Creator economy: Being a YouTube Star Is Hard Work

By: Keith Wagstaff · June 13, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Failing Until You Don’t

Eric Decker, aka Airrack, made the world’s largest pizza, hired 100 fake paparazzi, and tricked people into thinking they had super powers. His pranks and stunts have gained him more than 15 million followers on YouTube . But being a part of the booming creator economy doesn’t come easy.

“I’ve been making videos on YouTube since I was in fifth grade,” he told financial literacy advocate Vivian Tu, aka Your Rich BFF, and Brian Walsh, SoFi’s Head of Advice and Planning. Speaking on SoFi’s YouTube series Richer Lives, he said it took him until 2020 to find success on the platform.

“The majority of my time spent trying to be a YouTuber was… a complete failure. The last few years are an outlier. And I think that’s just a testament to what being a creator is: failing, failing, failing, and having a few big successes.”

SoFi talked to Decker about his work ethic, what he does with his money, and how to build a brand.

Non-Stop Grind

“My goal with a video is to show the fun side of the job,” Decker said. He can see why young people might see him having a blast and decide they want to become YouTubers. But what “nobody ever sees is the other 95% of the time that’s spent off camera preparing those videos” and building a business to support it.

“It’s a ton of pressure,” he said, admitting that work-life balance isn’t something that he has. Still, despite the long hours, he said he loves his job. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Building a Brand

Building a brand requires staying disciplined. And that “means saying no to almost everything that is not representative of the brand’s core values,” Decker said.

In practice, that can mean giving video ideas to other YouTubers because they’re not right for Airrack. “That’s where you start to really build a brand, when you realize, ‘Here are the types of videos that I do make and here’s what I do better than anyone else.’”

Anything that doesn’t fit into those categories, Decker feels free to give away. He said he’s not worried about helping the competition. “It’s not winner takes all,” he said. “Somebody can watch my video and 10 other videos in a day.”

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