The Sad Truth About the Creator Economy
It Barely Exists… Yet
Do you know why young men volunteer to join the military? Accepting low pay. the possibility of death, nearly certain PTSD. Why?
A beautiful lie.
The government is a master at marketing. Selling the dream of service. From the Civil War to Vietnam, the government spins this heroic adventure narrative.
But the reality tells a different story.
These young men give everything. Thousands die. Some live with wounds for the rest of their lives. On their bodies and their minds.
The same government that sold the dream turns it’s back on these men. Leaving them to die under bridges and on street corners. Abandons them when they need help the most.
The Creator Economy operates much the same way.
Work Defines You
Work is one of the most important parts of your life. A big part of who you are is what you do. After all, what’s one of the first questions people ask when they meet you?
“What do you do?”
A big part of our identity will be built around our job. That’s why it’s so important to get it right. Having the wrong job won’t just be miserable at work but also outside. You’ll feel alienated because part of your identity is missing.
The energy you spend at your day job should be spent somewhere else. On something you actually care about.
Most people hate their jobs. Close to 99% of people would love to quit. This is why things like the lottery are so popular. Most people don’t want to get rich for the sake of being rich. They want to be rich so they can quit their miserable job.
Then came the Creator Economy.
This was supposed to be a way out. Where you could go on the internet and work on something that can create an income for you.
The big platforms today grew in large part because of aspiring creators. People who were desperate for a new job. One they cared about. And for a few, it worked out great.
But things didn’t go so well for everyone…
The Creator Economy is Broken
People love talking about the Creator Economy. The idea that anyone can create a YouTube channel or start freelancing and start a new career.
But this is a beautiful lie. Not reality.
These platforms sell the Creator Economy the same way the government sells war to young men. The reality is always more depressing than the marketing.
At the end of the day, these platforms make money from Free Labor. People like you and me create content for free. If we work hard enough and give it enough time, we might have the privilege to earn some money ourselves.
But this only comes after thousands of hours of work. If we had just spent that time at our jobs, we would have made more money in most cases.
It works this way because of how these platforms are set up. Let’s not forget that these are for-profit corporations. They are interested in making money . They do not exist to empower independent creators.
If they allow you to make money at all, its because it’s profitable for them.
Never forget that.
Look, I’m not here to be a Debbie Downer. But it’s important that we understand the reality of the situation here. Most people cannot become full-time creators online.
Let’s take a look at some sobering statistics.
0.33% of YouTube creators earn a full-time income
94% of Medium writers earn under $100 a month
Of the top-earning Medium writers, the majority spent years to earn that much
0.3% of Patreon creators have over 2,000 patrons
96.3% of freelancers on Fiverr make less than $500 a month
70% on Fiverr make less than $100 a month
Only the top 1% of authors on Amazon earn $1,000 in a single month
And as bad as those statistics are, let’s not forget that these platforms change all the time. Let’s say you spent thousands of hours and years of your life on one of these platforms.
All it takes is one small algorithm change and your business model breaks.
This is exactly what happened to me. I was a full-time YouTuber until the adpocalypse of 2017. I had created thousands of videos. Generated millions of views. And one day, through no fault of my own, I lost 99% of my income.
You might hustle hard. Might be really smart and talented. You put your best work out there. You give it time to grow and build an audience. And by some miracle, you make it and become a full-time creator.
One of the lucky few.
Even then, there’s a good chance they pull the rug right from under you. And leave you with nothing.
Why the Creator Economy Doesn’t Work
It’s impossible for the Creator Economy to work right now. This will never work as long as these platforms are controlled by for-profit corporations.
People naturally want to create things for others. But the hard part is finding an opportunity to create. These platforms give you that opportunity.
They allow anyone to write a blog or create a video. To create something of value for others. Due to algorithms, most content gets buried. It takes a stroke of luck for your content to get discovered.
When it does, you create value. But when that value is created, the platform itself captures most of it. They do this in 2 ways.
Taking a percentage of the money (YouTube takes 45%)
Your content gives them user-data which they sell to large companies
So, whenever you see these platforms encouraging creators to start creating, remember that it’s mostly bullshit. They want your free labor to earn them more money. Whether its by tapping your earnings or selling user data.
Statistically, they know you will fail. But they will happily stand there and sell you the pipe dream of becoming the next Pewdiepie.
But thankfully, there’s an alternative to these corporate platforms.
The Crypto Creator Economy
Web3 is the next phase of the internet. The platforms we use will be ownerless instead of owned by corporations. The only people who will make decisions about the future of the platform actually use it.
Over the years, I’ve seen countless platforms make deeply unpopular decisions. Decisions that 99% of users hate.
This won’t be a problem anymore.
This will be a powerful change that creates exponentially better platforms. Think YouTube and TikTok are good now? Wait till someone creates their Web3 replacements.
This is going to supercharge the Creator Economy. When a creator makes something beautiful. A video, a blog. They will capture all the value from it.
The platform won’t take a cut because it’s ownerless.
And there’s going to be plenty of ways to capture value. Selling NFTs, collecting tokens, etc.
Mirror is a great example. It’s a decentralized blogging platform.
They offer different ways for writers to monetize. You can sell NFTs to the article, fundraise an idea, and receive support from readers.
Their team recently ran an experiment which turned out to be a huge success.
Platforms like this are going to be the future of the creator economy. The platform itself will be ownerless. But everything on the platform will be owned.
The community will make the decisions. And everyone will have a real chance at becoming a creator.
It will live up to the promise of the creator economy.