What Is the
Creator Economy?
Stats, Trends, and Tips for Success

This article is your resource for starting and growing an online business. We’ve developed this comprehensive guide based on the real success stories of ecommerce owners, freelancers, SaaS entrepreneurs, and full-time content creators.

By the end of this guide, you'll learn:

  • What the creator economy is and how it functions in 2022
  • How to get started being a content creator or influencer
  • Ways to get paid for being a content creator, including brand partnerships and gated online communities
  • How to work with brands (including handling contracts)
  • Predictions about the future of the creator economy
  • Recommended tools to help you thrive in the creator economy

Let’s jump in.

Table of Contents

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy is the growing industry where social media influencers, bloggers, and content creators make money from sharing content that they care about. It involves publishing regular content, building a following within a niche, and monetizing the audience through various channels and methods.

Just like the “gig economy” refers to people offering on-demand services, the creator economy is defined by people publishing and sharing content regularly on the internet — and earning a living from their content in the process.

Many people call creators “influencers.” But the definition is much broader than that. For one thing, there are many types of content creators:

  • TikTok influencers using short-form video
  • Bloggers writing long-form articles
  • Newsletter authors publishing exclusive content for their subscribers
  • Instagram influencers combining photos and short-form videos
  • Twitch streamers going live multiple times per week to entertain their audiences
  • Not to mention: YouTubers, podcasters, Facebook and LinkedIn influencers, and writers who publish on sites like Medium

In other words: There are creators on every platform, in every industry, publishing content in every form.

The state of the creator economy (and how we got here)

A recent survey from YPulse reported that “Influencer/Content creator” is the fourth most popular dream job among Gen Z. And it makes sense: content creators often make their living as independent creatives.

Full-time content creators get to decide their own schedule, teach, or entertain for a living, and express their unique personality, ideas, or art for an engaged community online.

The creator economy has exploded in the past few years. But it isn’t new. The first creators on the web were primarily bloggers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some of the most popular authors of the past few decades got their start blogging during the early days of the web.

Back then, blog discoverability was difficult. Creators mostly exchanged blog URLs via text forums, RSS feeds, or email lists. This made it difficult for non-techie creatives to get attention online.

As early social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube emerged in the late 2000s, content creators gained new ways to publish and distribute their work. People without a technical background could finally join the online publishing game. By the early 2010s, the creator economy truly began to snowball.

Rather than just relying on email lists, creators grew massive followings on these social platforms. By the mid- to late- 2010s, companies began to notice the value of all the attention content creators were generating. The notion of brand partnerships—when creators get paid to promote certain products on their platforms — became a normal source of income in the creator economy.

In the last few years, TikTok entered the scene, overtaking Instagram as the fastest platform to reach one billion users. Short-form video became king for content creators.

But successful content creators exist on every platform. People are earning a full-time living on TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, and beyond.

Today, being a content creator means finding your topic, platform, and community. In other words: This is no longer a fringe career path reserved for techie bloggers. As many as 50 million independent creators are participating in the creator economy.

And these solo creators hold more collective attention than the largest entertainment companies. At the beginning of 2022, Netflix has about 220 million users. Meanwhile, YouTube attracts over one and a half billion unique visitors every month!

And the best part is: the creator economy is still growing. There’s room for your story, too.

Getting started as a content creator

It’s not too late to earn a living in the creator economy. Let’s explore what it takes to launch your content business in 2022.

Find your 1,000 true fans

Every successful content creator has a style, niche, or teaching method that sets them apart from others. This is what allows them to find a unique “voice” online and begin building a following.

For most of the history of media and entertainment, large production companies have focused on content with broad-based appeal. Streaming services and TV stations played the shows that caught the attention of the average viewer. Since it’s expensive to create shows, they needed to create content that appealed to massive audiences.

That’s not the case for content creators. Today, you can build an online following — and potentially earn a livable income — by going niche into a subject you love.

As more attention flows to individual creators, more money and opportunities flow that way as well. This means the overall creator economy is expanding. There’s even more space for people in super niche categories.

