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The creator economy in 2022: 8 experts on how to survive and thrive

Gas prices. Inflation. The war in Ukraine. The stock market. There have been more than a few red flags about the economy lately. It’s got a lot of people nervous — consumers especially. (Looking at you, record low consumer sentiment index.)

What does all this mean for creators and the creator economy? Are the opportunities for creators still so incredible that they don’t have to worry about the larger economy… or are they about to get hit on the chin?

We’ve been wondering about this, and while we know our answer to this question, we wanted to get other peoples’ take. So we reached out to eight experts who advise creators and are creators themselves.

We asked them:

  • How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators?
  • Could you rate that concern on a scale of one to ten, with one being the lowest?
  • What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?
  • What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

Let’s start with their answers to the first question – to rate their level of concern. These answers broke cleanly into two groups:

  • Five people who weren’t concerned really at all (1-2 rating)
  • Three people who are concerned, and feel things could go either way (5-6 rating)

The average score of everyone’s rating for how concerned they are? It’s 2.9.

For the other questions, one piece of advice was repeated over and over again. You can see it in this word cloud of all the answers:

Word cloud on how to thrive in creator economy

So what was almost everyone’s advice? Build a community: a specific group or audience of people who like your work. Get to know that community really, really well. Solve their problems. Connect to them. Then – and only then – offer them paid solutions and support for those problems.

The creator advisors we asked gave this advice over and over again. It’s why community is so prominent in that word cloud. Other terms people used for community included “audience,” which you’ll also see in the cloud. Many also emphasized focusing on a specific community or audience – honing in on a specific group of people you can connect with.

There were few people who did not explicitly talk about building a community or audience, but both of these people talked about networking. They’re doing a lot of networking now, which is really just another way to build and strengthen community. 

Why “focus on building a community” is great advice 

People who are well-connected, visible, and contribute to communities tend to have more opportunities. The people they are connected to “know, like, and trust” them, so they’re aligned with that golden rule of sales and marketing. They get more work, even in downturns. And they’re well-enough connected to know when and how to pivot if that becomes necessary.

Those are the key takeaways from the answers we got: Most of these creators/advisors aren’t very worried about how creators will fare in 2022, and they recommend every creator focus on building a specific audience/community.

But a lot of other issues came up. For that, it’s best to let these eight experts speak for themselves.

1. Juan Galán Politi

Social Media Expert / Coach

ShootWithJuan.com
Instagram: shootwithjuan

Juan Galán Politi

How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being the lowest?

I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about. The creator economy is a thriving economy. More and more people are finding they can turn their passion or hobby into a full-time career and build successful online businesses with little or even 0 investment. People are consuming more content than ever, whether it is through social media, blogs, etc. Content creators that are smart about it can easily start monetizing their online audiences and their content. I’d rate my concern for this question as 1.

What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?

It’s been a crazy year for business growth and it’s grown to levels I would have never imagined. What did I do? I built an online community around a specific topic, addressed my community problems with my content, and offered solutions. I’m more adjusting myself to this rapid business growth, rather than adjusting my business to a new environment. Very excited to continue seeing it grow.

What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

Honestly, the best thing any creator looking to succeed can do is to build a strong online community. Choose one platform (ideally one in social media) and start creating consistent content and building relationships. Once you have a decent community (not saying you need thousands and thousands of people) but a decent, engaged community, they can start thinking about how to offer “paid solutions” to the main problems anyone in their community has.

2. Shawn Fink

Business Coach and Spiritual Consultant for soul-led creators and entrepreneurs
ShawnFink.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnfink/

Shawn Fink

How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being lowest?

I am holding steady around a 6 right now. In many of my circles, the pinch is definitely already under way and it’s hard to say which way it will go at this point. I would like to have trust that we’ll be able to steer clear of it but it’s definitely a worry.

What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?

I have been reducing my expenses for a few months now and trying to run a lean business machine. I am also planning to talk to my bank about a line of credit to use if things take a downturn. I am also adding in a few other revenue streams that might be more recession proof. 

The biggest thing I did when the pandemic seemed to slow things down was take on a more consistent client that I know will be good for a while. I call it my side hustle but it’s a higher paying and more consistent remote client for me to work for around the edges of my coaching business. 

