As the internet has developed, ordinary people have had a more significant opportunity to shape the content that we can see. We are no longer reliant on massive media companies to provide us with news and entertainment. We are happy to consume content made by everyday people like ourselves. Over time, the creator economy has developed to be a major force.
Once, you needed expensive cameras and other equipment to make content. Nowadays, you can work wonders using just the smartphone that most of us carry in our pockets. This has led to a much more egalitarian landscape, albeit leading to accusations of “fake news” because it is harder to determine the truth of what you see online.
A side effect of this has been the rise of new career opportunities. People can now make a living from their online endeavors. There is now a sizeable creator economy, and in this post, we take a look at some key statistics relating to it.
22 Creator Economy Stats that will Blow you Away:
1. 50 Million Join the Creator Economy
A SignalFire report found that the creator economy is rising in popularity rapidly. As Forbes describes, “Ask a kid today in the U.S. what they want to be when they grow up. No longer is musician or athlete the top answer. It’s a YouTuber—an answer 3x more popular than astronaut.”
SignalFire believes that 50 million people will soon consider themselves to be creators.
2. 46.7 Million Creators Consider Themselves Amateurs
Although 50 million people consider themselves to be creators online, the vast bulk still believes themselves to be amateurs. Only the dedicated few can yet claim that being a creator is their full-time job. This will undoubtedly change, with creator numbers rising rapidly at the moment.
SignalFire splits creators into amateurs (46.7 million) and professionals (2 million +). Notably, more than half the amateur creators (30 million) share their creativity on Instagram, followed by 12 million on YouTube, 2.7 million on Twitch, and 2 million on the other social platforms. In contrast, you are more likely to find professional creators on YouTube (1 million), then Instagram (500,000), Twitch (300,000), and Other (200,000).
3. 2 Million Global Creators Make Six Figures
One of the reasons for the rapid rise in being a creator is that it can be financially lucrative. Technically, creators come into the category of “small businesses,” and two million such creators already make six-figure incomes. These people act as role models for their younger fans, ensuring that there will be even more creators in the future.
4. Sponsored Influencers Are Worth $8 Billion Today
We have written many articles about influencers here on the Influencer Marketing Hub. Back in our first post, What is an Influencer, we described an influencer as being someone who has:
- the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience,
- a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his/her topic of the niche.
Clearly, most (if not all) influencers are creators of some form – whether it be through articles, images, or videos. Sponsored influencers contribute $8 billion today, and according to Mediakix research, are likely to be worth $15 million by 2022.
5. 1 Million + Creators on OnlyFans
Taking a relatively broad definition of creators, then many of them now run channels on OnlyFans. As we wrote in a recent article, “OnlyFans is part of the new creator economy. It provides a ready market for creators to charge for their goods or services.” Support for OnlyFans rose dramatically during the 2020 lockdowns. In 2019, they reported 60,000 content creators. The previously mentioned Forbes article, written in September 2020, increases this number to 450,000. However, by December 2020, OnlyFans was reporting more than 1 million creators on their platform.
6. 97.5% of YouTubers Don’t Make Enough to Reach the U.S. Poverty Line
One of the reasons for YouTube’s popularity with creators is that it has a sophisticated ad-sharing model. YouTube takes 55% of ad revenue and distributes 45% back to creators. The problem is that, as good as that sounds, you still need significant people to watch the ads on your channel for you to make money. And, of course, most people opt to skip ads as soon as they can (which results in no income for the channel holder).
This means that for most creators, it’s nearly impossible to make a sizable income via ads. You need a substantial audience so that even a small percentage of viewers watching your ads makes a noticeable effect, or you need very supportive viewers willing to watch ads as a favor to you. The end result is that 97.5% of YouTubers don’t make enough to reach the U.S. poverty line, $12,140. Therefore, YouTube creators need to find other ways to supplement their advertising income.
7. Ad Revenue for Creators has Declined by 33% During COVID
While, in theory, you might think that ad revenue for creators should have increased during the COVID lockdowns, that hasn’t happened in practice. Sure, people are watching more videos, and some may be more willing to let ads run, but the problem was that many companies halted their ad campaigns. Of course, with sales in many industries up overall, that was probably a short-sighted decision for many firms.
