If you had told us a year ago that Snapchat would be the social media platform with the potential to make the most earnings, we would never have believed you. Although if you told us a lot of things a year ago, we probably wouldn’t have believed you. However, Snapchat is now a money-making machine! Snapchat’s Spotlight is the new place to be for content creators. But how is this possible?
Seeing the success of TikTok, followed by Instagram’s copycat Reels, Snapchat knew they had to figure out a way into the industry of viral content. When Snapchat was first created, it was known mostly as a secret messaging app that fostered secret relationships and sexting with disappearing Snaps. However, as the app grew, they added Stories, which allowed for daily stories from verified brands, like Vulture and Buzzfeed. So how does Spotlight change that and how can we make money with it?
Spotlight on Snapchat is a new feature similar to TikTok and Instagram’s Reels.
Basically, Spotlight is Snapchat’s answer to the new fad of scrolling mindlessly through videos. Like its competitors, Snapchat uses an algorithm based on views and replays to decide which videos we’ll see on our Spotlight feeds. However, there are a few key differences between Spotlight and its competitors.
The biggest difference is that we don’t need to have a huge following or even necessarily a ton of likes for a video to go viral on Spotlight. Unlike TikTok, there’s no public view of how many likes or shares a video has, and the more it’s played, the more popular it is on Spotlight, and the more likely it is to make money.
The second main difference is that Snapchat has specifically allocated $1 million daily to go to content creators on Spotlight. According to Snapchat’s Spotlight Guidelines & FAQ, “Snapchatters have the opportunity to earn if they submit top Snaps. Payment is determined by our proprietary formula, which takes into account various engagement metrics and other factors during each day.”
The best way to make money on Snapchat’s Spotlight is to churn out a lot of high-quality content.
Because Snapchat evens the playing field to a degree, there’s a lot more opportunity to get in on the daily earnings. The New York Times did a profile of some Spotlight high-earners and highlighted a woman who made $500,000 just from sharing a video of her sister deep-frying a turkey. However, instances like these are few and far between. Most of Spotlight’s high earners are established TikTokers who understand what makes content go viral.
Cam Casey, who has over one million followers on TikTok, found more success on Spotlight than on TikTok, and had earned over $3 million by January 2021. However, in order to reach this level of success, he sometimes uploads up to 120 videos per day, which seems impossible to live life and make that level of money on Spotlight.
According to Snapchat, the amount of times a video is played determines if it is a top video. For instance, if someone continues to replay a Spotlight video, that video will then be added to more feeds until it goes viral. Spotlight is also the antithesis to invasive capitalism. On many social media platforms, sponsored posts are the best way to earn money. But on Spotlight, sponsored videos do not qualify for their daily earnings.
Although there are some stories of hitting the jackpot with Spotlight, its rising popularity might make it less likely to make a lot of money.
Just like how when TikTok grew it became increasingly harder to go viral because of the over-saturation of creators, Snapchat’s Spotlight creators will likely face the same obstacle. Because Spotlight caps their daily earnings at $1 million, as more and more people make content that goes viral, the money they can make will become less and less per person.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, at Morgan Stanley TMT conference, says time spent viewing Snapchat Spotlight rose 55% from Jan-Feb (in January, Spotlight had 100M+ monthly users, according to Snap)— Todd Spangler (@xpangler) March 3, 2021
Videos that tend to go viral on both TikTok and Spotlight are, according to the New York Times, “dancing videos, prank videos, challenges and tutorials.” While the days of making $500,000 off one video are likely far behind us, that doesn’t mean we can’t make heaps of money over time on Spotlight by churning out video after video. Maybe one of them will hit the jackpot.