global IP networks every month in 2021. By 2021, each second, a million minutes of video content will cross the network".

Although this projection includes user-generated video clips and content (considered "short form"), video calls, internet TV, and other forms of video streaming, it is very clear that video content is gearing for a staggering rise in general, so it is safe to assume that user-generated video content and the platforms that host it will experience significant growth during the upcoming years. To further support my statement about the greatly changing landscape in the sector, you can refer to this article by news site "Disruptordaily" where it is stated that "user-generated videos on YouTube get 10x more views than video content created and uploaded directly by actual brands", pointing to a rapidly emerging trend in popularity of user-generated content in the leading user-generated video content platform.

Finally, I concluded that no pre-compiled statistics have been released to the public on the specific subject of the 10-20 year viewership projection volume for the websites in question.

HELPFUL FINDINGS

While I could not find a direct answer to your question, I was able to gather some information about this topic, which I think will be helpful for your specific goal.

YoutuBE

The clear front-runner, Youtube is expected to continue along its steady rate of growth both in the near and far future. Probably because of its huge popularity, it was one of the platforms for which more information was publicly available. There is an expected growth rate of 50% for Youtube in the next 10 years, and they foresee a 5-year estimate of around 1.58 billion viewers in 2023. Refer to this fortune article and video interview from early 2017 about the expected growth for that year, and this article released on Wired about Youtube's plans for the next 10 years.

VIMEO

Youtube's biggest direct competition is also steadily growing. It holds a considerable annual growth of 80% and 170 million monthly viewers. Refer to this article released on the technology website "Makeusof" about Youtube and Vimeo's comparisons and differences, and these statistics released by the business statistic website DMR.

PATREON

Also with a clear strong tendency towards growth, Patreon presented an annual growth rate of 200% in 2017 and has 1 million monthly active paying patrons.

DAILYMOTION

With an exceptional tendency towards decreasing in viewer size, Dailymotion experienced a drop in the number of ad-supported site viewers per month two years ago, going from 10 million a month in June 2015 to 2.5 million in June 2016.

METACAFE, VEOH, KICKSTARTER AND INDIEGOGO

The only publicly released information I was able to obtain for these websites is the number of visitors per month, which is 50 million for Metacafe, 15 million for Veoh, 5.5 million for Kickstarter, and 1 million for Indiegogo.

CONCLUSION

To wrap up, after searching extensively through official websites, industry-specific news, review sites and reports, focusing on finding publicly-released statistics, a direct answer to your question is not publicly available, likely because of the rapidly changing nature of the content site industry or to privacy restrictions that those websites hold upon their own growth projection statistics.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

College Programs for Independent Content Creators

Five colleges or universities that provide programs for aspiring independent content creators are Montclair State University, Holy Family University, St. John Fisher College, Anderson University, and Maharishi University. These programs were selected because they all indicate their curricula can lead to careers in emerging communications fields such as video blogging (vlogging) and other content creation jobs. While there are many schools that offer media communications degrees, these schools specifically mention that independent content creation courses are part of the larger degree program.

MOntclair State University School of Communication and media

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Arts
Overview of Program: This program has specifically been designed to "prepare the next generation of professionals in the fields of communications and media." It is ideal for students who are looking to explore either traditional or emerging media and who have special interests in any of the multiple facets of the "rapidly-evolving communication and media industries." In addition to course requirements that focus on "the social, cultural, historical, and economic contexts of media," general education requirements, and 'common-core school curriculum", students are also able to choose electives that allow them to explore "additional areas of interest."

The courses in this program are designed to prepare students for careers in numerous traditional and emerging fields. Of specific interest here are the emerging careers of "online video content creator," "content specialists (e.g. bloggers), and "new media communication designer." Sample courses include "Going Viral," "Digital Film Making," "Visual Communication," "Film Story Analysis," and "Youth Culture and the Popular."

Testimonial: The School of Communication and Media just opened in the fall of 2017, so there are no student testimonials available. However, in the press coverage of the ribbon cutting ceremony, it discusses the school's "close relationship with Sony," which provided "$9.6 million of professional-grade technology from the brand and other top manufacturers." As such, the school's media program boasts "four broadcast-ready 4K and HD control rooms and studios, an IP-based radio lab, and 187-seat screening space with 4K projection," among other amenities to provide students with the best possible equipment for use during their studies. In fact, the university president, Susan A. Cole said, "We believe that this building is the most technologically advanced broadcast and media production facility of any university in North America, and it is in fact more advanced than the majority of professional production facilities."

holy Family University School of Arts & Sciences

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communications — Social and Emerging Media Track
Overview of the Program: This university program offers two tracks for communication majors, but the one that will be of most interest for a student looking to become an independent content creator is the Social and Emerging Media Track. Both tracks "produce graduates with creative production skills, critical thinking aptitude, problem-solving proficiency, journalistic integrity, and knowledge of digital innovations" and the school "highly values new media technology proficiency," meaning tools like iPads are used frequently in many courses. In addition to gaining "practical experience working on social media platforms, opportunities to present research at conferences under faculty guidance, and part-time or full-time flexibility," students are also "guaranteed internship placement in the Philly-based media industry and beyond, with an option for more than one internship."

The Social and Emerging Media track specifically teaches students "how to connect with others via different platforms and amplify online presence through writing, video, and more." They "master the use of numerous forms of social media, including blogs, microblogs, social networking sites, photo and video sharing, and geolocation tools" and they "learn the fundamentals of audio and video production for the purposes of creating social media, radio podcasts, and video broadcasts." Sample courses include "Multi-Media Storytelling" and "Producing Innovating Media."

