Welcome to the new renaissance, a new creator class that is no longer a concept but an inescapable reality - where the powerful combination of social media, technological advances, and entrepreneurship are inspiring millions globally to take command of their future.
Long gone are the days when Instagram was merely used as a photo editing app, or Facebook was to keep in touch with family abroad. Social media platforms now hold the robust ability to grant anyone the power to become independent content creators. Got a phone or something to say? Great, you're in.
As simple as switching on your phone, you can start recording, grow an audience, and make a living from the beauty of your own home, or better yet, while traveling around the world.
The Creator Economy first became a term over a decade ago, but only in recent years has it fully flourished into becoming the fastest-growing type of small business, with over 50 million people around the world considering themselves as creators. While 46.7 million are considered amateurs, 2+ million are professionals in their field and making content full-time for a living.
First Thing's First, What Is The Creator Economy?
The creator economy can be defined as the class of businesses built by independent content creators, curators, social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers that monetize themselves, their skills, or their creations. The size of the Creator Economy market is $104.2BN and is growing by the day.
The Covid-19 pandemic revolutionized the Creator Economy and forced companies to rapidly grow their online presence to survive the dramatic changes happening around the world. While locked inside, the average user's screen time soared up to 13 hours a day, according to Eyesafe Nielsen estimates. Everyone found ways to keep themselves sane; from the banana bread craze, starting yoga, or learning short dances with catchy songs - social media became the primary source of inspiration, community-building, education, and entertainment. Thanks to the pandemic, TikTok became an industry leader overnight and now dominates other platforms with 50 million daily active users in the U.S alone.
This provoked businesses to review their marketing strategies and find ways to sell their products virtually, turning to influencers to reach larger audiences. Meanwhile, the audience of content consumers seems to be ever-growing, and the Creator Economy has become ever-present.
Social Media Platforms Embracing The New Era
Social media is inevitable in society today. In July 2021, data showed that there are 4.48 billion social media users worldwide, equal to almost 57% of the total global population - understandably why organizations are comprehending the vast potential social media holds when it comes to targeting prospective customers.
Platforms are eagerly racing to develop features to keep up with the ever-growing digital e-commerce paradigm and provide the tools and programs that enable creators to harness their content for financial gain while incentivizing activity on their platforms.
As these trends grew, major social media platforms started feeling the pressure to change procedures and begin compensating creators for their content. In light of this, Substack enabled writers to keep 90% of their subscription fees. Video platform leaders TikTok established their $200M Creator Fund and YouTube distributed a $100M fund between 2021 and 2022 for their new YouTube Shorts launch. Instagram began incentivizing creators with a potential $10,000 per Reel. To keep up with the short-form video trend, Snapchat introduced its new feature Spotlight, dazzling creators with a daily pool of $1M for its top-performing videos.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt pressure from competitors when announcing to pay $1BN in creator incentives. “To help more creators make a living on our platforms, we're going to keep paid online events, fan subscriptions, badges, and our coming independent news products free for creators until 2023. And when we do introduce a revenue share, it will be less than the 30 percent that Apple and others take,” Zuckerberg said.
While these trends allow creators to seek better monetization options, the challenge to hit the social media lottery and build enough audience to receive incentives such as these are still a struggle for most amateur content creators. Social media platforms are constantly analyzing users' daily activity to keep up with the never-ending trends and change any process along the way that may interfere. Therefore, creators are faced daily with the relentless content treadmill designed to please the algorithm gods.
Over time, creators have begun to realize the lack of choice or power they held over their careers when building on rented land. The idea that their account, name, social connections, or content they've spent days, months, and years creating didn't belong to them and instead belonged to the platform, was discouraging. The possibility that their livelihood was directly impacted by factors entirely outside their control began to awaken a shift across the Creator Economy.
Instead of building audiences, creators began to focus on building a community, a loyal following outside of their platform-owned account. This encouraged followers to not only connect with the creator but with other like-minded followers in the community. Creators reduced the stress of constantly feeling the pressure to create content to keep up with the algorithms, alternatively focusing on producing quality content that will target their community. These communities also created a sense of fellowship, increasing the likelihood of patrons paying a subscription to access their favorite creators' content and supporting them in their brands and endeavors.
