‘We deserve the amount we’re earning’: Gen Z TikTokers on their work as content creators

Not that easy.

Natalie Teo |
April 27, 2023, 4:34 pm

We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.

If my TikTok feed is any indication, it seems like anyone can be a content creator these days.

The addictive app is full of literally any short-form content you can dream up, from people (making valiant efforts at) dancing, GP tutors feuding, to people trying to sell you yoghurt drinks, to people ambushing other people on the street for their hot takes.

It’s no wonder then, that in a survey held by YouTube channel HeyKaki 嘿卡奇, 80% of respondents said that too many people are trying to become influencers.

The Mandarin channel, which is dedicated to “discussing the challenges of adulting and new things to try in in life”, recently uploaded their first episode of talkshow Gen Z Decodes.

Hosted by Zhang Xi Ying, the show’s first guests were TikTokers Tan Jie Hao (@dysfunc_t), Cavin Chua (@cayydences) and Ong Yi Ting (@lashyoyt).

Over the 18-minute episode, the trio shared their experiences, struggles, and even advice for those looking to follow this path.

How much do content creators actually make?

The short answer: it depends.

The channel posed the question “How much do you think content creators make a month?” to more than 300 respondents.

27.8 % gave a range of S$4,000 to S$6,000, while 21% estimated their earnings to be S$6,000 to S$8,000 a month.

A small chunk (9%), even believed that these creators were raking in more than S$10,000 a month.

While all three did not disclose their earnings, Jie Hao admitted that “there is quite a lack of transparency”.

He went on to explain that the offers for monetary compensation he receives are in a wide range, and some advertisers may offer free products in lieu of compensation.

“There are periods that are dry… Some months, we earn zero dollars,” added Cavin.

Cavin went on to share that he had almost been scammed by a person that he thought was a prospective client, after they had offered him free clothing.

The client claimed that the clothing was “stuck in Thailand customs”, and Cavin would need to pay S$300 to retrieve it.


@caydences almost fell for a scam?! 😱 Watch him, @yitinggoyt, @Dysfunc_t and @zoey (xiying) discuss about the untold stories of content creators! . . . #singapore #influencer #contentcreator #genz #tiktoksingapore #heykakisg #genzdecodes

♬ original sound – HeyKaki 嘿卡奇 – HeyKaki 嘿卡奇

Fortunately, he did not fall prey to the scam.

Meanwhile, Yi Ting said that content creators could make more than the median salary for fresh graduates, which is about S$4,200.

“We are worth a lot”

So, how much do people think content creators should make?

A good chunk — almost 40% of respondents thought that S$4,000 to S$6,000 was a reasonable amount, followed by 21% who answered S$6,000 to S$8,000 and 20.9% who answered S$2,000 to S$4,000.

A visibly agitated Yi Ting said that she “had a lot to say about this”.

Conventional advertising, she said, would take into consideration the costs of hiring copywriters, lighting and editing.

On the other hand, content creators would take on all these functions themselves.

“So we deserve the amount we’re earning,” she said.

She conceded that while their setup may not be as professional, content creators may get better reach.

“We are worth a lot,” she added.

Cavin also said that people should consider the time taken for creators to grow their following, even before they are approached by clients.

“Companies will only approach you when you have a following, when you have audience engagement. And the engagement to grow requires time,” he explained.

He also also revealed that there is a lot of back and forth with their clients, and shared an experience where after 1.5 months of deliberation, the client dropped the project and did not pay for his work.

Not all a bed of roses

Most respondents (65%) saw being an influencer as a desirable job, but the three were quick to clarify that it is not as rosy as it seems.

Jie Hao said that he had received messages which made him uncomfortable, including one where a man had sent him a video of himself masturbating.

Cavin shared that he had been doxxed before after viewers were able to identify where he lived after watching his videos.

They also spoke about the stress of constantly having to think up new content, and the lack of work-life balance.

“I cannot tell what is work and what is life anymore,” Cavin said.

Meanwhile, Yi Ting, who has just graduated, is realistic about the prospects of being a full-time content creator.

“I have a lot of responsibilities to bear,” she said, citing commitments like her tuition fees and various bills.

“It cannot be that we wait for work when there isn’t any work,” she added.

Cavin agreed that it was not a sustainable career, and added that most would eventually transition into other creative fields like directing or scriptwriting.

“Whether we like it or not, we will one day get replaced,” he quipped.

Advice for aspiring content creators

Cavin emphasised the importance of being relatable to the audience, and not being too “cocky” or “complacent”.

Jie Hao’s advice was to stick to their passions, and “hold on to that fire for as long as you can”.

And perhaps a little counterintuitively, Yi Ting’s advice was to “detach yourself from the numbers”, a sentiment that Jie Hao concurred with.

Is being an influencer really that lucrative?

Performance marketing agency First Page Digital estimates that mega influencers with more than 1 million followers can charge fees of S$30,000 or more for a single post.

Macro-influencers with a following of between 100,000 to 1 million may earn anywhere from S$500 to S$10,000 per post, while smaller scale micro-influencers charge approximately S$50 to S$500.

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Images via HeyKaki 嘿卡奇/YouTube.

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