The Creator Economy: What Exactly Is It?

Aug 23, 2022
The Creator Economy: What Exactly Is It?

Content creators, social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers all contribute to what is known as the "creative economy," which is made up of the side businesses and primary enterprises they have established for themselves. Signalfire, a venture financing firm, estimates that more than 50 million people around the world identify as creators who work for themselves.

Businesses that aid creators fall under the broader category of the "creative economy," which also includes those involved in content production, online analytics, and website hosting.

If the economy is built on creators, how does it function?

An ecosystem of producers, consumers, and advertisers is represented by the creator economy. Creators rely on viewers to view their material so that they can be paid by advertisers to promote their products in exchange for endorsements in the form of sponsored articles, product placements, and in-stream promotions.

A brand's marketing plan should include collaborations with influential people because millennials don't respond to traditional advertising. Authors can monetize their online work by charging a monthly subscription fee, per view price, or a flat donation for things like ebooks, courses, podcasts, and newsletters.

In terms of reach and potential earnings, social media platforms continue to dominate for independent artists. Many "creator-first" platforms have arisen to assist influencers keep more of their profits by giving creators a larger share of ad income generated by their content (anything from 55-100 percent). A creator-first platform like Patreon, for instance, makes it possible for micro-influencers to monetize their content in the form of subscriptions, donations, and crowdfunding. In exchange for publishing, hosting, and paywalling content, these platforms take a tiny percentage (usually no more than 20%).

Last but not least, influencer agencies and publisher ad networks facilitate partnerships between brands and influential individuals through sponsorships, recommendations, and endorsements. Creators can earn a cut of the revenue they help generate through these collaborations, while advertisers can increase brand exposure among a different demographic than they would target through traditional advertising.

The Question: What Does It Mean to Create?

In the digital realm, creators produce a wide variety of media, including videos, blogs, photos, paintings, and songs. Making content can function as a hobby or a full-time job.

The most successful artists give their followers genuine guidance they can't get anywhere else. For instance, former Springboard employee Rahil Jetly launched a podcast called The Actual Job to promote understanding and appreciation for careers like corrosion engineering and lighting technology.

Opportunities For Financial Gain

The first step toward financial success as a creator is to consistently produce high-quality material and grow an audience. Content creators can monetize their work in a number of different ways, including by posting it on social media and collecting a cut of the ad revenue, by accepting donations on creator-centric platforms, or by hosting it on their own domain.


Sponsorships are the most popular source of revenue for podcasters. This could take the form of an outright commercial for the purpose of promoting an affiliate offer or a casual reference to the product in the course of the article's normal flow. Influencers can get paid for the sales they help produce by sharing a tracking link or discount code provided by brands. Fundraising and donations can be made through a podcast's hosting platform.

Prominent podcasters can monetize their shows by charging a monthly or yearly subscription fee in exchange for access to premium features like more interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, or an ad-free experience.


Bloggers can monetize their sites with a variety of revenue streams, including direct advertising, affiliate sales, sponsored content, and the sale of additional services. To advertise her copywriting, SEO, and email marketing services, freelance writer Elna Cain writes a blog about the freelance writing industry.

Bloggers with a significant readership can host advertisements by joining an ad network. When you click on an ad from one of these networks, you may see a different ad depending on the sites you've visited recently, which is tracked via cookies. Affiliate networks allow bloggers to promote a company's products using a unique tracking link. If a reader clicks on the blogger's link and makes a purchase, the blogger will get a commission. Expert authors can restrict access to their newsletters behind a paywall by publishing them on their own sites or through content distribution networks like Substack.


Producer of video material

Putting videos up on YouTube is a popular strategy for making money off of online video. You can make money off of commercials, subscribers, and channel memberships on YouTube if you have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 view hours in the past 12 months, which is what you need to apply for YouTube's Partner Program. The creator's share is 55% and YouTube receives 45%. Those who make instructional or instructional-style videos can earn money directly from their viewers by restricting access to their videos behind a paywall.


Influencers are well-known figures on social media who can sway the shopping decisions of their followers. In order to promote their products or services, companies pay influencers to write sponsored content or act as their spokespeople. Brand ambassadors are paid on a recurring basis to promote a company's products in exchange for exposure, rather than for a one-time sponsored article.

Imagination and Creative Process

Digital artists, photographers, and videographers can now sell their work on NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) stock image sites and marketplaces in exchange for royalties or commissions. Melissa Wiederrecht, a generative artist who home-schooled her five kids, supplemented her family's income by creating and submitting seamless patterns to stock image websites. Wiedderecht, who completed Springboard's Data Science Career Track, calls the business of selling artwork online a "numbers game." She has more than 24,000 photos available for purchase on Shutterstock at the moment.

Creating, uploading, and selling seamless patterns on Shutterstock may be done as a full-time job, according to Wiedderecht. It's possible; I haven't gotten there yet.

When Creating Something, How Much Money Can I Make?

According to Stripe, while the top 1% of influencers can make six figures for a single sponsored post, only 41% of creators make a decent wage ($69,000 or more annually). Some of the most popular influencers, like as sports star Cristiano Ronaldo and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, can charge more than $1 million for a single post.

