The Biggest Challenges Facing Today’s Creator Economy

By Brendon McNerney, Co-Founder and CEO of Clash

The digital Creator renaissance is happening and there’s no way to deny it. Creators are sprouting up and launching their careers at an insane rate, with more than 50 million “creators” going strong online. 

Unfortunately, Mo’ Creators Mo’ Problems. An influx of talent in the Creator pool has intensified already existing problems. Creator funds, though colossal, are already finding issues in servicing millions of Creators meaningfully. We’re already seeing most of the money flow to the top few percent of Creators, an issue that already exists in the current ad model. 

While there are challenges, there are plenty of positives for us to focus on. And for those aspirational internet superstars, there are dozens of platforms out there building to get them noticed.  

This has led to a warp-speed acceleration for the greater Creator economy. It’s important to not lose sight of the fact that Creators are having a hard time earning more than ever. 

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Challenge: Refocus and Redefine the Creator Economy

The current definition of the Creator economy isn’t wrong, but the excitement it’s generating is leading folks to focus in the wrong areas, and on the wrong Creators. Most tend to think of the top few percent when they picture the typical creator archetype, occupying and fueling this economy with their mass appeal and recognizable faces. 

The issue lies in the fact that more and more Creators are minted everyday by these platforms, yet the “newly minted” command the least amount of attention. The tools, earnings, and spotlights make their way to the smaller creators last. Creators with 50,000 followers are becoming an afterthought for platforms who are too busy trying to solve for the noteworthy view-drivers. When you analyze where trends are originating, where fan bases are being spawned, the long tail of Creators will begin to show itself as the true power of the Creator economy. If we are to truly look to the future of this influencer ecosystem, we must start by refocusing our attention on the ground floor of the creator pool.  

Challenge: Building Sustainable Solutions for the 99%

Contrary to popular belief, not all Creators prioritize fame. Instead, the long tail of creators are working day and night to build, grow and nurture communities, all for the sake of continuing doing what they love. However, the lack of resources, tools and solutions, is preventing sustainability in their new careers. 

Rather than try to take existing models (mid/pre-roll ads, creators funds) to this long tail, we should look to what’s already working and aim to deliver better tools in line with existing success cases. What we’re seeing is creators already finding ways to pay the bills; Venmo/Cash App links in bio (TikTok/IG Reels Creators), Patreon (Older Gen YouTube, Podcast, Musicians) Long story short: Creators receiving money from their fans. With this in mind we must continue to lean into what’s working, making receiving support easier, while creating more worthwhile experiences for fans. By supplying the long tail with sustainable tools that allow for continuous support, we can build a reliable infrastructure for Creators of all sizes. 

Realizing that Fans Have Buying Power

This hasn’t clicked for Creators until now. There are platforms leaning into something close to this. Take Cameo, who is not only earning from fans, but friends of fans spending tens of millions of dollars on video shoutouts. Looking elsewhere, platforms like Twitch and OnlyFans have shown for years that Creators have the ability to paywall content and memberships to unlock experiences and niche content. Outside of paywalls and shoutouts, the buying power is largely untapped. 

The newest generation of mobile video Creators must recognize the true buying power of their cult-like fans. Once they do, not only will platforms like Cameo and OnlyFans continue to skyrocket, but new platforms will emerge, allowing for more authentic and meaningful experiences for the fans. 

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Looking Past the Challenges

When more art and creativity enter a marketplace and compete for eyeballs, fans, and dollars, we start recognizing the reality of a digital Renaissance. This gives platforms like ours (Clash) a great chance to not just survive, but help Creators live a sustainable and meaningful life. 

The beautiful thing about platforms like ours is that people are forging relationships and unlocking inspiration to do something else in their lives; to create online, to put their true selves out there, and connect with folks around the world. Within the Creator Economy, we’re seeing little digital villages thrive on new platforms that are all about the long tail community (Discord, Community App) and we’re going to continue seeing these support communities sprout up everywhere. It’s on us (the platforms) to build with the Creator in mind, to ensure the continued success of those pursuing their passions online. 

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