Did you know you can make money from your content without dancing on TikTok or having a bunch of Instagram followers? The Creator Economy offers endless possibilities for you to monetize your content and talent. We’ll start by explaining what the Creator Economy economy is, then walking through how you can get involved.
The Creator Economy is defined as a class of businesses built by independent content creators, curators, and community builders including social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers. With more than 50 million people fueling this new trend, this generation of micro-entrepreneurs is currently valued at $20 billion.
So, how do you get your cut? Follow the Five Keys to Success in the Creator Economy.
It’s time to get paid for who you are, not just what you do.
SPECIFIC - Define who you are, your message, and who it’s for
Clarity is the precursor to confidence. Once you gain clarity on who you are, the message you convey and who it’s for, you can more confidently move forward.
Here’s a simple template to get you started.
I help (specific audience) (achieve specific goal) so they can (specific outcome).
And, here’s mine so you can see a completed version.
I help emerging entrepreneurs save time and make better decisions so they can grow their business without sacrificing their health or personal life.
Check out this one from Ellen Yin, a Marketing Minimalist.
I help service entrepreneurs make their first $10K month w/o a large following or posting daily!
You can get as creative with this approach as you’d like (which, shouldn’t be a problem since you’re a creator) but make sure people can clearly understand what you do and who you do it for. If you confuse your audience they won’t know why they should pay attention to the content you create which means they’ll never be willing to reward you for it. And, if you’re looking for paid partnerships, you won’t be able to do so if it’s unclear how you can provide value to their audience.
SALES - Determine the services you offer and how much to charge
Back to the $20 billion dollar question. How can you make money as a creator? I’ll list some of the most popular revenue streams below but keep in mind that you’ll get the best results from leveraging many different options.
For example, Timothy Sykes is a penny stock trader and trading teacher. He makes over $1 million per month through his blog, which he uses as a platform to sell courses. One form of content is the traffic driver, the other is a revenue generator. Morale of the story, sometimes you can generate revenue through your content, not just from it.
Now let's dive into the revenue-generating part.
ADVERTISEMENTS - Payment for the promotion of a third-party individual or business
If you’d like to learn how to quickly grab your audience’s attention, study pre-roll ads on YouTube. These commercials - which air before the main video - provide great examples of how you can engage a viewer, even though they previously searched for other content.
They also highlight how you, as a creator, can generate revenue through advertising. This can be anything from a YouTube channel that you monetize to placing banner ads on your website. One common way to do so is through Google’s AdSense platform which they describe as “a free, simple way to earn money by displaying ads next to your online content.”
Profit multiplier: Join affiliate marketing programs for products/services that are aligned with your audience. As an additional bonus, look for programs that offer high affiliate fees and recurring revenue splits.
Fun fact: Norby’s affiliate program, Grow Your Orbit Club (GYOC), pays partners a monthly retainer for sharing their experience. Beyond that, Norby also provides in-app referral links for person-to-person recommendations. Members can earn perks just for spreading the word organically. You can join the GYOC here!
DONATIONS - Payment received from supporters
When I first moved to New York City most street musicians took cash donations. These days it's not uncommon for them to post their Venmo name instead. Online creators have evolved as well by using tools such as Patreon to take donations from their supporters. Billed as a way to “Let your most passionate fans support your creative work via monthly membership”, Patrons - as they’re called - pay around $1 per month and get access to exclusive fan perks.
Now is a good time to mention Norby has a feature that allows you to accept donations, sell tickets and charge for access. You can seamlessly add these to your event or sign up pages, allowing you to easily monetize your content.
Profit multiplier: Get a bigger audience! Joking. Offer a higher tier of access to your most devoted followers. For example, gaining access to exclusive content or live sessions.
BRAND SPONSORSHIPS - Payment from a business to promote their brand
I’ll start by differentiating a Brand Sponsorship from a Brand Partnership. A sponsorship uses creators as a marketing channel. This could be as simple as a social media user talking about how much they enjoy a product.
A partnership implies a deeper relationship between a brand and the creator. This could involve more strategy around messaging, distribution, even product development. And, as I’ll discuss momentarily, partnerships are less dependent on the size of a creator's audience.
For now, let’s stick to sponsorships. For example, a brand offering you money in exchange for posting a video where you provide an authentic product review. Again, the bigger your audience, the more revenue you can generate.
Profit multiplier: Get sponsorship deals with brands that offer expensive products or services. The more money they make, the more they can pay you.
BRAND PARTNERSHIPS - Payment from a business to create branded content
A brand partnership involves creating content for a specific brand. This includes educational platforms such as MasterClass, LinkedIn Learns or Norby’s own Creators Who Share program. And, in these cases, you may also provide input as a subject matter expert. Or, it could be something less formal like creating content for your favorite lifestyle brands. As mentioned, your audience is less of a factor here since the brand isn’t necessarily counting on you for distribution. They’re more concerned about having authentic valuable content to share with their audience.
Profit multiplier: Just like sponsorship, align with brands that offer expensive products or services. And, land brand partnerships that involve ongoing content production.
SALES BASED INCOME - Payment for products and services you provide
Easily the broadest category, this involves anything from fee-based membership communities to offering consulting services. The common denominator is that individuals will make a payment in exchange for a product or service that you produce. Whether it be an online course, video editing services or custom art; you form a business relationship with your audience. And, it’s more transactional than the donations we previously discussed.
