BYOF (Bring Your Own Followers) – The Real Secret of Content Creator Success
Content Creator jobs in 2022 are changing.
But if you’re still searching for Content Creator jobs, you may not have noticed the creeping shift in the Creator Economy. The word in question here, is ‘jobs.’
Breaking down the opportunity, in simple math. If you have 1,000 REAL subscribers, and you find a way to offer them something they would pay $5 a month for – YOU COULD MAKE $5,000 A MONTH. That’s $60,000 a year. A very liveable wage in many cities across the globe.
Or you could keep chasing the out-dated alternative…
So, you have 4,500 followers on Instagram. By most definitions you haven’t even hit the status of micro influencer yet. A brand offers to send you a candle in exchange for a picture of you sniffing it on your grid. You jump for joy – somebody noticed you! So you put on your sexiest yoga pants, check the timing of today’s sunset, and prepare the ring light.
Your pic turns out perfect. A flood of fire emojis and heart eyes stack up. A few people even ask where you got the candle, as if they can smell it through your post. And then? What are you left with? A candle. And a brief shot of dopamine from the ‘like’ notifications momentarily blowing up your phone. You’re still not sure how you’re going to pay rent next week. And 5 people unfollowed you because they think your feed is becoming too commercial.
If this sounds familiar, you missed the memo. You may still be looking for Content Creator jobs, instead of plotting your path to be your own boss.
In a recent article by Forbes about Monetizing Communities, Not Platforms, a line resonated with us – “Successful creators are starting to realize their earning potential no longer hinges on connecting brands with their audiences—technology is enabling them to earn money from their audiences directly.”
Just as the much hyped interest in a web3 promises to eventually overtake our old school ways in web2 – an evolution is also happening in social media. It wasn’t too long ago that influencers were blindly satisfied to use Instagram or YouTube for both gaining followers and monetizing content. With the right combination of content, number of subscribers, and engagement score, creators could expect brands to start reaching out with endorsement offers when they achieved the expected golden equation of influence.
But with more people identifying as creators, and brands becoming more aggressive about achieving their paid partnership KPIs, it’s apparent that the status quo is no longer serving many of us. The old way of doing things did, however, did help creative people around the globe realize that by letting strangers in to their lives, they could build communities of people with similar passions.
Why advertise other brands when you can promote yourself?
Just when you think you’ve cracked the IG algorithm – a new update sends your strategy out the window. You’re back at square one. Who wants to be at the mercy of mysterious shadow bans, unjustified account removals, and requirements to give up photos for the platform’s new favourite child – ‘the reel’? It’s one thing if you use these platforms to casually swipe though posts from your friends and family between dinner and bedtime. But a creator often relies on a social media posts to pay the bills. Being at the mercy of a an app whose sole motivation is to keep people from leaving their feed can feel like trying to tame an invisible dragon.
Ok, what are your options? Soooooooooooo many!
Creators are getting wise to the game. Using Instagram & YouTube to gain followers, and then taking those followers with them, off platform. A direct and authentic connection with your followers is the key to a sustainable career as a Content Creator.
While paid promotions with other brands can still supplement your income, smart influencers think like entrepreneurs. They know their worth, and are responsible with the trust their communities instil in them. They realize taking a paycheck to promote a product for someone else is just like any other ‘job.’ But finding a niche where people tune in religiously because they are genuinely entertained or inspired has real value. Recognizing this is the first step toward a future where followers want to reward your efforts directly.
Alternative platforms for Creators to monetize their content
There’s no need to pretend that these Instagram & YouTube substitutes are not also hoping to profit from the imagination and innovation of Creators. But many of their founders were once (or still are) Creators. They felt the first hand frustration of making things that were well loved, but under monetized. And wanting to transfer weight to the side of artists, invented apps to make it easier for Content Creators to support themselves through their craft.
The one thing everyone on this list has in common is they’re all providing easy to use solutions for a Creator’s community to support the people and projects they care about.
- Tagline: Change the way art is valued
- Creators Using It: Everyone from Visual Artists, to Musicians, to Non-Profits
- How It Works: Choose from 3 subscription tiers with varying percentages paid to Patreon from your monthly income. The platform makes it easy for you to accept recurring membership fees from fans in exchange for perks and exclusive member only benefits.
- Winning Point: One of the earliest platforms to give Creators a new revenue stream. To date, they’ve built up a list of 200K+ creators including many who have gone on to massive success like American writer & actress Issa Rae & Australian director Felix Colgrave.