You don’t have to be a Kardashian to be a successful creator.
Consider the classic article by Kevin Kelly called 1,000 true fans.

Kelly does the math for us: Want to earn six figures? All you need is 1,000 fans who are willing to pay you $100 over the course of a year. It’s not easy. But the math at least shows that it’s accessible. Most people think of influencers as people with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers online. The reality is, most creators don’t need anywhere near that level of attention to make content creation a viable career.

How to choose your niche

A clear path to 1,000 true fans is finding a niche. People are more likely to follow creators who show up consistently to cover focused topics.

One of the best things you can do as a beginning content creator is talk or write about subjects that are meaningful to you. If you think you’re the only person on the planet who cares about that subject, think again. The world’s a big place. By creating content around a very specific subject, you’ll become an avatar for drawing like-minded people to your content.

As the saying goes, there are riches in niches. Ask questions like these to hone in on what you want to create content about:

  • What topics do I love talking about?
  • What unique skills do I have that I can pass on to others?
  • What do friends regularly ask me to solve or explain?
  • What subjects do I regularly love learning about?
  • What do I easily understand that other people seem to struggle with?
  • What concepts or things just come naturally to me?
  • What’s something I could talk about all day?

Choosing the right platforms

All beginning content creators face the same hard question: Where should I publish my ideas, lessons, and stories? After all, with dozens of content platforms, how do you know which ones are right for you?

Here are some of the most popular and successful platforms in the creator economy.

Tip: Work to create an owned (versus borrowed) content platform

One mistake we see far too often is content creators who depend solely on the social media platforms they create on, instead of building something separate that they own.

Try to convert your audience onto an owned asset (like an email list). That way, you don’t run the risk of losing direct access to your followers should any social media accounts or creator platforms get hacked.

Think of external social media accounts (like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) as something borrowed — you have no control over the platform itself if anything happens to it.

Remember Vine? After the social media platform shut down, millions of content creators lost access to their followers overnight.

Having a content platform that’s yours — like a newsletter, SMS (text messages), or website — is by far the best way to safely monetize your content and protect your brand, even if your preferred creation channels were to shut down tomorrow.


A video-focused social media platform that presents users with content based on what they’ve liked in the past


  • Great for brand partnerships
  • New creators can grow their audience quickly
  • Easy to increase your brand awareness + exposure
  • Endless content ideas and opportunities to collaborate with other creators
  • Easy to get started (just use your phone camera)


  • Low conversions outside of the platform
  • The algorithm can seem ambiguous
  • Harder to convert viewers into followers
  • Most followers will stay native on TikTok: harder to get them to view your website or links in your bio
  • Must post daily (2–3x) to see fast growth + monetary success
  • Younger users mean less likelihood of selling high-end resources


A professional networking platform for businesses and corporations that also helps job seekers find employment and offers professional development


  • Content is easily shared via your network (think “friend of a friend of a friend”)
  • Only requires posting 2-3x per week to see conversion
  • Appeals to an older demographic, which can mean more spending power from followers
  • LinkedIn influencers tend to focus on career advancement and self development, which often means selling higher ticket items like courses, consulting services, or ebooks


  • The audience tends to be people who are already in their career, which means an older audience that may not be the right fit for every creator
  • Most people don’t log into their LinkedIn every day or week
  • The most active LinkedIn users tend to be other content creators or people looking for jobs, which may make it difficult to attract followers outside of the professional development niche


A photo and video sharing social media platform that’s great for sharing more insightful, in-depth content


  • Easier to convert followers into customers or onto your owned platform (like your email list) than other channels
  • Multiple ways to share content: Stories, standard pics in the newsfeed, or Reels
  • Caters to people looking for a broad range of products: clothing to professional services to travel
  • Sell products directly on Instagram


  • Requires posting 5–7x per week
  • The algorithm changes constantly, making it challenging to stick with a single strategy
  • Instagram no longer displays content in chronological order, meaning your followers won’t necessarily see your latest post


A video sharing platform where creators can upload original content (think vlogs, how-to videos, and other long-form video content)


