What is the Creator Economy?

What is the Creator Economy?

The creator economy is a buzzword to describe an entire movement of modern independent content creators, community builders, and curators.

Not surprisingly, interest in the creator economy has been exploding in the last two years, as more and more people have been forced to accept and adopt a remote working lifestyle or work from home arrangements.

What is a Creator?

To understand what the creator economy is, first, we need to understand what a creator is.

The idea of a “creator” is still relatively new. Some of its early proponents include Fizzle and ConvertKit.

Just 15 years ago, the idea of making an income from one’s online content was still quite novel.

Today, not only is it more widely accepted that you could become a YouTuber, launch a newsletter on Substack, set up locked content on Patreon, and more, but there is also a growing awareness of opportunity in general.

In 2016, I started working entirely from home and was looked upon as unique at the time. Some thought I had made it (ha), and others kept asking if I was making any money (double ha).

Either way, a type of creator most can probably identify with are YouTubers – whether gamers, models, ASMR artists, or otherwise.


Markiplier is one of the most popular YouTube gamers out there.

But as old platforms continue to evolve, and new platforms keep proliferating, the diversity of opportunity has only grown over time.

Writers can earn an income on sites like Medium and Quora. Podcasters can publish on Anchor and monetize through Patreon and Gumroad. Live streamers can earn donations on Twitch. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With the growth of Web3, blockchain-based platforms are also booming.

There are more categories of creators, and more platforms they can utilize than ever in the past to establish themselves as personalities the public wants to interact with.

Isn’t “Creator” Just Another Term for “Entrepreneur?”

In a manner of speaking, yes.

The term, “entrepreneur,” though, is a little polarizing, especially as it has become associated with a broad base of personalities – rah-rah motivational speakers, prolific live streamers, and even snake oil salesmen.

The terms “solopreneur” or “independent entrepreneur” do seem to have a nice ring to them, and they better represent what many individuals really are. But they haven’t stuck.

The main differentiation, though, is that creators often become associated with the platforms they utilize rather than create (like YouTube, Twitch, or Medium) and rely heavily on them to promote and monetize their work.

om Kuegler

Writer Tom Kuegler often opens his emails by saying, “hey, it’s Tom from Medium.”

An entrepreneur, by definition, is someone who organizes and operates a business or multiple businesses. They take on the financial risk in the short term, and in the long term, set up teams and sell their businesses.

Meanwhile, a creator may outsource aspects of their work (such as video editing), but they are usually the personalities driving the entire operation. Without them, there would be no content.

But ultimately, it is a relatively fluid thing. Creators can and do become entrepreneurs. Similarly, entrepreneurs often engage in the same types of activities creators do.

The public likes to interact with personalities rather than faceless brands. It’s only natural that many modern entrepreneurs would seek to establish themselves as personalities and opt to start their own web shows.

So, the Creator Economy is…?

The creator economy is everything just described, plus the financial aspect of it (which I’ve either described in part or hinted at already).

Creators make an income in a variety of ways.

Some of these include:

  • Advertising / revenue share
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored content
  • Product placements / shout-outs
  • Tipping
  • Subscriptions / fan clubs
  • Digital content / locked content
  • Merchandise
  • Events – live, virtual
  • VIP meetups
  • And more
Patreon creators

There are a wide array of creators on Patreon.

Much of this is platform driven. Some monetization opportunities are only available on certain platforms, though some creators leverage multiple platforms simultaneously.

Web3 platforms will often reward creators with cryptocurrency and give them multiple ways to earn on their content.

The much-hyped domain of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is also a strong focus in the creator economy.

Leveraging Multiple Platforms?

Just last week, I was on a video call with a filmmaker / OnlyFans model who likes to hang out on the decentralized social blockchain, also known as DeSo for short.

I had several “aha” moments during that conversation, but one of the things I took away is that there are an increasing number of unconventional lifers – people who are the living image of the slash / conundrum.

For example:

Your passion might be making music. But to fund your music career, you also dabble in affiliate marketing and write articles for Medium.

(This sort of describes me… though I have plenty of other revenue streams, passions, and titles…)

Puddylike’s Emily Wapnick refers to people like this as multipotentialites. I used the term creative alchemist in a podcast episode from May 2017 (nothing to do with the book of the same name, which came out later).

Creative alchemy

Combining your various skills, experiences, and passions is the very essence of creative alchemy.

Either way, we’re seeing an influx of work-from-home independent creators who cobble together a living from different sources. And as this landed for me, I couldn’t help but think this might be the future of music too (as a longtime musician coach).

The last couple of years have been tough for musicians who relied on gig income to support their passions. And they’re not the only creatives who’ve been impacted by the pandemic.

