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How to Break Into the Creator Economy in a Digital Age

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The way we consume entertainment and news has shifted tremendously within the past decade. Whereas once we relied solely on TVs or news outlets to consume information, now we tune into our peers and listen. It’s a movement that has changed the way we think, interact and relate to each other. It’s the creator economy: the collection, creation and distribution of all content in our current digital world.

More than 50 million people worldwide consider themselves to be creators, with 41% of creators earning a living wage ($69,000 or more) per year. A new study from MBO Partners shows that the creator economy skews young, with 75% of creators identifying as Gen Z or millennial. 

It’s a rapidly booming economy, with social-media exposure influencing what kids want to be when they grow up. If you’re an aspiring content creator just starting off, here are the top four mediums to take your passion and skill sets to the next level.

1. Blogging

With WordPress users producing about 70 million new posts each month, there’s no doubt that blogging is an excellent medium for content expression. If you’re a content creator who’s passionate about the written word, taking your creative skills online and monetizing this lucrative platform is a great start to your content-creation journey. For example, platforms like Medium allow successful writers to generate money through community subscriptions, and writers use popular programs like Google AdSense and affiliate marketing to monetize their content on major publishing platforms like WordPress. 

Consider leveraging contextually relevant content through affiliate-marketing platforms like Clickbank and Commision Junction. Additionally, a platform like Substack allows writers to send digital newsletters directly to their readers and monetize their content. The platform removes the institutional structure that allows media publishers to make a hefty profit off of a writer’s work, and instead allows the writer to make money directly from subscriptions with newsletter publishing tools and all-in-one solutions to help writers get paid for their writing.

Creative veterans looking to stretch their successful blogging brand to new platforms and forms of monetization can partner with brands to create original content, sell ebooks, turn their skills into classes and conduct personal advising and coaching sessions. 

If you’re a content creator who uses other avenues of expression, consider branching to online blogging to market yourself or your business and increase exposure. After all, blogging is scalable and affordable for individuals and businesses.

If time is of concern, an excellent way to break into the creator industry can look like purchasing an existing blog. With SEO, copywriting and content marketing skills, you can quickly grow your newly-acquired business as it’s already established and has some traction.

Related: How to Scale Your Blog Like a Startup

2. Social media

Because social media is at the core of most content creators’ businesses, they are active social-media users. According to MBO Partners creator economy study, 96% of content creators say social media is very important (71%) or somewhat important (25%) for building their online reputation and brand. Today’s influencers on social media have the power to affect and shift consumer purchasing behavior through relationships with their online followers. Tailored niche accounts with loyal followings and sponsored influencers contribute to the creator economy, and according to Mediakix, are likely to be worth $15 million by 2022.

With consistent, effective social-media strategies, user engagement, networking and brand consistency, it’s possible to grow a healthy following on social media and build a successful brand. 

For the seasoned content creator, it’s always a great idea to experiment with A/B testing. For example, if you have a successful fanbase on social media that expands to your online blog, consider experimenting with elements like text placement and test running products.

Related: How to Make Money With Social Media

3. Ecommerce

Whether you’re a successful YouTuber or starting out in the content-creation industry, selling merch and products can be a great way to monetize your craft. There are over six million third-party sellers on Amazon, and that figure continues to climb as nearly 2,000 new sellers join the platform every day. 

Branded merch and niche-curated products can be a great opportunity to monetize your brand, especially if you have an established, loyal fanbase. There are numerous pathways into the ecommerce industry. Sellers can use avenues like Shopify, Amazon FBA, dropshipping or Etsy. 

Think of the ideal ecommerce model that you want. Do you want to hold and distribute the inventory yourself or use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) model, a service that Amazon offers to help business owners sell their products? As a rule of thumb, it is important to be mindful of supply-chain distribution. 

Think about where you’re sourcing your products. A reliable, efficient supplier will not only deliver your products at great prices, but will also do so in a timely manner. Have a long-term strategy in place in response to supply-chain disruptions due to labor, raw-materials sourcing, weather and location-specific operating circumstances like power outages and local Covid restrictions.

Related: 9 Tips to Make Your Ecommerce Business Wildly Successful

4. SaaS

Do you have invaluable skill sets or knowledge that others could benefit from? Consider expanding your market through SaaS (software as a service). SaaS is a way of delivering applications over the internet — as a service. Perhaps you’re a successful entrepreneur who wants to teach others how to thrive in the industry, or you have first-hand experience with optimizing your digital platform and gaining new followers. SaaS edtech will always be in demand. Leverage the connections, tools and resources that you have as a creative entrepreneur and teach others how to do the same while making money.

Related: The Rise of SaaS: New Syllabus for Digital Gig Entrepreneurs

There are countless opportunities within the creative economy, and the good news is that there are endless different ways to break into it. What’s yours?

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