The creator economy: How to succeed

June 12, 2024

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In this article, Joe Pulizzi shares his expert insights on building an audience and developing valuable content.

1. People talk about ‘the creator economy’. Can you explain to the readers of IMPACT, what this means?

The creator economy includes both the businesses built by creators, including bloggers, newsletter writers, streamers, YouTubers, Tik Tok creators, etc., and the technologies that make that possible.

It is believed that well over 50 million businesses qualify as creator businesses, what we call content entrepreneurs. And, although there is no statistic around this, creator businesses are one of the fastest growing in the world. Simply put, there are no barriers to entry and more people want to become successful creators than astronauts.

 

Many people focus on the technologies, like YouTube, Meta, Instagram or email providers like ConvertKit and Substack, but the first mention of the creator economy should always be about the creators that make the industry go.

2. What does it take to succeed as a content entrepreneur in the creator economy?

So many things, but in general, the content creator needs to first and foremost build an audience that knows, likes and trusts them. This could be through a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitch stream or an e-newsletter.

 

Person smiling in front of a camera

 

For this to work, the content creator needs to deliver some- thing truly different (what we call The Content Tilt) and deliver that content consistently over a long-period of time. According to The Tilt research, it takes 6 months for a future content entrepreneur to generate revenue and 17 months for them to be self-sustaining.

3. Who are the typical content entrepreneurs of 2022? I’ve seen that some refer to them as ‘the unconventionals’?

Most people think of the big content creators out there, like MrBeast on YouTube or Hasan Piker on Twitch, but most successful content entrepreneurs have small, loyal audiences of super fans.

We call them “the unconventionals” because content entrepreneurs span all age groups, industries and channels. For most, success isn’t based on a viral hit or even a massive audience. A content entrepreneur can live anywhere and literally be “next door.”

Big influencers get a lot of the attention, but it’s the middle-class of content creators that runs the creator economy.

4. So many people talk about building massive audiences, but how do you actually go about doing this?

You never set out to build a massive audience. You actually want to identify a small, niche audience where you can be- come the leading expert in a particular area. Once you do that, you can always broaden your reach.

 

 

For example, the Huffington Post started as just one blog to one audience covering one topic. Now they have hundreds of blogs.

Start with the audience, the audience’s pain points, and solve those pain points consistently over time.

5. How do you develop valuable content?

Simply put, it takes time. Whether you start as a blog or a podcast or a video, most of your initial content will be (let’s be honest) terrible. MrBeast says his first 100 videos on YouTube were absolutely horrible. Now he has over 100 million followers.

Like anything else, it takes time to figure out your voice, your content niche, and truly understand the audience.

 

Pink wall clock on a wall with pink flowered tapestry

 

6. You talk about identifying the intersection between one’s expertise and one’s future customer’s needs. What does this mean?

Your expertise? What are you good at or passionate about? What can you create content about consistently that is better than most?

Your audience’s desire? What keeps them up at night? How can you position your content to meet their needs? This intersection creates a “sweet spot” that you can own and become a leading expert in a niche to a particular audience.

7. You use the frame ‘TILT’ and refer to finding a place, where little or no competition exists. Is this similar to the mindset of the Blue Ocean Strategy, or?

Yes, very similar to the Blue Ocean Strategy. The Content Tilt is the next step beyond the sweet spot. Most companies stop at the sweet spot. The problem? There may be 100 companies trying to do the same thing. How are you going to break through with a minimal budget?

So, we need to differentiate.

 

Small girl lying on her back, wearing pink sunglasses and smiling at teh camera

 

We could do this by focusing on a very small content niche that is ignored. We can do it through our point of view. We could do it on a different platform. We could have a very unique personality or sense of humor. We could do it through our consistency.

8. What if I have built a very promising content business and want to sell it. What should I consider in this process?

First, you should set your exit strategy early. Do you want to sell this thing you are building or keep it? You want to make this decision early because it will affect all the decisions to follow. For example, calling the content brand Joe Pulizzi would be a horrible brand to sell. I mean, what company would buy that? But if you want to keep it forever, then great.

Also, for most content creator businesses, they sell to partners and sponsors. That means over time we want to build close relationships with these partners and make a list of those potential sponsors that would want to buy you. How can you fill a gap that they need?

Also, what you sell makes a difference in what you sell for. For example, an event business as the core revenue will probably get you more money on a sale than a print magazine business. Subscription businesses (recurring revenue) are the most coveted.

 

 

9. You’ve created a model – The Content Inc. model. Can you run us through this briefly?

Content Inc. walks you through the entire process of becoming a successful content creator. The steps include how a content creator can:

  • Identify the intersection of your expertise and your future customer’s needs
  • Determine how to “tilt” your sweet spot to find a place where little or no competition exists
  • Establish your number-one channel for disseminating content (blog, podcast, YouTube, etc.)
  • Use social-media and SEO to convert one-time visitors into long-term subscribers
  • Grow your business by expanding into multiple delivery channels
  • Monetize your product or service for ultimate business success
  • Understand how to sell your content asset for millions or build the business into a large enterprise

The Content Inc. model was developed by working with and interviewing hundreds of successful content creation businesses and is the same model used to build the New York Times, Red Bull Media House, and Huffington Post.

10.  When it comes to your work and your passion for content marketing, how do you see this area align with the broader agenda of making a positive impact on the world?

I fell in love with content marketing because I believe it is the absolute best way to market and sell products and services. BEFORE selling anything, we deliver amazing information to prospects. Once they come to know, like and trust us, they become customers.

Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? While there is nothing wrong with advertising or traditional marketing, I do believe there is a better way…and that better way has had a major impact on both marketing professionals and the customers we communicate with.

About the author

Joe Pulizzi is author, podcaster, marketing speaker and entrepreneur. He is the founder of multiple startups including content creator education site, The Tilt, and the content entrepreneur event Creator Economy Expo (CEX). Joe is the bestselling author of seven books including Content Inc. and Epic Content Marketing. He has two weekly podcasts; the motivation- al Content Inc. podcast and the content news and analysis show This Old Marketing with Robert Rose.

Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi

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