In the creator economy, everything revolves around the production and sharing of content: the main players are them, the content creators, along with the audiences that follow and support them, as well as the platforms that enable that interaction. Here is what it is, how it works, and what monetization opportunities it offers.
According to some surveys, the greatest aspiration of children nowadays is to become a YouTube star - eh yes, the dream of being an astronaut does seem to have gone out of fashion.
But the desire to be real creator of profession (or nearly so) we adults often have it too: some of the idea of being in control of our own time and being our own boss, some of the possibility of turning our passion into a job, we are drawn to the thought of sharing our creativity with others and even being able to earn money from it.
Add to this the fact that cameras on phones are getting more and more accurate, TV screens are getting bigger, the Internet is getting faster and faster, and social networks are getting more and more crowded...
In short, we are in the midst of a brand new and rapidly growing economy, which has been precisely defined by its main players: the creator economy.
Maybe this term is new to you or you've barely heard of it, but basically it's something you're constantly surrounded by-I imagine you also find yourself scrolling through your Facebook feed, looking at the Instagram stories Or the videos on TikTok...
It is a fact: content producers, of whatever genre or skill, are revolutionizing the world of marketing and advertising. You used to use the Internet only as a user; now you do so as an entrepreneur-and this has revolutionized the way content is produced, distributed and consumed.
Excuse me? Creativity is nothing new? Not even turning a passion into a job?
You are right: the difference from before, however, is that the way is paved, thanks to web accessibility and various platforms-not to mention the Covid19 pandemic, which brought everything and everyone online.
And all this has led to the development of the creator economy.
But what exactly is it and how does it work?
In this article you will find everything you need to know about it: meaning, roles, business models, as well as some best practices to follow if you want to try your hand at it.
Spoiler: you don't need to have thousands of followers or quit your main job to succeed as a creator.
What matters is having the right mindset-and the right skills.
Read on to find out how best to get started.
Creator economy: what does it mean?
The creator economy thus refers to that system which includes the creation and distribution of all content in the current digital scenario: video, podcast, blog articles and social media postings.
At the center are they, the creators, who use major online platforms and channels to interact with users and create strong communities, spreading information and value around shared interests, passions and topics, monetizing their efforts and thus building a real business.
It includes millions of independent authors, including bloggers, influencers, video makers, as well as tools and software designed to help them grow.
From one point of view, the creator economy transforms engagement and interaction among people into new forms of monetization and wealth.
It is especially fueled by them, the social media platforms, which have enabled creators to reach a global audience and connect with their followers on a more personal level.
But who exactly is a content creator?
I have talked about this extensively in this article of mine: here you just need to know that it is any person who shares valuable content that is able to resonate with a particular audience online.
Often, they have the ability to influence their community to try, buy or learn more through their original content.
They are highly innovative and use their capabilities to build a personal brand attracting certain groups of people, presenting a unique perspective or an unmistakable voice Who can distinguish them from all others.
These are people with unique skills, abilities, and personalities who use digital platforms to create revenue streams. This can range from an Instagram influencer creating sponsored content, to an artist creating downloadable models, to a personal trainer selling fitness classes online. The common thread is that they are all monetizing their content online.
In fact, the audience supports them in economic terms by interacting with the content and paying for it, as well as making them their own Thought Leaders and buying from the brands that these creators support or are in some way connected to.
So it is clear that we are dealing with a new kind of entrepreneur: whether content creation is a primary or secondary activity, entrepreneurship is definitely a hallmark of the creator economy.
Creator economy: a bit of history
Before we delve deeper, I think it is important for you to understand how this creator economy was born and has evolved over time.
In general, its development can be considered divided into 3 distinct levels based on each other:
#1 Birth of multimedia platforms.
We are in the late 2000s and we are witnessing the emergence of platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, iTunes, Spotify and, continuing on, Snapchat, Twitter, Medium, Twitch, TikTok, etc. As I told you, they serve creators to be discovered and create their own audience, representing their distribution channel.
N.B. It is clear that the roots of this phenomenon can be traced even earlier. In the late 1990s, Web 2.0 ushered in an era of user-generated content and interactivity, and the rise of the mobile has contributed to the always-on consumption of the Internet. Blogging platforms came first, evolving from online diaries to individual media machines.
After creating a loyal audience that listened intently to what they had to say, brands began to understand the power and effectiveness of creators' actions to advertise products and services.
#3 Creators become businessmen
Thanks to their following, creators realize that they can generate revenue beyond sponsorship: they discover themselves as entrepreneurs, founding real companies that sell products, merchandise, books, or services of all kinds. It is no longer the brands that support them financially: in this last phase (which is the current one) creators are more diversified in their revenue streams and are funded directly by their fans.
