The way creators make money is changing

Creators are diversifying their revenue streams beyond influencer marketing. That’s a net positive for the creator economy, but it also puts some creators in direct competition with brands for consumer spending.

More creators are going direct-to-consumer to monetize. The way creators make money on social media reflects larger trends within the creator economy: Many are working to become less beholden to brands and social platforms to earn income. The number of creators with multiple revenue streams will continue to rise, especially as high-paying brand deals are now harder to come by. Still, no other social media creator revenue stream—including platform payouts—will come close to the total amount of money US creators will make from sponsored content this year ($8.14 billion).

That trend is changing how consumers spend their money. The strong growth in social media monetization tactics like tipping, subscriptions, and merchandising indicates a growing willingness among consumers to spend their money on creator content and products. That has a ripple effect on marketers, as consumers may spend less on other goods and services. But it could also open the door to new brand-influencer collaborations, such as more places to serve ads or affiliate links, or co-branded product launches.

Creators are not a monolith. Our forecasts look at topline total social media creator revenues to paint a clearer picture of how money is flowing within the creator economy. But there are vast differences on the individual level when it comes to how creators make money, and how much they take home. Those differences are based on several factors—such as a creator’s popularity, industry, content formats, platforms, and whether they consider content creation a full-time or part-time job, for example.