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The World Belongs to the Content Creators

a laptop and the future of the creator economy

It might seem like content creation has been well entrenched in society for a very long time. And by some standards, this is true. The industry as a whole has generated significant revenues for about 25 years, which naturally coincides with the boom in social media. This has resulted in a tremendous content creator economy market size that now exceeds $250 billion annually. That’s a pretty impressive figure that dwarfs many well-established business sectors. But what’s even more intriguing is that content creators as a group aren’t well-tracked and, in fact, are barely formally recognized. Census bureaus and labor statistics fail to capture the revenues and impact this industry is having. Assuming the future of the creator economy was a fad from the start, an effort to monitor this sector remains lacking.

someone showing the future of the creator economy
Thanks to growing demand and increasingly accessible platforms, the future of the creator economy is bright.

(Catch up on the changes and trends in content creation with this Bold story.)

In terms of the creator economy market size today, tens of millions work either part-time or full-time in the industry. More importantly, however, hundreds of millions of customers fuel the growth of the sector. Given this, the future of the creator economy is not only favorable but quite powerful. That doesn’t mean being a content creator isn’t challenging or that the competition isn’t robust. But what it does mean is there’s ample work opportunities, and it’s essential that a better grasp of the industry is pursued. Based on current figures and anticipated growth, it appears the creator economy is a force with which to be reckoned.

A Statistics Course in Content Creation

Based on best estimates, there’s roughly about 50 million content creators in the world today. This includes both part-time and full-time workers, which somewhat skews the data. However, in the U.S. alone, surveys have indicated nearly 400,000 people work full-time in this sector. For the nation, that’s a sizable percentage. This is what’s driven the industry to reach its $250 billion creator economy market size to date. And it’s now estimated that this figure will reach $480 billion within 5 years as the future of the creator economy expands. Based on this, it’s really hard to ignore this as a major economic driver of the country.

While the creator economy market size and revenues are impressive, they may be a little less so on an individual basis. This is because not every content creator enjoys the same level of success or income. Roughly 12% of creators earn more than $50,000 a year. In contrast, 46% make less than $1,000 a year. These distinctions to a great extent are based on part-time versus full-time participation. But they also reflect the investments required by creators to tap into significant earnings. Indeed, the creator economy market size is vast, but the portion that truly “influences” is significantly smaller. One’s potential in the future of the creator economy varies from one to the next.

some dudes making boring content
Innovating technology puts cameras in the hands of, well, everyone–which means everyone can be a content creator.

Pros and Cons of Being a Creator

Like the gig economy, many content creators were attracted to the industry by the flexibility and associated perks. Being creative appeals to many, especially when it involves leveraging new and exciting visual technologies. Plus, there’s plenty of stories of social media influencers who have hit it big. Major corporations and ad agencies today often seek out the content creators with the largest followings. Some get paid substantial amounts to promote specific products and services. Others receive curated experiences related to a product or service so they can communicate the experience to consumers. In any case, the creator economy market size has grown because the work is attractive. But like many such jobs, there’s some less than favorable aspects as well.

If the benefits of creating content were all existed, then the future of the creator economy might be limitless. But it’s not always easy being a content creator. For one, the competition for others’ attention is intense, and the investment is constant. Unlike other jobs, there’s no such thing as taking a day off for those seeking fame and fortune. The Internet doesn’t sleep, and content creators and influencers must contribute daily. At the same time, many content creators are actually the product themselves. Without self-promotion and a constant flow of thoughts and opinions, followers tend to move on. Thus, while the creator economy market size is huge, only those truly committed usually excel. And even then, success can certainly remain elusive.

Still a Bright Future Ahead

graphics showing creator economy market size
Creator economy market size is only getting bigger.

Despite the disadvantages that many content creators may face, the future of the creator economy remains strong. One reason this is true relates to the rising amounts of marketing dollars pouring into the sector. In 2019, which was several years back, over $5 billion in advertising went to content creators. Though the biggest influencers by name received the biggest amounts, there was plenty to spread around. These figures have since only grown, which continues to encourage many young adults to move in this direction. In fact, this is one of the top career aspirations among teens today according to surveys.

The other reason the creator economy market size is expected to grow relates to its audience. Among young adults in the U.S., roughly 70% say they are directly affected by a social media influencer’s content. This is not simply in industries like fashion and entertainment but much broader. Gambling, video games, fragrances, and even lawn mower purchasers can be significantly influenced popular content. This is why companies are now willing to invest more marketing dollars toward content creators. And it’s why the future of the creator economy isn’t expected to weaken any time soon.

Unregulated and Under-Reported

When it comes to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a clearly designated category for content creator doesn’t exist. In addition, many content creators, especially those who work part-time, are paid via non-traditional ways. This has resulted not only in the industry as a whole to be under-appreciated. It also results in significant losses in potential tax revenues when incomes aren’t reported. This new underground economy isn’t something to be ignored given the creator economy market size. But thus far, that’s precisely what’s happening. With the future of the creator economy likely to double in the coming decade, this will need to change. The creator economy is here to stay, and it’s time for it to be accepted for the powerhouse it is.

Did you check out our series on the “Underground Economy”? If not, you can start here.

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