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A platform is not your friend

Published on 31 December 2021 at 00:22

Ten years ago, if you were a scrappy kid somehow making a living off of YouTube ad revenue and brand deals, you were probably told you didn’t have a real job. Now, if monetizing your creative output is how you pay your rent, you’re part of the creator economy, a buzzy new industry.

An often-cited landmark report from the venture capital firm SignalFire says that creators are the fastest-growing type of small business. Despite the creator economy only really forming a decade ago, there are now 50 million people who consider themselves “creators,” and more American children want to be YouTube stars (29%) than astronauts (11%), per SignalFire. So it makes sense that more and more startups are cropping up to provide tools for creators — it’s an opportunity to cash in on a growing market, and savvy entrepreneurs want to make money.

As this market has expanded, I’ve written about credit card companies for creators, community-building tools and companies that help you design a product to sell, among other ventures. But as my inbox teems with too many creator-focused startup pitches, products and opportunities to ever even consider, I’ve noticed a troubling trend — not all of these businesses are actually good for the creators they intend to serve. Some might actually be pretty predatory.

For example, if an all-in-one creator platform folds, what does that mean for creators who put all their eggs in that basket? How do major tech acquisitions impact the people who monetize on those platforms? As venture capitalists invest in creators as though they’re startups, how can those creators protect themselves from exploitative terms and conditions? continue reading here.

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