Content-Creator or Software Engineer, Which One Is Better?
After working the two most sought-after jobs in the world for a year each, the one I prefer may surprise you…
It’s not exactly fair to compare the two jobs as they really are as different as apples and oranges. One is a 9–5 day job with a consistent 6 figure salary, healthcare, stock perks, and retirement matching; while the other has no schedule at all, no set income, and no benefits.
In addition, the amount of time I've spent in each is not the same either. Although I’ve been creating content for a year, I would almost count this stage as similar to my student days studying to become a Software Engineer. I’ve already spent 4 years working hard, preparing, and training to be an engineer. During that time I had no money, no set schedule for studying and was miserably slogging along hoping that it would all work out.
In a way, I had to pay my dues to get to where I am today with my day job, and I’m currently in the “due-paying” stage of content creation as well.
Here’s the catch though…
My day job, for the most part, was a guaranteed payoff at the end of the 4 years. Get the degree, get the job, live comfortably. Content creation does not have a pay-off deadline.
This leads me to my first comparison: money.
Being a content creator is exactly like running a business. There is no cap on the amount you can make, however, there is also no guaranteed income. I’ve been really lucky that my podcast and blog have always been profitable — as in, it does not cost us anything to run —however, they hardly earn over 50 dollars a month even at that. Even the best articles I’ve written that are picked up by large publications, do not earn more than a couple of dollars, and our most popular podcast episode has made about 10 dollars (5 once you split for my co-host). It is really hard to make money, and even the most popular content creator earners do not earn a 6-figure salary and if they do, there are no extra benefits such as health insurance, retirement, and stocks built-in. At most I can expect my blog and podcast to generate passive pizza money in a few years, but the chances of it overtaking the salary and benefits I get in the tech industry are slim to none.
Not sure where the rumor got started that Software Engineers have poor work-life balance, but I find that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many engineers tend to be personalities that enjoy over-working and thus set bad boundaries. As long as you can set boundaries, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. Once I clock out at the end of the day I am done and I can leave my work at work. Content creation is a whole other challenge. You get to set your hours, but you also have to set your hours. It’s very easy to overwork and procrastinate at the same time and although I enjoy the flexibility, I know for a fact I would not be able to maintain the podcast without a co-host working with me. It’s much easier to put things off.
Both actually provide similar levels of intellectual challenge as we’ve been able to learn so much about history (we run a History Podcast) as well as how to grow and run a podcast. There are different nuances like social media marketing, collaborating, and editing that we’ve gained however after the initial boost in learning the logistics the routine becomes more mundane and involves a lot of patience and hope that it will grow. It can also get very disappointing when numbers drop as well as when you start to get trolls commenting on your content. It’s an unfortunate by-product of putting your content online but one that you must deal with in this industry. As far as working as a Software Engineer it can also get very mundane. It’s really fun to learn a new piece of technology and there are endless new things to learn, however as far as what work you’re actually given, this can become a bit routine. It’s often hard to get the type of work you actually want and instead you have to do what the company needs at the moment. It’s the result of being an employee.
Overall both sides have their ups and downs, but if I had to choose which one I prefer at the moment it would have to be engineering. I often wake up feeling like I have the best job in the world and I more often feel gratified with my work, compared to content-creation. Content creation is a lot more work, with much less reward, and has many more disappointing moments. I continue to do it though because I do gain a lot more skill than just money from it. If you’re in the same boat and trying to weigh the pros and cons, just know that it’s one is not as glamorous as it looks, and the other is not as soul-sucking as you’ve been told.