At what point do you actually make money off web and social media traffic(February 2018)

Published February 2018

Want to be a star on YouTube?

Make lots of money with your videos?

Become famous and buy lots of things through payments from social media?

At what point do you actually make money? Wait… at what point do you make enough money to make a living off social media traffic?

Once you have 224 000 subscribers in a year (roughly) on YouTube.

That is what my research shows, and let me tell you, there is VERY little actual number data out there to answer this question. To make matters worse, the numbers out there can shift at any time!

I know someone who has recently decided to back off on their plans to generate an income from YouTube, because the platform changed the benchmark where you become eligible for payments. There is a trend at the moment, called the #adpocalypse – a lot of unhappy people. Check it out.

I am so sad for this person because they had spent over a year working extremely hard on their videos. Abandoning the work for its purpose (which was for income) and only keeping it now as a brand building tool.

It inspired me to write this article.

I researched how many people in Africa have actually managed to derive a full time income from YouTube. More specifically, payments generated from the platform exclusively. No endorsements, no corporate promotions. No other job. YouTube only.

I have come up empty. Not a single person In Africa… and before someone shouts out the name Casper to me… shush!

Mr Lee was born in London. He grew up in South Africa and then left again. He was a visitor! Sure, the internet claims he is a multimillionaire – thanks to YouTube – but that does not mean his funds came from YouTube exclusively. Think about it for a moment! Casper has a net worth of 75 million rand. Yearly reportedly taking annual income from YouTube of R4 359 468 / R358 000 rand per month. So either he has been working for 19 years, which I don’t think he has, or his income has been substituted by other forms of income, which I believe to be the case in just about every success story.

Fact is!

Most people who generate income from large social media followers are through corporate or sponsored campaigns, which come from another company’s bank account… Not YouTube.

Michelle Phan (American). Lily Singh (Canadian). Tyler Oakley (American). PewDiePie (Swedish). all big successes… but none to be found in Africa.

Not one!

In my research I was referred to a few people, but each time I hit a brick wall.

Example 1:

2400 subscribers:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Another example:

200 000 subscribers:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Reply I got:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

So this was positive, but please bear in mind, I suspect Rob also has other incomes.. like being a ranger.

I did a post on my platform of 31 000 followers… most of which are in Africa, and asking if anyone knew anyone who made their income from these sources. I got one apple…one reply.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

That apple turned out to be a bad apple in the end, again hitting a brick wall. I’m happy to update this article if someone can share a success story with me, but for now… no examples. Even if we pick on the biggest names we have locally, like Candice Swanepoel (not currently in Africa), AB de Villiers (SA sports star- still here), Charlize Theron (not in Africa), and Trevor Noah (also not in Africa). All have the biggest social media followings, but all appear to leave. And again, their incomes are not from YouTube exclusively.

I work on endorsement campaigns, some that exclusively use social media. All our South African stars gain their initial interest and boost of followers from TV, radio, fashion or some other line of work that puts them out there. They then increase their followers through original content, and then earn funds from promotions and endorsements. Some people call this sort of income a salary from being an Influencer. Some of the campaigns I have worked on locally range between R25 000 and R400 000

My conclusion is: No one I know is making an exclusive living from funds via YouTube, or Facebook or any payments from any social media platform… not in Africa.

Still want to give it a go? Okay… then you need to know at what point you become eligible for payments from YouTube AND accept that these benchmarks change. Do not believe rubbish like this on the internet either:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist


Takes 45 % of revenue for itself.

Takes another 45 % for Multi-Channel Network.

Therefore, leaving you with 10%


So if Casper has 7.5 million subscribers:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

And if the reports are true, and he’s taking about 4.5 million per year from YouTube, then we can work on a safe assumption that you could be earning around 0.75 cents per subscriber…per year.

Therefore, if you want to earn the average salary in SA from YouTube, which is R14 000 per month, you need 224 000 subscribers in a year (roughly)

Just remember, the channel says, to be eligible, you need 1000 Subscribers & 4000 Hours View time in 12 months. For now, until they change this again. Pay-out is linked to engagement as well as the total numbers of followers.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Just for interest sake, if you were to use a paid method to generate traffic of 250 000 visitors in a year, using, let’s say, Google adwords and its average cost per click, would you still be making money or running a loss?

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

$2 = R24 rand for 1 visitor.

Therefore, it would cost 6 million rand a year to generate the 250 000 visitors… from your salary of R168 000 a year… off your 224 000 subscribers …. Yes. You will be at a loss.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

I found some data on SuzelleDIY from:

Subscribers: 123 614
Total views: 23 287 392
Estimated yearly earnings: $943 – $15.1K

I also found Rob The Ranger on the same page:
Subscribers: 148 926
Total views: 156 716 771
Estimated yearly earnings: $17K – $272K

No idea how the estimate was worked out or if they are referring to payments direct from Youtube.

What about Adsense…

What about it!

It is the opposite side of the same coin.

It’s the option for earning off traffic for websites, mainly used by business, when YouTube is mostly about social interests.

My research picked up a lot of negative feedback on this and again no success stories in Africa.

Numerous complaints including concerns about click fraud and Google withholding payment until an account reached US$100, which is a problem because small companies required a long time to reach this target.

I do believe AdSense has made more payments than YouTube…regardless. To conclude this short article, it is my opinion that generating revenue from social media payment platforms can be considered a myth, which has been busted, or a secondary income at best.

Don’t quit your day job.

Published February 2018


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