YouTube: How The Internet became a Career

In the past decade, the internet has gone beyond being a platform for communication and the spreading of ideas, it has become a platform where people can create careers for themselves. Most notably, are the group of people who have become colloquially known as YouTubers, who produce weekly videos or “vlogs” which YouTube allows them to profit off of, based upon the showing of ads and number of views that each vlog receives. One thing which has always interested me about the internet is how this system came to be.

YouTube got its start in 2005, launched on Valentine’s Day by creators Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, having experience with the World Wide Web as former PayPal employees. Karim claims that his idea for the site was inspired in 2004 by Janet Jackson’s costume malfunction at the Super Bowl half time show, and the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This is what its original beta site looked like when it was first launched in 2005!

youtube beta site

The first video on YouTube was uploaded by one of its creators, Jawed Karim, and was entitled “Me at the Zoo”. It was only 19 seconds long, and featured Karim at the zoo standing in front of the elephants, talking about their trunks. If you wish to view this slightly uninteresting but still important piece of internet history, you can see it here!

Me At The Zoo

YouTube very quickly took off, being one of the original online sites which allowed users to share their own video content online, for anyone on the internet to see. Along with funny home videos, it became a platform through which people could share their talents, such as their musical talents, as well as their ideas, through vlogs.

One of the most notable people who got their start from videos they posted on YouTube is Justin Bieber. The videos of him singing and playing guitar soon went viral, allowing him to be discovered by music producer Usher. Though he can’t really have been considered a YouTuber, he is an example of the power that YouTube had to make a career for someone.

In May of 2007, YouTube launched a partner program which allowed people to get paid for the video content they posted. The most successful vloggers, such as Jenna Marbles, John and Hank Green, and Tyler Oakley, were able to quit their day jobs, making six digit salaries from the videos they posted on YouTube. Many successful YouTubers were even able to take their careers beyond YouTube, being offered jobs by the BBC and MTV due to their online notoriety.

Today, every celebrity, musician and organization from Miley Cyrus to the Vatican has their own YouTube channel, which allows them to communicate their content online. YouTube has grown in a way that allows you to not only share your ideas or your talents on the internet, but even profit off of them.





  1. The recent phenomena of social media fame and the idea of Youtubers as celebrities and opinion leaders definitely speaks volumes to the opportunity and platform that the internet has afforded us all. However, since this career path has now been paved the density of vloggers aiming to achieve the same level of notoriety will certainly increase. This poses the risk of muddled authenticity and manipulation of their audiences so that they can make a profit off of their views. Do we want a youtube where every person we watch is trying to sell us something?


  2. The creation of Youtube and “vlogging” has been a huge development in internet society. It goes along with the concept as the internet building as a community. Things like these platforms have truly changed the way businesses function as a whole. In today’s fast paced world, companies, celebrities and individuals trying to “make it” need to be available on all platforms of social media. Having worked for small businesses, it is interesting to see how social media, and specifically vlogging is so important. In past projects I have had to review social media reports from Simply and and in the past year, video posts have consistently been gaining the most engagement (+13%) on sites including Facebook. It is pretty wild that in today’s society having a career blogging or vlogging on the internet isn’t unrealistic.


  3. personally, I truly think that Youtube could be called the career opportunity for everyone. Anyone can start filming and uploading videos, and by being creative and original, there is no doubt that the channel will rapidly become popular. In fact, youtube has such a great diversity of videos- anyone can find something to their preference. From the youngest to eldest of our generations.
    However, I completely agree with the previous comments. Advertising is such a big part of popular vloggers videos, that it becomes a bit annoying from time to time. But then again, that is the way YouTubers make most of their income and who can judge them? 🙂 especially if the products they are advertising are genuinely nice. As well as that, youtube is a starting point for so many aspiring young artists, just like your example of Justin Bieber. It’s nice to know that Youtube is easily accessible to anyone without restricting people.


  4. In my opinion the best thing that came out of the development of the internet was the fact that it created new jobs especially ones linked to creativity. Youtubers are everyday people that share a bit of their lives with whoever wants to watch their videos or should I say ”Youtubers were everyday people…”. Now everything seems to be about making money and the excitement of making a video isn’t there anymore… it became a job where they have to promote every single product they get offered. Maybe not every single one but something along those lines. Would you agree?


  5. It’s interesting to know that even before, the first video broadcast on the internet was most likely a showcase of someone’s talent, which is something Youtube is widely associated with. The first video, it is assumed, was a live feed of a performance by a garage band called Severe Tire Damage, in 1993. The band, unsurprisingly, consisted of employees to Apple Computer, DEC Systems Research Centre and Xrerox PARC; so a bunch of brainy blokes and not cute teenage boys.



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