You will hear the term Creator Economy a lot over the coming years. It’s closely attached to the web3 or Web 3.0 movement, and promises that content creators will have never before seen ways to monetize their content. The story goes that you will see content creators be able to tokenize their content, turn it into NFTs, and create vibrant communities of fans who will happily support creators and even give them the chance to become rich. All off creating content regularly.
But the reality is, it’s not gonna happen.
And I say that as a person who has been getting paid to create content since 2006. I was the first person to successfully monetize a Twitter chat, I believe I was also the first person to get sponsors for a live version of a Twitter chat, when Dell sponsored a Live version of #Blogchat at South By Southwest in 2011. There were some years when content creation was my main source of income, yet there’s also been a year or two where it barely made me a penny.
It’s very difficult to make a good living just from content creation. A new survey from influencer marketing platform Aspire backs this up:
Only 4.3% of online creators are earning six figures or more from their efforts https://t.co/6yh94vGubk
— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) October 9, 2022
And let’s be honest: In some areas of the country, $100,000 a year is not much.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from being a content creator. I just want you to go into your efforts with both eyes open. View your entry into the creator economy as one where you have multiple revenue streams. Content creation could be one stream. Another could be selling courses or consulting services based around the type of content you create. But unless you are the next Mr Beast or NICKMERCS, content creation alone will not make you rich.
Sidenote: If you’ve read this blog or followed me on Twitter for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge fanboy for the #MFAM community that NICKMERCS has created. I love this tweet Nick reshared a couple of years ago from his excitement in 2014 for hitting 170 viewers of his Twitch stream:
It’a not a sprint, it’s a marathon. pic.twitter.com/9tmRx4BbVg
— FaZe Nickmercs (@NICKMERCS) August 19, 2020
Today, it’s not uncommon for Nick’s streams to have 500k up to a million or more views. Today, Nick is one of the most successful content creators on the planet. Which ties into another point: Even if you do make big money from content creation, it will take time and consistency. Learn to #RespectTheGrind.
The Creator Economy Won’t Make You Rich, But It Might Make You Enemies
The creator economy will get more people in the coming years. Since 2020, we have seen a shift to working from home. The creator economy has been an offshoot of this, and will continue to progress.
As it does, many content creators WILL figure out ways to monetize their efforts. As this happens, we will see some silliness and jealousy enter the conversation.
I’ve never told this story before. I started taking on social media content and consulting clients in 2006. In 2011, I started talking to publishers about writing a book that would later become Think Like a Rock Star. In early 2012, I got a deal signed with McGraw-Hill to publish TLAR. At the time, I was coming off 2011, which had been my best year so far working for myself. I didn’t make a ton of money, but I felt like I had turned a corner, plus I saw the book deal as being my way to take my career to the next level. So when I signed the book deal in early 2012, I decided not to take on ANY new client work for 6 months, so I could focus all my attention on writing TLAR.
In hindsight, this might not have been the best choice, but at the time it made sense to me, so I stand by the decision. I got to work on writing TLAR, and a few weeks later, I announced here, and on social media that the book would be out early the following year.
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. However, there was some criticism. A few people left snarky comments here and elsewhere saying I wasn’t qualified to write a book. Or that my book was unnecessary. One person even seemed to imply I had stolen the idea for my book from another author’s book (which I had never read).
I’ll never forget, there was one guy who worked for a major brand who occasionally left snarky comments towards me and other social media consultants. When I announced my book, he went to Twitter and told his followers NOT to buy my book, that I wasn’t qualified cause I didn’t work for a company like he did. I had to laugh cause I’m thinking ‘Dude you are likely making double if not triple what I am right now, and you’re jealous of my book deal’.
So as some content creators find new ways to monetize their efforts, look for the same controversy to follow. I’m already seeing this happening in some circles where you have a group of content creators who are covering breaking news stories, but suddenly one girl has found a way to successfully monetize her efforts. Now the community she was a part of is calling her a ‘shill’ or that she shouldn’t be monetizing her efforts, she’s a ‘sellout’ etc. I saw the same things when Web 2.0 got off the ground, the same silliness will repeat during Web 3.0.
The Creator Economy Is a Piece of the Pie, it Ain’t the Whole Pie
The odds are, you won’t make a lot of money from creating content. You may not directly make a single dime off it. So manage your expectations when it comes to monetizing the content you create. Don’t think of it as a way to pay the bills, but maybe as a way to HELP you pay the bills. You can have other revenue streams, and many of those can develop as an offshoot of your content creation efforts.
Employers, you have to understand that your employees will be drawn to the freedom that the creator economy offers. It’s enticing to think about working from home, for yourself, doing much of the same work that they are currently doing in a cubicle for you. If you want to keep your best employees, you have to think about how to more creatively compensate and reward them for their efforts. Maybe you give them a bigger salary, or maybe more flexibility in work requirements. Appreciating your employees helps build trust and loyalty.
The creator economy will be a driving force in the coming years. It may not mint a million new millionaires, but it will give a lot of people the ability and freedom to pursue a new career path working for themselves. I’m excited to see where it takes us all!