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67 Creator Economy Statistics that will Shock You

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 7 min read

There's a new industry booming called The Creator Economy and there is a massive opportunity for the seasoned or budding entrepreneur. My take is there will be a number of VC-backed companies that achieve billion dollar status. And we haven't yet heard of some of them. Read on and let's find out what we do know right now.

The creator economy is the class of businesses centered around independent creators. While the common theme for many of these businesses is that they start as a side hustle for an individual, I put these businesses into one of three categories:

  • information products
  • software products
  • services

The individuals, or businesses earn money through one, or more (though not limited to) of the following methods:

  • ad revenue
  • sponsored content
  • product placement
  • tipping
  • paid subscriptions
  • digital content sales
  • merchandise
  • shout-outs
  • live and virtual events
  • meetups/in-person events
  • fan clubs

I'm going to break down a number of statistics  Many will shock you!

Let's start with the headlines.

It is estimated that 17 million US-based individuals earned an estimated $7 billion in income from their independent creator work in 2017. [1]

Estimated Total Earnings of US Creators on 9 Leading Platforms, 2016

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners are succeeding on Amazon – they sell half the products that Amazon customers buy, and more than 140,000 small and medium-sized businesses surpassed $100,000 in sales on Amazon in 2017.” —Peter Faricy, former VP of Amazon Marketplace [2]


Mind blowing Patreon statistics [3]

  • It has over 1 million Patreon patrons and 50,000 Patreon creators on its platform
  • Patron is estimated to pay creators $150 million in 2017
  • Patreon patrons pay on average of $12 to creators each month
  • It is growing. 55% of creator's patrons are new to patreon when they pledge
  • The number of creators making at least $100/month increased 200X each year from May 2013 to 2016.
  • Creators net 92% of money they're paid by patrons
  • Over 6,000 patrons support ten or more creators
  • The average amount patrons contribute per pledge is $6.70
  • 45% of creators decided to launch Patreon pages due to a recommendation ofrom another creator on social media

Mind blowing Gumroad statistics [4]

Collectively, Gumroad creators earned $142 million in 2020, up 94% from 2019. This post discusses the forces that shaped Gumroad's role in the creator economy in 2020 and will direct it going forward, as well as what you can do, today, to become a bigger part of it yourself.

  • Gumroad creators earned $142 million in 2020, up 94% from 2019.
  • However, the median creator made only $70 in 2020.
  • The top 1% of creators earned about 60% of the money in 2020
  • The top 10% of creators earned nearly 92% of the total GMV.
  • 6,597,160 purchases were successfully processed on Gumroad in 2020, plus an additional 18,151,195 free product purchases.
  • Higher-earning creators (HECs) averaged 6.6 products for sale as opposed to 5 for LECs. More products = more money, keeping quality and distribution constant.
  • Only 13.4% of HECs said that 2020 was their first year making money as a creator. Stick with it!
  • HECs are nearly three times more likely to use affiliates than lower-earning creators (LECs) and almost twice as likely to be an affiliate as LECs. There is complicated cause-and-effect here, it is likely that they are successful with affiliates because they are high earning, rather than the other way around. Affiliates have the potential to magnify existing success.
  • 20% of respondents said they have replaced their day job with being an independent creator, while another 50% said that they want to.