  • Ideal for brand partnerships, connecting with your audience
  • Good for getting viewers to join your owned content platform (like your email list)
  • Make money through the platform itself (through Google Adsense), even if you have nothing to sell and no brand partnerships
  • Higher barrier to entry means less competition for some topics


  • Can be a major time commitment
  • Equipment is an expensive upfront investment before seeing results
  • Higher barrier to entry means needing to learn multiple skills (like video editing and graphic design)

Blogging + SEO:

A strategic, long-form writing strategy that generates traffic to your website through searchable articles and blog posts


  • Your blog is connected directly to your website, making it the ideal candidate for selling your products and services
  • You only need to write a blog post one time and it can drive traffic to your website forever
  • Evergreen content means you can take more time to create one article, as opposed to needing to publish something new every day
  • Higher barrier to entry means fewer people have the skills to rank on Google—especially the more niche you go


  • If writing isn’t your thing, this can be a tough one to start up
  • May require education around writing search-engine optimized (SEO) style content
  • For new websites, it might take five months to over a year before you see results
  • Higher barrier to entry includes buying SEO tools and learning many (often technical) skills


An open forum platform where writers can share their thoughts and contribute articles on any topic they wish


  • Low barrier to entry for longform writers
  • Creates backlinks to your website (great for SEO!)
  • Easy to increase your brand awareness + exposure
  • Taps into an audience that is different from other social media platforms
  • Earn directly on the platform through the Medium Partner Program
  • Pay-to-play means there are no ads and you earn money through gaining subscribers and viewers


  • High competition for gaining reader’s attention
  • You’re creating content for a borrowed vs. owned platform
  • May not directly lead to traffic to your website
  • The top Medium users often publish with very higher frequency, meaning it’s not a platform that tailors to slower content creation


A microblogging platform where users can post and interact via content that’s 280 characters or less


  • Huge potential audience to tap into by positioning yourself as an authority on a topic
  • Creates a public, two-way communication forum between you and your audience
  • Twitter are often professionals like journalists and founders, meaning the potential to sell high-end products or earn publicity is more attainable than on other social media platforms


  • Finding the right post cadence is an art, not a science (post too little, and your audience thinks you’re ghosting them; post too much, and you’ll get labeled as “spammy”)
  • The short-form nature of Twitter means that it’s a hot-take heavy publishing environment


A social networking site intended to connect you with friends, family, and like-minded people through groups


  • Easy to reach out to your target demographic and tap into pre-existing groups interested in what you do
  • Facebook is still the most widely used social media platform, making it a great spot for reaching a wide range of users
  • If you have marketing budget, Facebook Ads is some of the most highly-targeted advertising tools ever invented


  • The audience is known for “lurking” i.e. viewing content but not engaging or taking action
  • High level of spammy posts and messages to weed through
  • Facebook ads have grown very expensive over the years, making it difficult for many people to see good ROI for the cost


An audio-only, spoken word program that is used primarily for educating and entertaining an audience


  • It’s an owned platform so you have creative control over your content
  • Easy to talk about (and sell) your own products and services
  • Tailors to both short form (5 minutes) and long form content (2-3 hours) content creators
  • There’s less content dilution in podcasts than social media: when you click publish, a high percentage of your audience is likely to see it
  • Podcasts are listened to during unique period of time in your audience’s day—like when they’re washing dishes or working out—meaning you’re not competing for attention with other social media


  • Requires finding listeners from other platforms
  • Can be a significant time and money investment to produce
  • Many of the most popular podcast tools don’t offer detailed analytics about your audience
  • Requires purchasing some equipment, especially a decent mic

Email newsletter:

A consistent collection of articles or thoughts from the creator on a specific topic, usually published weekly


  • An owned platform that sets you up as an authority in your space
  • Creates authentic connection with your audience
  • One of the highest-converting platforms for selling products and services
  • Emails arrive in the order they were sent, rather than being filtered through an algorithm
  • Newsletter creators can focus on quality over quantity, meaning weekly or monthly posting rather than daily


  • Must find email list subscribers from other methods
  • Can be challenging to start or write yourself
  • Slower to scale than most social media followings
  • Younger people (typically people who haven’t joined the labor force) often don’t use email
Production studio setup for content creators

Create a regular publishing routine

Now that you have a niche and your platforms, it’s time to begin creating content.

