A content creator is anyone who produces entertaining or educational content, typically for a digital channel that targets a specific audience. These people generally leverage their passions and interests, big or small, to create deep connections with audiences over time.
In our recent Zeitgeist research, 36% of consumers say they’ve posted or created content in the past year in some form, which shows just how broad the creator ecosystem is. And while some creators have built enough of a platform to earn money from what they do, the majority of creators do it for fun, or as a creative outlet.
Content creators are not to be confused with influencers though. Influencers are social media personalities who influence their followers to do or buy something, whereas content creators create and distribute their content. They’re not necessarily there to encourage followers to buy something.
While the lines are often blurry, the main difference between the two is their intention.
In this blog, we’ll demystify who content creators are, how they use different platforms, and what they’re looking for from brands.
Who are content creators and what are they posting?
Of those who have posted content in the last year, two-thirds have posted a picture of something they created, whether it was food, clothing, or something else. But content creation isn’t just posts and pictures. It spans a whole host of different formats, ranging from art to podcasts, and everything in between.
For example, Adriene of “Yoga with Adriene” uses her platform to sell her different paid yoga classes, but overall, her mission is to share free yoga videos which subscribers can follow along with.
The majority of content creators are Gen Z or millennials; naturally the younger generations who came of age when social media became a phenomenon, so they’ve witnessed its potential power and reach. These generations are also more engaged with the world of creators themselves, which may, in turn, influence their own content creation ambitions.
These younger content creators flock to Instagram, a platform which specializes in two popular kinds of posts – photo and video sharing. Gen Z and millennials are also more likely than older generations to use other platforms like YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Twitch to post their content.
TikTok, the fastest-growing platform among Gen Z outside China, has become a platform where content creators share what they know or involve viewers in what they’re working on. This means that the platform has grown to include accounts dedicated to almost anything and everything.
For example, David Zinn uses his TikTok channel to showcase his street art where he uses everyday sights to bring his art to life. In a completely different direction, Tamar from @corporatebaddie uses her platform to provide career advice to others and share her experiences.
Meanwhile, other creators on the platform have leaned into the unboxing trend, which has soared in popularity – #unboxing has had 44.3 billion views on the platform since its launch in 2018.
As there’s so much potential to attract a following across a range of platforms, there’s no “perfect” platform for content creation.
It really depends on the creators’ needs and what they hope to achieve, but the possibilities are enormous.
Content creation is the new hustle
The majority of content creators post for fun, while others say they post because they’re passionate about something, or use it as an outlet.
That said, for just over a quarter, content creation is a full or part-time job. Among this group, the majority are male millennials with mixed income.
The development of the gig economy goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of professional content creators. And with the cost-of-living continuing to increase, more people might look toward other sources of income and monetize their passions – content creation being one avenue.
When it comes to making money through content creation, YouTube’s low benchmarks for monetization makes it a popular choice.
The platform only requires 1,000 subscribers before the individual can make money from ads, which is likely to be a reason why it’s a top choice among professional creators.
Their next most preferred platforms are Instagram and Facebook. While neither offer many payment opportunities from the platforms themselves, they’re breeding grounds for brand partnerships. Their large user base allows for connections beyond just friends and family, while their photo, video, and story features are easy-to-use, making them ideal for newbie creators.
Likewise, the way these services have shifted from pure social media sites to social marketplaces has made it easier for creatives to sell their own physical and digital goods.
Other platforms like Etsy have also provided content creators with a way to sell their goods online. With the pandemic driving many to start their own creative businesses during times of economic uncertainty, the platform experienced a growth in the number using it to sell their goods.
Etsy sellers have their own communities and fans. For 30%, their creative business is their sole occupation, but for many others, it’s an opportunity to embrace their passions as a side hustle.
A closer look at full and part-time creators
It’s pretty risky to pursue a career creating content – building up a following and creating engaging content isn’t easy, even today when there are more opportunities than ever to monetize.
For some people though, it’s worth the risk. This helps to explain why full and part-time creators are more likely to be adventurous, risk-taking, and ambitious than the average social media user.
Many creators use social media to get inspiration and to showcase their work.
Full and part-time creators spend, on average, 2 hours and 45 minutes on social media a day.
That’s around 15 minutes longer than the average social media user and around half an hour longer than creators who make content for fun.
Part of the creative process is finding inspiration from others, something which this group are 31% more likely to do on social platforms than the average social media user. They’re also more likely to follow other experts on social, whether it’s beauty, gaming, or fitness experts – it’s likely that they’re following other creators in their niche to get an idea of the industry and inspiration from others.
The most distinctive reason content creators use social media is to hustle – they’re 60% more likely than the average social media user to use social platforms to make new contacts, suggesting it’s a key way for them to expand their business.
At the same time, this group are less likely than the average social media user to follow friends and family – they’re not online to keep in touch with others, they’re online to grow their personal brand and find monetary opportunities.
What content creators want from brands
Content creators’ ready-built, engaged communities are extremely valuable to brands, which is why many brands partner with creators to nurture existing customers, attract new ones, or strengthen their community on social.
With around a third of creators building an audience for over four years, they know their audience best.
Many have worked hard to build up an engaged follower base that’s ultimately centered around shared passions. Content creators are more likely than the average user to say they want brands to run customer forums/communities or listen to customer feedback. So, for those who do collaborate with brands, being able to give feedback is key as they’ll naturally want to have creative influence.
Personal brand is also important. Considering it can take years for creators to build an audience, they’ll be keen to protect their personal brand at all costs. As a result, they’re 15% more likely than the average internet user to want brands to help improve their image or reputation.
This means that for creators and brands, it’s important that the partnership is built on shared values and passions to create something that’s meaningful and genuine. For example, making sure the creator either already uses or would have a clear use-case of their product is important. The trend of wanting real, relatable content online hasn’t died down, so it’s important for brands and creators to take note.
- The best creators inspire others and create engaged communities around shared interests and passions. While most creators do it for fun, some also do it as a side hustle. For the right brand, this could open up massive opportunities to reach a ready-built, engaged audience.
- Creators want to be listened to, and have a personal brand to protect. They know their audience and its needs better than anyone else, which means many will rightly want creative influence in any collaboration. For brands, it’s important to lean on creators’ know-how first and foremost.
- Making sure the creator either already uses or would have a clear use-case for a product is key. This allows audiences to see the brands’ products “in the wild” – which ultimately helps the relationship feel natural to creators and genuine to audiences.