- Back Story: After racking up over $10K in credit card debt to finance his ‘Petals’ music video, Patreon Co-Founder Jack Conte was fed up with getting over 1 million YouTube views a month and only earning an ad revenue check of $166. After thinking to himself “There’s got to be a better way for creative people who are reaching millions of people online to make a living.”
Buy Me a Coffee
- Tagline: A supporter is worth a thousand followers
- Creators Using It: Anyone who wants to accept donations & sell memberships or goods.
- How It Works: Earn a recurring income by accepting monthly or yearly membership. Share exclusive content, or just give fans a way to support your work on an ongoing basis. The platform charges a transaction fee.
- Winning Point: Makes giving small donation seem fun and easy, relating the value to how many cups of coffee it can buy a Creator. Donors don’t even need an account to make a payment.
- Backstory: “We believe almost everyone will work for themselves in the future – our mission is to empower individuals to achieve that.” Growing up in India, when Founder Jijo Sunny saw that ‘buymeacoffee.com’ was available for purchase he immediately snatched it up. Jijo’s memory was triggered to his days as a 13 year old blogger, and how being able to buy simple things like books and web hosting with the $300 a month profit from his blog made a huge impact on his life.
- Tagline: Shop Creators’ Cool Places
- Creators Using It: Travel Bloggers, Foodies & Local Guides
- Winning Point: The newest of the bunch, NanoWhat is quickly winning over Creators with its hyper focused niche – helping convert blog or social media content in to maps that allow anyone to buy & download a list of cool places to experience the same adventure a Creator did.
- How It Works: It’s free for creators set up a shop to sell their maps. NanoWhat also provides a free service to help creator’s convert their content to maps. Map sellers retain ownership of their products and can set their own selling price. The platform takes a commission on all map sales. No new app is needed, NanoWhat leverages the power of Google Maps.
- Backstory: While Co-Founders Elle Rex & Jenny You’s journey started with years of professional experience in the Tourism Industry, they were also avid travellers with complementary styles. Elle was an obsessive Google Maps user, spending hundreds of hours researching, planning and connecting dots in cities on her bucket list. After living and travelling to many cites around the world – people started to ask for access to her well curated maps. Jenny was an adventurous, but busy traveller who loved to get off the beaten path and experience unique destinations, but didn’t have the time to compile lists of her own. The two founders realized they could support each other’s travel needs, and speculated that there must be others out there just like them. And NanoWhat was born.
- Tagline: Go from zero to $1
- Creators Using It: Simple e-commerce platform for any Creator to take what you know and sell it.
- How It Works: No monthly fees, but the platform takes a cut of every sale. The more you earn, the less you pay per transaction as the fees decrease as your revenue increases. You always get access the to all the features, no tiered subscriptions.
- Winning Point: Gumroad boasts some of the lowest commission fees while also being able to offer services several other platform skip like Courses & an Affiliate Program. It’s a good option if you don’t focus on a particular discipline, but instead want the flexibility to sell several different types of offerings.
- Backstory: Founder Sahil Lavingia started his career as employee number two at Pinterest. What began as a weekend project, spawned from a frustration of wanting to sell an icon for $1 but not being able to find a site that met his needs, has now grown in to a business able to boasts that Gumroad digital entrepreneurs earn over $3M each week.
- Tagline: Do your best work, supported by your subscribers
- Creators Using It: Independent writers and podcasters
- How It Works: Substack combines a blog, newsletter, payment system, and customer support team. The platform stays dedicated to monetizing publishers of written and spoken words. Publishing is free forever. Once you start charging for subscriptions, the platform takes 10% in addition to credit card transaction fees.
- Winning Point: Huge names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Patti Smith call Substack their chosen tool for publishing and profiting from their supporters. While many other platforms in the Creator Economy space expect you to bring your own followers, Substack is able to promote that more than 30% of all new free subscriptions come from within their network.
- Backstory: In Substack’s own words regarding the dilemma identified in 2017 which catalyzed it’s founding, “Journalism itself was as strong as it had ever been, with more great writers serving more eager readers than at any time in history. You could publish a story and in a matter of minutes have a million readers. Getting paid was the hard part. The internet had changed the scope of possibility for journalism, but it had also broken its business model.”
Now, it’s just time to ask yourself two questions:
Am I ready to stop looking for Content Creator jobs and start looking for a platform that supports monetizing my craft?
Is my daily motivation centered on my specific, dedicated audience of supporters, and finding new and interesting ways to improve my content to make them happy?