Alex Hockings, 23, wakes up at 7:00am every day, goes to the gym, live-streams himself playing video games for six hours, and edits YouTube videos until dinner — this is his routine six days a week.
- Alex Hockings posted his first video in 2014 before dropping out of his sports science degree at university after only a year of study
- He now earns a full-time income — between $50,000 and $70,000 a year — from his following on YouTube of more than 100,000 subscribers
- Educators say more young people want to be content creators across digital platforms like YouTube than move into corporate jobs, but there is no clear roadmap for success
Mr Hockings is one of a growing number of Australians ditching traditional career pathways and turning to online platforms to make money, causing schools to scramble to keep up.
«This is actually my dream job — people want to be astronauts, people want to be doctors … but this is what I’ve really wanted to do ever since I was probably in about Year Eight,» he said.
Mr Hockings earns a full-time income — between $50,000 and $70,000 a year — from his following on YouTube and the games streaming service Twitch.
He posted his first video in 2014 before dropping out of his sports science degree at university after only one year of study.
«It didn’t really get anywhere for about two-and-a-half years — I was probably only getting like 50 views a video — but eventually, I just got lucky,» Mr Hockings said.
«I was working at Coles on the night fill [shift] and there was just one day where I had calculated how much I was making from each job and it clicked that I was making more from YouTube,» he said.
So he decided to «jump in all the way» and pursue video-making fulltime.
«Ever since then it’s just been like a tidal wave,» he said.
Mr Hockings has converted the spare bedroom in his Brisbane townhouse into an «office» — complete with lights, cameras, three gaming computers and a floor-to-ceiling greenscreen.
The walls are lined with fan art created by some of his 117,000 subscribers.
‘It’s daunting’: Schools grapple with new career options
QUT Creative Enterprise Australia chief executive Mark Gustowski said there was growing interest among young people to ditch traditional pathways and pursue careers online.
«More of them now want to be content creators across digital platforms like YouTube than move into corporate jobs, so it’s becoming quite viable,» Mr Gustowski said.
The organisation is running a pilot program in high schools to teach students about video-making and building a platform.
«In the future, a lot of jobs that will be available don’t exist today,» Mr Gustowski said.
«What we’re trying to do is really prepare and upskill the students on how to be at the cutting edge and the forefront of digital platform storytelling.»
Brisbane’s Cannon Hill Anglican College hosted the workshop for 150 of its Year Nine students.
Teacher Barb Mossman said educators «can’t stay mired in the curriculum of the past» and needed to keep pace with digital natives.
«It’s daunting but it’s exciting at the same time, because it means that instead of training [students] in a vocational sense, the only thing we can do is develop their skills that we know are going to be transferable across a whole range of things,» she said.
«If the only thing we’re doing is preparing them by getting them to follow the standard curriculum, then I think we’re abandoning our responsibilities to them really, because I don’t think they’ll come out prepared for what they’re going to face.»
How sustainable is a career on YouTube?
Ms Mossman said the idea of taking a risk and forging a career online was challenging because there was no clear roadmap for success.
«You study accountancy, you become an accountant — but these fields increasingly are ones where you don’t have that guaranteed clear line of sight,» she said.
«I think as parents that’s really hard, because it involves a leap of faith.»
Farhad Meher-Homji, the founder of short-form video company Changer Studios, said video content and channels «built around passion» were the most sustainable.
«If you see yourself as a creative entrepreneur rather than just a YouTuber … then there’s plenty of longevity in it,» he said.
Mr Hockings admitted success stories like his were rare.
«For every me that has worked out, there’s an excess of thousands of people who have tried and haven’t made it unfortunately,» Mr Hockings said.
But the 23-year-old said he was optimistic about his career longevity.
«It used to be the case where I thought, ‘I need to just make as much money as possible now, because I’ve no idea how long this is going to last’ — any day I could just fall off the map and not have a following,» Mr Hockings said.
«But … people are starting to really recognise that it’s a very legitimate form of entertainment and I can’t really see [that] slowing down in the future.»