As the name “creator economy” suggests, the most successful creators are people who consistently deliver the most value. That means trying to find a blend of publishing high quality and quantity.

Some of the most successful creators use a regular publishing cadence that they set in advance. For example, James Clear’s life changed when he decided to publish blog posts twice per week: Mondays and Thursdays.

As Clear said, “It didn’t matter how good or how bad it was. It didn’t matter how long or how short it was. It didn’t matter how I felt about it. If all I could do was write three good sentences that day, then that was getting published. I did that for three years and that’s how the site grew.”

How to find your cadence

Think of this as a general rule: The longer (and higher quality) content you publish, the less often you need to post.

The person who publishes 2,000-word blog posts about technical subjects may only need to publish every week or two. On the other hand, if you create fast content like one-take TikTok videos or tweets, then you’ll need to publish more frequently.

The key is to set deadlines and goals for yourself. You can find content calendars in our tool section at the bottom of this article.

A content creator creating video content

How creators make money online

Now that you’ve selected your niche and platforms, it’s time to talk about earning money in the creator economy.

If you’re new to the creator economy, it can feel like there are a million and one ways to make money as a creative type. Generally, it’s better to start with one platform (and monetize it).

As you grow your following,  you can start to expand your influence, and repurpose your content for other platforms, from there.

The key to getting this right is to determine what content creation methods you’re interested in and pairing that with platforms your ideal audience is currently using throughout their day.

You may find that not all platforms work well for you and your content, and you might have to try more than one type out before you get it right. Check out the list below for some of our favorite methods for monetizing.

Affiliate sales

Best for: owned content platforms (e.g.: email lists and podcast) or small but engaged audiences on social media

If you have different brands or products that you love using in your business or your daily life and are open to sharing that info with your followers, you can earn a commission off of the sales of that product that your audience buys.

Usually, this looks like using a specific code (like SUMO20) or tracking if your audience clicks on a referral link that is tracked until that person makes a purchase. This is a great way to monetize to start because some affiliate brands will pay out thirty percent or more in commissions to content creators.

Most of the time, the brands and products you love will already have an affiliate program set up — just check their website! The signup process to become an affiliate partner is usually quick and straightforward. All you’ll have to do is fill out a brief form or survey about you and your audience, and you’ll be set up and ready to go.

If the brand you’d like to collaborate with doesn’t have a form to apply on their website, the next best method is to start tagging them on social media if you use them. Example: Let’s say you use the same household cleaning product every single day and you always post about it on Instagram stories. Tag the brand each time you post about them (even if it’s a simple “here’s what I’m up to today” post) to get on their radar.

Most brands on social media have folks dedicated to their social media teams who are always on the lookout for good brand partners to bring on. But to be noticed, you’ve got to tag them in your content!

Affiliate sales is also a highly underrated method of creating money as an online content creator, mostly due to micro-niching. If you can tap into the right products to talk about in your content that your audience is most likely to buy, you'll create passive income for yourself just by talking about your favorite things.

Four steps to becoming a brand affiliate:


Determine the types of brands that would get the most value from your audience


Google: “[Brand name] affiliate program”


Apply to become an affiliate


Once approved, begin promoting the products using your affiliate link

Subscription and online communities

Best for: educational content creators or audiences who could benefit from added support or networking opportunities

If you create audio or video-related content, subscriptions and online communities can be a great way to make more money. One way creators are using this monetization strategy is by having exclusive additional content only accessible to private paying members (think unedited podcast episodes, hosted Q&As with the creator, and additional material they don’t normally post publicly).

The two most popular platforms for building a subscription-based content platform are Patreon and Ko-Fi. Both methods will allow you to set up a recurring method or offer donation-based options for your audience to view your content.

