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The Content Creator Economy – what’s ahead?

This sector of the economy is growing fast, so fast it’s hard to predict where it may end

Content Creator Economy
image courtesy of author

It’s odd to think I am a part of it

I used to hear the phrases, ‘content creator’ or ‘the content creator economy’ but never did I feel that I’d be a part of it.

I headed out on this journey of writing and making videos last September. I knew I needed change, and writing was something I had always enjoyed. It was simply a case of clearing time each day, to sit at my MacBook and dedicate time just to write. Sure, thinking of fresh ideas four times a week is a challenge, but it is also part of the buzz. It’s kinda what you sign up for.

Then, the other day, it kind of crept up on me that I was now part of the content creator economy. In a very small way possibly, but still, a part of it. Clearly, since COVID, the world is a different place. Most of us in some way have either seen change, or been changed. The ways we thought of earning a living have also evolved. No longer is ‘working from home’ seen as a cushy day away from the office, rather a sustainable, smart and productive way to work. The companies win with a lack of wasted commute time, and the employees win as they are more efficient during their working day.

And working from home is very much at the core of the creators’ economy. Currently, I split my day up – working from my home studio, and the studio space I rent not far away. It’s been a complete change for me, and the habits I had been used to all my working life, but who’s to say it is wrong? Change can be a good force, right?

Change is coming

In ‘olden days’, it was the ad agencies that ruled the commercial world. The agencies would try to track our habits with cookies, and they make sure to get adverts in front of us, tempting us to the latest offerings. Creators would clamour after brands, looking for collaborations, or associations, but that is all about to change.

As cookies fade in to obscurity from 2023, it is the brands that are now chasing the creators for a spot in their content. The poacher, has truly turned gamekeeper.

A man worth listening to

Derral Eves, the founder of VidSummit, has always caught my attention. He is a man with a lot to say, and most of it resonates ever so deeply with me. Derral, has always maintained that creators should be paid for the content they make. Gradually, that is now becoming an accepted norm, but it has taken time.

When YouTube started out, they needed the creators onboard – YouTube needed content. So, to tempt creators to their platform, they offered to split the ad revenue with them. And this was the start of the content creators’ economy.

It has always been derided and joked about – making money by shooting video of yourself! How’s that a proper job? Well, for the top few, it really is a proper job…and it would seem it is about to get a whole load more ‘proper’.

Brands such as MKBHD or Mr Beast are seen as potential fodder for buyouts in the not too distant future. Amazon & Netflix are keeping their eye on the larger channels, ready to make them an offer, which they probably could not refuse. A multi-million dollar offer for their back catalogue, would make great financial sense for the broadcasters, and give the creators a massive payday. They would then be free to do what they do best, growing and creating new channels & content.

10 years from now, it really is not that far-fetched to believe, there could well be a publicly traded company, that once started out as a YouTube channel in someone’s bedroom. Derral has gone one stage further, claiming that there could even be a trillion dollar creator brand buyout over the next few years! Exciting times then…

It’s all about accessibility

Movie stars used to be the big cheese, but there is a paradigm shift occurring. Part of the allure of the movie star, was their air of mystery and intrigue. Their inaccessibility, was almost part of the appeal, but that is no longer as desirable.

As brands look to be associated with creators, there is one key thing they are buying in to – and that’s trust! Folks who take time to watch a Tick-Tok or YouTube video, have invested in that creator. To them, that creator, is personable, accessible, and most of all, honest! And that is the route to more sales…

In a recent survey, based on 2000 13-38 year olds, it was found that 72% of young Americans, followed and trusted influencers more than celebrities. The report goes on to state that 50% of millennials said they trust influencers they follow for product recommendations, compared to only 38 percent for their favourite celebrities.

That trust is the asset that brands are keen to have a piece of.

It takes time

Building that trust with an audience, takes time, but it is critical to the survival and growth of a content creator’s channel and brand.

It is the very fact, that we know the creator in front of us, has scripted the video, shot it, edited it, publicised and posted it, that brings us in to their life. We are with them one, two or three times per week. We feel as if we know them. For sure, as I got hooked on YouTube through 2020, it was that feeling of being with someone, that made it feel special.

Over the last year, as you probably know, I have tried with varying success with video content. Whilst writing will forever be my main passion, I see video as a great side hustle. But, having dipped my toes in that particular pond, I can tell you, that creating an air of trust and honesty on camera, is a talent. As with everything, it is easier than it looks.

But that trust, and conviviality, is core to a creator becoming successful and rising above the others and creating longevity in the market.

Probably the biggest fear that any creator, large or small, myself or Marques face, is not creating good content, not creating enough money, or failing to create at all. That ‘burden’ is a daily battle. It is not eased by the fact, that the barrier to entry becomes ever lower.

What does it take

The hardest part of jumping in to this arena, is content and ideas. But, if you are blessed with a creative brain, then the cost of entry is next to nothing. The smartphone in your pocket probably has a good enough camera to get you going. Then all you need is some video editing software, and you are sort of done.

The cost for writing is even less – the Pages app on your Mac is good enough in the early days, and that is certainly how I started out.

But, for the guys at the top, it is the real ‘fear’ of looking in the rearview mirror. Knowing that the hunger and fresh creativity that got them where they are, is coming up fast behind them, is more than enough to keep them on their toes. Somewhere out there, the next iJustine or Jon Prosser is waiting to pounce – learning their skills and crafting their talent.

Is it all about being perfect

No – oddly, not.

Regularity is key, but the search for perfectionism will halt progress. It hurt me to learn, that I won’t be perfect! I always expect better of myself. But, I have learned, that’s part of the story. Hopefully, my audience here on Medium, and on YouTube will want to grow with me – mistakes, typos, bad days n’all.

I can tell you that from a writing perspective, the more you guys leave claps, highlights and comments, the more relaxed I become in letting my character come out through my written word.

In the Creator Economy, you create relationships with your audience. Your audience doesn’t want to follow someone who started out being perfect. They want to see the progression over time and feel like they’re watching you unfold & flourish.

Wrapping up

As much as the creator economy seems to have been among us for the longest time, from all the metrics and data out there, it seems, this is just the beginning.

Creators will become studios, much in the way of the golden days of Hollywood. They will not simply be taking the dollar from the brand – they will be the brand. Why take 10% of a deal from a brand making money out of you, when you can take 100% for being, well, you?

This change has been coming for a while. To be a teeny part of it is exciting. Just getting a taste from the inside, as to how it all works, is fascinating.

We are all consuming content in many varying ways right now. This period of flux will doubtless settle down. Some kind of happy medium will inevitably be found between the long and short form content videos that we currently have.

But, for future generations, the days of coming home and turning on mainstream TV will be a thing of the past. On-demand content, tailored to our tastes with ever more complicated and detailed algorithms, is the way forward. You get to watch, only what you want. Sound good?

Bye-bye cookies – hello content.

Getting involved

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