the rise of the creator economy
Creatorship, at least from the digital tangent, is in its infancy. However, changes have fueled the rise and growth of creatorship.
Internationally, it was the ongoing sentiment of the people, particularly the millennials to Gen Zs, to attain a sense of fulfillment in their actions. The social consciousness dramatically shifts to the yearning to do things at one’s own pace and not being tied to their 9-to-5 jobs or office cubicles. Having control over things that matter – things that directly affect the quality of life and well-being – has been the mantra ever since this yearning crept into the minds of the young.
Another significant global trend is thanks to technological innovations and how we embraced such. Search engines and social media have become industries of their own. There was an inflection point to ponder, wherein a person only needs an idea, a piece of technology, and the bravery to face the public’s scrutinizing gaze to create content that matters.
In Asia, the driving forces behind the creator economy are different. First is the ever-growing figures on the monthly active social media users. In Southeast Asia alone, there are 482 million users who spend at least 2 hours on social media using their mobile devices. So the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to a billion industry by 2024.
Second is the diversity of content. Southeast Asia's most popular content includes reviews, tutorials, unboxing, social feed, and entertainment. The relatability of the content is the #1 reason Asian creators are sought-after by brands.
who are content creators?
A creator is a person or group who creates informative, educational, or entertaining original material as a form of expression. A creator uses a medium or channel to create content for a specific or targeted end user. Still, most use digital channels like websites and social media. Digital content is mainly produced nowadays due to its high demand. Digital content is where the money is if you are planning to generate revenue from your content.
While it may be challenging to assess the actual numbers, the creator economy is 50 million content creators strong and counting. Unfortunately, only about 2 million creators are able to make a stable career from their creations.
Rush Fam, Bella Poarch, Charli D’Amelio, PewDiePie, and Addison Rae are prominent names in the creator economy. They have earned millions of dollars on their chosen platform. PewDiePie, for instance, is estimated to have earned $124 million on YouTube since 2010.
Sample creators - from Gushcloud talents
Gushcloud is proud of its content creators. They aspire to get their message across through their content, and now they make a living out of it.
Kane Lim (@kanelk_k)
Kelly Mi-Li (@kellymili)
The Rush Fam (@TheRushFam)
Our Boring Life boys: Johnny Valentine (@johnnyvalentineee), Tyron Klynhans (@tyy.k), Will Green (@willyourbf), Gianluca Molin (@gianluca_molin), Paul Bohme (@kidcalledpaul)
Audrey Lim (@audreysaurus)
Jane Chuck (@janechuck)
Lily May Mac (@lilymaymac)
Korea Reomit (@hansoljang110)
Ciara Sotto (@pinaypole)
Chaleeda Gilbert (@chaleedaxgilbert)
The Hacksmith (@thehacksmith)
Creator economy platforms
These are the major creator economy platforms today. Some of these platforms have set up funds for the sole purpose of paying content creators. Nonetheless, all these platforms use AI and algorithms to curate and recommend content for user consumption. These platforms need no introduction, but some of their worth-knowing features that allow creators to earn more are here.
YouTube - Ads, paid sponsorships, affiliate program, channel membership, patronage, merchandise, Super, and Shorts
Twitter - Amplify Pre-Roll, Amplify Sponsorships, Super Follows, and tips
TikTok - Ads, branded content, Series, Marketplace, Next, video gifts, and tips
META: Facebook and Instagram - Reels, in-stream ads, fan subscriptions, branded content, subscription groups, badges, profile ads, and shopping
Twitch - Bits, subscriptions, in-stream ads, affiliate program, Amazon affiliate, and sponsorships
Others: Discord, Behance, Spotify, OnlyFans, eCommerce sites (Shopee, Lazada, and TikTok Live)
A creator typically gains traction and grows their fanbase through the virality of the content. Engagement is the currency of the creator economy. Having more followers could mean more frequent and higher levels of content consumption and possibly engagement. Since there are more users on the platform, this, in turn, translates into the platform’s revenues. Thus, it is a win-win situation.
Creator economy platforms
Creator economy tools help content creators and curators make quality content and, thus, grow their followership for monetization purposes. Tools are indispensable, so having these in your arsenal is best.
Content creation tools
Each platform has its own library of tools and features accessible to the content creators. For example, Instagram has filters, whereas TikTok has options for video effects.
Then again, creators may use out-of-platform content creation and enhancement tools. For example, Adobe Creative, which includes Photoshop and Illustrator, is an on-the-go content creation tool for professionals, businesses, and individuals.
Community engagement tools
Creators build communities around their content. It will only grow bigger in time, so if you are one of these creators, you will need handy tools to increase conversion rates. For instance, a contact detail-sorting tool can assist you when sending an SMS, emailing your fan for updates or exclusive content, or chatting with all of them in one go.
