By the dawn of the internet in the 1990s, people yearned for self-expression and connection. Fast forward thirty years, and people are more connected today than they have ever been. Only accounting for a few social networks, over 2.5 billion users are on Facebook, 2 billion on YouTube, and as of February this year, 1.1 billion users on TikTok. More people are within the online ecosystem than ever before—moreover, there are new and exciting ways to earn an income on these platforms and outside them.
With the evolution of content creation stemming from influencer marketing, social media platforms gave creators tools to help them reach a larger audience. In the instance of Instagram, if a user has a business account, they can see data on which posts are giving them the most traction. Allowing creators to promote specific posts and see metrics gave them the power to gamify the algorithms. Creators taking advantage of these tools would draw more traffic to the platform's website and more traffic to the user's profile.
However, this model might put some creators in a box, making them afraid to step out of their comfort zone in fear of losing followers and damaging the symbiotic relationship they had with the platform. Snapchat's co-founder Evan Spiegel, within Forbes' top 200, is quoted "...at some point, it can be scary to try to do something new." Services like beacons.ai allow creators to consolidate all their external links in one place and see where traffic is going and where their followers' interest lies. An Instagram influencer might link in their bio to the many other avenues they have set up to generate income. With creators moving their audiences off-platform and instead generating revenue from their audience directly, what's to keep them from having that external link attached to TikTok instead of their Instagram?
Bookvid emerged on the scene earlier this year as one of the top monetization platforms for Creators. At a high level, the Bookvid tool is like Calendly + Zoom + Venmo, all in one. It allows your followers to easily pay you for 1-on-1 video calls. You set the prices, it syncs with your calendar, and you get instantly Venmo’d at the end of the call. While other companies take 20-30% fees, Bookvid is completely free for Creators. Sign up on bookvid.com today.
Due to the rapid growth of the creator economy, these distribution platforms have to compete for creators to stay on their platform. With the birth of these new platforms, creators are gaining large followings, and more ways than ever to get monetization from subscribers. They are going from trying to gain followers to increase ad revenue to pushing followers to external revenue streams. Social networks where creators Livestream can offer more monetization avenues than relying solely on advertising. Youtubers and streamers can switch their focus to their channels, create higher-quality digital content, and play video games like Roblox, Minecraft, and other trending games.
Creators have had to change their business models. More prominent creators can start exclusive Amazon stores. TikTok has started its creator fund to help get creators paid outside of their normal monetization (ad revenue and sponsorships). To qualify for TikTok's creator fund, one must have at least 10,000 followers and >100,000 views. The creator fund sets a high bar of entry that smaller start-ups might not be able to meet. Smaller companies would have to generate followings that big on social networks and then push them to their e-commerce or services like BookVid, where you can create a transaction from remote meetings and consultations.
The competition to pay creators better has, in turn, created a cycle leading to more and more creators starting businesses and start-ups with their new income. This normalizes being a content creator as a viable career path that pours more creators into the creator economy, which drives up the demand for platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to pay creators even more. Furthermore, the cycle continues. However, entrepreneurs in this field today might notice that it is not easy to get paid by these platforms; generating ad sense on YouTube and selling ad spots for your posts on Instagram is not enough.
Stages like YouTube, Twitch, and other social media platforms, have sensed this rise in creator's need for "going full time" and staying on platform. YouTube and Twitch have subscription options for users to subscribe to their favorite creators, giving them monthly benefits, unlocking content such as emojis for chat during live streams, or exclusive video content. These perks go beyond just emojis or literal extra content but serve as a key to a community, attention from the creator, or access to private chatrooms with peers who share the same interests.
Clubhouse, an exclusive app offering live audio chatrooms, invited podcasters and other significant influencers with large followings to interact with their audiences in real-time. Personalities that have teachable skills might start a series of paid video lessons on platforms like Monthly or Skillshare, maybe even a Substack newsletter where they go through workshops and give paying audience members the opportunity to get one on one specific advice. A rising number of creators are moving away from e-commerce and to non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, turning their unique digital content into high valued data online, much like what we see with venture capital firms looking toward blockchain cryptocurrencies.
An increase in subscriptions services, ways of tipping creators, and patronage have led to a lower bar of entry for content creators to get paid by their audience directly. Services like Substack allow creators to monetize a newsletter or blog. Websites like Patreon and OnlyFans have led content creators' highly committed followers to subscribe monthly for additional content. Cameo enables creators to sell and monetize fan engagement with one-off videos sent directly to the audience member. Having more than one income stream has led to creators focusing more on their content and less on influencer marketing and relying on ad revenue. Patreon allows for specific, bonus content to be behind a paywall. Because of these multiple income streams, creators are often left on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how much money they will take in each month. Services like Karat, mentioned in Forbes, allow creators to get small monthly loans based on their expected income. Karat eases the creator's monetary anxiety by giving creators a predictable income.
All of this has led to content creators and influencers becoming their own nation-state on the internet, where instead of sticking to one platform, their audience follows them to wherever they go. Many start-ups will create an Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or even a podcast to meet their followers on whatever social networking site they prefer. Starting a podcast with services like Anchor, owned by Spotify, matches creators with products to advertise on their shows so that random, seemingly unrelated products don't throw listeners off.
Because of the pandemic last year, many small businesses have had to go remote with the services they provide. Nevertheless, with the boom of the creator economy, there are more resources than ever before for audiences to support their favorite business. Services like BookVid allow entrepreneurs to schedule and charge for video appointments. They might otherwise have to do it independently. Need a consultation? Schedule it on BookVid to take care of the monetary and time exchange all at once.
Rowan Livengood | Head of Content