$1 Billion Reasons Why 🤑 Isn't Good Enough For Creators
This publication is a personal reflection on my experience as a content creator on a real problem affecting many creators across the space. From small to big creators, this issue needs attention.
A few weeks back, while scrolling on LinkedIn, I came across a publication stating that Facebook was planning to pay $1 Billion to creators through 2022. That figure can sound amazing to everyone, but any content creator I know, including myself. Out of curiosity, I started reading what all the fuzz was about. After all, YouTube had paid over $30 Billion to creators in the past 3 years, so I wondered what was different about this Facebook initiative. I stopped right after the first paragraph. Let me explain.
In a recent post - “Creators Are Burning Out 🔥,” I talked about the struggle creators have all the time. There’s a general misconception, mostly from those who are not content creators, that the life of a content creator, either YouTuber, streamer, podcaster, or gamer it’s only about fun and having a blast waking every morning to do what they love. Although that’s partially true, and the reason why most creators wake up in the morning is just part of the reality of being a full-time content creator. The truth is, it takes as much effort as running a business, and creators depend on their platforms, such as Instagram, to sustain such business. That’s why we started paak.io with my co-founder Brian, to build tools to empower those creators!
Throughout this post, I will be referring mainly to all content creators who haven't already “made it” (this is super subjective). The reason is to bring some perspective to anyone reading of the struggles of a creator from day zero. Creators like my wife or me, those “starting out”, and those who are on the rise. I’m by no means saying big creators don’t run into these issues, they totally do, and they absolutely did while growing their careers. But this post is meant to show how much impact this has on an average creator, who represents more than 90% of all creators.
So when I share my thoughts in my prior post about creators burning out because of the “Hacking the Algorithm” effect, I wanted to set the tone for this reality most all creators live in. In that post, I also share some strategies to avoid it while you keep growing your business.
… Hacking the Algorithm” is something that’s driving content creators and businesses to the ground. Creators are struggling to make an insane amount of effort to capture the new wave of an over-saturated platform. I know so many creators posting every day, stressed out to figure what’s the next trend that will change everything. Imagine Reels are getting prioritized; you are a graphic designer using Instagram to reach new clients. Suddenly your posts don’t reach anyone, just because the platform you once entrusted your business to, wants Reels to compete with TikTok …
For content creators, independent creative freelancers, brands big or small, all those so-called Social Networks are distribution platforms. Pretty much the Netflix for the independent creator. All of them, despite the business model, are no longer just social networks. If you are a graphic designer, pianist, DJ, or photographer, you use those platforms to share your work, your brand, with the world. And there’s a lot of tools you can build on top of that to facilitate their business.
Leaving aside the fact that $1 Billion FB is willing to pay creators in one year, pales versus the $30 Billion YouTube paid over the past three years, there’s so much more Instagram can do for their creators besides money that hasn’t been done or addressed so far. If you are not a creator and you see that, you might think, “that’s awesome,” when in fact it isn’t.
In my opinion, having been using Instagram & Facebook for the past eight+ years to run different businesses, there’s a lot of work on the transparency side of things. Mostly when it comes to taking care of small businesses and all creators alike. But mostly, to mind, the negative mental health impact their business practices produces on the creators in the platform.
They are now more focused on capturing features from the competing platforms to avoid leakage instead of providing good quality options to those already on the platform.
I did have a quick look at how the monetization FB will implement (see above) will look like, and from the looks of it, they will pay via a “game system.” The update reads, “Complete a challenge to earn Stars,” “Complete a task within 28 days.”
It all indicates the more you use the platform, 👍, 💬, share, re-share; the more you “be active,” the more “stars” you get, therefore money. As a content creator, I cannot help but be horrified. Knowing how the creators are already fighting for attention, catching the next trend, we will now add a fight for an economic reward. Full disclosure, I haven’t used the feature myself, but the system seems to be rewarding consumption instead of creation. And that is all kinds of wrong. If you are a creator reading this, let me know what you think.
It’s also true that as a content creator, money is important to thrive as a business and grow. We also need to consider that most creators, at least for a long period at the beginning of their careers, create content part-time while having a 9-6 job on the side. Maybe some lucky ones might just quit their jobs to pursue a content creator career risking it all. Therefore, money is good, but the tools we put at their disposal are key to build a good healthy creator’s career.
In the words of Ron Swanson 👉 ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish … and feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard …’
Tools can be many things; for a YouTuber can be the gear, for a podcaster, a great studio, or a great mic, but for all creators alike, the monetization tools are a crucial part. More tools for the creators make them less dependant on one stream, the risk is diversified, and they can become creations independent of the platform they chose to distribute their content.
