In May 2013, Patreon was founded by Sam Yam and Jack Conte; the first of its kind, this creator-centric platform would become worth a mere $1.2 billion just seven years later. This platform connects creators with their fans, allowing them access to exclusive content for the price of a monthly subscription; Patreon is the very quote “if you’re not selling a product, you’re selling yourself” personified. With 2.3 billion users each month, YouTube has become one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. But how did online content creation become a plausible dream for children across the world, and how did top-earning YouTuber Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known online as “PewDiePie”, make $15 million in 2020 alone (Miller, 2020) – the creator economy.

With the advancement of technology in the 21st century came social platforms, a new way to connect with those close and far. Little did anyone know; this would change the world and economy as well as shift the attention of the present and future generations. The creator economy has primarily emerged due to the success seen with influencer marketing. In a society full of opinion, choice, and noise, the attention of audiences has become the most sought-out commodity today. Likewise, the creator economy is solely about the audience; gaining and retaining the attention and loyalty of viewers to create brand awareness, for creators and brands. In this new age of advertising, brands have not only had to pivot their budgets, but their marketing strategies to both encourage purchase behaviour and retain the engagement of consumers.

COVID-19 & The Creator Economy

As the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take over everything from the way people communicate to how people shop or consume media, people are longing for connection and entertainment and brands are longing for revenue – again comes the success of the creator economy. Creators have had the chance, now more than ever, to gain the attention and trust of their audiences. With trust, comes consumers seeking the voice and opinion of creators to influence not only their lifestyle but wallets. As COVID-19 has left the world in the safety of their own homes, social media usage has drastically increased, and so has the creator economy, arguably, seeing the most growth in the past 18-months. Many creators have seen substantial growth and as brands gravitate towards creators with significant platforms; the creator economy has begun to mirror the American economy – few seeing unprecedented success and many struggling to make a liveable income. This has left many asking how this economy has created a lack of the middle class and what this means for micro-influencers.

While those with a larger platform may, monetarily, add more to the creator economy, much of the success of the creator economy can be attributed to micro-influencers. This is because of the close relationships micro-influencers have with their audiences that lead to higher engagement. Data shows that those with a smaller following are more trusted than those with the contrary as their intentions appear to be more genuine, thus appeasing the connection that many are longing for today.

What now?

COVID-19 and the growth of social media, what does this mean for the creator economy? As society continues to strive towards seeking contentment in work, many creators have found themselves creating businesses curated to their passions and the interests of their audiences. Unlike the traditional celebrity, creators are seeing their income come directly from their followers; catering to the natural desire followers have to be invested in the everyday lives of their favourite creators. The creator economy continues to see growth and the potential to influence purchase decisions; however, is completely dependent on the trends of society and consumers.

The creator economy has not only changed the economy but has changed how individuals approach their careers. The idea that any individual has the potential to earn a six-figure income with no education, management, or experience by promoting only themselves and their lives has caught the eye of millions. Attending to a generation hopeful to break the hold of authority, the creator economy fits perfectly; no single party has full control. Many continue to wonder how sustainable this economy is and how long this seemingly “well-oiled machine” will last. That’s where Creator.Co comes in – this ecosystem bridges the gap between brands and influencers; making careers for influencers, with followings significant or otherwise, more plausible each and every day.