Sometimes it pays more to grow your subscribers than your crops.

By Mike Pomranz
July 22, 2019
SARINYAPINNGAM/Getty Images

Thinking of the life of a farmer might lead you to conjure up images of the simpler times of a bygone era. But as with any type of business, over the years, technology has changed the farming industry as well — and that includes social media. Earlier this year, when farmers were faced with poor planting conditions, many turned to Twitter, not only to vent, but to post images and videos of the situation as well. Similarly, farmers have found a following on YouTube, giving people an inside look at the trade — and some are even finding this side gig to be more lucrative than the farming itself.

Over the weekend, Bloomberg profiled a few farmers who “earn more from YouTube than they do from their crops.” Examples include Zach Johnson — aka MN Millennial Farmer — who’s racked up 300,000 subscribers and 50 million views in his three years on the social media platform. The general rule of thumb is that content creators make about a buck per 1,000 views, meaning Johnson has likely made somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 from YouTube ad revenue alone. And as Bloomberg points out, he also features endorsements in his videos, sells merch (can I interest you in a $40 Millennial Farmer logo hoodie?), and seeks speaking engagements. Though Bloomberg never explicitly states how much Johnson makes from his non-farming work, the site does say it’s about five times more than what the farm alone could earn him.

These videos aren’t gimmicks either. His most viewed video isn’t some silly meme or shock footage; it’s over 11 minutes of attempting to free a tractor stuck in the mud. “People have become so disconnected from agriculture,” Johnson was quoted as saying, explaining his viewership. “They’re curious about where their food comes from, and who the people that grow their food are. We have a really good opportunity to talk to people, discuss those things and show them why we do the things that we do.” And hey, if it earns some solid scratch in the process, then why not?

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