What’s next for the Creator Economy: Insights from over 150 creators
In recent years, the creator economy has grown exponentially, reshaping the digital landscape by allowing individuals to monetize their passions. This unique sector has democratized content creation and offered a new avenue for entrepreneurship. However, despite its swift ascension and transformative potential, it remains an evolving space, often marked by uncertainty and steep learning curves for many creators.
To better understand the intricacies of this space, and to shed light on the challenges and opportunities that creators encounter, we initiated a comprehensive content creator survey. This survey engaged over 150 creators from diverse backgrounds across Asia, yielding insightful data that provides a clearer picture of the current state of the creator economy and a roadmap for its future.
Insight 1: Understanding & Engaging Your Audience is Key to Sustainability
A recurring theme in our survey findings indicated a significant gap in the understanding of the audience among creators. Regardless of the size of their followings, many creators expressed a sense of uncertainty and disconnect about their audience’s preferences. Many content creators, even those with a significant following, face the challenge of understanding their audience’s preferences. Daniel Marsh, who has amassed over 182K followers on Instagram, candidly admitted, “I’m not sure what my followers want to see from my content.”
Pranali, an ethnic Indian content creator with 61.7K YouTube subscribers who posts videos in Cantonese, emphasized the importance of understanding her fans’ preferences, stating, “I hope to gain insights into the pages my fans follow and the content they enjoy. This knowledge would enable me to collaborate with like-minded content creators and identify suitable brand partnerships. It would also reveal the common interests we share and help me create content that truly resonates with my audience.”
This disconnection does not merely pose an interpersonal barrier; it could also directly impact creators’ ability to deliver content that resonates with their community. In essence, without a clear understanding of their audience, creators are navigating the digital landscape blindfolded.
In the creator economy, the audience — the community — is the lifeblood. Influencer and creator Wil Dasovich (1.1M YouTube subscribers) underscored this sentiment, stating, “Community is everything to me!” This emphasis on community suggests that the creator-audience relationship goes beyond mere numbers; it’s about building and nurturing meaningful connections.
Yet, as the digital space becomes more saturated, standing out amongst other creators without a dedicated community is increasingly challenging. As Wil observed, “Now with so many YouTubers, it is hard to compete for endorsements. You either have to excel in a niche, or be extremely prolific with PR at social events, launches, and get to know all the brand reps.”
So, how can creators bridge this gap and gain a better understanding of their audience? One approach is through direct interaction, including regularly engaging with followers via comments, Q&A sessions, polls, or even personal messages. However, this is often time-consuming and may not give creators a macro understanding of their entire audience.
Another crucial step is leveraging data and analytics, which, as our survey indicated, are not being used to their full potential.
Insight 2: The Underutilization of Data and Analytics — A Missed Opportunity
The survey findings pointed to a notable trend among creators — a lack of full utilization of data and analytics in their content creation process. The reasons behind this underutilization can be multifold, ranging from a lack of expertise in data analysis to feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume and complexity of data available.
In today’s data-centric digital ecosystem, having a grasp on analytics is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Understanding and leveraging data can significantly affect a creator’s ability to produce content that is not just engaging and relevant but also impactful, driving increased follower engagement and fostering deeper audience connections.
For instance, Nicole Tanner (41.5K Instagram followers) started to create more content focused on Cantonese memes after she saw an increase in the number of Hong Kong based followers engaging with such content.
Data analysis provides insights such as what type of content resonates most with the audience, what times of day see the highest engagement rates, or which topics spark the most discussion. This information allows creators to tailor their content to their audience’s preferences, thereby increasing its effectiveness and reach.
To better utilize analytics and insights, creators can:
- Embrace the Data: Recognize data’s value and integrate it into the content creation process. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about understanding your audience and making informed decisions.
- Educate Yourself: Utilize online resources — courses, webinars, blog posts — to understand and interpret data.
- Use the Right Tools: Employ tools to simplify data analysis, from platform-specific analytics like Instagram Insights or YouTube Analytics to comprehensive tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Test and Learn: Adopt a test-and-learn approach: experiment with different content, track the results, learn from the data, and adjust the content strategy accordingly.
- Find a Community to Learn With: As a new content creator, it can be challenging to learn how to start and figure out what works. The solution — find a community. As infamous YouTuber Mr. Beast said on a podcast with Joe Rogan: “Basically what I did was somehow I found these other four lunatics … We were all super small YouTubers, and we talked every day for 1,000 days in a row and did nothing but hyperstudy what makes a good video, what makes a good thumbnail, what’s good pacing, how to go viral.”
