The creator economy is by no means a new concept. The internet enabled driven individuals and curious minds to share, teach and spread their work across various domains. In fact, if you’re just starting to build your online “hustle,” you’re rather late to the game. Every day a new star rises from TikTok or a meme is sold for an obnoxious amount, thanks to recent popularity in NFTs.
What’s most notable about this recent surge in economic functioning is that creators are not entirely incentivized by a new stream of income; rather, they are building off their passions. Podcasts are changing from interview-style questions to genuine and authentic chats between groups of people. Substack has decentralized core media platforms so that writers have an opportunity to build large audiences interested in virtually any topic deemed worthy.
As traditional work systems continue to evolve, where should business owners invest energy to capitalize on these new models? What platforms will reign, and how will this affect entrepreneurs?
TYPES OF CREATORS AND MONETIZATION
Whether you choose to monetize your passions by speaking, teaching, visualization, or writing, there is no shortage of platforms on which to do so. The old model, often referred to as the attention economy, relied almost entirely on advertising dollars. The recent shift has given more power to the creators, with various ways to finance their passions.
As it stands, the new economy can support financing by way of:
• Advertisements: Creators who build a big enough audience can cash out through third-party advertising.
• Subscriptions: Creators can bring in residual income by unlocking exclusive or first-access content for fans who are willing to pay a recurring amount.
• One-off sales or donations: By implementing donation pages or something similar, creators can incentivize consumers to make one-off payments for support and continued work.
• Brand sponsorships or influencer marketing: In this social media-friendly model, influencers partner with brands and can be paid to post their products.
• Affiliate marketing: Brands provide creators with a link so that each product or service sold can be tied back to the creator for a commission.
Most recently, Clubhouse has stolen the spotlight. Thanks to help from technologists like Elon Musk, both creators and consumers can’t get enough of this multitasking-friendly platform.
Platforms are growing for a variety of creators. Here are the creator categories I believe are poised for the most growth:
• Video course creators.
• Community leaders.
• Personal shoppers.
• Fitness instructors.
• Virtual coaches.
TAKEAWAYS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
All of this has significant meaning for entrepreneurs. Here are a few takeaways.
• There will be more competition. Given new circumstances, especially pertaining to COVID-19, more people are learning how to monetize their hobbies and passions and turn them into side gigs. With an online community for every group, separating your business’s unique value proposition by way of service, feature, brand, or specialty will be instrumental.
• There are new opportunities for partnerships. Recognize both direct competitors and mutually beneficial partnership opportunities to expand your reach. Use monetization incentives like the ones listed above to build fruitful partnerships.
• The talent and hiring pool just expanded. You no longer need to persuade your new hires to sit in an office cubicle all day. Get active on these platforms to find out who’s looking for opportunities, and look to different kinds of roles (i.e. contractors, freelancers, and project-based positions) that allow your company to make bigger leaps.
• Find your sweet spot. It’s just not feasible to try to represent your brand on every platform while expecting an incremental ROI. Fully define your company’s position within the marketplace. From there, create a strategy based on which platform you can find representatives from and which will result in the most impactful audiences.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The world is changing fast. Embrace it or get left behind. Don’t be afraid to tinker on different platforms and see where your business is gaining the most leverage. Execute and keep what works.
It’s also important to differentiate your business and specialize in what you do. The easiest way to ward off copycats and establish yourself as the best company for “X” value is to be authentically yourself. The business that abides by that, while providing utmost value, becomes irreplaceable.
Keep in mind that the future of digital monetization is in the hands of passionate creators, or micro-entrepreneurs, if you will. By being closer to their patrons than major corporations, this group is able to leverage feedback faster and customize output to their customers’ wants and needs.
Whether they’re selling a product, content, or knowledge, entrepreneurs who build ties to successful creators have an opportunity to greatly expand their reach. Those with passionate curiosity, a natural tendency to connect, and the discipline to consistently create will flourish.
Solomon is a sales and marketing guru who has built a number of successful companies over the last decade. Read more at Thimothy.com.