The Creator Economy: Audience, Community, and Commerce - Deepstash
The Creator Economy: Audience, Community, and Commerce

The Creator Economy: Audience, Community, and Commerce

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The Promise Of The Creator Economy

The Promise Of The Creator Economy

The creator economy is comprised of people who attract an audience to build a business. Thanks to the rise of digital media and tools, such as creator coins, there are several ways to get this done. Give people valuable reasons to know, like, and trust you, over and over, and you’ll cultivate the ideal customer base.

Then, monetize away by giving the people what they want. From authentic recommendations to online courses, virtual communities, and other digital products that solve their pain points and challenges, you’re in business.

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The Content Entrepreneur

Building a community of like-minded people by sharing highly relevant information is the primary path of the content entrepreneur.

What worked at the dawn of the Web 2.0 blogging revolution in the mid-2000s holds to this day: when you provide free, valuable content on a topic in which you have expertise and authority, and share it liberally to empower others, you’ll attract an engaged audience.

Over time, through affinity content, that audience will become your core community of not just fans but paying customers. 

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Leaving Crumbs For Your Fans

You want to be sure people can find your fantastic content in the first place. So, in addition to making sure you’re following SEO best practices (which tends to be a long-ball strategy), you’ll also want to promote your content on search engines and social platforms organically and through paid advertising and promotion.

It makes sense to build relationships with publishers in your niche by guest posting and otherwise helping them build their audiences (which you can then “borrow”).

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The Stuff You Put Out

While creating fresh, unique work (i.e., articles, ebooks, music, art, etc.) is one way to provide value to your audience, hand-selecting content that will interest and engage them can be equally as effective. And it’s also an excellent way to create recurring revenue over time.

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Monetizing Audience

The Holy Grail for content entrepreneurs is audience monetization. Indeed, it’s why we’re talking about a creator economy — the financial opportunities are abundant.

Audience monetization happens after you’ve built a rapport with your followers and offer them enough value that they want to buy from you and/or support your creative endeavours.

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Ways Of Audience Monetization

  • Creating and selling physical or digital products 
  • Productizing a service 
  • Offering memberships or subscriptions (i.e., Copyblogger Academy)
  • Running native advertising on your site or newsletter
  • Becoming an affiliate
  • Hosting events (IRL or virtual)
  • Putting premium content behind a paywall
  • Providing consulting and/or speaking services
  • Giving your audience ways to tip or donate 

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You Are The King

When it comes to the creator economy, there are riches in the niches. It’s no wonder, then, that an enormous amount of platforms have cropped up to help the creator class create content, cultivate community, and cash in on their audience. 

Not only could these Silicon Valley-driven solutions use some copywriting help, but the thing they’re making easy is for them to line their pockets with the proceeds of your hard work.

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Create A Community

Once you’ve built it and people have come, how do you keep them returning for more? Create a vibrant community, and you’ve got one of the more successful and sustainable business models in the creators’ market.

That means taking your social media show on the road over to media that you own.

So, while it’s fine to start out on community-oriented platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, savvy media creators use content marketing strategies to drive traffic to their own platforms. 

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Popular Tools To Use

  • Writers: Medium, Substack, Wattpad
  • Podcasters: Acast, Buzzsprout, Podbean
  • Gamers: Epic Games, Discord, Roblox
  • Livestreamers: Twitch, Loots, Streamyard
  • Musicians: StageIt, Kobalt Music, BeatStars
  • Online course creators: Teachable, Kajabi, Thinkific
  • Fitness instructors: Salut, Mindbody, Strydal 

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Building A Digital Business

  • There are all sorts of participants in the creator economy that are there to help the creator class on their road to success, including:
  • Merch and eCommerce tools like 99designs, Big Cartel, and Shopify
  • Marketing and management tools, such as ConvertKit, Memberful, and Clout Jam
  • Patronage and tipping tools, such as Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee, and Ko-fi
  • Financial processing tools, including Stripe and Plaid
  • Bespoke financial/crypto tools, like Karat and Rally.io (ICYMI, here’s more on how creator coins empower content entrepreneurs and their customers.)

