“The creator economy,” says Kindra Cooper of Springboard, “represents an ecosystem of creators, consumers, and advertisers.
Creators rely on people to consume their content so they can attract advertisers, who pay them in exchange for promoting products through their audience through sponsored posts, product placements, and shout-outs during live streams.
Millennials don’t respond to traditional advertising, a fact that has driven many companies to partner with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy.
Creators can also sell content like eBooks, courses, podcasts, and newsletters in exchange for a monthly subscription, donation, or pay-per-view.
In the creator economy, there are a few basic ways you can make a living from your content:
Brand Collaborations and Influencer Marketing:
Brand collaborations are still the largest source of income for most creators on the internet.
77% of creators say that brand deals provide their main income stream.
These deals can take a couple of different forms:
This is where businesses pay a fee for you to market their brand. You’ll also get free products or services that you can spotlight in your content.
The downside is, in order to benefit from a brand sponsorship, you have to already have a large following. You also have a legal requirement to disclose you’re getting paid on your post or website.
This is where creators promote a particular brand in their content, earning a commission on any sales made through their links.
Again, you must disclose that you’re getting a commission fee.
Turning Personal Brands into Business Brands:
Your brand is how you present yourself to your audience and how your followers perceive you. Changing this personal brand into a business brand can create additional income.
Let’s look at an example:
Dude Perfect has a massively successful YouTube channel with over 55 million subscribers. They started out as five college roommates creating humorous and sports-related videos.
However, thanks to clever branding, they’ve turned themselves into a multimillion-dollar company, with a TV show on Nickelodeon, a merchandise store, eBooks, documentaries, and even the occasional song release.
On-Platform Monetization and Subscription Services:
This is another option for content creators. Harnessing various on-platform monetization tools and any of a number of external subscription tools can bring in additional income.
Social media is expanding their on-platform monetization efforts, too.
Facebook recently announced they’re rolling out new monetization features and investing a billion dollars to support creators on both their platforms (Facebook and Instagram).
They’ll have a new subscription newsletter service called Bulletin, and can also earn on ads run during their videos or on tips during live streams.
Snapchat has launched a feature called Spotlight to compete with TikTok and YouTube has Shorts, which are making short-form content one of the major trends at this time.
When it comes to on-platform monetization, though, you need to keep an eye on revenue sharing fees. In many cases, the platform is going to be keeping a pretty big slice of your income.
YouTube takes a 45% cut of ad revenue and 30% of revenue from channel membership.
Twitter’s Super Follow claims 20% once you go over a lifetime total of $50,000 (it’s only 3% up to then).
In contrast, however, Substack allows creators to keep 90% of subscription fees and Patreon also allows you to keep a generous percentage (88 to 95% of revenue).
In many cases, there are also additional processing and transaction fees, so watch out for those.
External Subscription and Tipping Services:
These are in addition to on-platform tipping services, which occur during live-streams on Facebook and Instagram.
The big names are Patreon, Buy Me A Coffee, and Ko-Fi. These platforms usually take a pretty small cut of the revenue (Patreon’s top tier takes 12% and Ko-Fi charges its own subscription fee to consumers for premium features, leaving the creator with 100% of the revenue).
Non-Fungible Tokens are blockchain-managed digital assets that can be used in nearly any digital content creation, from virtual artwork to access to online courses.
One of the things you can do is sell ownership of your work on marketplaces like Rarible and SuperRare.
Artist Melissa Weiderrect makes extra money contributing seamless patterns to stick image sites like Shutterstock. She currently has over 24,000 images for sale.
Here are some other examples of how various creators are making money in the Creator Economy:
Sponsorships are the most common ways that podcasters make money, which means creating an ad spot to promote an affiliate offer or mentioning a product or service as part of your regular content.
Sponsors provide a tracking link or coupon code so the podcaster will get credit for any sales they generate.
Podcasters can also accept donations and crowdfunding through their hosting platform, or charge a subscription fee for exclusive content like additional interviews, behind-the-scenes content, or an ad-free version of their podcast.
The most common ways to earn money as a blogger is through ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or selling other services. If you have a sizeable following, you can join an ad network to host ads on their site.
Most of these networks use targeted ads, meaning it will change depending on the viewer’s recent site activity (tracked through cookies).
Bloggers can also join affiliate networks that will promote a product using tracking links, which result in a commission whenever someone makes a purchase via that link.
Writers can also offer paywall-restricted newsletters on their website, or through platforms like Substack.
The most common way to monetize video content is to upload it to YouTube.
You must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year in order to apply for their Partner Program, which allows you to monetize with ads, subscriptions, and channel memberships.
YouTube gets a 45% cut and you get the rest. If you specialize in tutorial videos or lessons, you can also monetize content directly by putting the videos behind a paywall on your website.
Brands hire influencers to create sponsored posts or serve as ambassadors for their brand. An ambassador would discuss the brand’s products to generate awareness, usually in exchange for a monthly stipend.