Revenues from the Creator Economy

The size and composition of a creator's following, the frequency with which they publish, the distribution platforms they employ, and the sort of content they produce (lifestyle material being the easiest to monetize) all have significant bearing on a creator's potential earnings.

Is There a Path to Creativity?

Create and share interesting material about a subject you care about passionately before you worry about making money from it. Create a content plan and employ several content types including tutorials, emails, podcasts, and quick videos.

According to Springboard's director of growth Roger Huang, "the true secret sauce is discovering the kind of material that consumers desire and putting it out there." "Then there's the next level, which is learning the algorithm and figuring out how to expand your audience," the author continues.

Establish a regular publishing time and date to maximize exposure. Join an affiliate program or apply for a verified creator account on the platform of your choice once you've attained a specified number of followers. This opens the door to creator money, collaboration with businesses, and greater visibility.

Persons Whose Work Is Worth Keeping Up With

Most notably, they provide niche-relevant content on a consistent basis and create ways to engage their consumers in two-way interactions. Let me give you some instances.

In other words, Patrick Shyu. This former Facebook engineer gained widespread attention after publishing a series of films that revealed controversial aspects of working at Facebook. Shyu's movies range from instructional guides for learning to code to more personal documentations of his daily life.

This is Delyanne Barros. Self-made millionaire and former employment attorney, Barros now works as an investment coach, developing resources like online courses, podcasts, and blogs to help others learn how to invest for the long term in the stock market.

It's Liza Koshy. Liza Koshy, a popular YouTube comedian, has garnered praise for utilizing her channel to promote important causes like voter registration.

Dr. Michelle Lewin. Michelle Lewin, a leading figure in the fitness business, publishes articles, videos, and recommendations for people who are interested in staying healthy and working out. She has two mobile applications available that provide individualized exercise and diet routines, and she has also released a line of supplements.

Which Role Do Businesses and Name Brands Play?

Businesses can benefit from the reputation of influencers by partnering with them. Partnerships between businesses and influential people who already have access to the target audience are common.

Tomoson, an influencer marketing firm, conducted a survey of digital marketers and discovered that 59% of those polled intended to raise their influencer marketing spending within the next year. Micro-influencers are especially attractive to startups and SMBs since they reduce the cost-per-action of an advertising campaign without compromising its overall reach. For every piece of content an influencer creates, marketers spend an average of $174.

A brand's ability to understand an influencer's audience and communicate with them is now more important than their number of followers, which was traditionally the primary criterion utilized by corporations when selecting influencers.

Artists and Their Ascendance to the Fore

The ascension of the maker movement

Micro-influencers have taken over the social media sector, which was formerly dominated by large celebrities and corporations. Micro-influencers share their knowledge with a wider audience through tutorials, how-to guides, and day-in-the-life vlogs than do traditional influencers, who have millions of followers and whose final objective is to get rich brand endorsements. Being a go-to expert in your field is more important than pushing a specific product or lifestyle.

Now since partnering with micro-influencers is more affordable, even tiny businesses can afford to use them to spread the word about their wares among a certain demographic.

Let's delve deeper into the origins of the creator economy and the future of the field.

How the Creator Economy Came to Be

Around 2012, websites like WordPress, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook gave regular people the tools they needed to create and distribute content on a budget. This marked the beginning of the "formal" creative economy. Social media platforms used user-generated content (UGC) for free at first, but then producers started wanting payment in exchange for driving traffic and ad revenue.

A second trend that emerged on these services was the "discovery" of previously unknown creators. Shawn Mendes, a singer-songwriter, and Justin Bieber, a pop star, both shared their talents on Vine and YouTube, proving once again that artists have the potential to become profitable assets for both companies and the platforms that host their material. For individuals who have amassed a big number of subscribers but who don't fit the conventional definition of "celebrity," YouTube came up with the word "creator" in 2011 as an alternative to "YouTube star."

Trends in the Creative Economy

Many artists aren't happy only relying on social media's opaque economics. Many artists now use their own domain names for streaming their work. Successful artists are increasingly taking the role of business founders, forming teams, and amassing resources to enable them to devote their time and energy to creating new works or promoting established brands.

Although "big-ticket" social media stars with 50 million or more followers still exist, Huang argues that "a new paradigm has emerged in which more and more people will be able to make things they love, put their stuff out there, and get rewarded."

Meanwhile, social media behemoths are introducing creator incentives in an effort to woo influential users back to their sites. Improvements to monetization methods, in-person gatherings, brand collaborations, and cash payments are all on the table now. Snapchat's Spotlight feature, which is akin to TikTok, began awarding daily creators with $1 million in November. Spotlight on Snapchat brought in $966,546 for former mental health therapist turned TikTok science video creator Dominic Andre in 2018 alone.

The Prospects for the Creative Sector

Creators, if they have their way, will reclaim economic power in the near future. Over $1.3 billion was invested into the creator economy last year, but most of it went to social media and publishing platforms rather than individual creators.

Without some way for creators to make money, many platforms will lose their talent. The video-sharing software Vine, which Twitter acquired in 2012 but has since shut down, failed to gain traction because its creators were unable to make money off of the service.
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