Creator Economy – how to capitalize on authenticity

Engaging an audience of millions with digital content

The Creator Economy is a megatrend. It competes with established companies by eliminating intermediaries with innovative peer-to-peer business models. To be successful, creators must be all-round talents.

Creator Economy: An immersive ecosystem

Putting people at the center of technology is the great demand of the age. Marc Zuckerberg wants to achieve this with his vision of the Metaverse, unleashing “a massively larger creative economy than the one constrained by today’s platforms and their policies,” as he writes in his “Founder’s Letter” for the newly branded “Meta” company. In doing so, he stresses the importance of privacy and security, open standards and interoperability in his vision of an immersive ecosystem where “more people can participate in the future and benefit not only as consumers, but also as creators.”

Fine words, big ambitions. But where does the increased interest in the Creator Economy come from? Even though Facebook is still the most used network worldwide, the brand is weakening after its steady growth in recent years due to scandals surrounding fake news and hate speech. Zuckerberg understood that user-powered platforms are worth nothing without content. And those who produce valuable content prefer to go where they are not censored but paid for, or prefer to found their own company directly in order to be freer in their decisions.

What is the Creator Economy?

The Creator Economy describes a large group of independent creators who build standalone, technology-enabled digital businesses. They produce videos, texts, images, podcasts, games, webinars, digital goods and distribute them online. The scalability of technology helps reduce production costs and make sales and marketing cheaper and easier. Often, software takes over the tasks of several employees, such as in marketing or customer support. The founder can run his entire business alone or work with a small number of contractors or freelancers to support him.

More than 50 million people describe themselves as “creators”. Today’s children no longer want to become actors or athletes, but YouTube stars. After all, it’s no longer professional, lavishly produced formats from media companies that find the most followers. The popular content is authentic reports from ordinary people who live their passions with enthusiasm and share them with others. Why is this so appealing? In post-industrial society, we place more value on feeling fulfilled in our jobs and having control over how we spend our time. Creatives are realizing their own project and being role models for their fans by doing what they love.

Global communities invent new business models

Access to global communities is changing the way we communicate. The creator economy is competing with established companies and business models. While automation and robotics are advancing and doing away with old job descriptions, a quiet revolution has been taking place in the creative industry for about 10 years. The shift toward audience-centric business building is putting the creative’s audience front and center. Creatives are gaining power in the media ecosystem as fans want to connect with individual personalities rather than publishers.

This is how new career opportunities are emerging in the Creator Economy. Content creators – influencers, bloggers, vloggers, journalists, authors, musicians – invent their own brands and products to market their content and creations. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, WordPress, Tumblr or Etsy offer creators the opportunity to monetize their content. Business models range from affiliate marketing, revenue share or subscription-based models to fund-based models. Other revenue streams for creators include sponsored content, product placement, merchandise, virtual or live events, online courses, or consulting.

Content Creators: A Fresh Breeze for the Established Media Landscape

Content creators have become a socially relevant force with increasing influence. They add fresh perspectives to the existing established media landscape. Globetrotters and digital nomads travel around the world and show personal insights in real-life reports. In doing so, they provide socio-cultural backgrounds and stories that are not covered by the mainstream in this abundance and depth.

Amateurs and hobby experts publish authentic product reviews suitable for everyday use or give do-it-yourself tips using simple and inexpensive methods. Thus, they are not only competition for professional marketing channels, but also influence the general product perception bottom-up.

Independent authors and freelance scientists publish research preprints on public portals and exchange information about their research in real time instead of relying on lengthy journal publication processes. This type of communication is significantly changing the scientific community and forcing established institutes to rethink.

The recipe for success: Be creative!

To be successful, creatives need to be all-round talents. They are inventors, storytellers, business managers, coaches, presenters and leaders of their fan communities. It’s not enough to brainstorm and develop engaging content and fit it into the overall marketing strategy. Content creators need to know what type of content is best for your target audience, the platform you are using, and your overall strategy. They also need to have a basic knowledge of what content works on what platforms. What’s also necessary is to constantly do your own research to find good content and identify trends.

Published content should strategically fit the overall goal of positioning yourself as an influencer and gaining attention. Becoming a recognized authority in a chosen field or specialized niche is recommended. This way, a content creator can showcase it to potential clients who want to hire or consult an expert.

Not everyone pursues content creation as a full-time job. Many start doing it as a hobby in their spare time or as a part-time project alongside a regular job. The important thing is that it’s fun and feels right. Then you can also convey the necessary enthusiasm for the topic you’re burning for.

Outlook Creator Economy: Passion, Quality and Trust

The Creator Economy got a boost from the pandemic. In times of home offices and lockdowns, digital content became more popular. Blockchain solutions make it easier for creators to protect their rights and also revenues after the era of internet piracy. This is reflected in a new desire for authenticity and unique digital assets, which also explains the current hype around NFT (Non-fungible Tokens) – unique digital assets that, especially in the field of digital art, generate amazing innovations on one side and enthusiastic collectors on the other.

The future will present us with a new model of collective ownership and social clans defined by shared interests and passions. What’s revolutionary about this new Creator Economy is that it puts long-term financial control in the hands of content creators – allowing them to bypass traditional intermediaries like corporate brands, agencies, or even online platforms. By being directly supported by their local backers, they free themselves from the pressure of market expectations or non-transparent algorithms.

As a result, artists and creators gain more influence and sovereignty over their content, which favors quality. Content creators also gain additional freedom over whether and which brands they choose for influencer marketing. If they can choose their own sponsors, this in turn increases the trust of the fan base in the authenticity of the recommendations.

Simone Belko, a linguist and European studies scholar, is committed to digital literacy in a connected society. After working as PR manager and journalist, she was responsable for change processes in the localisation and operations of international products in the online games industry. She is currently responsible for app/ web development and compliance at FinTech FINEXITY.

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