The future is unpredictable. But so long as there is an internet with a thriving creator economy, there will always be opportunities for those who want to live their passion.

The future of independent music, therefore, could be the creator economy. The future belongs to the polymath.

Final Thoughts, Creator Economy

The creator economy is a new and exciting frontier, and the rise has only just begun.

The creator economy is a new and exciting frontier, and the rise has only just begun. Click To Tweet

As platforms like Fanbase continue to grow and proliferate, there will only be more opportunities for the modern creator in the foreseeable future.

Are you a creator? Are you thinking about becoming one? What are your goals? What do you think is next for the creator economy?

My favorite tool for creators is Koji. Sign up for your free link in bio powered my mini apps here.

Be a Creator or a Consumer… the Choice is Yours!

Be a Creator or a Consumer… the Choice is Yours!

“There are consumers and creators. Consumers spend five hours per day engaging with content. I’m a creator. I want to create the content that people spend all their free time engaging with.”

At the time, I didn’t know my new roommate all too well. He seemed like a nice guy at first. I’m almost certain my comments rubbed him the wrong way.

It wasn’t long before I discovered he was the angry, sociopathic, lone wolf type who spent all day and night drinking beer and watching Star Wars, leaving for casual, part-time work only occasionally as he found himself able to carry his lazy, drunken (or hungover) body out the door.

How Much Time do You Spend Engaging with Content?

BroadbandSearch has shown that people spend an average of 58 minutes per day on Facebook, 40 minutes per day on YouTube, and 53 minutes per day on Instagram. They’ve got some interesting stats on other social networks too.

I honestly think those numbers are low.

The stat that I often like to refer to is from 2018, which showed that U.S. adults spent nearly six hours per day watching video (TechCrunch).

Just because those six hours are distributed across different platforms (Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, etc.) doesn’t mean the average has changed one iota.

If anything, with the pandemic, I would suspect these numbers have shot through the roof.

You Can Still Consume

“But… I love watching my favorite YouTuber!”

Consumption isn’t the problem. Especially when the choice is intentional.

But classic personal development has it that if you just took 30 minutes out of those six hours and dedicated it to study in a specific area, you could become an expert in that field.

I have had people debate this point, but the adage that you can “stay ahead a lesson,” in my experience, is 100% true. This comes from someone who occasionally taught piano (guitar is my main instrument), despite not being able to play piano all that well.

The boring math shows that 30 minutes x 365 days = 10,950 minutes (or 182.5 hours).

So, with just 30 minutes per day, in a year, you would have spent nearly 200 hours studying in your field of choice. Maybe you wouldn’t be a world-renowned expert in a year but imagine if you did this for 10 years.

Get Busy Creating

Last night, I was watching one of the training videos my business coach had created. The focus of the training was on developing a six-figure per month business (that’s $100,000 and up per month).

One of the key things he mentioned is the fact that, if you want to be earning those types of sums, you’ve got to get busy creating. You will probably be spending a good chunk of your time creating content that connects with your audience.

Whether you start a membership, affiliate business, infoproduct venture or otherwise, I think his observation is spot on.

The content you create can be leveraged to promote your business, establish your brand, boost your authority and credibility, capture and nurture leads, make sales, and train your team. It can even be repurposed into products.

And my coach found that the more content he published, the more sales he ultimately made.

Shake off Perfectionism

You can’t be prolific if you’re going to be a perfectionist. The two don’t go together.

I’ve written five books, over 400 stories on Medium, and 670 posts on Music Entrepreneur HQ. Music Industry How To has over 1,100 posts and I’ve written about 35% of those (385).

If you want to count all the posts, I wrote for my niche blogs, InfoBarrel, long forgotten guest posts, ghostwritten posts for a variety of publications and blogs, my numbers are basically in the thousands.

And I’m not even close to being the most prolific. There are plenty of people who’ve published significantly more.

The point is that there’s no space for perfectionism in my life. If I were worried about that, I would have lost the game before getting on the field.

And the reason I keep getting up to bat and enduring failure is because I have a vision of helping people like you.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, my best friend and I were able to escape the toxic environment our new roommate had ushered into the entire household.

What was once a safe, wholesome, and friendly shared space was quickly turning uncertain, scary, and even dangerous.

There’s something to be said for being mindful of who you say things to. But the truth always stings when you hear it for the first time.

The truth always stings when you hear it for the first time. Click To Tweet

I hope my ex-roommate learned from that experience. I know for a fact the landlord ended up selling that home, so I’m almost certain there wasn’t a peaceful, amicable end to it all.

But it makes the point. You will either spend all your free time drinking and watching Star Wars, or you will spend your free time intentionally, making things people engage with.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician