January 1, 2024
The creator economy shows no signs of slowing down. But with rapid growth comes plenty of uncertainty. As creators look to stay ahead of the curve and take their content careers to the next level, foresight is key.
That's why we've put together this 2024 trend report - to arm creators with actionable insights on the key developments projected to shape the creator economy. By identifying and adopting strategic opportunities related to community building, monetization, AI adoption, and more, our goal is to provide creators with a roadmap to thrive in 2024.
Over the coming year, creators able to adapt to capitalize on emerging trends will separate themselves from their competition. They'll do so by leaning into the genuine follower relationships that have powered the passion economy since day one.
Here are the key 2024 trends poised to disrupt business as usual for creators:
Since the birth of the industry, social media has always been completely free. This is already starting to change, and we’re betting 2024 will throw gas on that fire.
The creator economy is poised to nearly double by 2027, to just shy of half-a-trillion dollars, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report. While influencer marketing spend, the leading category in the creator economy, will continue growing in absolute terms, its growth rate has been decelerating over the past few years. And while economic uncertainty is still omnipresent, it’s likely that we continue to see hesitant spending from brands - both on influencer marketing and on advertising (resulting in stalled AdShare revenue for creators).
Growth will have to come from other categories, and an outsized portion of this growth will come straight from the end users. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and X all now offer premium ad-free subscription options. This means users are warming up to the idea of “social media as a premium experience.” Simultaneously, people are fatigued by algorithms that prize engagement over content quality.
Our bet is that users want to directly reward creators who provide value, not the platforms hosting that value.
It's a bit like how Netflix realized they needed to become a studio producing original content, not just a platform hosting other studios’ content. Similarly, dollars will flow directly from users to the creators providing worthwhile experiences.
While currently 15.7% of creators offer subscriptions, that figure is expected to rise significantly. Nearly half of young users have expressed serious interest in paying for exclusive creator content, at an average price point of $14. This will enable creators to build more sustainable businesses and double down on premium offerings.
Creators will flip social media into a premium experience funded directly by their loyal fans. “Direct monetization,” built on subscriptions and tipping, will become the engine powering the next phase of massive growth in the creator economy.
What’s a 2024 prediction blog without an AI discussion?
AI-powered tools like generative writing and editing software will supercharge creators by radically improving their efficiency. Of course, these tools will only improve in 2024, reducing the learning curve, improving their capabilities, and making creators, as solo entrepreneurs, even more powerful.
However, creators who rely too heavily on AI to generate their content risk compromising quality and authenticity - the true drivers of audience trust and loyalty. Therefore, the creators who will see success with AI are those who focus on leveraging the technology to smooth operations, not replace creativity.
Ultimately, the fundamental driver of the creator economy is the peer-to-peer connection that creators have been able to foster with massive audiences. Each of Mr. Beast’s fans feel like they know him personally. If his content was generated by AI, he’d lose that personal touch that sparked that initial feeling.
It isn’t advanced generative AI tools like ChatGPT that will set successful adopters apart. Rather, it will be AI innovations that save time and money like Adobe’s suite of editing products. These efficiency optimizations free up creators to devote energy towards quality content – the product driving their growth.
Creators run their channels like businesses, with their content being the core “product.” Companies that cut corners see their products suffer, while those with streamlined back-end operations can focus intently on what really matters: their product. Creators should think the same way - improved efficiency frees up time to focus on what really matters to them: content quality and audience engagement.
The bottom line is AI will accelerate the creator economy’s growth by empowering productivity, not by replacing creativity.
As the noise on social media increases, followers will become more discerning in discovering creators who provide authentic value aligned with their personal goals.
In the realm of “personal growth” creators focused on business, careers, and wealth building, followers will continue to embed their favorite creators deeply into their own journeys. For example, as I am writing this blog, I have Sahil Bloom’s Annual Planning Guide for 2024 goal-setting printed out right next to me that I’ll use to set my personal and professional goals for next year.
Followers have become more cognizant of their motivations and needs from social media. Studies show 59% want more trustworthy experiences, 36% want more genuine connections, and 33% desire more meaningful conversations - taking us back to the early days of social networks. When we all created our first Instagram or Facebook accounts, it was so we could make more genuine connections with our friends, or meet new friends online. It wasn’t so we could see more targeted ads.
Trustworthy experiences, genuine connections, and meaningful conversations (maybe less so…) are what led us to adopt social media in the first place. In turn, users will act on these goals and seek ways to connect with their favorite creator, and other like minded followers of that creator.
Ultimately, followers will take actions that benefit them long-term, which means finding and engaging with creators who walk the walk when it comes to providing authentic value. They'll see through hype and noise for creators who help them achieve lasting growth.
To connect with these smarter followers, creators must double down on building trusted, engaged communities. The creators who invest in genuine relationships will see their audiences invest back in them.
As AI helps optimize efficiency in creators’ businesses, creators will shift more attention to directly serving their audiences and communities. The creators who thrive will have their fingers on the pulse of their followers' needs and goals.
First, creators will place greater emphasis on knowing their audience - both demographically and psychographically. Data and analytics will allow creators to deeply understand audience demand. Creating a follower avatar enables focused, tailored content and offerings that resonate most with core follower segments of a creator’s audience. This will help creators understand where their audience is seeking value, and how to engage with them to spark long-term connections.
Then, creators will get smarter about the challenges holding them back. Surveys show nearly 60% of creator struggles relate to inefficient brand partnerships - from negotiation to campaign alignment. As influencer marketing proves increasingly time-consuming and economic conditions make branded deals scarce, smart creators will adapt. To survive, and hopefully thrive, these creators will address their challenges head-on, building sustainable business models that support them over the long-term.
This trend will come from multiple different angles, including enhanced data sources and time freed up as a result of the advent of AI, empowering creators to focus on higher leverage tasks.
Many people are predicting that “more creators will become founders” and they cite companies like Emma Chamberlain’s Chamberlain Coffee and Mr. Beast’s Feastables.
I think the prediction “more creators will become founders,” in the sense that they’ll incorporate and get more sophisticated, is true. This is similar to my AI prediction, which empowers efficiency and optimized business operations. However, the majority won’t start consumer products, but will take a more sophisticated approach to monetizing content.
Since only 36% of creators are spending a majority of time actually creating content and 61% are facing burnout, redirecting towards their core competency - content creation - makes sense. Rather than diverting attention to additional businesses, the creators who thrive in 2024 will double down on directly monetizing their content, like we discussed in the very first prediction of the blog.
To quote the late Charlie Munger: “Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.” As creators consider the goals of their audience members and their own personal goals, they’ll find a way to align those incentives and craft positive outcomes for both parties. The incentives of creators aren’t to see more sponsored posts - they’re to make meaningful transformations in their own lives. Therefore, a creator who is able to help them make transformational changes will be able to monetize them directly.
By focusing more wholly on providing the content, connection, and sense of community audiences crave - backed by optimized monetization - creators will secure sustainable careers. This content-centric approach beats betting on ancillary product companies that divert attention from what matters most.
As I’ve mentioned on several occasions in this very blog, both creators and audiences feel dismayed by social media algorithms that incentivize engagement over content quality. Feed-based platforms fundamentally have no way to incentivize content quality. As over a quarter of Gen Zers plan to become creators, standing out will require deep community engagement over the long-term.
To embed their brands into followers' lives, successful creators will cultivate audience ownership by engaging at a peer-to-peer level (think email lists and independent communities). Peer-to-peer models for engagement actually do reward content quality.
The path forward is clear - creators must divert energy from trying to optimize content for algorithms toward building authentic communities on their owned channels. These independent communities afford creators more creative freedom and directly reward quality content. While you can use “lower quality” content to build an audience on algorithm driven platforms, you can’t grow an independent community with clickbait.
Since the start of 2022, big platforms (TikTok, X, Instagram, etc.) make up only 25% of the links posted on Linktree. This means that creators are working on driving their audience to other, independent, platforms, like these communities or newsletters. At Sute, we’re helping creators do exactly this - focusing specifically on “personal growth” content - joining a wave of companies committed to creator empowerment like Discord, Substack, and even OnlyFans.
Prioritizing community building and audience ownership paves the way for more authentic creator-fan connections through higher quality content. This supplies the foundation for a passion economy that cuts through the noise to support quality.
At their core, these 2024 predictions reveal a common thread - the creator economy returning to its fundamental core: the genuine creator-fan relationship.
Across areas like direct user monetization, community building, and doubling down on content, we see creators and audiences joining forces to cut through the noise of social media. When creators invest in serving their most loyal followers, those followers return the favor through their long-term support.
This full-circle relationship, grounded in value and authenticity above all else, will power the passion economy forward in 2024. As creators and fans tune out distractions to connect more authentically and more directly, the result is better content, stronger communities, and new levels of sustainability for independent creators.Creators in 2024 will thrive by focusing on what matters most - unique creative visions and engaged communities eager to support them.