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The Power In The Creators Hands

The creator economy gets its juice from the personalities that attract and build audiences. This fuels a trend of creators wanting more ownership over their communities and, ultimately, their earnings.

So, for example, more and more influencers are creating their own ecosystems with personal websites, apps, and even currencies. In other words, successful creators aren’t just making content — they’re founders of their own personal brand. 

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The Size Of The Creator Economy

The creator economy is vast, and its implications go well beyond its $104(+) billion size today. According to a recent report from Influencer Marketing Hub, the growth trajectory of the creator economy is similar to the gig economy (mostly on Upwork and Fiverr), which means a future valuation in the trillions of dollars.

This is good news for everyone in the space — not just brand-name influencers. 

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The Investors

Even though the creator economy has been around for the last couple of decades — since the dawn of Web 2.0 and the rise of user-generated content and social media — its economic impact has only become apparent in the last few years.

In 2021 alone, according to CBInsights, there’s been a record-setting $1.3 billion funding for creator economy startups.

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The Hungry Middle-Class Creators

Only a few rarified name-brand influencers are at the top of the feeding chain. The rest makes up a vast middle of the creator class who work hard to even cover their costs. This can make creating digital content feel like “gig work.”

While that’s less glamorous than the perceived life of the megawatt influencer, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a decent living as a creator.  Nearly 50% of creators who have been building their audiences for four or more years earn more than $20k across all of their monetized channels.

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The Opportunities

There are numerous opportunities in the creator economy as long as you’re willing to work hard and diversify your revenue sources. 

Early on in the creator economy, ad revenue sharing was a primary way for creators to earn money.

But then platforms like YouTube changed their policies and demonetized some ad-sharing opportunities for creators.

Today ad revenue is still a part of the mix — and a desirable one as it’s passive income — but savvy creators are careful not to rely on it alone. 

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Sponsored Content

Nowadays, sponsored content is one of the primary opportunities in the influencer economy. Don’t be afraid of that terminology — content creators with influence at all levels are being tapped for participation in everything from sponsored posts to product placement and shout-outs.

That’s because “nano” (i.e., less than 5k followers on Instagram) and “micro” content creators (i.e., 100k followers or less) provide higher levels of engagement and conversions than those at the mega-influencer level. 

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A Thousand Followers

Putting your destiny in the hands of a third party leaves you to the whims of those companies. That’s why the movement of the creator as a business is particularly appealing. And you don’t need a gigantic following to profit as a content creator.

The idea is: all you need is 1,000 people who love what you do and will buy anything you make. 

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Grow Your Fanbase

All you need to do is create, cultivate, and nurture your direct connection to your fanbase. This is where selling things like merch, digital products, premium content, books/eBooks, fan engagement, coaching/consulting, and speaking services comes in.

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The Disparities

Influencer Marketing Hub found there isn’t a definite correlation between follower count and income. In fact, the difference in the number of followers for influencers who earn between $50-100k and those who make $500k-1M is only around 1.8K people — despite an earnings difference of $500k(+).

The more people learn to advocate for themselves — and decide to create and grow channels that foster a direct connection to their fans on media they own — the better.

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The Future

Where we’re going from here has only been accelerated in our post-pandemic world. People have more eagerly adapted to digital life, which, in turn, has given content creators a boost and the communities they serve more to enjoy. 

We now have:

  • More options to diversify revenue streams
  • Increased channels for creators and fans to connect
  • Greater direct support from audience members
  • Less reliance on social media giants 
  • A more symbiotic relationship between creators and their audiences — with no intermediaries

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Web Version Three

Web 3.0 makes all of this possible — and it’s where things get really interesting. A decentralized digital world is where the power shifts to the creator and their communities.

Soon, we’ll see a creator economy that’s not one big blob but rather a collection of micro-economies fueled by cryptocurrency where all participants (creators, audience members) gain and retain ownership.

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CURATED BY

lisharre

Programme researcher for broadcasting/film/video

A must read stash on the Creator Economy.

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