According to a recent state-of-creator report from Linktree, there are now more than 200 million creators making money from posting content to platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch. And of those 200+ million who consider themselves full-time creators, 12% are making a stable income of over $50,000 per year.
But how do those full-timers feel, both about their careers and about the platforms providing a place for those careers to (potentially) flourish?
That’s what a new study from MarketCast wanted to know.
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MarketCast is a Los Angeles-based analytics firm that specializes in fandom. It says it uses information from tens of millions of devices, social media conversation, and retail and online sales to understand content creator and fan behavior.
In its new study—called “Winning the Race for Creator Talent”–MarketCast SVP of tech and games Martin Eichholz zeroed in on collecting “real information and real data about what creators think, feel, how they envision their jobs, what they care about, what they worry about, and what they expect from platforms they work with,” he tells Tubefilter.
“I think when you look at creators and what’s reported, it’s either super high-level people talking about the big trends and what it means for culture, or you have little case studies like, ‘Hey, Creator A did this, Creator B did this,’” Eichholz says. “There’s a lot of opinion. What’s lacking in the middle is actual data.”
Creators don’t like being limited
To collect that data, MarketCast surveyed 500 creators who make content at least once per week, and who each have at least 1,000 followers. Among its top findings was the realization that a lot of creators—39%, to be exact—value creative freedom more than maximizing their income.
The firm says that goes to show that platforms (ahem, looking at you, TikTok) should be cautious when it comes to implementing vague or overly restrictive community guidelines that make creators feel like they can’t make what they want to make without risking their content being removed.
Creators also value respect and kindness in their audiences, data showed. Gen Z creators in particular don’t want—putting it very bluntly here—to deal with bullshit or toxicity from their viewers. 51% of creators 18-24 told MarketCast that respect and kindness is critical. (That figure drops the older creators get: only 31% of folks 35-54 said respect and kindness is vital.)
58% of creators think they’ll still be making content a decade from now. What about the rest?
Another key finding: Plenty of creators are willing to keep at this for now, but don’t see content as a long-term, single-path strat.
24% of creators told MarketCast that ten years from now, they think they’ll still be self-employed, but will be doing something other than content creation. A further 11% said they think they’ll swap creating for being employed in a regular job.
58% of respondents said they think they’ll still be creating.
It’s those 35% that MarketCast is worried about, though. The firm thinks that platform behavior has a significant effect on creators’ outlook, and is concerned about finding that “a good third of creators start with a negative view of platforms and need to be convinced that they platforms they choose have their best interest in mind beyond making money.”
Eichholz says platforms can show up for creators by focusing less on shiny new tools, and more on community wellbeing.
“Platforms should think less about features,” he says. “It’s like, oh, there’s two more features. Here’s another monetization opportunity. Like, okay, sure, great. But just as important is emotional stuff, support stuff, career planning.
“Almost 40% of creators say they don’t think they’ll be creators anymore in ten years,” he adds. “Why is that? They don’t feel supported. There’s a lot beyond just functions and features and monetization plans that creators need.”
MarketCast has published its full study here.
So, what’s next?
Eichholz says he wants follow-up research to focus more on creators’ hunger for creative freedom—something that proved to be incredibly, unexpectedly important among the people surveyed for this study.
“There’s always one item as a researcher where you look back like, ‘I should have asked more questions,’” he says. “And that’s the one. I wish I had more details, but we just know it’s super important. Platforms need to guarantee this freedom in whatever ways they can—through features, policies, fan support, enabling conversations and dialogue. That’s the number one item. It’s more important than almost anything else.”