Profit multiplier: Sell products and services to organizations en masse. One “yes” from an organization will generate much more revenue than you would receive from an individual.
SPEED - Quickly turn ideas into content
“Hurry up and get creative!” Although - hopefully - no partner would ever say that, deadlines are part of the business and can make it feel like your creative process is being rushed. As a result, you may hurry to beat the clock as opposed to delivering your best work. Here are a few ways to avoid that challenge.
First, get in the habit of jotting down ideas as they come to you. Inspiration can occur at any moment - often when you’re doing a mundane activity - so capture these thoughts in a tool such as Evernote, Google Sheets or even a voice memo. This will allow you to pull from your custom library of ideas when it’s time to create content.
Then, set reasonable deadlines. It may feel good to say “I’ll get that to you by Monday!”, but you may find yourself struggling to get work done over the weekend and end up disappointing everyone as a result. Provide a realistic turnaround time and keep everyone informed if things change.
When it’s time to start producing content you may be tempted to “hustle hard” but studies show taking regular breaks helps concentration and boosts your mood. Balancing work and recovery is the key to producing great content and avoiding burnout. Consider working for fifty minutes then taking a ten-minute break. Repeat that process three times and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished.
And remember, done is better than perfect. Depending on the work you're creating it may need to go through a few rounds of revisions, that's expected. However, no one will get the opportunity to offer feedback if you never turn it in!
SYSTEMS - Develop a process to manage your content creation
Your talent is what gets you recognized as a creator. But your success as an entrepreneur will be defined by your ability to solve a problem, then implement processes, teams and tools to share that solution with your audience.
The first process you need to develop and commit to is your creative process, such as a templated approach to creating social media videos.
Although templates may seem constricting, they actually enable you to be more creative. So long as you follow the framework you’ve developed you can be as creative as you’d like with the content you’ll include. This process also makes it much easier to batch create content, which will help you create multiple pieces of content in a shorter amount of time.
Another way to save time is to assemble a team of experts who help you produce and distribute content. This can include an editor, graphic designer, copywriter and virtual assistant. Fortunately, you can easily hire freelancers as opposed to bringing on full time employees.
These days you can have a huge impact with a relatively small team. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, technology is changing the way we work and create. No code tools make it easier than ever before to manage projects, collaborate with others and create engaging content.
You can see a few of my favorites below:
Although there can be a bit of a learning curve, these relatively inexpensive tools will help you more efficiently grow your business without breaking the bank.
SCALE - Amplify the impact and value of your content
Before we cover how you can scale your business, let’s reflect on how big you want your business to become. You could be perfectly happy making $30,000 per year as a creator, and incredibly stressed making $300,000 per year. You get to decide what “success” as a creator means; not your peers, competitors or society. That being said, here are a few tips on how to scale. And, stick with me here. This is going to get really deep, really quick.
One reason many creators don’t scale is because they stop at first order thinking. This is defined as the process of considering the intended and perhaps obvious implications of a business decision. For example, a brand asks you to create a social media post, you tell them your rates and make the content.
Second order thinking is the process of unraveling and considering additional implications of those first order actions. In short it's you thinking to yourself “and then what?”. In this example you’d think to yourself “Ok, I’m going to make this content, and then what else can I do to partner with this brand?”. Perhaps you suggest writing a blog to accompany your post or hosting a webinar aligned with the content. So, instead of making $2,500 you now make $3,500. Leveraging second order thinking is the key to consistently determining and pitching upsell opportunities. You can also use it to identify ways to repurpose your existing content. The “and then what” from a webinar would be to create bite sized videos for social media.
Similar to second order thinking, developing an exponential mindset allows you to discover additional opportunities for content and business. As Harvard Business Review put it, “The incremental mindset focuses on making something better, while the exponential mindset focuses on making something different. Incremental is satisfied with 10 percent. Exponential is out for 10X.”
Sticking with the same example, instead of just stopping with the social video you might suggest the brand starts a podcast to further engage their audience and hire you as the host. Instead of making $2,500 for one post you’re making $25,000 for one season of the podcast. That’s the power, and revenue, that comes from leveraging an exponential mindset.
Although the creator economy is currently valued at $20 billion dollars, it’s expected to exceed $102 billion in 2022. There are several ways you can get your fair share but all successful creators have one thing in common, they take an audience-driven approach to their business and content.
Your content and business development process must be aligned with educating, entertaining or inspiring the people who have supported you. And remember, your audience is the best source of feedback and inspiration, so staying in conversation with them is essential to creativity and innovation.
Although these conversations often start on social media, followers aren’t leads! You’ll never be able to form a deep, consistent connection with your audience until you collect their contact information through a tool like Norby. Once you collect their information you can independently engage with them, build relationships, and - more importantly - connect them with one another.
And by the way, having an active community is more attractive to partners than having a big audience of passive followers. It’s easier for you to reach members of your community, and they’re more likely to show interest in products and services you recommend. It's also a more attractive opportunity for your audience since you’ve essentially curated a private experience where they can learn, interact and share with other like minded individuals.
The future belongs to creators, but you can’t build it without a community.