Why The Creator Economy Needs Fixing.

There’s a reason why only 3.3% of creators are able to create content full-time.


It is no secret that anyone who creates something original and shares it on an online platform has few options to generate meaningful income and fewer options to establish direct and lasting connections with their fans and followers. Current platforms are simply not set up to support creators’ financial sustainability, despite the fact that creators are the key reason users return to their favourite platforms. Instead, more often than not, the platform gets in the way; a once novel but now frequently irritating middleman that siphons cash in return for a mediocre service that stopped truly evolving years ago (and is beginning to pay a price for that stagnance).


It’s 2022; long overdue for platforms to start providing their most dedicated participants with real opportunities to form more tangible connections with their followers and finally earn meaningful income from their creations.


Before we dig into how this economic evolution will be possible, let’s specify exactly what is lacking in the creator economy today. In order to make money from their products, art, videos, recipes, or other works, creators have few options; none that are effective with even a relatively small follower count. In fact, in most cases, creators are actively prohibited from accessing monetization features until they reach an established threshold of followers, a number that fluctuates wildly between platforms (1000 subscribers on YouTube, 50 followers on Twitch, 10,000 followers on Instagram).


However, for creators that do have a large enough audience, navigating the varied and sundry types of revenue channels is a nightmare. Advertising trickles in, sponsorships can be difficult to negotiate (and can often be paid not in money but in product), merchandise is a risky proposition, and the platforms that offer paid subscriptions to individual creators take an excessive cut. “Tips” offer a more direct line of contribution from fans; but tend to be small amounts, inconsistently donated, and are not offered as a feature on many platforms.


One existing way for creators to work around these lacklustre earning methods is through Patreon, or another alternate subscription account that allows creators to retain a much more significant percentage of subscriber contributions (often in return for exclusive paywalled content, access to the creator, and/or merchandise). However, this channel involves enticing a follower to click out of the main platform where they follow the creator to a brand new platform — which can be a tall ask on top of the existing paid subscription. Creators simply lose too many eyes in transitioning from social platforms to personal websites, or wherever their premium content lives.


Platforms, obviously, need to make money as well. But they have the tools, support, and power to take their cut of the creator economy already. Whereas creators, well…they’re stuck with what they’ve got. And have been stuck with the same insufficient options for too long.


That is the unfortunate groundwork laid for the creator economy as it exists today. Luckily, there are paths forward. Existing technologies like Linktree offer better avenues for fans to engage with creators outside social platforms; though those web apps aren’t quite enough. Creators, retailers, and other stakeholders in this environment need (and will shortly have) tools at their disposal to earn meaningful, sustainable income and create interactive connections with their followers that incentivize enduring fandom.


In other words: that 3.3%? That number’s about to go up.


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