What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

First, you always have to do what you need to do to feel safe and secure. So if that means look for a part-time job, so be it. Family comes first in my world. As does the mortgage. The great thing about being a creator is that it can always happen in the margins of our lives — get up early, stay up later. Being a creator doesn’t stop in a recession. But paying your bills should always be a primary focus. There’s no shame if you have to work at Starbucks to make ends meet. Your financial wellbeing is such a huge piece of your overall well being. So tend to it like it’s a priority not an afterthought. 

Second, start creating safety nets — like a line of credit from your bank or through another lender — and perhaps a bit of a cash infusion right now before the bottom drops out. If it doesn’t, you’ll be in good shape. If it does, it will buy you a few months. 

Diversify. What else can you do in the meantime to ensure you have some income coming in? Can you target a different but stable industry right now to get you shored up for upcoming months? 

Finally, ask for help. You’d be so surprised who is willing to help you when times are hard. We forget that resilience evaporates in solitude. We need to help each other. We’re meant to help each other. So reach out and share your story and what you need. 

3. Paula Rizzo

Media Consultant, Author, Speaker
PaulaRizzo.com
Paula’s Checklist to Become a Go-To Media Expert

Paula Rizzo

How concerned are you about the economy for the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being lowest?

It’s always important to keep your eye open for what’s happening in the world and how it might affect your business. I’m about a 5 on a scale of one to 10. It’s definitely concerning and something to keep an eye on but I won’t be doing anything drastic. 

What are you doing to adjust your business, your marketing, or your content to adapt to this new environment?

I was a network television news producer during the 2008 recession. We found creative and authentic ways to tell stories that would really resonate with our audience. I’m always thinking of the audience first. What are they going through and how can my expertise best serve them? 

What do you recommend other creators do right now to adapt and maybe even thrive through the next year or so?

Slow and steady wins the race. Stay true to that. Stick with the good stuff that you know works and don’t try to reinvent the wheel now.

4. Andrea Fox (Dre Fox)

Social Media Expert, Public Speaker, Course Creator
TimeOfDre.com
Instagram.com/timeofdre

Andrea Fox

How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being lowest?

As a creator since 2018, I’ve seen many changes over the past 4 years – some exciting, some troubling. But right now? Creators now have a unique opportunity to feast or famine inside of this ever-changing industry. Between new platforms, the recession and the move to video content, it’s time to realize actions that worked in 2020 aren’t going to work in the future and pivots need to be made. 

For those that step up to the plate to learn new skill sets, to tap into the true “business” of content creation I think there is more than enough space for people to get ahead in this industry. I am 5/10 nervous for creators.

What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?

Personally I’m refining my skills and becoming much more proficient in editing, video content and creating my own trends for others to follow. But behind the scenes I am networking like my business depends on it, because it does. This looks like taking a proactive role in the opportunities I’m given and the rooms my name will be brought up in. All it takes is you to ask to be part of a collaboration, to get a shout out or to partner with a brand to change the entire future of your creator business.

What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

Externally, it’s time to become innovative and take bigger risks with your content and the online space that you’re taking up. Make noise, make waves and stop clinging to the past. Those that will win aren’t worrying about “what used to work,” they’re onto the next thing. Let that be you! Improve your skills especially if it’s holding you back from video – Youtube, masterclasses and more can help you get the basics down so you can add more services to  your roster. 

Move into burgeoning markets like UGC content creation – this is my client’s main focus in 2022/2023 because it’s not saturated right now and allows you to get paid without the rat race of likes and comments. 

Internally, if you want social to be your job, treat it like a business with the same dedication, business acumen and seriousness that you’d expect. Shake hands, get networking and ask for the things that you want – you never know when someone might just say yes.

5. Pranav Mutatkar

Helping creators build growth machines

PranavMutatkar.com
https://twitter.com/PranavMutatkar

Pranav Mutatkar

How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being lowest?

My concern depends on the creator. Since”creator” is a broad word. If you are a creator who has lasered in and is solving real problems for your perfect customers. You’ll be okay. I’d rate that as a 2. 

But the average creator was already living an unsustainable life before the downturn. Many creators are slaves to content creation, are facing burnout, and are barely making ends meet. For these creators, I’d rate it at an 8. 

This may not be a horrible thing for most of these creators. It’ll help them understand who they should serve and how they can serve them with their personal gifts. 

What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?

Identifying what my rare and valuable skill is. Finding customers who love what I do. Talking to real customers to figure out how to grow my business instead of making an “educated” guess.  

