The tussle between Joe Rogan, Spotify and their detractors has resurfaced the simmering debate over creator monetization.
Since creators include everyone, TikTok mega-podcasters, YouTube celebrities and Instagram influencers, no one revenue model will work for them all. But do creators have to use all revenue models to make their business work?
Being cross-platform can be a boon for creators looking for a larger audience, but it quickly becomes too much work for one person to handle.
Creators who make enough money from their work to get by, let alone thrive, are sort of the holy grail of the internet. Substack has an answer to the question. YouTube’s revenue sharing with certain creators is another. TikTok’s creator fund was making headlines, but ultimately far too small compared to the number of hands extended. Does a platform make a Well job?
So how should creators think about monetizing their work today? TechCrunch’s Amanda, Natasha, and Alex – after a long conversation on the subject – worked to map out a few possible paths. Here’s how it happened:
- Amanda Silberling: I’m tired of everything being an advertisement
- Alex Wilhelm: Not your platform, not your money
- Natasha Mascarenhas: reducing the risks as much as possible
Amanda: I’m tired of everything being an ad
My friend Hannah went viral on TikTok to crochet chicken nuggets (that’s a phrase that would have been incomprehensible three years ago!). She works full-time in publishing, but with her new audience of 26,000, she launched a Etsy shop where, you guessed it, she sells crochet chicken nuggets – which sometimes have hats. She earned unexpected money from her sudden popularity.
Sometimes when we talk about the creator economy, we’re really only talking about a small subset of creators — people like the kids of Hype House who make millions from deals with brands. Then you have creators like Hannah. She makes money on the internet by leveraging her audience and selling products to compensate herself for the work of being really funny and really good at crocheting chicken nuggets. It’s a side hustle, not a full-time job, but that doesn’t make her business any less legitimate or interesting in the larger context of the creator economy.
I’ve previously written about how TikTok’s current creator monetization model doesn’t adequately serve creators, and how YouTube’s partner program, which works by sharing a percentage of ad revenue, offers a more generous payout. But I can’t help but think about the publicity of it all. You have your YouTube ad revenue, and then you have your branded deals, which are basically just ads disguised as Instagram posts — the biggest stars make most of their money from branded deals. Even independent podcasters foot the bills through advertising (as well as fan membership programs, merchandising… diversify your revenue streams!).