How the pandemic charged the creator economy in 2021

The multi-billion dollar industry of game streamers, beauty vloggers, podcast producers, fitness influencers, newsletter authors and other social media stars that make up the “Creator Economy” began long before 2021. But in 2021 more platforms will throw more Money and resources in independent content Creator than ever before.

That year, companies that had previously shown little interest in wooing “influencers” or building relationships with creators began investing in developing monetization tools for them. And even more established, designer-friendly companies have significantly increased their investments with new funds and tools.

Twitter, which previously only had a single monetization feature – a video-centric tool used by publishers – decided to redirect its entire platform about creator. It built Super Follows, a Patreon-like subscription service for influencers. It introduced Ticketed Spaces so people could make money from its burgeoning live audio feature. It introduced in-app tripping and started building a newsletter platform.

Snapchat, which once actively avoided the idea of ​​influencers, has just announced that it will do more than $ 250 million to creators about his Headlights Feature that hit the market in late 2020. Some of the app’s biggest stars even get their own shows in Snapchat Discover.

Facebook also took a renewed interest in the influencers and content creators who had long been asking for more options from the platform. Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly referred to Schöpfer as one of the company’s companies 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 released a staggering number of updates and monetization features for YouTubers.

Platforms traditionally not associated with influencers also started tossing money at YouTubers and monetization features. Pinterest launched $ 500,000 Creator Fund and built his first Monetization tools. LinkedIn – yes, that LinkedIn – announced a $ 25 million Funds. Clubhouse added Tilt. Tumblr, meanwhile, started out as Subscription service for his bloggers.

Even YouTube, the most established platform for YouTubers to make money, has identified the “growth of the YouTuber economy” as its top platform Priority 2021. It launched an entirely new $ 100 million fund only for shorts, its TikTok-like function. TikTok itself, which launched a $ 200 million fund in 2020, also started new monetization Features.

With all this money, it is not surprising that the number of individual creators is also booming. A report from the payments company Stripe, which makes payments for dozens of influencer platforms, found that the number of creators was out up 48 percent in 2021, compared to 2020. And that is only a “fragment” of the entire 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.


The growth was not limited to the large platforms either. Startups geared towards content creators and their needs also rose sharply, with more than $ 3.7 billion in funding for “creators-focused startups,” according to a report in the information.

One of the main reasons for this surge in activity was the pandemic. While creators made money long before the pandemic, the industry was almost perfectly prepared to absorb much of the changes that came with it.

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

“Necessity means that many people have been left with no offline alternatives for work and income and have had to turn to online platforms to continue their creative careers. And the choice in the sense that during the pandemic we obviously had a lot of free time just being stuck at home. I think a lot of people took this time and started creating content. “

At the same time, the pandemic also seems to have changed the way many people think about work itself. While this year was full of hand-ringing Labor shortage and whether people want it or not to go back At work, it is not difficult to understand why some, especially younger people, take a different path. Zuckerberg described the shift as “People are able to make a living by expressing their creativity and doing things they want to do rather than doing things they have to do.” Creator, he said , deserve to be “rewarded” for their work.

But, as Jin and others have pointed out, big platforms don’t suddenly embrace creators just because they care about helping them create sustainable independent businesses. The profitability is ultimately weighted in your favor.

Creators are responsible for a significant amount of engagement on the platforms of their choice. If enough of an app’s biggest stars go, they could take away large chunks of users. YouTubers’ earnings could one day also help Facebook generate revenue beyond advertising. Zuckerberg has pledged not to cut its revenue until 2023, but even a relatively small commission could eventually add up to a substantial amount. Likewise, Twitter has announced that it will cut its top-earning developers’ Super Follow subscriptions by 20 percent, although it may still do so Sometime before the feature earns serious money for anyone.

Creators are also crucial to attracting new users and maintaining the existing platforms. For Facebook, they could help the company den “Existential Threat” of declining teenage users. Snapchat has touted Spotlight as a major source of growth. Even LinkedIn has said YouTubers can help their users “get better at what they do”.

Ultimately, however, it will be the platforms that will benefit most from the Creators, according to Jin. “Nothing is made purely altruistic,” she said. “It’s about strengthening the company and its profitability.”

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