If you've been on tech Twitter or LinkedIn, read the business section of the morning paper or even just participated in discussion with colleagues, you've probably heard mention of the skyrocketing creator economy. Some are passionate about the subject, some have no idea what it means and others are sick of hearing about it.
But the truth is, the creator economy boom has signaled massive shifts across industries - bringing to light the changes in how and why people work, the conditions they want to do so in and the benefits they want to gain in the process.
SignalFire defines it as "the class of businesses built by over 50 million independent content creators, curators, and community builders including social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers, plus the software and finance tools designed to help them with growth and monetization."
Put simply, the creator economy is the democratization of content and distribution - allowing (ideally) any human to create, upskill, gain viewership and make a profit. There's still a lot of work to be done to make this a true reality, where the constraints of privilege, location, race, wealth, resources, connections (and so on) do not interfere with the likelihood of one's success. That's the beauty of the rising movement: the possibility that anyone can become successful doing what they love.
Workers are seeking autonomy over their role, creative freedom in their tasks, a flexible work-life balance and the ability to scale income quickly. This is much harder to do in environments with set work schedules, capped salaries and strict job responsibilities. However, freelancing, side hustles, startups and LLCs allow creators to make considerably more income at their own pace, within more flexible work hours, all while doing what they actually love and making a noticeable impact.
In a word: quickly. What was an economy worth $73.1 billion in 2019 rose to over $100 billion in 2020, and it's expected to continue to grow exponentially. Covid-19 was a major factor in accelerating that growth, giving employees the time to consider what they want out of their careers, and pushing some to pivot after mass layoffs across the country. In a time when people could control very little happening in the world, they dove into an industry they knew they could have sovereignty in.
Studies show that 29% of today's American students would rather be creators than doctors or lawyers. Creators are tapping into traditional content platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and Instagram, founding their own platforms and brands to engage their followers, and working in freelance content creation to monetize their skillsets. Without the traditional constraints portrayed by large corporations and societal norms, the future of work is flexible, digital, diverse and global - enabling every human to create the life they want.
Instead of fighting the movement toward the future of work, use it to your advantage. While other brands are still in the age of the 9-5 clock-in, clock-out, no questions asked mindset, you can foster an environment that breeds creativity and success.
Embrace a mix of full-time and freelance employees. Regularly check in with your creators to ensure they're working on projects they're passionate about. Listen to them speak about their dreams and five year plans and assign them tasks that help them get there. Learn their preferred workstyle and, when possible, allow them to work within the environment and time frames that best enable them to create.
Your team members will be their most engaged and passionate selves when they know you care just as much about their success as you do the company's.