How does the creator economy work?
In the creator economy, there are several stakeholders who determine how content is created, distributed, consumed, and monetized.
Here are the main ones:
As we said above, creators are now true entrepreneurs, sharing their value through products or services consumed by their target audience.
This can be informational, educational or purely entertainment material; the goal always remains retention, community building and, ultimately, monetization.
They are often considered influencers, but the truth is that different categories can be identified among the various creators:
- Celebrities: are famous artists or athletes outside of social media who choose to become active on these platforms to connect more with their fans and use the engagement to their advantage; thus promoting their favorite brands, making sponsorship deals, or supporting their own business;
- Influencer: An influencer is someone who basically has the power to influence other people's purchasing decisions through their authority; he has a following in a distinct niche in which he actively engages; members of his audience follow his advice and rely on his guidance when they are looking for solutions to their needs;
- Thought Leader: they are considered experts in their field, often have a professional title that supports their disclosure; sometimes they enter into brand partnerships and collaborations with brands that they consider to be of high quality compared to their own standards;
- Brand ambassador: is a person who is hired and paid by a company to represent their brand, promote and support it through their words and actions. Although an established online presence is important, he does not need to have millions of followers. What matters is his role as an opinion leader and the community he has been able to create around himself. It is a bit like being the "face" of that brand, but also the voice and attitude toward its customers; it leverages already established networks and relationships to market it through the various digital platforms.
- Affiliates: affiliate marketing is a digital sales and promotion strategy, which allows you to earn a commission by promoting another retailer's offering. The affiliate, working with a brand, promotes it to his target audience by sharing it in his "virtual space" (be it a blog, a podcast or his social page) and receives a fee for each specific result he manages to provide to the brand owner - this is through so-called affiliate links, which send people directly to the selected offer.
Consumers are the people who consume content, i.e., the target audience of creators.
Consumers interact with content created by experts, support it financially, and actively follow it for information or entertainment.
Platforms are third parties that facilitate creation, distribution, consumption, and monetization; they are used by both stakeholders (creators and users) to interact with each other.
They provide value-added services, make money through advertising or by charging subscription fees, and create opportunities for creators to monetize their experience.
This category includes all social media and digital sharing channels.
Companies are the brands that want to publicize their products and services with the help of creators, through effective campaigns of brand awareness.
The tools are all those various types of services that help stakeholders collaborate to create, distribute, and monetize content-including next-generation AI content (such as Chat GPT).
How do creators make money? 7 business models
The creator economy has introduced innovative business models that have enabled creators to convert their lives into sustainable careers by focusing on what they love most: creating, interacting with their audiences, and monetizing their influence.
But concretely how do they earn money?
There are many ways to do this, depending on the type of content, investment of time and money as well as one's strengths.
But let's take a look at 7 main ways to earn online as a creator.
#1 Brand Partnership
When a creator has a relevant audience for a brand, that brand might ask him or her to promote his or her product in his or her content, recognizing a commission on sales or lead acquired.
Creators are then paid to use or present products or services through their social pages or digital channels-acting as brand ambassadors.
Programs such as Google AdSense allow content creators to earn money based on views.
The service is connected with Google Ads, and is able to manage advertisers' ads by adapting them to the content of the web page based on relevance.
For creators using platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, etc., this is the most popular model with the lowest barrier to entry.
#3 Creating your own brand.
More and more creators are deciding to establish and build a proprietary brand, starting with a deep knowledge of their community and an understanding of what kind of product or service their followers need.
Clothing lines, accessories, applications, serve not only to generate a revenue stream, but also to establish yourself as an authority figure in your field.
This model is more suitable for creators who are trying to build a sustainable business on their own rather than earning money through their influence.
#4 Sale of digital products
In this case, creators transfer their knowledge and skills into products such as eBooks, webinars, or online courses, which can be leveraged first to obtain new leads, and then to generate near-automatic sales (once created and made available, all that remains is to promote them and make the link to obtain them available).
#5 Consultations 1:1
This is a more personal (and therefore more time-consuming) approach to sharing one's experience, but it allows one to build deep trusting relationships and, most importantly, to charge more considering the exclusivity of the transaction.
Paid communities are becoming increasingly popular: offering more direct access to their experience and exclusive content that is not accessible elsewhere is a great way for creators to leverage engagement to make money online. Whether it's a premium newsletter offering exclusive content or a podcast fee, the secret ingredient to success is value.
#7 Affiliate Marketing
About the role of affiliates we have already discussed above: it can be a really profitable way to make money online, but it is important to affiliate with brands and products that you support and would actually use.
In this model, content creators not only monetize their influence, but also help companies generate leads through their content and establish themselves as authoritative figures in the industry.
How to join the creator economy
Now that you have a little clearer idea of the whole system, you might ask yourself: what would you build if you had the chance? How could you become part of the creator economy?
In fact, I admit that there are so many possibilities that it is easy to be intimidated.
But don't let this confusion stop you from trying: although the options seem too many and too difficult, the creator economy can be incredibly simple, if you know how to go about it.
The starting point is to try to figure out how you can excel, and you can do that by answering the following questions:
What do you love to create?
It's a bit of a cliché, I know, but it's a fact: Your leap into the creator economy has to start with passion. What is it that you are passionate about enough to make you able to create content about it on a regular basis? What would you like to bring people together in communities for? What would you like to be known and reknowned for?
This is your "niche," derived from your experience and knowledge, and formed by people who share your interests. If you can identify it, this is the first step.
The good news is that you can create almost anything and find an audience for anything. Whether what you love is Norwegian death metal, lighthouse imagery, or the new ethically sourced fashion, there will always be people out there who will gladly listen to what you have to say to them.
How will you help your audience?
Why will people join you or listen to what you have to say? Is it because they will learn something valuable that they need to know? Will they be exalted by your art? Will you make them laugh or simply distract them from their busy schedules for a while?
It is important to think about the motif So people head for what you create.
How will you distribute your content?
Put your mind at rest already: you can't be everywhere (digitally speaking) and you can't do everything.
So be selective about where you create and deliver your content. Ironically, by doing less and focusing, you will end up doing a lot more.
How will you get paid?
Of all the ways I've shown you to make a living as a creator, try to choose at most one or two forms of monetization that allow you to start and grow according to your needs and goals.
How will you evolve?
The idea you start with may not be the one you end up with. Give yourself permission to adapt and grow as you continue on your journey. Learn by doing, amplify what works and move away from what doesn't.
5 ultra-fast strategies to start earning money
Okay, after answering these questions, you may want to know how to take action-to become, concretely, a key player in the creator economy.
Start as we said with your skills and passions; after that, here are 5 ways to share your knowledge with your target audience:
#1 Create and sell a course
The world of online courses is truly vast: teaching people something in which you are an expert is one of the best ways to make money online from your passions.
If you want to learn more, find my own guide dedicated to the topic right here.
#2 Start a blog
Yes, I know, some people will tell you it's outdated now, yet doing online blog marketing can really give you a lot of satisfaction-and increase your earnings.
Writing and sharing articles in your niche allows you both to gain new leads, spread awareness of your brand, interact with the community through comments, but also to monetize your efforts by running ads, sponsored posts and affiliate links.
#3 Publish an e-book
Long gone are the days when you have to find a publishing house to get your book idea off the ground. Also, you no longer have to write an exaggeratedly long work to be respected as an author. If you have an experience or skill that you can put into a book, the various forms of self-publishing Are a great way to teach people what you know and monetize.
If running a blog or writing an e-book is not your thing, another great route is to launch a newsletter. Traditionally, newsletters were considered a means of supporting an online community like a blog, but more and more creators are using them to generate revenue on their own.
For starters, you can incorporate affiliate links into your emails. This way you can promote products or services within your niche. Or, you can create a premium subscription-based newsletter to generate revenue directly from it.
If you are comfortable in front of a camera or are passionate about something with which you can teach or entertain people, you may consider venturing into social Instagram, TikTok (one of the fastest growing platforms) or YouTube (the second largest search engine after Google).
An indispensable tool: kajabi
I don't know if you've noticed, but so far I haven't told you specifically about any tool or platform that can help you get your content out on the Web.
This is for a very simple reason: the one I want to tell you about deserves a whole paragraph dedicated to it!
These are. Kajabi, the all-in-one online marketing platform that I have been using for as long as I can remember, with one special feature that sets it apart from all the others: it is basically the best there is and the most widely used in the world by industry professionals.
What makes it so extraordinary?
The fact that in itself encompasses all (but really all) of the features you need to launch, push and grow a digital business: course area, video hosting, website, blog, affiliations, community and, of course, all the integrated e-mail marketing services.
These include newsletters, paid newsletters, autoresponders and sequences, automations... Basically, it allows you on your own to set up your entire one-to-one communication campaign in a simple, intuitive and effective way.
Why choose Kajabi?
If what you've just read still isn't enough for you, here are a couple more good reasons why Kajabi can really make a difference for your digital business.
