Why The 2020s Are The Decade of The Creator

Originally published February 24, 2021

Kids in America don’t want to be doctors, lawyers, or astronauts anymore.

Their new favorite dream job? Being a creator.

According to SignalFire, almost 50 million people consider themselves online creators. Content creation skyrocketed in 2020 as everyone was forced into their homes and most likely faced with boredom.

With this newfound creator economy, the future of work and making a living looks drastically different than what our parents experienced growing up.

We’re given seemingly endless opportunities to create a life that we want to live on our own terms and I believe this decade will lay the foundation for the creator economy of the future.

Here’s why.

Big brands are catching on

The days of spending millions on commercials and paying movie stars to be featured in a brand’s newest campaign are numbered.

In 2020, the spend on influencer marketing reached $5–10 billion, compared to the near $60 billion spent on TV commercials.

While there’s still many brands and companies that benefit from commercials, the influencer marketing space is rapidly growing.

According to research from Mediakix, the influencer business is projected to grow to $15 billion by 2022.

Think about this scenario and which marketing method might be more effective:

FanDuel, a fantasy sports and online sports book platform, is a large sponsor of the Pat McAfee Show, a podcast/show that talks about anything and everything sports related. Pat mentions FanDuel throughout the podcast and there’s also FanDuel branding throughout their studio.

By sponsoring this show, FanDuel is reaching an audience that’s already pre-qualified themselves by listening to a sports show and is getting a direct co-sign from Pat McAfee, someone who’s gained a loyal following and is respected by the listeners.

Or FanDuel could spend millions on TV commercials and hope that people aren’t on their phones during the break and hope they get someone’s undivided attention and listen to what they have to say.

I couldn’t find statistics that back this up, but I can almost guarantee that this company sees a higher return on the podcast advertising than they’d ever see by running commercials.

One reason being is that people trust other people more than they trust brands. If Pat himself is recommending FanDuel, people are more likely to listen to and believe what he’s saying than having a commercial say the exact same things.

Creators help brands get closer to and build more trust with the end consumer.

Tools are being created

Ten years ago, the creator economy was the Wild West.

Nobody knew how to price influencer marketing, nobody knew the true power of social media, and nobody had the tools that are now available in today’s world.

One of the most interesting tools for creators is a new company called, Stir.

As their tagline states, Stir is “where creators run their business”.

Stir is basically QuickBooks on steroids for creators.

You can view your revenue, split revenue with other creators you collaborate with, see where your money is coming from, and receive the back office support that would typically cost thousands of dollars by hiring someone to do the exact same thing.

While you might not consider this a revolutionary development, the point is that products and businesses are being created to support the creator economy.

The industry is only going to keep growing and keep expanding.

Creators are businesses

When PewDiePie and Shane Dawson started creating on YouTube 15 years ago, I don’t think anyone knew the level growth and popularity they were going to experience.

Now, we see thousands and thousands of creators building a lucrative career from content creation.

David Dobrik is a perfect example of this. He’s been making YouTube videos for about 6 years and has amassed almost 19 million subscribers and 8 BILLION views just on YouTube, not to mention his Instagram and TikTok accounts that also have massive followings.

Dobrick has expanded outside of just content creation by launching a perfume brand and a pizza company, Doughbrik’s Pizza. His photo app, Dispo, also closed a funding round today valuing the company at $200 million.

Joe Budden, someone who’s made their name in the hip-hop and business world, just partnered with Patreon, a platform that allows people to support their favorite creators, to become their Creator Equity Adviser.

Budden’s had a successful podcast and felt as if he didn’t receive a fair deal from Spotify for it, so he went to Patreon and is now also helping promote the mission of fostering creative independence.

Travis Scott has propelled himself to be one of the biggest names in the music industry through many different strategies and business moves.

He held one of the first digital concerts on Fortnite, expanding his audience to a younger generation. He’s partnered with McDonald’s to create the first celebrity-endorsed meal since Michael Jordan in 1992. He’s created his own brand and music label, Cactus Jack. He partnered with Reese’s Puffs to release a limited edition cereal. He’s worked with Nike to release custom shoes that also helped promote his Cactus Jack brand.

He’s been one of the most prominent creators in recent years and I’m willing to bet that there’s going to many other artists that experience the same type of deals and partnerships going forward. Maybe not with the same level of brands, but still in the same conversation.

Now, these names are obviously high profile creators but there’s still room for the rest of us. Just like you can be a small writer and still be successful, just not on the same level as Stephen King.

The push towards community and authenticity

People buy from brands or people they like.

Now with the shift towards digital marketing, creators have the opportunity to market themselves online in an authentic way — letting them build a connection to the end consumer in a way that big brands can’t.

Not that big brands are necessarily doing anything wrong, consumers are just being offered new products in ways that haven’t been offered before and it makes sense for someone to support their favorite creator because they give them a lot of their time.

If you’ve watched Emma Chamberlain on YouTube for the past 2 years and you drink coffee, do you think you’re more likely to buy coffee from her or buy it off the shelf at Walmart?

People are becoming more aware and brand conscious and want to know where their money is going.

Truth is, the creator economy is here to stay.

Many people found a new passion in creation since the start of the pandemic and I think the popularity of it will only increase.

Whether it be starting an Etsy shop, a YouTube channel, or a writing career — we’re all creators. We’re all in it together.

So next time you run into a fellow creator, don’t be afraid to support them and their passion.

They’ll never forget the moment someone recognized or complimented their work and it could be the one thing that keeps them creating.

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