The same is true for paid access to private Facebook groups, which help content creators connect to members within their community without having to make a lot of introductions. This does really well with creators who are marketing to hyper-specific niches or who work in industries that require a lot of collaboration or access to a specific type of audience.

Seven steps to becoming a brand affiliate:


Create and publish free content like a podcast, YouTube videos, blog, or social media posts


Steadily build a following through consistent publishing of free high-quality content


Pay attention to how people interact with your content to uncover the biggest pain points and resource requests of your audience


Based on audience feedback, create gated content that is only accessible through a premium membership, like Patreon, Ko-fi, a private Facebook Group, or a segment of your email list (additional recommendations in the tool section below)


Let your audience know about the benefits of joining your paid community


Continue publishing a mix of paid and free content to attract and provide value to your followers


Regularly promote the benefits of your premium community to continually attract new members

Digital products

Best for: online creators who share high value or “how-to” content

Got niche knowledge that the rest of the world needs to know? Digital products are another great way to earn money as a content creator without requiring a lot of money upfront to start selling.  

Digital products come in all shapes and sizes, including things like courses, spreadsheets, templates, pre-written documents, and even content swipe files. If you’re someone who has a lot of knowledge and extra materials lying around that your audience might find valuable, chances are these could easily be bundled up into a digital product that you could sell to your audience.

Eight steps to selling digital products:


Determine the type of digital products you’d like to sell (pro tip: send out a market research survey and give away a gift card to one lucky person who fills it out, and the survey can even be through social media)


Select a topic that you can create a clear and actionable product about — the more pragmatic and bite-sized, the better!


Create a script or outline of the high-level process, and include any important tips, tools, or resources, that will create a successful outcome


Write out paragraphs for each bullet point describing the process in an ebook format, film yourself discussing the steps using Zoom or another video software, or record audio clips talking more about the concept


Organize the chapters or media clips together into the right software for your needs (tool recommendations below)


Send your digital product to a small group of beta testers for free in exchange for a testimonial (video > written testimonials)


Create a landing page on your website (or upload your product to a marketplace) that shares what customers will gain from your product (hint: talk about money earned or time saved, and include the testimonials and feedback you gathered in step 6)


Promote the digital product to your audience on all of your content channels

Physical products

Best for: personal brands and lifestyle content creators

Another income stream as a digital content creator is selling physical products associated with your content, like branded stickers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, or tote bags.

Got a catchphrase, concept, or inside joke that your followers are in on? Physical products are one of the best ways to create brand loyalty with your audience and help bring their adoration of you (and your content) from the digital to the physical world.

AppSumo vintage cotton twill cap
AppSumo snapback hat
AppSumo oversized tie-dye t-shirt

One thing to keep in mind here though: if you’re tight on cash, don’t spend a lot of money upfront to buy items or keep them in a warehouse (even if it’s your basement or spare bedroom).

Instead, investigate dropshipping (i.e., letting another company create your product and ship it to your customer without having to keep it in inventory) so you’ll be making passive income from the sale of each product.

Not into dropshipping? You can still sell physical products without the need for a warehouse or inventory of your products. If dropshipping isn’t your thing, try holding a pre-order sales period so you only order the exact number of items you need.

Professional services

Best for: content creators who make how-to content or are interested in coaching or consulting work

If you’re a content creator making money online, chances are you’ve got a way to turn your knowledge and expertise into a highly profitable service as a way to create some extra income.

It’s a great way to dip your toe into being a content creator, without sinking a lot of time or money before getting started. You may even be able to offer services through content creation that are related to your full-time job.

If you’re interested in getting started in offering professional services, think of one simple offer you can start talking about today. If you can, avoid creating multiple ways to work with you or offers that have a lot of intricate details. Simple is best.