We need tools designed to boost creativity and potential opportunities and empower them to earn a decent living without having an extra due date, challenge, or wall.
Platforms should break those walls between content and monetization. Make it easy for the creator to earn a decent living. Pretty much like companies such as YouTube, Twitch, Gumroad 🤟 or Patreon does
But in all fairness, for a platform like Instagram, it might be hard to incorporate a rev-share add model, as the sponsored content goes into the feed, in between stories/reels, and they don’t have any long-format content option to run “midroll ads” for example. Besides maybe IGTV, but is that still a thing? 👈 YouTube remains the only platform they couldn’t copy.
Another complication Instagram or even TikTok might run into to share revenue with creators is revenue attribution. For example, the revenue coming from those sponsored ads that we all see between two different creators’ posts in the feed might be somewhere between hard and impossible to split. Should they give all the revenue to the post before the ad, after the ad? Or maybe 50/50 between the two creators whose content is “sandwiched” - for lack of a better word - that sponsored ad.
The alternative you can see below is far from ideal, and it will lead to more stress. It will keep creators stressed out, with new deadlines (more than the ones they already have) to earn. A carrot on a stick of sorts, or the creative equivalent of the rat race. That’s not empowering creators; that’s taking away from them. I’m more than happy to share some ideas that can immediately impact all creators.
⚡ Transparency on the Algorithm changes.
⚡Allow URL links in post captions.
⚡Allow Social Icons on Profile or to add my YouTube or TikTok.
⚡ Better insights and analytics. Help us creators really understand our content value & potential. Pretty much like YouTube does 🔥
⚡ Give Video another try (not vertical), and share revenue from ads with creators. It’s that simple
⚡ Clear rules on engagement, shadowbans, product or feature prioritization.
⚡ A new discover system, by interest. Let my audience see 100% of my content every time I post
⚡ I’ll keep the rest for paak 😉
👉 Also would be awesome if they verified all creators building amazing communities equally. Not only top creators or brands, cute pig with hats, or dogs wearing sweaters.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have platforms like YouTube. Although far from perfect, it’s one of the platforms that, in my opinion, does an excellent job empowering creators. Then if you are not a creator and you think $1 Billion seems cool, you might be surprised to know that YouTube paid $30 Billion to creators in the past 3 years, and they reported a $7 Billion in Ad Revenue reached in Q2 2021 & a whooping 15 billion daily views. The reason why is because, in my opinion, they listen to the creators a lot, or at least more than any other platform, except for Patreon. And they are the core part of the model; from small to big creators, it’s the full creator ecosystem. Twitch is another company that gets this extremely right, and so does TikTok, apparently.
Being a content creator requires a lot of effort, production, design, and energy. We need platforms to pay creators and provide tools to grow and self-sustain as a business without being afraid that they will lose everything the next day just because someone up there flipped a switch, and now the ClubNoise feature is the next best thing. Most of the creators I followed in the past 10 years, my creator heroes, had some story of burnout episode.
Good quality content should be fairly rewarded. Another thing to highlight is that creators on YouTube have a tremendous amount of freedom to monetize their content. And I’m not only talking about brand deals you can get out of having a good audience, but also the opportunities those 5.000 characters of real estate in the video description provided to the content creator. A good description can make a channel earn many revenue streams simultaneously, depending on the subscription count or views.
Platforms like Twitter or YouTube have dedicated spaces and full content libraries to teach creators how to improve the content. They constantly create new ways for creators to monetize; simultaneously, they communicate every detail of how the platform works. They have teams creating content that empowers creators to learn how to navigate and grow the platform. And if they change anything like the Adpocalypse after the Logan Paul debacle, they explain why to the best extend they can. You can see how they actually care about creators while still being a business that thrives on attention and ad placement in content.
At the end of the day, judging from the last results I share above, the YouTube core business model is enough evidence that an efficient partnership between the creator is possible, can thrive, and keep growing. I believe that’s the key to keep empowering this and the future generation of creators! This model should be imitated, and we definitely need more content creators flipping into creating companies for other creators.
And don’t take my word for it; ask any content creator you know.
So if you are reading this as a content creator in the travel & lifestyle space, and want to get to know a pretty cool brand to work with, be sure to check us out at 👉 paak.io
And if you are a brand or startup looking forward to better work with creators, don’t be a stranger, and reach out!