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November 19, 2021

How The Creator Economy’s Growth Will Reshape Society

What did you want to be when you grew up? A firefighter, a pilot, maybe a doctor?

For a growing number of young people, the answer is YouTuber, podcaster, or app developer. Careers that the average baby boomer may not even view as a “legitimate profession.” However, once you realize how massive the creator economy is getting, it becomes hard to view these opportunities as a passing fad.

How Big is The Creator Economy Exactly?

Let’s compare the creator economy to a “real” profession to get a sense of its current scale (which isn’t very big). There are about 340,000 paid firefighters in the US with a median salary of about $48k per year.

Let’s compare that to YouTube channels with 100,000+ subscribers (because they’re almost assuredly earning over $50,000 per year). According to Social Blade, over 230k YouTube channels were that size in 2020 (and growing).

Maybe that doesn’t impress you. Professional firefighters in the US likely outnumber professional YouTubers worldwide. That said, “YouTuber” is not the only profession that has sprung up in the creator economy. We also have to factor in the following opportunities.

  • Blogger
  • Influencer
  • Independent Developer (apps, games, VR, web, etc.)
  • Onlyfans Creators
  • TikTokers
  • Podcasters
  • Shopify, Etsy, Amazon Sellers
  • Artists selling online
  • Musicians selling online
  • YouTuber
  • Freelancers obtaining clients via the web
  • Kickstarters
  • Advertisers
  • etc.

As of 2021, the creator economy is much smaller than the regular economy. There are 3.2 million teachers and over 1 million physicians in the United States alone. That dwarfs the number of YouTubers, Podcasters, and bloggers earning six figures.

However, those comparisons are incredibly misleading because they fail to account for growth.

How Fast is The Creator Economy Growing?

I know it feels like the creator economy has been around forever, but let’s go back 15 years to 2006 and check out what the creator economy looked like back then.

  • iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, VR Headsets, etc. didn’t exist.
  • Facebook had 7 million users total (They have 2.91 billion now).
  • YouTube had 20 million users total (1.3 billion now)
  • The majority of households had NEVER purchased something from Amazon
  • Pinterest, Kickstarter, Instagram, TikTok, OnlyFans, Shopify, Uber, etc. didn’t exist.
  • Podcasts had just been invented the year prior.
  • Only 70% of US households owned a computer of any kind.
  • So much more.

That was the state of the world only 15 years ago! We may still view the Creator economy as a small quaint thing. Still, it’s gargantuan compared to just 15 years ago.

For instance, the number of YouTube channels grew 23% in 2019. At that rate, the number of channels will double every 3-ish years. And while those rates can’t grow that fast forever, even 9 years of that type of growth would create a world where there are significantly more professional YouTubers than firefighters.

The creator economy has not even begun to peak just yet. Every platform is seeing significant growth rates when compared to the traditional economy. The number of doctors or teachers is simply not growing at a 20% clip. Meanwhile, virtually every sector of the creator economy is growing at least that fast.

The Creator Economy Creates Millions and Millions of Jobs

Most of the top 100,000-ish YouTube channels are million dollar businesses. The same goes for the top 50,000 blogs in the world. And god knows how much the top app developers are making. Each of these large businesses is likely employing at least a few people (and some are very large companies). Meaning this sector has already created millions of jobs and is growing fast.

An easier to grasp example is Uber. Uber pays over two million part-time drivers. That’s a single app partially employing over two million people. These jobs wouldn’t exist without the creator economy.

New Platforms Are Still Being Added To The Creator Economy

15 years ago, TikTok, Pinterest, Shopify, Kickstarter, Uber, OnlyFans, Patreon, and so much more didn’t exist!!!

If you think all the major platforms that fuel the creator economy have already been invented, you’re a fool. Or if you believe that the platforms to come will definitely be smaller than Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc.

For instance, take virtual reality. New premium headsets are coming out in Fall 2022 with resolutions so high it’ll be difficult to visually differentiate virtual reality from actual reality. This will exist in late 2022! And it will likely gain mass adoption over the next 5 years.

How many new platforms for creators will be generated with this technology? And that’s just one up-and-coming technology in the creator economy. There are many more in the pipeline.

The point is that in 15 years, we’re bound to look back at the current state of affairs like we currently view 2006. When there were no smartphones or tablets, only 2 out 3 people owned a computer, and you needed a .edu email address to use Facebook.

Within 15 years, we very well may move into a society where the creator economy rivals or actually becomes larger than the “real economy.”

Shaun works as a professional software developer while blogging about the creator economy (With a focus on Blogging, YouTube, and Virtual Reality).

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