Some mind blowing general statistics

  • Stir Raises $4 million to Help Online Collaborators Split Revenue [5]
  • 52% of Creators Spent 0-39 Hours Per Month Devoted to Social Content (Izea) [6]
  • Thematic Has Had 2.5 Billion Plays and 1 Million Fan Conversions [6]
  • $21 Million Estimated Monthly Payouts on Patreon (Graphteron) [6]
  • 50 Million Join the Creator Economy (SignalFire report) [6]
  • 46.7 Million Creators Consider Themselves Amateurs (SignalFire) [6]
  • 2 Million Global Creators Make Six Figures [6]
  • Sponsored Influencers Are Worth $8 Billion Today (Influencer Marketing Hub) [6]
  • 1 Million + Creators on OnlyFans (OnlyFans) [6]
  • 97.5% of YouTubers Don't Make Enough to Reach the U.S. Poverty Line [6]
  • Ad Revenue for Creators has Declined by 33% During COVID [6]
  • Half of Consumers Use Ad-Blocking Technology [6]
  • 29% of American Kids Want to be a YouTube Star (Influencer MarketingHub) [6]
  • 22 Thousand YouTube Creators Have More Than 1 Million Subscribers [6]
  • 500,000 Instagrammers Have More Than 100,000 Followers [6]
  • 300,000 + Twitch Streamers Are Either Partners or Affiliates [6]
  • 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) [6]
  • An Estimated 3.2 Million Creators in California (U.S. Census Bureau, re:Create) [6]
  • World Record for Hours Streamed in a Month is 595 Hours [6]
  • The Biggest Paid Publication on Substack is The Dispatch, Which Has Tens of Thousands of Subscribers [6]
  • Only the top 3% of YouTube creators yield more than $17,000 per annum in advertising revenue, and to do that, you need to average 1.4 million views per month. [7]
  • The average US adult spends 38 minutes per day on Facebook [7]
  • 16-24-year-olds devote a median of 3 hours a day to social media [7]
  • Internet users, in general, spent an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking in 2019. That is a serious amount of time spent on social media, and this gives many opportunities for creators to promote what they produce to relevant, targeted types of people. [7]
  • Of the 31M channels on YouTube, ~1M creators have over 10K subscribers (source) [8]
  • Of the 1bn accounts on Instagram, ~500K  have over 100k followers and are considered active influencers (source) [9]
  • Of the 3M streamers on Twitch, ~300K have either Partner or Affiliate status (source) [10]
  • Of the 31M channels on YouTube, ~12M have between 100-10K subscribers (source) [8]
  • Of the 1bn accounts on Instagram, ~30M have between 50-100K followers (source) [9]
  • Of the 3M streamers on Twitch, ~2.7M are non Partner or Affiliates [10]
  • According to Mediakix, the current influencer marketing TAM is ~$8bn and it’s expected to grow to $15bn by 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing business sectors. [11]
  • Ask a kid today in the U.S. what they want to be when the grow up. No longer is musician or athlete the top answer. It's a YouTuber—an answer 3x more popular than astronaut. [11]
  • There are now over 30M “channels” on YouTube, uploading 500 hours of content every minute. [11]
  • According to YouTube, channels earning five- and six-figures are growing 40%, while the total number of new channels are also growing at 40%. The Long Tail is getting longer and more lucrative. [11]
  • Between April and June 2020, shoppers purchased $346 million worth of masks from Etsy, an architect of this economy. Some mask sellers are making literal millions. [11]
  • Consumers hate ads and are willing to pay to avoid them (½ of consumers use ad-blocking technology and many consumers pay for no-ad streaming services). [12]
  • By 2000, 50%+ of US households had personal computers & digital cameras [12]
  • YouTube takes 55% of ad revenue and distributes 45% back to creators
  • Next 10, a $50 million venture capital fund based in Los Angeles, launched an incubator specifically to support YouTube creators. The program, launched in 2018, plans to seed 25 to 40 “emerging video creators” to focus on creating educational video content targeting children and young adults. [14]
  • Twitch saw an upshot—a 58.8% increase in the number of creators in 2017 [15]
  • The growth in the American creative economy is yet another example of how the Internet has driven innovation and entrepreneurship. The studies cited earlier in this post shed light on this development. Further technological developments that provide more advanced platforms will continue to expand venues for creators to disseminate and commercialize their works. [15]

  • In 2017, nearly 17 million Americans earned income posting their personal creations on these nine platforms, an increase of more than 2.4 million U.S. creators, or 16.6 percent, in one year. The numbers of income-earning creators grew most rapidly in percentage terms on YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram. [1]
  • All told, these American internet creators earned a baseline of $6.8 billion on the nine platforms in 2017, a one-year increase of nearly $1 billion, or 17 percent. Those earnings increased most rapidly for the creators on Instagram, Twitch, Tumblr and YouTube. [1]
  • The growth in the American creative economy is yet another example of how the Internet has driven innovation and entrepreneurship. The studies cited earlier in this post shed light on this development. Further technological developments that provide more advanced platforms will continue to expand venues for creators to disseminate and commercialize their works. [15]
  • Top 5 States in 2017 based on their numbers of creators: [1]
  • There is no slow growth to the creator economy, here are the slowest growing states: [1]
  • YouTube, Wordpress, Tumblr account for 10.2 m creators (59.9% of the total) [1]

Sources:

[1] Taking Root: The Growth of America's New Creative Economy by Robert Shapiro with Siddhartha Aneja, Page 2.

[2] 140,000 Sellers Surpassed $100,000 in Sales on Amazon in 2017

[3] The Top 10 Patreon Statistics Marketers Need to Know

[4] Last Year in the Creator Economy

[5] Stir Raises $4 million to Help Online Collaborators Split Revenue

[6] 22 Creator Economy Statistics That Will Blow You Away

[7] What is the "Creator Economy"?

[8] How Many YouTube Channels Are There?

[9] Mention: Instagram Followers

[10] One year and 220,000+ Affiliates later…

[11] Influencer Marketing: Social media influencer market stats and research for 2021

[12] 50 Million Join The ‘Creator Economy’ Thanks To Platforms Like OnlyFans, YouTube, Etsy And Twitch

[13] The Rise of the Creator Economy

[14] Next 10 Ventures is launching an incubator for YouTube personalities

[15] Sizing up the Creator Economy

VC