Once you come up with your offer, start talking about it on your content channel of choice at least two to three times a week. If you direct message in the content channel you show up on, you can also offer this to people you are having conversations with (but don’t be pushy with the sales pitch!).
There are many different ways to accomplish this goal (seriously), but here are a few ideas:

  • Make YouTube videos about healthy food and lifestyle choices? Offer one-off coaching sessions with your audience to chat through their problems and goals.
  • Love making outfit of the day content on your IG stories? Start offering to create a personalized clothes shopping list or style guide for your followers in need of a closet refresh.
  • Have a podcast for other entrepreneurs in your industry? Create a consulting container where you can advise your audience on how they can start a podcast to appeal to their audience.
  • Are you a photographer looking to help newer photographers to grow their business? You can offer one-off mentoring sessions to an audience that would love to learn from you.
  • The list could go on: Skilled designers, writers, video editors, developers, and animators are all prime for offering these services to businesses. When companies see your content creation skills on the internet, they may hire you to bring those skills to their company as well.

Advertising and brand partnerships

Best for: large audiences on social media and/or highly engaged audiences

This is one of the more popular methods of monetizing your blog, podcast, or another content channel, but it might not actually be the best place to start. You’ve probably seen the #ads from your favorite TikTok or Instagram creators, and these are a great way to create a quick cash win from a post or two.

The only problem is, most brands are looking to collaborate with creators who have a large following or a highly engaged audience. If you’re just starting out, see if there are opportunities to work with brands that are interested in microniching.  

This subject is such a major part of the creator economy that it deserves a longer breakdown. Here’s what you need to know about partnering with brands as an online creator.

Instagram content creator

Tip: Diversify your income with multiple income streams

The trick to making more money as an online content creator is to create a collection of offers at various price points. This makes your paid resources more accessible for your entire audience — without leaving money on the table. This is developed over time, but because most members of your audience will buy from you multiple times (and maybe even different products or offerings), it’s the best way to create more consistent income and create an audience base of loyal and dedicated fans.

How to work with brands and marketers

Brand partnerships are a primary income source for many content creators.

That’s because content creators know how to draw attention. As we’ve covered, creators build audiences around niche ideas and subjects. The right brand will see a lot of value in your audience. To them, your audience is a list of potential customers for their products. For that reason, brands are often willing to pay creators for an opportunity to make an appearance in front of their audience. It’s an easy way for creators to earn money.

But how do you even get started forming brand partnerships? What’s fair to charge? How do you ensure that the brand is legit (and will actually pay you)?

How to find brand sponsors.

Let’s get technical for a minute. Here’s what you need to know to win reliable brand partnerships — and get paid to promote products you believe in.

There are two broad paths to finding brand sponsorships:


On your own


Through a talent agency

Talent agencies typically charge a percentage of your advertising revenue. In exchange, they negotiate deals, find sponsors, and carry a lot of the administrative weight of being a content creator.

Finding sponsorships on your own requires a lot of work in the early days. But it can be worth it. Here are the most common ways to find brand partnerships:

  • Cold pitch your favorite (and the most relevant) companies for your brand: First, see if your favorite brands already sponsor other creators. You can do this by searching for the brand on social media to see if creators write “sponsored post” when they talk about the product. Once you see that a brand is sponsoring other creators, you can research the Marketing Director (or related position) of that company by finding them on LinkedIn. Or, you can DM the social media manager at the company or reach out to the creator to see if they’re willing to share the contact information for the person they’re working with.
  • Announce to your audience that you accept brand sponsorships: This is probably the easiest path. Simply announce to your audience that you’re now accepting brand sponsorships. Give your audience clear directions about how to pitch you and what types of products you’re willing to sponsor.
  • Respond to requests for brand sponsorships: As you build your following, you’ll likely start receiving brand sponsorship requests in your DMs pretty quickly. You don’t need a large audience to begin attracting the attention of interested brands.
  • Start with public affiliate programs (and gradually negotiate better terms as you prove your value): The easiest way to make money by promoting other brands is to go through their affiliate program. Many companies — including AppSumo offer a kickback when you refer customers. The easiest way to find these programs is to Google your favorite brands, followed by the phrase “affiliate program.” If they offer affiliate engagements, it will usually appear in the top search result. Then, all you have to do is apply or sign up.

Show me the money: how much can I charge?

Now for the fun part: getting paid!

