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. Share on X

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.