8. Half of Consumers Use Ad-Blocking Technology
The other issue that creators face has been the popularity of ad blocking technology in recent times. One of the reasons that influencer marketing has become so popular in recent years is that up to half of consumers use ad-blocking technology. This is a double-edged sword for creators. The ad blockers greatly reduce their chances of making money from any ads they may place on their websites and social pages. On the other hand, however, it increases their marketability as influencers, who can still promote products through their regular posts.
9. 29% of American Kids Want to be a YouTube Star
As we mentioned previously, there has been a noticeable change in the aims and aspirations of Generation Z kids compared to their predecessors. A recent survey found that 29% of American kids wanted to be a YouTube star. This compares with a mere 11% who had dreams of becoming an astronaut.
10. 22 Thousand YouTube Creators Have More Than 1 Million Subscribers
There are approximately 37 million YouTube channels in total, so you do have stiff competition to succeed on that platform. Of course, many of these are set up by amateurs, who spend most of their YouTube time watching other people’s content. Indeed, people, on average, create a YouTube channel and upload 500 hours of video every minute on average.
This data comes from Socialblade, which only counts channels with at least five subscribers, so there are probably additional channels with very few, if any, subscribers.
As of November 2020, there are around 22,000 YouTube channels having over 1 million subscribers. In 2019 the number of YouTube channels having more than 1 million subscribers grew by 65%. Both T-Series and PewDiePie now exceed 100 million subscribers.
Of course, many creators have successful YouTube accounts with far fewer subscribers. Around 230,000 YouTube channels have over 100,000 subscribers, at which point YouTube considers you worthy of having a partner manager to help your future growth.
11. 500,000 Instagrammers Have More Than 100,000 Followers
Instagram has over 1 billion active users (Instagram hasn’t updated this statistic recently, so we don’t know how close they are to reaching their second billion). It is obviously an ideal platform for creators who specialize in the visual medium. Most Instagrammers run relatively small accounts – 52.35% of Instagram followers have fewer than 1,000 followers.
However, 2.4% Of Instagram users have between 100,000 and 500,000 followers.
12. 300,000 + Twitch Streamers Are Either Partners or Affiliates
As of March 2020, there were 41,100 Twitch Partners. Twitch is not so forthcoming with the number of affiliates it has, but we know they added 220,000 affiliates in the year to April 2018 and will have clearly increased their numbers since then.
13. Nearly 17 Million Americans Earned Income Posting Their Personal Creations on Nine Platforms in 2017
In 2019 Re:create released a study of the growth of America’s new creative economy. While the data now dates back to 2017, it still shows some interesting trends regarding the creator economy.
In 2017, nearly 17 million Americans earned income posting their personal creations on nine platforms, an increase of more than 2.4 million U.S. creators, or 16.6 percent, in one year. Undoubtedly these numbers would have risen even further since this survey was taken. In order, the U.S. creators in 2017 operated on the following platforms:
- Instagram – 5,639,996
- WordPress – 4,851,266
- Tumblr – 3,138,962
- YouTube – 2,187,107
- Etsy – 928,343
- Amazon Publishing – 177,042
- Shapeways – 24,526
- eBay – 23,797
- Twitch – 9,796
14. American Internet Creators Earned a Baseline of $6.8 Billion on the Nine Platforms in 2017
The Re:create report also lists an estimation of the U.S. creators’ incomes on these platforms in the same time period:
- YouTube – $4,004,000,000
- Etsy – $1,458,513,952
- Instagram – $460,100,000
- WordPress – $347,737,771
- Amazon Publishing – $220,447,368
- Tumblr – $178,003,586
- Twitch – $87,147,723
- eBay – $36,974,301
- Shapeways – $1,701,804
It is very noticeable how the platforms with the greatest number of creators were not necessarily the same as the highest-earning platforms. YouTube and Etsy stand out for being disproportionately lucrative to its creators.