Testimonial: One recent graduate of the Social and Emerging Media track, Angel Lawrynkiewicz, Class of 2016, said, "In my current role, I work for the Audience Drive sector of the company. Basically, I write trendy/viral content and slide show galleries that we can insert ads onto so we can generate revenue for the company. The entire company is tech-based so we have a few different advertising/data products that companies use. At my last job, I did a lot of brand content writing and social media management for companies. So many digital marketing and tech firms are growing so the job market is pretty good right now in the industry."

St. John Fisher College School of Arts & Sciences

Location: Rochester, New York
Degree: Bachelor of Arts or Minor in Media and Communications
Overview of Program: This program emphasizes "professional writing competency and technical proficiency, the latter in either video production or design." Experiential learning is a key component of this program, and students should expect to present their work "in a variety of formats, including oral presentations, social media postings, and video essays." Students will also develop a professional portfolio that media professionals will review prior to graduation.

The program offered through St. John Fisher College is a bit more traditional than the other programs on this list. However, it includes courses such as "Video Storytelling," Multimedia Writing," and "Visual Design" indicate the curriculum is appropriate for a student looking to gain a career as an independent content creator. There are also many internship opportunities available in the greater Rochester area, including in New York City. It is important to note that "in keeping with the highly interdisciplinary nature of a Fisher education, the media and communication major requires a minor taken in another department or program."

Testimonial: Alexandra Hristodoulou, class of 2017, said of her communications course of study at St. John Fisher, "It’s an integrated blend of public relations, marketing, advertising, and communications... In an era when the industry is rapidly altering through technology and media, the media management program lays a strong foundation of relevant business, media, and marketing fundamentals, while simultaneously emphasizing innovative and creative thinking that prepared us for a diverse array of career opportunities."

Claire Sauter, a Communications major who will be graduating in 2018, said, "I appreciate the openness that my major and minor afford students. From marketing and advertising to public relations and broadcast... coupled with ethics, is a degree path that lets me learn and experience a variety of skills and potential careers to narrow down what fits best for my interests."

Anderson University

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Concentration in Digital Media
Overview of Program: Anderson University offers two concentrations for Communications majors, which are Digital Media and Public Relations. For the purposes of a student with an interest in independent content creation, the Digital Media concentration seems to be the better fit. This track "is designed for students who seek careers in traditional media (television, print, radio) as journalists and producers, as well as for students who wish to prepare for rapidly expanding opportunities in new media (digital marketing, social media, Web development)." It specifically mentions that graduates "may work in jobs related to Web analysis, content development, and digital editorial/blogging" and that "students may be qualified to blog for a social media outlet." Video production and script writing are just two of the skills students gain from this program.

Students will also have the opportunity to "broaden their learning experience through projects that take them into the community" by participating in internships, one of which is required for graduation. Study abroad programs are available. While not as focused on emerging media as the Digital Media concentration, students who choose the Public Relations concentration will also take courses that emphasize "writing for a variety of editorial platforms — print and broadcast news, digital media (blogs, Websites, social media, corporate communication), and marketing."

Testimonial: Thom Newell, Class of 2009, said of his experience at Anderson University, "I was heavily involved in dorm life and student leadership at AU. I was an RA, an officer in the Avanti Boosters Social Club, as well as a Student Manager at Covenant Productions. These experiences helped prepare me for the rough and tumble world of being a freelance filmmaker in Los Angeles. Plenty of late nights were spent making short films in the Valley, Dunn Hall, and Reardon, all while honing the interpersonal skills of working with a diverse group of thinkers. Today, I fill my time working on feature films, TV series, commercials, and digital content, and I wouldn’t be able to flourish had AU not been the first step in my journey."

Maharishi University of Management Media and Communications Department

Location: Fairfield, Iowa
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications
Overview of Program: In this media and communications program, students focus on creating media "worthy of their vision". The school teaches them to "tap into [themselves] — the most extraordinary source of creativity there is — to communicate [their] message through film, music, photography and more." The program operates with a "holistic" project-based learning philosophy that "acknowledges the importance of both the creative and the professional." Students who graduate from this program often have careers in digital arts ("digital image editing and compositing, graphic design for print media, graphic design for interactive media, digital photography, travel photography, typography, web graphics, web development, web video, interactive design, and digital publishing"), film, or music.

The curriculum at Maharishi University is highly individualized, with students "choosing the projects, classes, and topics [they're] passionate about" so they can "create exactly the degree [they] need to pursue the career of [their] choice." Students in this program are also able to participate in internships throughout the Fairfield, Iowa area, which is known as "the state’s entrepreneurial capital." Courses focus on portfolio creation so that graduates will have an impressive body of work as they begin their careers. Sample courses include "The Power of the Word," "Growing a Business," "Video Production," "Video Editing," "The Power of Imagination," and "Creative Process."

Stuart Tanner, Chair of the Media and Communications Department at Maharishi University stated, "In the modern economy all companies need people with media skills. They need to communicate well with their clients, and [clients] also need a presence on the internet. There are all of these new industries that require people with Media and Communications [skills]... At MUM, you can start your career while in college, not afterwards, [through our project-based learning approach]."

Conclusion

Many colleges and universities in the United States offer degrees in media communications such as the program at Full Sail University; however, the programs at Montclair State University, Holy Family University, St. John Fisher College, Anderson University, and Maharishi University are specifically designed for a person looking to become an independent content creator.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02