Ten years ago, such jobs as blogger, influencer, and creator were more like a meme. You could not say that being a creator and developing your own social media platform profiles is your main job. Today, the situation has radically changed: the creators market has grown into an independent and influential industry. What’s hidden behind the scenes of the creators’ market? Prequel finds out with the creators themselves: our ambassadors and influencers.
Before the creators market could appear, there should have been a platform (or platforms) that would give the boost for development of this market. Any guesses, what could that be? Yep, that’s social media of any kind. However, if we delve into the topic, the history of social media has roots in the ancient times — the roots of the social media can be tracked to the earliest form of postal service, which dates back to 500 B. C.
Next important stages of (future) social media development were the following: the invention of the telegraph in 1792 and finally the invention of the telephone, which made information sharing much faster than it used to be ever before. But the actual story of social media in a form closer to a modern understanding of what social media started only in the 20th century. It all starts with CompuServe, which made it possible to share primitive forms of e-mails. And, finally, almost 40 years later, in 1997, the first real social media appeared. A service called Six Degrees was about creating accounts and communicating between users. After that, the era of the first blogging sites began — there were the first creators that shared something that they found interesting with their followers.
Some of the social media platforms that are still alive today were invented in the early aughts — one shining example is LinkedIn. The world-renowned Facebook was launched in 2006 and, as we all know, is (except several cases that occurred in 2021) is more than alive as well. Around those times, Twitter and YouTube became available to its first users. However, there were some platforms that are nearly forgotten. Have you ever seen anyone among gen Z use Flickr? This photo sharing platform is fully removed by Instagram, which was released on the market in 2010. Even though Pinterest and Tumblr are still used worldwide, the majority of creator culture is formed, obviously, with Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
Today’s creator’s accounts can be in some way compared to the blogs that used to be popular approximately 10–20 years ago. Creators or bloggers share with their followers the content created by themselves. This content may be dedicated to a specific topic or to a variety of themes, or just their everyday life. However, if today’s content is mostly visual-first, the early blogs were much more about text-based storytelling. The most noticeable platforms of the early era of blogging are LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress and etc. By the mid-aughts, blogs had become mainstream: in 2005, 32 million Americans, which actually was nearly ten percent of the entire population, reported that they were reading blogs.
Today we can see a tendency for less text and more visual content. However, the idea about this blogging thing is still the same for YouTube, Tiktok and Instagram bloggers — the creators share unique and self-created content with their followers.
Well, what is actually a reason to outline the creators as an independent and significant industry and market? First of all, currently there are over 50 million people who define themselves as a “creator.” Fun fact, a very significant percentage of American teens would like to become a YouTube blogger — more than 29%.
Still, some of Prequel Ambassadors have pointed out that they started fully recognizing themselves as the creators only after becoming Ambassadors. Seems that for some of the creators it is important to have evidence that other people like their creative work. “I believe the moment I realized I was a creator,” says Carol Valdes Castillo, “was when the Prequel team asked me to be their ambassador. It made me realize that I really can share with thousands of other people the content I actually created just for fun”. Approximately the same feeling had Luma, another Prequel Ambassador, “I think it only hit me when I received the Prequel’s invitation to become an Ambassador, I thought ‘ok, so some people are really paying attention to what I post’ lol, I couldn’t believe it!’.
Prequel’s Ambassador Luma Mendes @_lumamendes
Still, on the other hand, there are numerous creators, who define themselves as a creator not only because they’re viral on social media, but also because the process of creation is an integral part of their life. “Yep, I’m a creator because I make content for my Instagram and Tiktok. But for me it’s only a part of all my creative activities. My content is created for the music and songs that I create by myself as well,” shares her own experience Anastasia. Creativity is also an essential part of Xiaoyan Chen’s life: “I would call myself a multi-talented creator since I draw, design, make clothes, model, take pictures, sing, do makeup.”’
The popularity of being a creator caused the growth of supporting tools and jobs: curators and community builders as well as software designed to help the creators to produce the visual content and, eventually, monetize it.
The creator economy has not a very long history — it’s approximately ten years old. However, this industry is currently seen to have one of the fastest-growing types of small business.
Now for the most interesting part: how can bloggers, creators, and influencers actually earn money? Here come several options:
- Sponsored content;
- Product placement;
- Digital content sales;
- Live and virtual events;
- VIP meetups;
- Fan clubs.
The question is, why has this market grown so rapidly? The answer is simple: it’s another time and another generation. Currently we are all living both: offline and online life. We can work online, buy food, clothes and whatever we want online. We can even communicate with other people online. If a significant part of our life is already online, there should be entertainment as well, right? And, here we go: a huge variety of content is created by bloggers, influencers, videographers and photographs for our relaxation, self-development, inspiration and just for fun.
What’s more, being a creator that monetizes content is a new model of financial freedom that seems to be more preferable for some millennials and Gen Z (but also for so many others). It seems that creators have a lot of freedom with managing their time, which basically means “being your own boss”. And usually,creators seem to love what they do. Isn’t that paradise? That is also why more and more people are striving to become a creator. “For me, being a ‘content creator’ is something about freedom, because you can choose by yourself what exactly you want to show to your followers, what you are going to create, and so much more,” shares Luma. Another bite-size piece of statistics: from those 50 million people determining themselves as creators, over 2 million succeed to become full-time ones; over 47 million creators are creators as a “part-time job”, so they still also succeed to monetize their content. “Since I am a fashion design student studying in an art school, I would say I have to be a creator all the time, so I guess you can call it my job but more interesting and free than a formal job,” says Xiaoyan Chen. Another Ambassador, Carol, also takes his creator role seriously as if it was his full-time job: “As of right now, being a creator is more like a second job due to current life situations and school, however I take it very seriously and always try to prioritize it.”
Prequel’s Ambassador @artist_echo_gu
Summing up, being a creator today is not just a hobby but a real job; the creators market is not something barely existing, but an independent branch of the economy, one of the fastest growing industries. Still, being a creator has a lot of personal motivation behind it. Carol Valdes Castillo has described it as a journey that helps to accept different sides of own personality: “It means being accepted and just being able to shine for who you truly are.” Well, being accepted and able to shine for who you truly are is a nice goal not only for those who define themselves as creators, but for everyone, right? Or does that mean that each person is a creator of their own kind?