Last month I went to my first animal meetup. I was a sheepdog and spent most of my time chatting to a walrus, a reindeer and a turkey. It felt like a scene from Nathan Barley – but it made a change from Zoom.

The meetup app, Skittish, is made for content creators who want somewhere to hang out with their communities. It’s one in a huge wave of startups offering new ways for people (“creators”) to monetise their work and their audiences. SubstackClubhouse and Twitch are leading the pack.

Meetup app Skittish - part of the new creator economy
Meetup app Skittish – one of many new apps for content creators

I’ve been working with Design Club, which is experimenting with Coil. Coil is a micro-payment system that enables online creators to get paid for content as people browse their website. It’s a bit like Patreon or Ko-Fi, except payment isn’t direct. Members pay a monthly subscription to access content across the entire Coil network.

The creator economy

Content creators are taking back control of the social web. We’re seeing a creator economy boom, with big tech fighting for online talent. Social media is changing and morphing, as a new generation of social tools come to the fore. According to a recent article in the Economist:

“The new media platforms…are becoming more like old media companies. Rather than simply helping consumers navigate a mass of commoditised online content, they play an active role in commissioning and curating it.”

If social media companies don’t offer ways for creators to monetise content, they’re at risk of missing out. “They’ll become just a promotional hub, where people essentially advertise the content that they’re monetising on other platforms,” says Josh Constine of SignalFire, a venture capital firm.

This is interesting. For the past five years, there’s been a growing pressure for social media platforms to reconsider their advertising and data-driven business models, because of legitimate concerns around ethics and privacy. Now there’s pressure from another direction – the content creators themselves.

Examples of the creator economy boom:

Mapping the new world

Research firm CB Insights has produced a content creator economy map. It identifies 10 ways in which startups are shaping this emerging realm. New companies are popping up all along the value chain, seeking to disrupt everything from content creation to fan interaction and community management.

How many have you heard of?

The creator economy market map
The creator economy market map (credit: CB Insights)

What can you sell?

For small businesses, the new creator economy means three things:

  1. It’s more important than ever to know what your community needs and what you can provide of value
  2. Influencers will become increasingly powerful – think about how you might use them
  3. Consider partnerships and collaborations to help you experiment

Let me know how you get on!

Main photo: Richard Steih (via Flickr)