Not many people are known for the circumference of their thighs, and yet Julian Smith has made a name—and a salary—for himself as The Quad Guy. He’s sought out by many for workout techniques and tips, and literally millions of people subscribe to and search for the videos he posts online.
Smith is just one example of the creator class. More than 50 million people across the world are making their living as influencers, generating content and promoting brands across social media sites like Instagram and TikTok and platforms like Substack and OnlyFans. It’s the fastest-growing small-business segment today.
While more kids would rather be YouTube stars than astronauts, building a career as a creator involves more than cultivating an interesting personality and captivating content. Finding new opportunities and developing partnerships all happens behind the scenes, long before anyone watches a video or reads an online post. As more and more creators these days are discovering, internet-induced prosperity and fame comes with unique stressors.
Bearing the Brunt of Business Building
Creators want to spend time creating the content. That’s what they’re really good at. Yet as creators become more successful, the business they’re building inevitably becomes more complex, and less desirable, time consuming tasks like pitching brands and talking to a wealth manager fold into their job responsibilities.
Many creators, already burnt out from generating more content during the pandemic, are also finding the weight of running a business that banks on building a personal brand more difficult to bear.
In response, more platforms are rushing in to make the business side of content creation easier, and borrowing some time-tested methods that have been used in the TV and film industry. Creators are the talent today and the agency model, the creative-artist agency a couple decades ago for movie stars, is going to pop up for the creators of today.
An Opportunity for Platforms to Support the Creator Economy
This business-in-a-box reality is already taking shape, making it easier for creators to just make content—and leave other considerations, like reaching out to brands, negotiating partnership deals, or handling personal accounting, to behind-the-scenes tools or agents. Like unboxing a package from a retail brand, creators are finding that new features are allowing them to open up new opportunities without spending hours of their creative time. On TikTok, for example, a new program called “Agency Center” allows creators to signal to talent agencies that they’re open to guidance, support, and business development.
Meanwhile, other creator platforms are taking the business-in-a-box model even further. The creator-management platform we invested in, GRIN, is helping companies and brands develop and monitor their relationships with creators. Brands can use the platform to find creators and influencers, and then manage relationships they form with creators by keeping track of social media campaigns, analyzing sales from influencer content, and paying creators seamlessly after every brand campaign.
Playbook is another startup within our portfolio that’s making it easier for creators to turn over the reins of running a business, freeing up their time to make new content. The platform for fitness creators courts top influencer talent in the wellness space. It then offers them agency-like services to help them book new gigs and manage brand relationships. Instead of fitness-content creators having to find their own agency, Playbook brings those services to the influencers on their platform.
It’s how Quad Guy Julian Smith cultivates an ever-growing online presence. The Playbook creator films fitness content on his smartphone and uploads it to the platform, which takes care of the business of charging subscriptions for people who want to watch his videos and follow his fitness advice.
There’s a whole portfolio of services that creators want and need to maintain and grow their business. Now, more platforms are rising to answer their call, freeing them mentally to get back to the business of being creators.