Just like there are job titles that don’t exist anymore thanks to our changing culture (milkman, lamplighter, etc.) there are new jobs that are popping up all the time. The way we work, play, and live is constantly evolving and new things demand our attention to keep society moving forward. Some jobs become obsolete, and new needs have to be addressed.
Recently, my boyfriend turned me on to Twitch, an online streaming service in which people play video games for spectators. There was this whole community out there that I didn’t even realize existed.I was blown away by the viewer count on some of these streamers (a few in the tens of thousands) and the fact that people were making their living this way!
“Wow,” I said. “Even a couple of years ago this wasn’t possible. It’s like a whole new profession.”
“It wasn’t long ago that your job didn’t exist,” boyfriend replied.
Major lightbulb moment.
So here you have it. Some examples of the changing times – jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago.
1) Video Game Streamer
Also known as E-Sports athletes (I’m rolling my eyes a bit here), these people set up accounts with a streaming service like Twitch or YouTube and basically play video games for an audience.
Obviously this is a risky career choice reserved for those who are exceptionally good at the games they’re playing, or have great “on-air” personalities that are fun to watch. Being a good teacher is a bonus too, as many viewers tune in for tips.
Streamers play the latest games, but also dip into the digital past by bringing out classics from our childhoods like Super Mario and Donkey Kong. Nostalgia sells!
Sometimes there are even tournaments in which teams compete to see who can finish a game the fastest, speedrunning as they call it. Games Done Quick is one example, and they even raise money for charity.
How do they make money?
On Twitch, viewers can give ‘donations’ to the streamer via PayPal, anywhere from a few bucks to thousands of dollars.
I’m not sure if this is something set up by the individual streamer or a built-in Twitch functionality, but I’ve seen one very clever donation tactic in particular. Every stream, or ‘channel,’ has a chat section. If you know anything about the internet you know that can often be the gathering place for trolls and creeps, and viewers talk to each other and to the streamer about what they’re seeing. The chat section is separate and off to the side of the actual action, but I’ve seen channels in which a viewer can donate a certain amount to have their comment posted publicly. Obviously with a donation tactic like this the streamer gets some pretty nasty and insane things posted during the stream, but hey – the money is coming in.
I’m a feminist, and I hate to say the following, but it’s just the nature of the beast. Sex sells. Another donation-inducing tactic is boobs. There is no shortage of plunging necklines and push-up bras in the game-streaming world. While part of me cringes and wants these girls to cover up a bit and stop sullying the reputation of female gamers, the other part of me wants to high five them for making a living off people giving them money to play video games (and look pretty).
That being said, it won’t be long before the porn industry (a veteran in the streaming/web-cam world) and the video game streaming industry unite to become an unstoppable money making machine.
If you have 20,000 people watching you play Minecraft everyday, you’re a shoe-in for sponsorship. I’ve seen streamers wearing a specific company’s t-shirt, sitting in a heavily branded gaming chair, and even incorporating a sponsor’s logo into the corner of their stream. A deal with a sponsor could be a salary all by itself.
2) E-sports commentator
Naturally, the next job in my line-up is E-sports commentator. You see, while all these people are playing games, others are getting paid to talk about it.
And just like any sports commentator, these people need to know their stuff inside and out. I’ve seen these guys/gals explain technical aspects of games like frame-rate and player strategy, give historical facts about a game (yes, we’re old enough now that video games have history), and rattle off all kinds of interesting trivia. They mix colour commentary with game narration and fill in the gaps of otherwise dull or quiet moments.
How do they make money?
Often times, the commentators are gamers themselves with their own streaming channels, and so the exposure at an international tournament or event has value in and of itself. Sometimes they are bloggers or vloggers or columnists or game developers and having your voice heard by millions of people as an expert in your field can do wonders for your career.
3) Instagram model
This one is probably the most recently evolved career on my list. As Instagram grew more and more popular, and overtook Facebook for photo sharing, companies with a product to sell took notice of the most popular users. Those with hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of followers, were obvious targets for product placement. And hence, the Instagram model was born.
This job flies under the radar for most people. You may even be following popular people, famous nowhere else but Instagram, who seem to lead beautiful exotic lives full of travel, great clothes, and selfies with other good looking people. But what you’re really looking at (most of the time) are carefully crafted shots and captions that are selling you something.
Don’t be confused – there are tons of fashion models on Instagram, but what I’m talking about are the unknown pretty girls (and guys too I suppose) who developed large followings and made their name through the popularity of their accounts.
These types of accounts vary in style from all-American chic – you know, laughing in a white sundress with a straw hat, to full on centerfold g-string self-fondling in the surf. And a lot of the more exposed gals are fitness gurus trying to get their own brands off the ground, be it active-wear, weight loss shakes, or a workout program. Some have launched full blown careers outside of Instagram, thanks to Instagram!
How do they make money?
A girl looking lovely lounging on a dock as the sun sets? She’s getting a paycheck just for wearing that particular bathing suit. A muscley dude sharing the secrets of his workout routine? That protein powder company he keeps mentioning pays his handsomely to do so.
Sponsorship is everything to an Instagram model. They’re giving tons of exposure to a product with almost zero effort on the part of the manufacturer. Send that gal one of their dresses and watch the comments pile up as people admire it and seek it out for themselves.
