How the pandemic strengthened the creators’ economy in 2021

The industry of game streamers, beauty bloggers, podcast producers, fitness influencers, newsletter writers and other social media stars that make up the multibillion-dollar “creator economy” began long before 2021. However, in 2021, more platforms are throwing more money and resources to independent content creators than ever before.

This year, companies that previously showed little interest in courting “influencers” or building relationships with creators have begun investing in building monetization tools for them. And even more established companies that are in favor of creators have significantly increased their investments with new funds and tools.

Twitter, which previously had only one monetization feature – a video tool used by publishers – has decided to reorient its entire platform around creators. He built Super Follows, a Patreon-style subscription service for influencers. He launched Ticketed Spaces, so people could make money from his advanced live audio feature. He started tripping in the app and started building a newsletter platform.

Snapchat, which once actively avoided the idea of ​​influential people, has just announced that it has directed more than $ 250 million to creators through its Spotlight feature, launched in late 2020. Some of the app’s biggest stars are even getting their own Snapchat Discover shows.

Facebook has also once again shown interest in influencers and content creators who have long sought more opportunities from the platform. Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly identified creators as one of the company’s top priorities and announced a plan to invest $ 1 billion in tools for them by the end of 2022. Since then, Facebook and Instagram have launched a dizzying number of updates and monetization features targeted at creators.

Platforms not traditionally associated with influencers have also begun to throw money at creators and monetization functions. Pinterest launched a $ 500,000 creator fund and made its first monetization tools. LinkedIn – yes, that LinkedIn – has announced a $ 25 million fund. Clubhouse added a tip. Tumblr, meanwhile, has launched a subscription service for its bloggers.

Even YouTube, the most trusted platform for creating money for creators, has identified “creating a creator economy” as its top priority in 2021. It has launched a brand new $ 100 million fund for Shorts alone, its TikTok-like function. TikTok itself, which launched a $ 200 million fund in 2020, has also launched new monetization functions.

With all that money coming in, it’s no surprise that the number of individual creators has also grown. A report by the payment company Stripe, which enables payments for dozens of influencer platforms, found that the number of creators increased by 48 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. And that is only a “fraction” of the total ecosystem, according to the company.

“If the recent exponential growth of the creator economy continues, these 50 platforms could support more than 15.5 million creators in five years,” the company wrote.


Likewise, growth has not been limited to major platforms. Startups that care about content creators and their needs have also grown, with more than $ 3.7 billion in funding for “creator-focused startups,” the report said. Information.

One of the main drivers of this increase in activity was the pandemic. While the creators were making money long before the pandemic, the industry was almost perfectly prepared to absorb the many changes it brought.

“I think the pandemic has definitely boosted the creator economy through both need and choice,” said Li Yin, founder of Atelier Ventures, a venture capital company that invests in the creator economy, in an interview earlier this year.

“Necessity means that many people have been left without offline alternatives for work and income and have had to turn to online platforms to pursue their creative careers. And the choice in the sense that we obviously had a lot of free time during the pandemic where we were simply stuck at home. I think a lot of people took that time and started creating content. ”

At the same time, the pandemic seems to have changed the way many people think about the business itself. While this year has been full of hand-wringing quarrels over labor shortages and whether people want to return to work, it’s not hard to understand why some, especially younger people, would choose a different path. Zuckerberg described the change as “people who can make a living by expressing their creativity and doing the things they want, not the things they have to”. The creators, he said, deserve to be “rewarded” for their work,

But as Yin and others have pointed out, major platforms don’t accept creators all at once just because they care about helping them create sustainable independent businesses. The economy is ultimately also weighted in their favor.

Creators are responsible for a significant amount of engagement on the platforms they choose. If enough of the app’s biggest stars go, they could take large sections of users with them. Revenue from creators could also one day help Facebook generate revenue in addition to advertising. Zuckerberg has pledged not to cut their earnings until 2023, but even a relatively small commission could eventually lead to a significant amount. Also, Twitter said it plans to take a 20 percent subscription to Super Follow from its highest-earning creators, although it could be some time before this feature makes serious money for everyone.

Creators are also key to attracting new users and entertaining existing platforms. As for Facebook, they could help the company avoid, or at least mitigate, the “existential threat” of declining teenage users. Snapchat has advertised Spotlight as a key source of growth. Even LinkedIn said that creators can help their users become “better at what they do”.

However, in the end, the platforms will benefit the most from the creators, according to Yin. “Nothing is done purely altruistically,” she said. “It’s strengthening the company and its profitability.”

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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