How Much Can a Web Host Make?

Non-fiction shows are a popular format for web series; pretty much all you need to get one off the ground is a camera, a green screen and a host to recap the news, make jokes and offer an opinion. And perhaps you’ve watched web hosts and thought to yourself, “Hey, I could do that!” Maybe you could — but could you make a living doing it?

As the number of non-fiction web shows (and their hosts) continues to multiply, the question of remuneration will only become more important. With that in mind, I contacted a number of new media companies (all of whom asked to remain anonymous) to see what they paid their “talent.” As you can imagine, the answers were pretty diverse, but following are some ballpark figures for what a web host can make:

If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably work for free — and independent producers will be happy to pay you in pizza and exposure. Some companies, however, will give beginners a shot at hosting and actually pay them for their time, to the tune of $100-$250 a “session.” (A session is usually a single episode, but can be multiple episodes shot back-to-back in less than a day.)

More experienced or popular hosts can make up to $1,000 a show, which sounds awesome, until you realize that a weekly show would only earn you $52,000 a year — before taxes. (UPDATE: Which, could either be great or not-so-great depending on where you live, but that number is top-end of what you’ll make.)

None of these figures include rev share, which is also a possibility and could boost a host’s bottom line, depending on how good the company’s sales team is. And there are six-figure deals being cut out there for web hosts, so making a more-than-decent living is possible.

Oftentimes, though, a host isn’t just a host, but a multitasker who writes, produces, edits and generally put the show together. In some cases, these hosts become salaried employees of the production company and earn a steady paycheck along with benefits.

For those aspiring web hosts out there, Martin Sargent, Revision3’s director of acquisitions (and host of Internet Superstar) has some advice. “The best way to make a living wage and do quite well is to do a show for a company that has sizable venture funding,” said Sargent. “As web video is still growing, you have to have somebody behind you. It’s more difficult on your own.”

Disclosure: Revision3 produces The GigaOM Show.