How much can you charge for brand partnerships?

Well, it varies. A lot.

Each industry pays a different rate for influencer promotions. An influencer with 10,000 followers in finance or B2B tech might earn more than an influencer with 100,000 followers in online gaming.

In the same way, engagement rates often matter more than follower count. An influencer who can only reach 1% of their audience might earn less than the influencer with the same size following who regularly reaches 5% of their audience with a given post.

That said, here are the primary variables to consider:

Engagement rate
Audience size
Social media platform
Type of post

With those variables out of the way, here are some standard influencer rates sourced from Influencer Marketing Hub:

Best practices for promoting a product

Once you sign a brand partnership, here are some best practices for advertising their product:

  • Always disclose the financial relationship. It is illegal to promote products without disclosing the financial relationship. This can be as simple as writing “Sponsored post” at the bottom of a post or thanking a sponsor in your video.
  • Get the script or idea approved before you start creating. Some of the most respected brands in the world are very careful about how their brand is portrayed online. By getting ideas approved in advance, you save yourself a lot of wasted production effort on ideas that ultimately don’t get approved by the company. This also shows that you’re easy to work with, making it more likely to retain clients in the future.
  • Filter opportunities through three lenses: What will provide the brand the highest value, at a compensation you’re excited about, that won’t hurt your relationship with your followers. If any engagement breaks one of the rules of that sentence, you should think very critically before accepting the terms. A good brand partnership checks all those boxes.
  • Tie the product back to your brand. If you already use the product you’re promoting, you can just tell followers how you use the product. If you don’t use a product you’re promoting, then paint a clear picture of how you would use the product. The more specific you can be about the benefits, the more effective that ad will be for the client.

Brand partnership contracts

A contract can sound intimidating. We imagine lawyers writing in a language only they understand. A large brown desk in a dark room surrounded by men in dark suits ready to haul us to prison if we overlook a key line in the contract.

Some good news: contracts don’t have to be scary. They’re important, yes, but they’re also extremely common. In fact, you can download (paid and free) contract templates from many places on the web. So, as you design your brand partnership contract, here are the things you want to include:

  • Scope: The core function of a contract is to determine scope. This is where you’ll want to dive into the most detail. The clearer you can be about what you’ll deliver versus what is expected from the brand, the simpler every partnership will be. For example, don’t just say, “Make 10 social media posts.” Instead, write: “Create 4 dedicated Instagram posts, 4 Instagram story mentions, and 2 Instagram live sessions (for a total of 10 brand mentions) over two weeks from the beginning of the contract.” Be specific. You’ll save yourself from many unnecessary headaches.
  • Payment amount and terms: How much do you want to be paid? How do you want to be paid? (PayPal/Direct deposit/Check) Your contract should be clear about payment timelines as well. For example, will you be paid in a lump sum at the end or do you prefer to be paid in increments throughout the timeline of working with the brand? All of these preferences should be written in the contract.
  • Termination details and timeline: What happens in the case of a falling out? What would it take for you to fire the brand (or vice versa)? Include clear termination details to ensure you don’t get stuck in a brand deal that no longer suits you. And you don’t have to get creative here. A line like “Either party can terminate the project at any time” or “Both parties must provide two weeks’ notice before ending the contract” both qualify as termination terms.
  • Information disclosure terms: What data (if any) will you share with brands? Will you show them what sort of click-through rate or impressions their sponsored posts received? Also, you should be clear that certain information (from both parties) will not be shared publicly. For example, if the company shares its revenue goals with you, they will want to know they’re sharing those details in confidence. Likewise, you might not want the company to share how much they paid you. Be clear about information disclosures: what can and cannot be shared with people outside the contract.
  • Name the participating parties and contract dates: You also need to include basic information such as the names of both parties (you and the brand), the date the contract was created and signed, etc. Basically: who is participating in this agreement, and when?
  • A signature from both sides: Get your signing hand ready! Or at least pull up Docusign on your computer. You should include lines for both parties to sign.    These details are important to know. But there’s no reason for you to write your contract from scratch. Here are some brand partnership contracts you can use.

