The Overlooked Levels of the Creator Economy

It seems like everyone today is a creator — whether artist, developer, or other individuals following their craft — yet the creator economy still has room to grow. Despite being a multibillion-dollar market fueled by over 50 million people, this movement is much deeper than its monetization platforms, and bigger than the small percentage of people who are able to make a living off their creative work.

There are unspoken, often overlooked levels to this new economy; the playing field for creators remains uneven and replicable success stories are still far between. So what’s missing? Those that group all “creators” together risk missing out on the next phase of opportunities: particular tools that help breakout stars grow their business, improve the quality of their content, and offer bespoke resources to solve specific pain points. To help creators level up, tool builders will need to consider the levels of creators in a more nuanced way. Today, those levels are too often underserved by technology.

When the Web 2.0 era of social media kicked off in the 2000s, more people than ever turned hobbies into careers. Amateur photographers used Instagram to become professionals. YouTube turned workout gurus into fitspo influencers. SoundCloud turned amateur artists into chart-toppers. 

But for each success story, there are dozens of creators who merely gained a new hobby, and hundreds who tried to make a living off their work and suffered from burnout. It’s a classic case of the 1 percent rule, in which a select few get all the rewards.

This dynamic is true for most competitive fields. But this divergence should also force businesses and platforms in the creator economy to be clear about who they set out to serve: Are they enabling the 99 percent to chase their childhood dreams? Are they helping the 1 percent build stronger businesses? Or are they working with the 0.1 percent (and the 0.01 percent) of creators to expand their wealth? Each of these groups has different pain points. Some of those pain points get overlooked because the total addressable market does not reach billions of users.

But much like the creator economy itself, solving those unique pain points can be lucrative if creator platforms serve a niche audience.

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