Do what you love, and the money will follow” isn’t just an appealing adage. It’s the core promise of the creator economy.
But don’t kid yourself: while love and money are sexy words, “follow” is the linchpin. 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.
So, while third-party online marketing tools, including publishing platforms and social media, can be helpful, they’re just a means to an end.
The goal is to create a sustainable personal enterprise using media you own that thrives on an audience-first mentality.
That said, it’s helpful to know how the $104(+) billion creator economy ticks. So, in this article, we’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of the influencer economy and creators’ market with an overview of the players, platforms, and possibilities.
Let’s dive in.
What is the creator economy?
Simply put, 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.
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.
However, there’s a caveat: 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.
Also, 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”).
Now, 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.
Examples of curation-driven newsletters and digital businesses are NextDraft (for news junkies), The Skimm (daily news nuggets marketed to young, urban women), The Hustle (“bold business and tech news”), and Further (“live your best life at midlife”).
Whether you create or curate content, audience attraction is the result of thoughtful effort, quality work, genuine concern for others, a strong desire to be of service, and plenty of G.A.S.
The Holy Grail for content entrepreneurs is audience monetization. Indeed, it’s why we’re talking about a creator economy — the financial opportunities for online business ideas 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 endeavors.
Examples of ways you can monetize your audience include:
- Creating and selling physical or digital products
- Productizing a service
- 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
The most prominent media creators tend to employ several monetization strategies at once. But even one successful implementation can yield enough to make being a creator your day job.
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.
(Side note: The expression “[The thing you do] has never been easier” is the most overused expression online, thanks to the proliferation of platforms. 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. This is a friendly reminder that platforms need you more than you need them.