Engage them more first before planning to sell anything. Otherwise, your community will turn its back on you.
Upon diversifying your income stream, it is also essential to use finance management tools. Since everything is digital, financial exchanges are done virtually, if not paid in check or in kind (ex deals).
Interestingly, the creator economy is not just above the exchange of payment. There are also auxiliary financial services to consider, including preparing income and taxation documents. Aside from the already-available tools, agencies such as Gushcloud can also help in this aspect.
Creator economy platforms
Content creation is regarded as the fastest-growing business for individuals. As a matter of fact, more children want to become a YouTube star than an astronaut (29% vs. 11%).
Creators earn money in several ways. This is by far the most significant trend in the creator economy – creators and influencers being funded by their communities (of fans, followers, subscribers, etc.).
Beyond ads, though, content creators favor multiple revenue streams.
Ad revenue shares are the most basic way to earn through the content one produces. Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, which both have well-built advertising programs, allow creators to make on a cost-per-mille basis. Some pay creators through the extent of engagement on a particular post or upload.
Lately, though, creators are veering away from the platforms more so because excessive dependence on them is unsatisfactory in the long run profit-wise. For one, changes in features and tools are beyond the control of the creators. So they look for other ways to earn.
Live streaming is the most flexible of all income-generating aspects of creating content. While it is mainly used in live shopping, where they can sell their own merchandise or from sponsor brands, streamers may also accept payments, tips, and donations while the stream is ongoing. In addition, some creators feature products they buy for review and post links to the shop where they got the item for affiliate commissions.
Monetizing podcasts is an opportunity that not all creators or influencers have explored. Podcasters earn in various ways: through sponsorships, subscriptions to premium content, merchandise sales, affiliate sales, consultations, coaching, crowdfunding, and events. Podcasters typically combine these earning tactics.
Selling merchandise or merch is a lucrative business for creators who constantly churn out new designs for a shirt. However, this can be limiting for merchandise that requires no repeat purchase. So if pursuing this direction, you need to have a few pieces in your collection and launch new ones from time to time.
Content that is paid by advertisers and intended to promote the brand or company’s products and services to the creator’s target market. Sponsorships are among the most lucrative ways for creators. However, the pay will depend on the chosen content creator or influencer’s reach (or influence). Macro influencers demand higher compensation than micro-influencers. Some brands pay commissions depending on the engagement and conversion rates on top of the upfront payment.
Product placement is a merchandising strategy that started with television. As the name suggests, the product is strategically positioned as organically in the scene or script as possible. Product placement was also seen in music videos and, today, on branded content. Video content creators mostly interact with brands where the actual product can be shown to viewers directly or indiscreetly. As with other strategies on this list, pay generally varies.
Fan engagement is different from the typical revenue-generating route. However, some creators and influencers amass a fanbase that allows them to monetize further. For example, a paid video shoutout, a curated wedding playlist, or a birthday greeting. This will enable creators to showcase their talents and capabilities without shortchanging what they can do for their fans.
Affiliate marketing is evolving. The basic premise of affiliate marketing is recommending a product or service to fans, followers, or subscribers and providing a unique link from which they can purchase it. Commissions are paid based on the number and amount of sales. Nowadays, creators and influencers are given unique hashtags or codes that can be used to track sales.
Another way to earn is to directly sell content such as newsletters, ebooks, webinars, and online courses. Aside from apparel, accessories, and novelty items, content creators can sell virtually anything possible. As noted above, they can do live selling to raise earnings through engagement and actual sales of the products.
Content creators substantially adapt their content based on audience expectations. Thus, they also constantly adapt their monetization strategies. In the creator economy, what works will depend on extensive research, analysis, and experimentation. Otherwise, it will be a waste of precious time and resources.
How to succeed as a creator
Content creators need to do a lot of considering and balancing.
Diversify your platform
Platforms exist to cater to varying needs. This is true for both content creators and content consumers. For the creators, there is always a risk of becoming platform-dependent. But they don’t have to.
The next best thing is to diversify your platform and be where your target audience is. Innovative creators spread their influence and do not dilute it. They cross-promote so that they would not be vulnerable to platform risk. True enough, there are no two platforms alike. Some will eventually decline or saturate.
Never sacrifice quality
Content creators must produce content that the brand approves of. In addition, content should be high quality without appearing as a blatant advertisement. Overtly pushing a branded message ticks off the audience, eventually hurting engagement and growth.
Hire a representation specialist
Whether guiding you to navigate a new platform or providing equipment to execute your content idea, an agency like Gushcloud is your best ally.