The sponsors do have a bit of control, telling these folks what to say about their products to make sure its the correct message. Often the caption about how so-and-so just loves this brand of make-up was written by a marketing specialist at head office.
Scripting the model’s captions has been known to backfire. Like this, and this. Let that be a lesson to us all about the dangers of copy/pasting without proofreading. I should mention that celebrities often use their IG accounts for sponsorship as another revenue stream. It’s not just models cashing in on this.
But it’s not all glamour and glory. Let’s not forget the time that young model exposed the realities of this type of job, calling her entire Instagram existence phony and shallow and perpetuating low self-esteem, impossible standards, and contributing to her depression. Yikes.
Ten years ago we had just been introduced to YouTube and the users were still figuring out what to do with the service. As time went on, users weren’t just uploading family vacation and cat videos. They were vlogging, providing tutorials, making short films and, more recently, live streaming their lives and hobbies.
PewDiePie holds the distinction of having the most subscribers, and aside from famous musicians and YouTube’s own Spotlight channel, the top self-made YouTubers include comedy duo Smosh and gamer Evan Fong, known as VanossGaming.
How do they make money?
This is generally the number one way YouTubers make bank. Millions of people watch their videos, so even if a tiny percentage click an ad, that can add up to a nice chunk of change. Especially when the user is uploading a video or two a week. Keeping up a consistent flow of new content is one of the keys to success. But I’ll save the best practice tips for another post.
Again with the sponsors! But seriously, sponsorship is a major way that people on the internet make money. YouTubers are hocking products whether you know it or not. It could be the clothes they’re wearing, the decor in the room around them, or even less subtle things like a full-on shout out and thank you to the supporters of the channel.
Places like Amazon, for example, have pretty well known affiliate programs, which are an excellent way for folks to generate some revenue. Don’t have a sponsor? No worries! If your viewers like your shirt or headphones or makeup or hair, you can refer them to the products on Amazon. Makeup tutorials are huuuuge on YouTube and you can always find links in the video descriptions to the products used. Using your unique affiliate link, you can direct viewers to the products, and you’ll make a cut on every product sold using your link. Again, like ad clicks, this can add up over time.
This program is especially great if you’re known for specific things like my sister/client Chanticleer. People always want to know where she gets her wigs and lashes, and she can point them to the exact products she uses! For individuals who have an audience on the internet but aren’t necessarily huge enough to attract a big name sponsor, affiliate/referral programs can be a great do-it-yourself revenue stream. (This is also an amazing resource for bloggers!)
People like to read about YouTubers. Personally I haven’t read any of the books written by popular vloggers, but they are often biographies, descriptions of the road to success, funny anecdotes, etc.
If you’re at the PewDiePie or Jenna Marbles level of YouTube fame, you’re also going to get paid just to BE places and talk. It could be VidCon or any other type of convention or conference. Appearance and speaking gigs are something only the elite internet celebs get to enjoy, but if you’re serious about making this a career, think about this as your ultimate goal.
5) Social Media Manager
Ten years ago was 2006 (holy crap). Facebook had only just opened up to the public, YouTube was a year old, and Twitter and Instagram were still years down the road. Ten years ago, every company and product had a website, but that’s as far as an internet presence could reach at the time.
Now, to have any credibility at all, a company/product/association/public figure needs to have an official presence on AT LEAST three social media platforms. Managing strategies, ads, analytics, etc., for these platforms can be a full-time job for a successful enterprise of any kind. If they’re doing it right, that is.
As you’ve seen from all of the above, there are lots of ways to generate income from the internet. It can still be a struggle to convince well established (read older) companies and associations to devote resources to digital communications, but I promise it’s well worth it. A traditional comms role involves press releases, coordination of television/radio/print advertising, and so on. But the game has changed. Evolved.
Everything that’s happening now in media and communications points to the online world as the one in which to establish yourself. For the younger generations, your company’s Facebook or Twitter page is often the first point of contact. It is now considered odd not to be present on social media platforms, and some of your credibility is lost if you’re not participating. It sounds corny, but the internet is the future, and if you’re not there you’re going to be left behind.
A social media or digital communications manager is an important tool for a company. Crafting professionally formatted newsletters or promotions, developing strategies for growing your audience and interacting with them, getting the word out about your products and services in creative was, and generally managing your brand online are all part of the job description for a modern communications professional.
How do they make money?
Larger companies usually have a salaried position devoted to communications in general, and some specifically hire a person to manage social media accounts. Good on them!
Otherwise, we’re independent contractors or consultants. Sometimes we’re the person behind several different companies’ accounts. Our clients can vary, and one day we can be sharing pics of adoptable animals from the local humane society on Instagram, and the next day we’re tweeting about a flash sale at a local fashion boutique. We have to be chameleons, able to adapt the appropriate tone and style for the client at hand.
Some of these jobs I never would have even imagined ten years ago. The internet has made it easier than ever to be a self-made success. It’s an incredible tool that has allowed us to reach out to the world, put ourselves out there, and design our own careers in many ways.
What job titles do you think will exist in 2026 that don’t exist now? Can we make any predictions based on what we know now?