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Riding the Creator Economy Wave

Someone's content creation set up

Over the course of the last few decades, there has been quite a shift in the marketplace. At first, the Information Age allowed us to readily communicate, share, and store data. But we soon learned that the Internet could be used for much more. Web 2.0 and the rise of social media ushered in a new era that can best be described as the creator economy. (Read more about how social media is driving the creator economy in this Bold story.) It is here where we now find ourselves. And everyone, including creators and influencers alike, are doing their best to figure out next steps.

The days of a few broadcast media reaching millions of people have passed. Today, the creator economy allows anyone with a passion to showcase their insights and skills. Creators and influencers now are being recognized as essential workers in this new space. as a result, a variety of platforms are introducing new ways to attract these individuals. The question, however, is just how long we will be in this new creator economy. If one thing is guaranteed, especially today, change is inevitable. The opportunity that presents itself today is not likely to be there tomorrow.

“Rather than ten TV shows consumed by billions of people, we now have hundreds of millions of shows that cater to billions of people…Additionally, the people who are creating content for that topic are truly and authentically passionate about it.” – Eric Freytag, Head of Growth and Marketing, Streamlabs

Defining the Creator Economy

In order to discuss the creator economy, it is first necessary to divine what that is. Over the course of the last several years, multiple Internet and social media platforms have become more sophisticated. However, these platforms rely upon creative content in order to excel. Initially, advertising and brand sponsorship help support such creative content. But overtime, it became increasingly evident that creators and influencers demanded more. As competition among these platforms has increased, so have the various strategies to attract creators and influencers.

Certainly, advertising and brand sponsorship remain important pieces of the income puzzle. Brand sponsorships were estimated to account for $8 billion of revenue in 2019 within the creator economy. In 2021, this is expected to rise to $15 billion. But in addition to these revenues, several sites are offering new revenue strategies to attract creators and influencers. These not only include new features to assist in creation of content. It also includes direct funding, subscription paradigms, and various ways to collect tips. For consumers, this may mean they will pay more for exclusive content. But for creators and influencers, the opportunity to earn revenues for their efforts will increase significantly.

“The power has shifted away from the platforms to the creators. The platforms all stepped up and realized that they were in grave danger of losing their labor force, if they didn’t add these features.” – Josh Constine, Principal, SignalFire

Modern Creator Economy Opportunities

Providing creative content on the Internet is not anything new. For several years, those who wish to explore their creative passions could do so through various sites. For example, Amazon publishing, Etsy, and eBay offered opportunities for some. For bloggers, Tumblr and WordPress did the same. For those who enjoy streaming content, twitch and mixer are routinely used. And of course, photographers and film makers flock to Pinterest and YouTube, respectively. Each of these remain great opportunities for creators and influencers to make a statement. But they are no longer the only ones.

A woman creating content for her cooking show
Influencer marketing is driving a major slice of the content creation industry.

The largest changes in terms of modern revenue platforms for creators and influencers are taking place in the social media space. (Dig deeper into the battle between Big Tech and content creators in this Bold story.) TikTok got the ball rolling with its initial $2 billion creative fund. Its success in attracting creative content has led multiple other social media giants to follow suit. YouTube now offers a total of $100 million in funding for content for its Shorts platform. Snapchat also has a short film feature called Spotlight, and it has spent $130 million for content since November. In the meantime, Facebook is paying video gamers to play games while streaming, an Instagram is exploring user subscriptions. And Twitter recently launched its Super Follow page where users can access exclusive content and live-audio chats for a fee. You might say creators and influencers have quite the menu of choices.

“Creators are taking their rightful place in the center of the creator economy universe. We need to be their home base.” – Jamie Byrne, Senior Director of Creator Partnerships, YouTube

The Difference Between Creators and Influencers

It is worth noting the difference between a creator and an influencer. A creator is anyone who chooses to create any type of content on an Internet or social media platform. This can involve a variety of contexts. For example, podcasts, blogs, gaming streams, music, and a variety of other content might belong to a specific creator. In contrast, an influencer is a creator who has the ability to influence consumer patterns. In general, influencer marketing has a much larger following in the creator economy. For this reason, they are much more highly sought after. In essence, they are becoming as popular as many television and film celebrities because of their influence.

Given these definitions, it is estimated there are some 50 million creators currently present on social media sites today. Based on statistics, the average person spends roughly 2.5 hours a day on social media. Thus, there is tremendous demand within the creator economy for ongoing content. But while creators and influencers have the opportunity to cash-in on the content they create, few are highly successful. For most, their earnings are only enough to support their passions for the content they create. It is the true influencers of the creator economy who are often publicized as the high-dollar earners.

A Highly Dynamic Environment

By all accounts, these social media and Internet marketplace is one that continues to be in flux. Their creator economy is a natural evolution of changes that had to occur. Those who create content provide the substance that drives audiences to a number of platforms. It only makes sense, therefore, that these creators and influencers should enjoy opportunities to earn from their efforts. But the mechanisms by which this will happen will continue to evolve in time. For those who will be the most successful, agility and the ability to adapt will be key.


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