Play the long game

Noah Kagan recommends that all entrepreneurs — including content creators — follow the Law of One Hundred.”

This means that when you commit to a new business idea, you have to stick with it until you’ve crossed the 100 post threshold. For bloggers, that means 100 articles. For TikTok influencers, that means 100 videos. And so on.

The power of the Law of One Hundred is in its difficulty. Most content creators won’t see traction with their first few posts. You only find your audience when you publish with rigorous consistency. Most aspiring content creators give up after only a few weeks or months.

The ones who build massive audiences — and eventually earn a full-time living in the creator economy — must do things differently. That means publishing even when it gets difficult. It means creating a new post even after your last one received no engagement.

Once you cross 100 posts, you can choose what to do next. By this time, you may have a fast-growing following — or you may not. Both outcomes are a possibility.

But here’s the best part about the Law of One Hundred: it’s impossible to create 100 versions of anything and not significantly improve.

TLDR — Foundations of making a living as a content creator

Now that we’ve completed our deep dive, let’s tie everything together in a handful of simple steps.


Find your niche
Based on your unique strengths and interest


Choose your platforms
Blend “owned” with “borrowed” platforms


Find your ideal publishing cadence
The more in-depth and long-form your content, the less often you need to post


Select your monetization strategy
Diversify into multiple earning paths


Play the long game
Follow the Law of One Hundred

Predictions for the content economy in 2022 and beyond

So, where will the creator economy go in the near future?

Here are the trends that we believe will continue growing in the near future. Creators will:

  • Continue to find growth in niche industries: The name of the game is finding your lane. The web has connected people all over the world. It doesn’t matter how niche you go with your content. The more focused you are as a creator, the easier it will be to build a highly connected following. Riches are in the niches.
  • Create an ecosystem with their content: More and more content creators are offering a range of services and products. They make it possible to buy from them at several price points. From $20 templates and T-shirts to $500 courses and coaching programs, creators will continue to make it easier for their followers to support them.
  • Generate paywall content: One of the most effective strategies for monetizing a platform is offering a mix of paid and free content. This is common for writers on Substack. The newsletter platform lets writers easily choose which articles to publish publicly, and which ones to publish exclusively to their paid subscribers. We imagine other platforms will begin offering similar freemium monetization models to creators.
  • Experiment with new monetization techniques on TikTok: Let’s be real. TikTok is great for quickly getting in front of a lot of people. But it’s bad for turning attention into income — currently. As more people engage with the platform, TikTok users (or the platform itself) will need to find better ways to monetize attention. We foresee new monetization methods on TikTok in the near future.
  • Continue blogging, podcasting, and newsletter publishing: People have been asking if these publishing avenues are “dead” for well over a decade. And guess what? Creators continue to earn great incomes and build massive audiences through each of these publishing models. Our prediction is that blogging, podcasting, and newsletters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you create high-quality content consistently, blogging, podcasting, and newsletters are still a great way to make a living in the creator economy.
  • Prioritize building communities instead of growing audiences: Turn from monologue to dialogue. Rather than building a one-way communication stream, many creators are building communities where people can interact with one another (as well as the creator). Creating a community can be as easy as launching a Facebook group. The result: You can meet, listen to, and engage more deeply with your followers.

Thinking of joining the creator economy?

There’s always space for new voices. Of course, not everyone who publishes regularly online will create a profitable one-person media company. But publishing valuable content online is one of the best ways to create serendipity online.

You never know who will connect with your story or how big an impact your ideas can have on someone. No matter your goals as a creative, the creator economy is the path to achieving them.

Best tools for beginning content creators

Ready to start creating? Joining the creator economy is easier with the right tools. Here are a few we recommend.

Graphic design tools

Photo editing tools

Copywriting tools

Project management tools

Analytics tools

Community platform tools

Social media calendar and scheduling tools

Course hosting platforms

Website building tools

Newsletter + email management tools

Search engine optimization

Course hosting platforms

  • Teachable
  • Udemy
  • Podia