In the ‘90s, before the Internet came into existence, reaching the audience was a long process. Media/editors had the power to decide if, how and where your content could be shared. Without online platforms, many creators struggled for years to amass large followings, making independent monetisation challenging, if not impossible.
Post 2000, things changed drastically. Anyone could put anything online, and everyone did! Online content-sharing platforms emerged.
By 2010, there were both sector-agnostic (eg., Instagram, TikTok) and vertical/category-specific (eg., Medium) platforms; some offered new monetisation methods as well.
Content curation is now done by the public, which automatically flocks to more powerful content. This has created a new class — the creators. A creator isn't someone who just creates. A creator is someone who scales without waiting for permission from anyone. Artistes, YouTubers, TikTokers, Instagrammers, influencers, podcasters, writers, course creators, streamers, performers leveraging code and media — these are the new creator economy builders.
More than 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators today. What ‘start-ups’ did to the company as a social institution, ‘creator’ is doing to individuals. The ‘creator economy’, also called the passion economy, isn't primarily about the future of work, it's about the future of scalable entrepreneurship. It is a group of businesses centred around independent content creators, curators and community builders including influencers, bloggers and videographers, along with the tools needed to help them grow and monetise.
Using platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, Substack, Teachable, Patreon and OnlyFans, content creators of today have multiple avenues to earn money — advertising revenue shares, sponsored content, product placement, tipping, paid subscriptions, digital content, transactional sales, merchandise, shout-outs, live and virtual events, VIP meet-ups, fan clubs et al.
To be a successful creator, you only need a few thousand true fans, who will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive hundreds of miles to see you perform; they will pay for your Live; they will buy your unseen content. If you have roughly a thousand superfans like this, you can make a good living.
Here’s how the math works. First, you have to create enough content each year that you can earn, on an average, Rs 3,000 from each superfan. Second, you need to have a direct relationship with your fans. You get to keep a majority of their revenue, unlike the small percentage of their fees you might get from other intermediates. If you keep Rs 2,000 of each superfan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn Rs 20,00,000 per year.
The creator lifecycle
The creator has to think like a business; the lifecycle includes
1. Create Content
2. Grow the audience
3. Own the audience
4. Monetise Online and Offline
5. Manage the business
Today, there are more than 150+ tools and platforms to maximise all segments. Creators have to have a prudent mix of platforms so that they can monetise and manage better.
Future of the creator economy
Creators will depend on fans for input on potential offerings. We are already seeing this extensively on our Armsprime creator platforms like Celebyte and Desiplex, where celebs are pulling their followers from the aggregator platforms to their owned platforms/channels where we provide meaningful analytics to help increase their monetisation.
We will see a rise in educational/workshop content and community offerings. Right now, a tiny segment of creators are monetising their followings in a meaningful way through broken methods like ads+tickets+Zoom/video call linkage. A large chunk of creators lack the tools and resources needed to have the impact they want. At Armsprime, we provide these tools as supplementary product offerings.
Much like we saw with the gig economy, platforms geared towards supporting the unique needs of online creators are missing in the Indian ecosystem. With Desiplex, we are planning to bridge that gap where any type of creator can create content, grow the audience, own the audience, monetise their superfans and make money from their passions.
(The author is Co-Founder & CEO, Armsprime and Agilio Labs)