That it is a system designed to work in harmony with all its elements we have already mentioned: you have everything in one system, from the CRM of your contacts to sales, from the website to the affiliate system to get your products and services promoted.
This means you can integrate your email marketing with your other actions (funnel, landing page, membership...).
This, in fact, is in my opinion the main advantage that the platform gives you.
Another key thing: Kajabi is very easy to use. There may be some steps or logic that you may miss at first, but nothing complicated. It is intuitive and quick to set up, with no need for programming skills. There are no FTPs, no files to upload, no plugins to buy, install and configure-it's all just a click away.
So let's recap all the benefits:
- planned integrations work perfectly (ex: Stripe, PayPal);
- you will not need to purchase additional tools to conduct your business;
- the platform is used by top players in the market, from Brendon Burchard to Frank Kern;
- is continuously improved and updated with new features while leaving its price unchanged;
- provides you with a free mobile app to help you engage even more of your customers and increase loyalty.
Finally, not to mention that the customer support team is trained, efficient and always available to solve any problem.
Not bad, is it?
Overall, I can tell you with confidence that Kajabi is a step ahead of most other digital platforms. With its quality tools, it will enable you to create and sell engaging and effective content that will allow you to scale your business and get the results you want.
Kajabi enables you to do this through direct monetization of digital products including courses, coaching, subscriptions, podcasts, Web sites and communities, making it all extremely simple, fast and effective.
If you want to learn more, I recommend reading these articles: Kajabi Login: how to customize it, Kajabi vs Clickfunnels: which is better?, How to put a clean 10K in your pocket with Kajabi, Building customer loyalty with the Kajabi mobile app, Kajabi FAQ: the answers you were looking for.
Succeeding in the creator economy: best practices
Regardless of the path you take, there are some key tips to keep in mind to solidify your personal brand and claim your space in the creator economy.
#1 Find your unique positioning: don't do what everyone else is doing the same way they are doing it. Take your time to find out what is missing in the marketplace and fill that gap with a unique offering and voice.
Ps. In this regard, I recommend that you read my articles: Value Proposition Canvas (Pt.1): what it is, how it is made and 5 benefits; Value Proposition Canvas (Pt.2) - Simple Guide to Use, What is the Business Model Canvas? What it is used for and why.
#2 Understand your audience: guesswork about what people want will get you nowhere, whereas what you need to do is ask them. Being able to curate both your free and paid content according to their exact needs gives you confidence and increases sales.
#3 Be consistent: If you want to stay on people's radar, you need to be consistent with publishing your content. Get into a cadence that works for you and stick to it. Don't just post to post, post to bring value and stay top of mind.
#4 Be authentic: Authenticity is like gold in the creator economy. People want to relate to someone real who shares the same difficulties and also has the courage to show vulnerability, because that is what it means to be human.
#5 Never compromise your integrity: If a brand does not align with your personal values or resonate with your identity, you don't want to deal with it. Your audience will easily sniff it out and may even abandon you because of it.
Creator economy: the current situation
The major trends that can be seen within the creator economy are mainly two.
One, creators are increasingly discovering that relying on social platforms to get paid doesn't work. They are beginning to realize that it pays to decide for themselves what their content is worth.
Thus, while social media remains vital for building brand awareness and connecting with an audience, it is used more as a source of traffic, rather than a revenue stream.
As a result, more and more creators are investing in forming their own online communities outside of such platforms.
Indeed, building a loyal and supportive community where members can connect with other like-minded people enables them to turn customers into brand advocates and monetize without intermediaries.
Two, creators are increasingly using artificial intelligence tools to manage their activities and be much more effective and efficient in producing content.
For example, Kajabi's online course generator can create a complete course outline on any topic from start to finish. You can also consider using ChatGPT to help you create your social or blog posts (keeping in mind that you will still need to edit the copy to maintain your brand voice).
The creator economy offers consumers and brands a unique opportunity to connect in ways never before seen in the history of business.
Brands that see beyond the initial conversion power of campaigns can improve their authenticity through the entire marketing funnel, thus reducing costs and increasing results.
As the creator economy continues to grow, we can expect to see more brands and influencers working together to create engaging content that creates a loyal audience and promotes sales.
There is no doubt that the future is very bright indeed.
As a reminder in case you're hesitant: you don't need to have millions of followers or invest thousands of hours or money to start earning online as a creator. Start from the ground up: build a personal brand that people trust, with an offering that brings value and a voice that resonates.
Those that will be most successful are those that are genuine and honest. In a world of Photoshop and misused filters, people prize authenticity-they want to connect and spend on what is concrete and real.
But tell me, are you already part of the creator economy? If so, what is your contribution?
Let me know in the comments!