'Why go to work?': A 25-year-old New Yorker gets $4,000 a month in donations from his social media followers and says he makes more money live-streaming his days than he did working a traditional job

Jovan HillYouTube/JovanJovan Hill, a 25-year-old New Yorker, made live-streaming his job.YouTube/Jovan

  • The New York Times profiled a 25-year-old New Yorker named Jovan Hill who makes a living live-streaming his daily life.
  • Hill films himself ranting about pop culture, eating, smoking weed, and talking to friends - and many people pay him for it.
  • He often shares his financial concerns with his followers, who donate upwards of $4,000 a month to him through subscriptions to his live-streaming channels and through Venmo donations.

When you have hundreds of thousands of loyal social media followers willing to donate to your cause, why wouldn't you take advantage?

So says Jovan Hill, a 25-year-old New Yorker recently profiled by the New York Times who earns a living live-streaming his daily life.

Hill told the Times' Mike Vilensky that friendly internet patrons donate upwards of $4,000 a month to his cause: rent for his Brooklyn apartment and money for marijuana, video games, clothing, and cash to help out his mother.

Sometimes Hill "shames and entices fans" for money on apps including Twitter, Periscope, and Patreon, writes Vilensky. (In one video, Hill says, "I'm very poor today. So if you want any tax write-offs, please donate to the Jovan charity.") But followers often send him unsolicited Venmo donations showing appreciation for his videos, where he's seen ranting about pop culture, discussing mental health, eating, smoking weed, talking to friends, and walking around his neighborhood.

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"His unscripted live-streamed show gives a raw, unfiltered window into the life of a bipolar 20-something striver, trying to eke out a meaningful existence without the crutch of family money, or a traditional job," writes Vilensky.

 

"I made this my job," said Hill, who has has been leaning on his followers for financial support since early 2018, when he dropped out of college in Texas and moved to New York City on a whim. He briefly worked at a movie theater, but when he realized he could make more money online, he quit. 

"I was making less money at the movie theater than sitting in my room live-streaming five times a day," Hill told the Times. "So why go to work?"

Hill, who identifies as gay, is not unlike popular social media influencers across Instagram earning upwards of five figures for pushing brands and products. Only, Hill is promoting himself, and his brand is "gay, broke diary," Vilensky writes, adding that he's created "a space where crowdfunding is a form of audience participation."

Perhaps followers are intrigued by his self-deprecating humor or his unfiltered storytelling. Either way, he seems well-liked - and self-aware.

In a December 9 Tweet, he summarizes his own disbelief: "if you told me in 2010 i was gonna drop outta college because of bipolar disorder and then beg for money online in exchange for live tweeting mental breakdowns and smoking weed on camera i would call the fbi on you immediately."

Now Hill's days are spent with a camera in hand, recording his daily life. He told the Times he doesn't invest any of his money because he and his roommate, a fellow live-streamer, "hate capitalism."

In another Tweet from December 9, Hills writes, "the weirdest 'hate' ive gotten is people saying i should be embarrassed like why would i be embarrassed my rent is paid and my blunt is rolled."

Read the full story at the New York Times »

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