In a domino effect, creators see the immense benefits of independently building their empire and regaining their autonomy.
From Dependence To Independence
At this point, we are no longer strangers to the term Blockchain and all its glories. As difficult as it may be to wrap our heads around this 'sci-fi movie' concept, it is evident how it can ultimately power the Creator Economy and allow creators to regain rightful ownership of their content.
Essentially, NFTs, which exist on the Blockchain, provide a template of how digital assets can be owned and that ownership can be tracked. Creators can now own their IP (Intellectual Property) for their digital creations and receive royalties from those who use their creations and innovations using smart contracts. Covering everything for writers, photographers, programmers, musicians, teachers, researchers, and entrepreneurs, the IP owners can receive a royalty every time the material is used.
This powerful technology defeats fraud and counterfeits, proving the authenticity and ownership of goods. Allegedly, it’s tamper-proof.
Blockchain will encourage creativity and enable more people to pursue their dreams by being able to receive financial ownership of their creations. The opportunity for the Creator Economy to broaden is enormous as we are on the brink of new digital marketplaces via Blockchain.
The world of Blockchain is a deep dark rabbit hole - the further you read into it, the deeper it gets. Many articles dive into Blockchain Technology and how it is transforming the Creator Economy, explaining the benefits for fans. Clément Bourcart from Medium writes about three new hubs: BitClout, Melon.ooo, Bonuz.Market.
"One is a revolutionary technology that unleashed unparalleled innovation over the past decade. The other is a fundamental change in our notion of work and wealth creation," Clément quotes in his article.
Social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok kickstarted the creator economy, but they all have one thing in common, working on a centralized system. This means all the data is being stored with them, ultimately giving them all the power to do what they please with it.
However, these new opportunities thrive in a decentralized environment, and looking forward, we can only expect more significant levels of creator autonomy with the promise of Web 3.0.
Shifting Power Dynamic
As the digital technology landscape accelerates, we are finally seeing the power of Web 3.0 in action and the strong potential it holds for all industries. Creators now have the ability to own their relationship with audiences independent of social media platforms, allowing more opportunities to monetize their content - shifting the power dynamic profoundly.
This is the next major phase in the evolution of the internet. Web 3.0 refers to the next version of the internet, which will focus on decentralization and user ownership. Creators are now in the driver's seat, being offered the opportunity to have greater control and individuality than ever before.
“Тhe whole purpose of Web 3.0 is to enable a decentralized creator economy аnd all the tech for this already exists. We just need to foster adoption of these technologies in real industries, in creative industries, for the assets produced by creators. It will not only increase liquidity of the creator economy assets, it will also open a flow of capital to creators,” Alex Shkor (via The Cryptonomist), DEIP CEO and Co-Founder of CIL Protocol Architect.
With the development and accessibility of business tools and decentralized platforms, creators are presented with options to build sustainable businesses for longevity and bolster through the next hypergrowth wave of the e-commerce industry.
Passion Economy: Why More People Are Doing What They Love For A Living
In the wake of the pandemic, we were thrown curveballs left, right, and center in our professional lives. From lockdowns, isolations, redundancy, or businesses unable to survive the harsh hit to the economy, 2020 was certainly not a breeze. Yet, despite these hardships, the human spirit found ways to make the most of a terrible situation.
Maybe you realized you loved working from home instead of sitting in traffic. Learned new things about yourself you never noticed before or used this unavoidable pause in the world to internally reflect and ask yourself, “Are you really in the industry you love?”
The advent of new digital platforms enables people to make a livelihood while showcasing their individuality. We’re seeing careers being built by the driving force of passion, fueling a new model of internet-powered entrepreneurship. The Creator Economy ultimately can be defined as the Passion Economy.
By simply using our phones, we have the opportunity to pursue our dreams, determine our futures, and create the life we want. For the side hustlers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, the Passion Economy presents a new way to capitalize on creativity and own the life you dream of.