Work sucks, but it changes too. Back in 2009, the internet was largely a place for recreational activities. People tweeted without thinking about how their words might ruin their careers later and YouTube was less "get ready with me vlog" and more home videos of teenagers being putting their friends in bins before rolling them down hills. The internet was a thing, but few besides MommyBloggers and actual website programmers were monetising their use of it.
Fast-forward to now and there’s a humanities graduate in every office sat making memes for eight hours a day (their Mum is still upset they didn’t do the law conversion course). As we wave goodbye to 2019, let’s look back at all the new careers that didn’t exist at the start of the decade. Granted, work still sucks.
Who? Students whose university loans don’t cover their cost of living; parents working seven days a week to get by in major cities.
So what do they do? “In this case, it’s more important what you don’t do,” says 25-year-old Liverpudlian Charlie who has been working for Deliveroo for four years. “You constantly feel like you should be working when you’re not working. ‘Choose your own hours’ is basically agreeing to permanent anxiety for having a life.” On your day off you find yourself feeling so guilty that just two hours into the day you end up handing over another chicken katsu curry to a load of teenagers. On the way home you realise they claimed that the order never arrived so that they could get a refund.
How much do they earn? The average wage is £10 an hour. Unfortunately no one ever tips because they pay before on card.
Who? Three stubbly men with tortoiseshell glasses and a disarmingly cynical sense of humour.
So what do they do? Invite female guests on only to talk over them. Haha, #notallpodcasters and so on. Podcasting started in the previous decade, but only really took off in the 2010s. Though everyone has sat with their friends and said “we should start a podcast” it’s harder than it seems. Your recording, editing and marketing skills all have to align for a show to take off.
How much do they earn? Zack, from the #NoFilter with Zack Peter and the Adulting Podcast, sees his income as an issue of time management: “You have so many titles – talent booker, lead marketing director, head of sponsorships – but you’re not making a salary for each one.” Money, he says, depends “on your workflow and efficiency”. But he’s not complaining: “Generally, both of my shows are in the five-figures each season, and each show does a couple of seasons per year.” Not bad for someone who self-describes as “a kid from the hood that didn’t grow up with any money and didn’t graduate from college.”
Who? If born into another century they might have been Cubist painters or masters of Abstract Expressionism, but instead they draw pristine ombre eyebrows onto their poreless faces.
So what do they do? Film themselves nattering about anything from technique to Instagram fast fashion brands, while shading around their nose so that it reappears half the size. Once, only highly trained makeup artists highlighted and contoured (professional Lisa Eldridge has famously crossed over to YouTube), but now we all look like we have just walked out of a 2001 J-Lo music video (and pay Glossier substantially for the pleasure). Those with the most clout go on to develop their own makeup brands, but for many beauty content creators, it keeping up with all the trends can be hard. “When I first started doing makeup, things like ‘cut creases’ weren’t really that popular,” Gabrielle of GiGI beauty says. “A simple eye look was all you would show. Now we have so many more techniques for makeup. I enjoy seeing those more detailed makeup videos, I admire them so much. But it’s difficult to keep up.”
How much do they earn? On average, a publisher makes about $18 per 1,000 ad views (but remember top content creators have millions of views).
Who? Generation Zers here who aren’t bothered by the prescriptive aestheticism of Instagram and want to be funny instead.
So what do they do? Whatever will make teens laugh. Manufacturing distraction is no easy task – Amardeep Singh performs magic on the app and spends a lot of time perfecting his content. “I can never have any flashes of the trick which will expose the method. Sometimes the hardest part is trying to ensure that the magic trick does not look like a camera trick. Even after all that effort that goes into filming, the magic trick for real, there’s always a group of people that just think it’s ‘fake’ or a camera cut.”
How much do they earn? The top TikTokers can earn several brand partnerships from which they earn $50,000 to $150,000.
Who? Anyone borderline obsessed with layering in the colour beige.
So what do they do? Either transition from a 2000s Blogspot into an Instagram account, with brand partnerships along the way, or start off on Insta posting FaceTuned full-body outfit pics shot by a long-suffering boyfriend. The key is to sell an aspirational version of real life where everything is well-lit. It’s called VSCO, hun.
How much do they earn? Like food Instagrammers, fashion ones with 1 million followers can get $10,000 per post. That is, until the next season of Love Island debuts and an outspoken makeup artist from Cheshire with enough hair extensions to cause neck strain leaves the villa and takes your job.
Who? People who make noises that trigger 'head orgasms' in 50 percent to 70 percent of us. A YouTube subsect dominated by women.
So what do they do? Things that you’d normally tell people in the cinema to shut up for: chewing sweets open-mouthed, rustling food packets, scratching beards, whispering loudly. Normally infuriating sounds create a calming effect for ASMR fans, helping many fall asleep. “I love being an ASMRtist because I get to help people,” says Taylor of ASMR Darling. “I get messages everyday from my subscribers saying they had a hard day and one of my videos helped them feel better.”
How much do they earn? It varies according to how many views you get, but it is estimated that GentleWhispering, a top creator, makes over $130,000 a year.
INSTAGRAM MEME ACCOUNT HOLDER
Who? People who used to get told off for being on their phone under the table during Chemistry class. But they got so good at making niche references to Nicolas Cage that now it’s the Chemistry class and not the phone scrolling which seems like a massive waste of time.
So what do they do? Though the meme account My Therapist Says is all jokes about hangovers and crying at work, a lot of their content (as with most pages) is still branded content. “When we have an upcoming campaign, have to go into meetings, create actual virtual marketing breakdowns, do paperwork, and things that aren’t probably as fun as sitting on our phones and posting a funny photo.” They are basically ad execs and yet I bet their Granny wants them to get a real job.
How much do they earn? The biggest Instagram memer Fuck Jerry has a net worth of $10 million.
RIDE-SHARE APP DRIVER
Who? Middle aged men who are sick of being asked for the aux cable.
So what do they do? Battling with the marketing manager who says he doesn’t need to pay the £90 to clean your UBER of his sick because “it’s not got any bits in it”. Asking the girls from Liverpool dribbling batter meat over your seats to shut the Dixie Chicken box until they leave the car. Trying to think of something new to say to the 12th person to ask: “how’s your night been?”
How much do they earn? Again, not enough. “Most drivers take home about £11 an hour”, 33-year-old Londoner Chris explains. “There’s traffic, people cancel cars. It seems rather steep for UBER to ask for 25 percent of our earnings for most of our trips.”