Prioritizing ruthlessly by choosing only a couple things to pursue. Deciding to eliminate everything that isn’t good for my business, healthy for me, or play. Creating anti-fragile support systems so I can survive even if things don’t work out. 

Surrounding myself with smart mentors who can point me in the right direction. Make sure my network knows my calling card. Trying to help and be useful to whoever comes my way irrespective of if I’ll get something in return. 

What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

Talk to the people who love your content. Talk to people who you solve real problems for. Who does (or would be willing to) pay a bunch of money for your work?

Understand these people at a deep level. Figure out where they hang out, what messaging appeals to them, and what real problems you solve for them.

Then use what you learned. Go to the places they hang out and become useful. Help your dream customers solve their most difficult problems. Solve problems for others that are difficult for them and easy for you.

And most important of all… still do what’s best for your mental & physical health. Stay connected with friends. Go for walks in the park. If you put too much pressure on yourself, it’ll be harder to succeed and it’ll be less fun. 

When you get lost, ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Keep asking why until you get to the real deep reason. 

Focus on that deep why. Not on the vanity metrics. Don’t worry, you’ll make it through.

6. Paul Thomson

Business Coach for Course Creators
ThePaulThomson.com
https://www.instagram.com/thepaulthomson/

Paul Thomson

How concerned are you about the economy in the next 6-12 months, especially for creators? Could you rate that concern for me on a scale of one to ten, with one being lowest?

I’m not at all concerned about the economy over the next 6-12 months as it relates to creators. I’m pretty confident in rating my concern a 2/10. I believe the economy for creators has never been stronger. Just look at the number of people leaving traditional 9-5s either by choice or by force, it’s a really telling sign that the market for creators is thriving.

What are you doing to adjust your business to adapt to this new environment?
We’ve worked hard over the years to build robust systems to support our clients. I hear from creators all the time how overwhelming it can feel especially if you’re being told how unstable and volatile your market is. In turbulent times, creators need someone to lean on, so being able to have the right support, community, and mentorship is critical to stability and growth.

What do you recommend other creators do right now to survive and even thrive through the next year or so?

In my experience, the creators who are thriving are the ones focusing on a specific audience – they’re not trying to go broad with their content, products or services. Find the people that you enjoy connecting with, who you can impact the most, in the shortest amount of time. They will become your super fans if you stay consistent with your content.

7. Faiz Imran   

Founder and CEO of Backspace
BackspaceThat.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/faizimran/

Faiz Imran

On a scale 1 – 10 , a 1. I think the current state of the economy presents a massive opportunity for creators and freelancers that are able to provide value online to their audiences and customers. 

We are removing the barrier for creators to set up online communities so they are able to take control of their income and audience, we’re doing this by allowing creators to manage the whole community building, monetizing, and the process for running that community all within the backspace platform for free.

We recommend all creators keep their focus on creating amazing content that adds value to their audiences. During hard times people often come to their communities for support, so be sure to start building out and engaging more with your communities. 

Overall I really think many creators are going to be able to build extremely tight-knit communities of people experiencing the same things.

Having a sense of community is going to be crucial,  creators that are able to curate these groups and communities will have lifelong support from their audiences.

8.  Gary Henderson

Creator of $GARY and Co-Founder of SocialConnector
DigitalMarketing.org
Twitter: @GaryLHenderson

Gary Henderson

As far as the economy goes I’m not concerned at all as a creator. I’d give it a 1 or a 2. For me, people always want to grow and make money. I help creators make money and as long as we have people in the world that want to make money I’ll survive.  

I’m all in on web3. I help creators from all over the globe and decided to lean into the crypto space heavily. I’ve created my own currency, $GARY coin, and helped 30+ other creators do the same. This has allowed me to build a strong community of loyal supporters that continually show up. I have a group of 70+ creators that meet daily at 5:00 AM EST in discord to mastermind and collaborate.  

Decentralize and build your community. The world is changing fast and focusing on your personal brand and growing your community of super fans is the best advice I can give anyone.  When I did that last year. It changed my life!  

So where is the creator economy going in 2022?

We’re not going to make a prediction about whether the U.S. economy – or any other economy – is about to go into recession. Here’s what we do know: It’s going to change. Guaranteed. 

Anyone who’s been online even in the last two years knows how much digital marketing and small business marketing has changed in that time. Well… get used to that. 

Our advice to creators is to embrace change and build a strong community. Do that, and you just might thrive.

The post The creator economy in 2022: 8 experts on how to survive and thrive appeared first on AWeber.

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