We understand the challenges content creators face and believe that together, we are stronger. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to announce Creator Circle, an initiative designed to meet the unique needs of content creators, providing exclusive benefits, fostering engagement, and bolstering creator-audience connections.
Insight 3: The Reliance on Brand Deals — A Risky Proposition?
Our survey findings indicate a prevailing reliance on brand deals within the creator community, despite the risk of content appearing biased or overly promotional. While these partnerships often present a lucrative revenue stream, their overuse can potentially undermine the authenticity of creators’ content, thereby impacting audience trust and engagement. Creators also understand this.
Shane Burnell (98.3K Instagram followers) said, “I’d love to monetize my IG or sell directly to fans and not just brands and clients.”
To navigate this delicate balance and ensure long-term financial stability, it’s critical for creators to diversify their income streams. This could involve exploring alternative revenue models such as merchandising, crowd-funding, subscription-based services, or even leveraging emerging technologies like NFTs and blockchain for new monetization opportunities. Collaborating on ideas and projects with a creator’s own audience can also be explored, such as Avicii’s X-you. Such diversified income strategies can provide creators with a more secure financial footing while maintaining the integrity of their content.
The playbook for direct-to-audience monetization often starts with the creation of a highly engaged audience base. Community goes hand in hand with content.
Insight 4: The Content Creation Treadmill — It’s Time for a Break
This last insight is focused on the stresses and pressure creators face to continuously produce content. This relentless cycle, often referred to as the ‘content creation treadmill,’ was underscored by creators who often spoke of the guilt associated with stepping back.
Numerous creators struggle with this, such as Alexa Ray said, “One of the biggest pain points for me is thinking of content. I post at least once every 2–3 days, so I constantly need good ideas.“
There is a huge pressure on creators to post on a consistent basis, simply so they can remain relevant to the audience and the algorithms.
We see emerging trends that creators focused on longevity in their careers are increasingly gravitating towards the concept of 1,000 true fans, an idea popularized by Kevin Kelly, who emphasizes that cultivating a dedicated and engaged community of supporters is more valuable than simply pursuing a large number of subscribers or followers.
By prioritizing the quality of their content rather than the frequency of posts, creators can mitigate burnout and foster a more engaged and loyal audience.
Web3 and The Future of the Creator Economy
As we cast our gaze towards the future of the creator economy, it’s evident that transformation is imminent. The insights from our comprehensive survey reflect the current challenges creators face, highlighting the need for innovative solutions in this rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Web3 will increasingly be used as both a community-building tool and a source of data for creators and brands to co-create content and amplify audience involvement. Creators and brands can seek inspiration from early adopters in the space, such as Shibuya, Loot Project, and Euler Beats.
As Web3 matures and as more data is being migrated onto public blockchains, creators and brands will also be able to tap into data and insights on their audience’s behavior, preferences, and engagement. This new digital environment allows for innovative ways to build new forms of collaboration, tailor content and strategies, ultimately leading to improved audience retention and growth
To help creators understand and benefit from the proliferation of Web3, we’ve launched the Creator Circle community, a curated initiative tailor-made for creators. This platform offers numerous exclusive benefits designed to foster engagement and deepen the bond between creators and their audience.
BlockchainSpace’s commitment to reshaping the creator economy extends further with the upcoming launch of We3. This unique platform is set to introduce creators to the world of Web3, merging elements of blockchain technology, such as NFTs and DeFi, in a user-friendly format. You can join the waitlist here. These advancements promise a future where creators are better informed, more connected with their audiences, and equipped with the necessary tools to successfully navigate the ever-changing digital realm.
BlockchainSpace started off as a physical space in Makati City Philippines, where its founder Peter Ing successfully organized over a hundred in-person gatherings and meet-ups of various Web3 evangelists, investors, and founders to help grow the crypto industry in the region. Today, BlockchainSpace powers Southeast Asia’s communities with blockchain technology to provide secure and transparent community management, fostering trust and loyalty among its user base. Its solution suite includes WE3, a community management platform, trademark community programs such as the Guild Partner Program and Creator Circle. Since 2020, BlockchainSpace has empowered over 100 communities and raised $20M from top investors, including Animoca Brands, CoinGecko and Crypto.com Capital.