15. Estimated Traffic Coming to Nine Platforms from Seven Leading Social Media Sites Generated Earnings of More Than $504.6 Million for Creators in 2017 From Desktop Users
Re:create estimates that the traffic coming to the nine platforms from seven leading social media sites (Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube) generated earnings of more than $504.6 million for creators in 2017, nearly the same as the estimated $512.2 million in earnings generated in 2016. However, they warn that these figures only represent data from desktop computers and do not include the considerable traffic and revenue generated by mobile browsers.
16. An Estimated 3.2 Million Creators in California
Using U.S. Census Bureau industry-level data, Re:create has estimated there were 3,260,571 creators in California in 2017, a 21% increase on the previous year. New York had 1,899,869 creators, a 16.8% increase.
17. World Record for Hours Streamed in a Month is 595 Hours
Over recent years, there have been several attempts by streamers to set the world record for the longest streams. Twitch streamer Seanstream broke the record in late 2019 when he streamed a total of 595 hours during November. He spent his time on stream playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Final Fantasy XV, Diablo III, and Anno 1800, among others. During the month, he had multiple streams that lasted 30 hours and one reaching 36-hours.
18. The Biggest Paid Publication on Substack is The Dispatch, Which Has Tens of Thousands of Subscribers
Substack is a place where independent writers can display their craft. Writers can start a newsletter and make money from subscriptions. Several famous journalists now publish on Substack after parting company with their previous employers.
Substack lists the 25 publications that earn the most money on the platform. The highest paying is The Dispatch, which has tens of thousands of subscribers paying $10/month. This is followed by Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson that also has tens of thousands of subscribers but only charges $5/month.
19. Stir Raises $4 Million to Help Online Collaborators Split Revenue
Stir is a service that lets creators on new online platforms manage their businesses. It received $4 million in seed funding. The company helps creators and journalists share revenue when they collaborate. One of Stir’s main features, called “Collectives,” helps creators share analytics, revenue, and back-office tools so they can split ad and merchandise revenue.
20. 52% of Creators Spent 0-39 Hours Per Month Devoted to Social Content
IZEA put together a 2018 State of the Creator Economy report. They found that 52% of creators spent 0-39 hours per month devoted to social content in 2018. A further 22% spent 40-79 hours/month. 13% spent 80-124 hours/month, and 14% devoted more than 125 hours per month to their social content.
21. Thematic Has Had 2.5 Billion Plays and 1 Million Fan Conversions
Thematic tries to solve the licensing problems besetting YouTube and other platforms. They have created a licensing safe space for content creators that aims to democratize music distribution. In early 2020, Thematic unlocked 2.5 billion plays and 1 million fan conversions.
22. $21 Million Estimated Monthly Payouts on Patreon
Graphtreon keeps daily updates of statistics relating to crowd funder, Patreon, which many creators use to source income. As of early January 2021, they estimate there had been 9.75 million pledges for $20.85 million. 183,542 creators have at least one patron.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does an influencer do?
The majority of influencers (if not all influencers) are in some way or another creators. Influencers have the power to impact the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position and/or relationship with their audience. They actively engage with their following in a distinct niche, whether it be through articles, images, or videos.
Is Patreon popular?
According to Graphtreon that keeps daily updates of statistics about Patreon, as of the beginning of January 2021, there had been about 9.75 million pledges. These pledges added up to about $20.85 million. Just over 183,000 creators have at least one patron.
How many professional creators are there?
According to SignalFire, about only 2 million of the 50 million creators consider themselves to be professional creators and can claim that being a creator is their full-time job. Thus, the vast majority (about 46.7 million creators) still view themselves as amateurs. This number is expected to change with the number of creators increasing rapidly at the moment. About half of these professional creators are mostly on YouTube, while 500,000 prefer Instagram and 300,000 are on Twitch.
How much can a creator make?
The industry can be financially lucrative. Technically, creators fall into the category of “small businesses” and about two million creators claim that they can make six-figure incomes. That being said, 97.5% of YouTubers do not make enough to reach the US poverty line or $12,140. So, there is a big discrepancy between how much professional and amateur creators can make.
How much time do creators spend on social content?
According to the 2018 State of the Creator Economy report that was compiled by IZEA, most creators (52%) spent 0-39 hours per month on social content in 2018. A further 22% spent 40-79 hours per month, while 13% spent 80-124 hours per month, and 14% devoted more than 125 hours per month to their social content.