Perhaps except for the first two bullets, every one of these facts surprised me. The notion that it takes a year and a half to build a business that supports one person, and six months to earn your first dollar? Wow. Who has the ability to wait that long, in either case?
In any event, it’s a worthy window into the world of independent content creators. The study, released this week and entitled "The Creator Next Door," was commissioned by The Tilt, a media company founded last year by media-industry entrepreneur Joe Pullizzi.
In the survey, over 1,000 content creators were surveyed from February to April 2022 by Ravn Research. The upshot: Content creators are building successful, highly satisfying careers by growing niche audiences and monetizing their content, The Tilt suggested in a press release about the survey.
One anomalous finding was that only 6% of respondents believe a college degree is required to succeed as a content creator. “Given the high cost of higher education in the U.S., we expect this already-low number will shrink over time,” The Tilt concluded. “Given the degree to which college tuition is outpacing inflation in the U.S., it’s no surprise that more and more are questioning the value of higher education. You say Great Resignation. We say Great Adaptation.”
Beyond that, the survey emphasized that full-time content creators spend about half their time creating content. The other half is spent on business issues like content distribution, promotion, marketing, sales, and administration/operations. “A successful content creator told us, ‘People think I spend all my time filming new videos in beautiful places. What they don’t see is the sales meetings, social engagement, SEO, constant travel, finances … all the unglamorous parts of publishing great content.’”
But the most significant point of tension was that three in four respondents say creators are too dependent on Big Tech. The study explores the ways creators seek to reclaim control of their audiences by investing in things like paid memberships, owned communities and Web3—an emerging and somewhat theoretical concept of internet decentralization.
In terms of the runway needed to make money, and then enough to support a content creator, the survey noted that 49% of respondents are not the primary source of income in their households.
“What’s fascinating about our 2022 study is the emergence of what we call the creator middle class,” Pulizzi said. “Content creators are not necessarily becoming wealthy from their creator businesses, but many are earning a decent living and enjoying their work life. Imagine: 99% of people we surveyed say they have no regrets about launching their content business. You would be hard-pressed to find any other industry space with that degree of satisfaction.”
Download the full report here.