The Creator Economy: Non-Fungible People, Value Ladders, Monetization Options

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“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” — Jay-Z

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❓ What You’ll Learn

  • What drives the creator economy?
  • How to monetize?
  • What’s a product ladder?
  • Which virtual influencers have personal brands?
  • How to repurpose content?
  • How to build flywheels?
  • How to prevent burnout?

💎 Why It Matters

The ability to create and distribute work is being democratized. 

Teams are shrinking. Creators are capturing more value. 

🔍 Problem

Barriers to create and share lead to homogeneous content, products and experiences. 

💡 Solution

Democratized code and distribution lets creators focus on what they’re best at. 

🏁 Players

Creators and Niches



  • YouTube • Share videos and music
  • Instagram • Share photos and videos
  • TikTok • Short short clips 
  • Twitter • Share news and thoughts 
  • Twitch • Livestream and interact with your audience  
  • OnlyFans • Get direct support for photos and videos

🔮 Predictions

  • There will be more options to monetize. NFTs make digital scarcity possible. Recurring revenue stems from royalties on secondary sales. You can also:
  • The reach of new mediums will leapfrog the reach of old mediums.
  • The ability to create and share work will become more accessible.
    • Merch is designed in Figma and fulfilled by Printful
    • Newsletters are written on laptops and sent via email. 
    • Movies are filmed on phones and shared on YouTube.
    • Songs are made on laptops, sent to DistroKid and heard on Spotify.
  • There will be more virtual influencers. “Personal” brands are being built around characters like Miquela, 6529 and Jenkins The Valet.

☁️ Opportunities

  • Build a product ladder. A series of offers ranging from less to more expensive options. Flavio has a blog (free), books ($), courses ($$) and bootcamps ($$$). Higher tier offers are easier to sell once you deliver on promises in lower tiers.
  • Stick to a schedule. Build habits for yourself and anticipation with your audience. Ira Glass shares his thoughts on this. Your talent can catch up with your taste. Great newsletters, YouTube channels and podcasts often run on schedules. 
  • Repurpose content.
  • Make content more accessible.
  • Build flywheels. These are self-reinforcing revenue streams. See Issa Rae’s flywheel. Bilal and I discussed the risk of stakeholder conflict in our podcast episode

🏔️ Risks

  • Platform Risk • Being at the whim of “trusted” third parties. You can be deplatformed, suffer from outages, have terms arbitrarily changed and unheard complaints. 
  • Burnout • Chronic exhaustion. This is the flipside of creative schedules. Unsustainable commitments can lead to burn out. 
  • Switching Costs • Losing productivity due to a lack of focus. This is the risk with a portfolio of small bets. Multiple projects come with opportunity costs and switching costs. Explore and exploit. Concentrate to build wealth. Diversify to protect wealth.

🔑 Key Lessons

  • Pick what you can stick with. You’ll need to iterate to find what works. 
  • Be a non-fungible person. The more unique you are. The more value you can capture. The less unique you are. The more competition drives prices.

😠 Haters

“The Creator Economy is a buzzword.”

It’s a meme that persists because it’s descriptive and effective

“Decentralization has downsides.”

There’s no free lunch. One downside may be slow decision making. Hence the push for progressive decentralization. Representative models may emerge in decentralized networks.

​​🔗 Links

​​​​📁 Related Reports

​​​​🙏 Thanks

Thanks to Stewart Townsend (Podcast Hawk), Shayla Price (PrimoStats), Rick Segal (CRAAG Angel Group), Ethan Jones (Tools for MGMT), Jeremy Abraham (Spiffy), Yarty Kim (A4E), Mike Privette (Return on Security), Kevin Deol, Mike Donoghue (Subtext) and Michael Pearson-Adams (MPA Fine Art). We had a great time jamming on this report.

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    📈 What else?

    Trends PRO #0073 — The Creator Economy has more insights.

    What you’ll get:

    • 25 Creators and Niches (177% More)
    • 24 Tools (200% More)
    • 15 Platforms (150% More)
    • 10 Predictions (150% More)
    • 12 Opportunities (140% More)
    • 7 Risks (133% More)
    • 5 Key Lessons (150% More)
    • 10 Links (233% More)
    • 20-minute audio episode with exclusive Creator Economy stories, insights and opportunities.

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