More Americans are becoming entranced with the content creator career path. Despite the relative novelty of the creator economy, there are over 200 million content creators worldwide, and the global creator economy is an expanding and lucrative sector. In mid-2022, Insider Intelligence estimated that the creator economy valued at $104.2 billion. Eric Sheridan, Goldman Sachs senior equity research analyst on the U.S. Internet sector, projects that “the total addressable market of the creator economy could roughly double in size over the next five years” from $250 billion today to $480 billion in 2027.
Nowadays, there seems to be a never ending stream of content and content creators, especially on digital platforms where social media influencers are as persuasive as any retailer. 29 percent of US children want to become YouTubers/vloggers when they grow up, according to a 2019 survey by Danish toy company Lego, and this number will likely only increase. The creator economy is growing exponentially, and the US consumer electronics (CE) sector, is estimated to value at $485 billion by the end of 2023 according to Statista. Retailers would be wise to take note of the factors that are contributing to this rise, as well as how they can capitalize on it.
The Rise of the Content Creation Career
Content creation is a young career path, estimated to have risen a little over a decade ago with the growth of digital platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. However, the drive toward content creation can be attributed to the gig economy, “a part of the labor market that relies on project-based work and other short-term or temporary positions, rather than traditional full-time employment.” The gig economy emerged and expanded in the aftermath of the Great Recession in 2008, when in a two-year span starting in December 2007 the unemployment rate rose from around five to ten percent in the US. Unemployed workers turned to short-term, contract, and freelance work, or ‘gigs,’ to make ends meet. Though the country has recovered from the Great Recession for the most part, the gig economy is still thriving.
With video-sharing platforms and social media developing at a rapid pace around the same time, it seemed to be a viable way for individuals to make a name for themselves while practicing their passions. The early 2010s saw the creation of ‘YouTuber’ and ‘Viner’ careers as individual creators garnered a substantial amount of subscribers, ‘likes,’ and views that increased their virality and translated to revenue.
An individual with masterful storytelling skills, engaging content, and a large number of subscribers/followers across various platforms could attract the attention of brands and companies. Partnerships between content creators and businesses are mutually beneficial: the content creator adds a revenue stream to their portfolio, and the brand or company receives promotion from an internet personality.
How Getting Paid Works As A Content Creator
While the content is lucrative and entertaining to watch, the creator economy is fickle. For the most part, content creators need multiple revenue streams to make an income. Goldman Sachs notes that creators employ methods like signing brand deals, earning ad shares, starting their own brand/business, providing affiliate links, hosting courses, and receiving tips in order to supplement income/ revenue. SignalFire adds that sponsored content, product placement, merchandise, shout-outs, live and virtual events, and VIP meetups as other ways creators can earn money. By itself, however, content creation is not a lucrative career for most. The 2022 Creator Report by Linktree found that 66 percent of creators consider themselves part-time creators, and 44 percent spend less than or equal to five hours per week creating content.
Full-time and part-time creators are not necessarily created equal. Content creation is driven by a myriad of factors, and can result in multiple revenue sources that impact a creator’s overall income. Most of those who participate in content creation do so on a part-time basis, which might not pay the bills alone. In its report, Linktree found that three percent of part-time content creators make greater than $50,000 annually and 68 percent make less than $1,000. It is not all glitz and glamor for full-time creators. 12 percent of full-time content creators make greater than $50,000 per year and 46 percent make less than $1,000 in the same period. This is where alternative sources of income enter.
Goldman Sachs found that the highest source of income for content creators is brand-direct deals. Some content creators make brand deals in an effort to become influencers, which is a type of social media marketing expert. Influencing occurs when a person with a substantial following utilizes their platform to entice potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending them on social media. Influencers can also be content creators who occupy a specific content niche and are regarded as experts in their field of knowledge. Content creators who are influencers have a reputation that often makes them appealing and trustworthy to their audiences. Brand deals with content creators and influencers can be a lucrative opportunity for any CE retailer, brand, or company.
The Content Creation State of Mind
Social media and content creation have fundamentally shaped e-commerce. Products often gain traction through word of mouth via user-generated content on video-sharing sites like TikTok or YouTube. Influencers, brand ambassadors, and everyday content creators are the arbiters for many viewers on whether they should commit to purchasing products. According to SurveyMonkey, 47 percent of Gen Z consumers use YouTube to research a product before buying it. Not only do these creators have the potential to boost the sales of various products with one positive review, but they can also use these reviews to grow their own online presence. There is a reason why product reviews and shopping spree videos, also known as ‘hauls,’ are some of the most popular ways people grow their platforms on YouTube.
Videos are an effective marketing tool and the preferred format for social media denizens Gen Z. They are the most likely to make a purchase if the item was recommended by a content creator on social media (58 percent), followed by 46 percent of Gen X and 38 percent of Baby Boomers. TikTok has often been the breeding ground for trends to crop up and spread like wildfire, from fashion to design and even technology.
Trending Tech is A Blast from the Past
Fashion trends and fads are subject to roughly 20-year cycles, but does this follow with technology? As technology becomes more wearable as accessories they have become regarded as essential fashion pieces. Nowadays, Y2K fashion seems to be back in. Among the low-rise jeans, the baby tees, and overall maximalism there arises an even earlier tech trend: the chunky over-the-head earphones referred to as ‘cans’ for their noise canceling abilities. These types of headphones were popular in the 1980s and 1990s, and are a far cry from the micro wireless earbuds and even the wired earphones that trended in 2021. Taking these trends into account, it seems younger consumers are turning toward retro tech.
Key players in the trend come from a variety of brands, from Apple to Bose to SkullCandy. Ahead of the pack, however, are the Sony WH-1000xM4s, released in 2022 but still making the rounds on TikTok. Not only are they fashionable and more affordable than many other ‘cans’ on the market, but they are also technologically sound. On Sony’s website, the WH-1000xM4s are rated 4.5 stars out of 4733 reviews. TikTokers seem to agree. The Sony WH-1000xM4 tag has over 126.8 million views on the short-form video platform.
Staying up to date with consumer trends in the CE sector is essential to continue boosting sales. However, if the ‘cans’ trend and the popularity of the Sony WH-1000xM4s is a testament to anything, it is that retailers should keep an eye on the creator economy and what content creators are purveying to their audiences.