Developers’ Role in Building the Creator Economy

Developers’ Role in Building the Creator Economy

The “Big Media” controlled the news and entertainment industries for decades. What we could see, read, and respond to was under the control of a limited number of businesses. However, since the phrase “Creator Economy” was coined, things have shifted remarkably fast.

People typically think about social media influencers when contemplating the creator economy. Example: Instagram stars dropping reels from their travels while promoting affiliates or a business YouTube channel with millions of subscribers featuring an entrepreneur.

Some may think: “Big media houses to big creators, that’s not a big shift!” True, but false. The creator economy is more than just a few pages or channels with millions of subscribers. Content creation and monetization is the key, not followers and subscribers.

The key to this creator economy revolution is decentralization and abundance of creator-led platforms on the internet. All of this has been possible because of visionaries who envisioned and developers who developed. But first:

What is Creator Economy?

The creator economy is a whole other class of business where more than 50 million independent creators earn directly from their audience. The word ‘creators’ includes influencers, videographers, bloggers, community builders, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and even regular social media users.

If you’re someone with a decent following and engagement on any digital platform and can make money out of it, consider yourself a part of the creator economy. Every other person can be a content creator, however, it takes monetization of your content to contribute to the creator economy.

There are a ton of earning models in this economy. However, according to a survey by CBNInsights, brand deals stand among the highest revenue source for most creators.

Image credit: CBNInsights

Now according to SignalFire, there are over two million full-time professional independent content creators and about 46.7 million part-timers who’ve already monetized their content and audience. The most popular platforms that creators monetize are:

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Twitter
  • Substack

And many more.

The creator economy has grown to such an extent that the number of American kids wanting to become a YouTube star (29%) is more than that of Astronauts (11%). Hence, instead of asking what is creator economy, it is better to ask how to become a content creator and leverage the creator economy.

Business Models of the Creator Economy

The creator economy revolves around three main business models:

  1. Content creators migrate away their top followers from social media onto their own websites, apps, and revenue-generating platforms. Or monetization of their channels to earn via ads and sponsorships.
  2. Content creators start businesses as founders, putting together teams and tools and concentrating on their products/services. The first customers of such businesses are the audience they leverage.
  3. Content creators start selling their products or freelance services to their audience. This business model has made millions of dollars for many creators. How can you do it too? Read here (link to the next article)

But how did this major shift in creator economy happen? What allowed creators to start making money online? A big factor: The participation of developers as creators.

How are Developers Building the Creator Economy?

Developers have been at the front and back of the creator economy since its dawn. Try to answer these questions: Who builds the digital platforms that creators work on? Who’s been developing various tools and technologies that creators use to shift their audience? Who all brought the Web 3.0 revolution?

The answer: Developers. They have been building stuff for decades—platform by platform, technology by technology, and finally, this decentralized creator economy. But that’s a given, the real way developers contribute are:

1. Content Creators

Developers acting as creators on the front has been a major hit. A considerable number of those 50 million creators are developer-creators. Developers pursue technical content creation that sums up to 22% of all content worldwide. The ‘build in public’ move has been a major hit for developers too.

It has allowed developers broaden their area of hunting. Technical content creation allows developers reach the audience they couldn’t reach with just a resume. Hence, many have transitioned into freelancers, professional content creators and, eventually, entrepreneurs building creator-led tools in public. And this cycle keeps repeating itself contributing a significant growth for this economy.

2. SaaS & Business Owners

Development today has risen beyond just coding. Apart from creating content, developers have also leveraged the creator economy as SaaS and business owners. SaaS stands for Software as a Service (examples of which we’ve discussed above). A big part of the creator economy consists of developer creators. And a big chunk of those developer creators has started a SaaS business at some point.

By December 2022, the world had seen 30,000 SaaS companies already. The most profitable creators in the creator economy are solopreneurs developing SaaS businesses. With so many low-code and no-code tools in the market, it has become a lot easier to become a SaaS owner.

According to a survey by NeoReach, developers with audience and content creation portfolios using SaaS tools have reported an average of 26% increase in their income. SaaS owners have reported a whopping 300% in their income within a year of launching SaaS.

What’s there for Upcoming Developers?

Becoming a developer creator or launching a creator-led business (especially SaaS) has become super easy in 2023. Founders/creators can use low-code or no-code tools to create new online tools.

Being a developer creator is like having two deadly weapons in the same arsenal. The top 50% of non-tech content creators earn less money than the median developer creators. Creator economy opens up a vast opportunity of freelancing for software developers. Freelancing allows people to work on projects on their own terms, which is what sets them apart from full-time professionals.

Developers can leverage platforms like Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn to showcase their skills, build in public, work as creators, pursue others skills and interests, start businesses, and much more. The creator economy has given a worldwide platform for developers and other creators to shine. However, it all comes down to how one leverages it.

Conclusion: What’s in the Future?

Because of the 21st century’s preference for highly rapid technological advancements, predicting the future is virtually impossible. The creator economy, however, will continue to exist and grow for at least five years. As long as there are online platforms for people, creator economy will exist.

It has and will continue to create a variety of opportunities for developers. Developers can publish what they learn and work on, build an audience around it, and market their skills and services. Those with a business idea can also create a SaaS product or company and contribute further to the creator economy.

Developers have played a significant role in bringing up the creator economy, and more developers can reap its fruit over the next decade. Are you a developer who can create content? Are you a developer who wishes to create content? Are you just a content creator? Then, the creator economy is for you.

Sushrut is the key content strategist and writer for FuelEd Community. He is a content writer and content strategist with experience in domains like technology, freelancing, and side hustles.

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