June 16, 2024

The Rise of the Creator Economy in North America

The past decade has seen the emergence of a new type of entrepreneur – the digital creator. Individuals are leveraging digital platforms to establish their own businesses creating content, products and services for avid online audiences. This phenomenon has come to be known as the “creator economy” and it is booming across North America.

The Growth of Online Creators
Through platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and TikTok, regular people are finding they can cultivate large followings and generate substantial income. No longer is traditional media the only outlet for creativity – anyone with a smart phone and internet connection now has the means to become an influencer or online personality in their own right.

According to a 2021 report from Medici, the total number of online Creators In North America grew by over 50% between 2017-2021 to 32 million. Revenue generated by creators also grew exponentially over this period, topping $100 billion dollars in 2021 alone. The numbers indicate the creator economy shows no sign of slowing down and will continue expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs across the continent.

YouTube Dominates but New Players Emerge
For many years, YouTube reigned supreme as the platform of choice for video creators looking to monetize their channels. Major YouTubers like PewDiePie, Logan Paul and makeup guru James Charles have built veritable brands with millions of loyal subscribers generating millions in annual revenue.

However, new platforms have emerged challenging YouTube’s dominance. Livestreaming site Twitch has flourished, offering creators alternative ways of connecting with fans through gameplay broadcasting and IRL streams. Short form video app TikTok has taken the world by storm since 2018, making household names out of creators like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. Instagram also evolved its features like Reels to directly compete for creators seeking new growth opportunities.

Pivot to Patreon and Sponsorships
As ad revenues on platforms have fluctuated, savvy creators have diversified their models beyond just YouTube ads or brand sponsorships. Subscription platforms like Patreon allow super fans to support their favourites directly with a monthly pledge. Many top Patreon creators now make six figures annually just from direct fan support.

Sponsorships from large brands have also become a major revenue stream. Companies like Chipotle, Gillette and State Farm actively seek out influential creators to represent them in sponsored posts and videos. Major events centered around gaming, beauty and lifestyle have also emerged as opportunities for paid partnerships bringing in five and six figure deals.

The New Business of Livestreaming
Livestreaming has exploded as a format since the pandemic confined many people indoors. Beyond just gaming on Twitch, platforms like Instagram Live, Facebook Live and TikTok Live see thousands going live daily for interactive talk shows, cooking lessons, Q&As and more.

Leading the charge are personalities like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. The record-breaking Fortnite streamer signed a reported multi-million dollar exclusivity deal with Microsoft’s streaming service Mixer in 2019. Top Twitch stars now make millions a year combining subscriptions, bits, donations and sponsorships during their broadcasts. New dedicated livestreaming apps like BeLive and Restream have also launched seeking to tap into this booming market.

Creators Transforming Industries
The influence of digital creators is being felt across various industries as their spheres of expertise and audiences expand. Beauty gurus have played a huge part in the surge of niche cosmetic brands through recommendation and reviews on YouTube and Instagram. Many lifestyle and cooking influencers have parlayed their online popularity into successful product lines, cookbooks and even television shows.

In the fashion world, influencers with millions of followers have become celebrities in their own right, getting invited to sit runway shows during Fashion Week. Brands have taken note, routinely flying influencers to events and productions to generate buzz among young audiences. The line between celebrity and digital creator continues to blur as their economic impact and cultural influence grows far-reaching.

The Rise of Micro-Influencers
With competition intensifying on mega platforms, a new niche has emerged – hyper-focused micro-influencers with audiences numbering 50,000 followers or less. Brands prefer working with micro-influencers as their highly engaged followings are seen as more authentic recommendations than major celebrities or influencers. Niche accounts focused on travel, food, pets and local communities have found good revenue potential partnering with local businesses.

The creator economy is reshaping entrepreneurship in North America and providing hope for those seeking an alternative path. As platforms continue advancing live features, shop integration tools and new monetization methods – opportunities will keep growing. Creators are leveraging their creativity, personality and relationship with audiences into self-sustaining ventures. Though challenges remain around consistent revenue streams and regulations – this new digital frontier shows no signs of slowing, with the future of content looking brighter than ever before.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it