3 Ways Online Content Creation Is Like Gambling

Luck matters more than skill

Alex Rowe
5 min readNov 1, 2021

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Photo by Free Walking Tour Salzburg on Unsplash

The Internet truly democratized publishing, right? Now anyone with a phone, tablet, or computer can start pushing content out to the masses. Your video idea, article, or song no longer needs to languish inside your brain — it can be a real thing people can watch by the end of the week.

This is wonderful, in theory. Spaces that were once the domain of the wealthy now have many new voices. But that doesn’t mean the wealthy aren’t still there. Corporations, celebrities, and large influencers still dominate the internet. And all that glitz, glamour, and the promise of overnight wealth inspire new dreamers. More kids are growing up wanting to be streamers, YouTubers, or Instagram stars than ever before.

But for every “regular” person you see make it, there are thousands who fail. Just like in a casino. With a playing field so huge, only so many people can rise to the top. What happens to the rest of us?

Here are three ways that content creation is like gambling.

1) The House Always Wins

Sure, you could spend a small initial investment and start your own web site or blog, on a server that you own or rent space on. But once you want to get real traffic on your content, you’ll be forced to rely on a major company.

Content creators are a massive profit source for search engines, media web sites, and marketing companies. The complicated, ethical nightmare that is the success of affiliate links has only further strengthened this unfortunate relationship.

You can’t make it online without making powerful companies more powerful. The largest, most successful platforms for creators got that way for a reason. Every review I write supports Amazon, whether I want it to or not. Medium, YouTube, Twitch, and Patreon all got huge off the backs of big celebrity creators and the thousands of imitators trying for a piece of the action.

The system is self-sustaining. You need traffic from one of the big sites if you want to make a living doing this. You’ll need eyeballs that are coming from a search engine or big content platform if you want to break into the mainstream. Unless you have a big budget to…

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Alex Rowe

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