The creator economy has been a popular topic for several years now — and for good reason. It has created new opportunities for individuals with knowledge, passion, and skills to follow their interests and earn a living in the digital world.
The rise of the content creator has been well documented over the past 15 years, but the economy that has come with it is reaching levels never seen before and growing exponentially. The creator economy is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion, and more than 50 million people worldwide consider themselves creators, but the vast majority are amateurs.Council Post: Make The Most Of The Creator Economy — Forbes
The opportunities seem endless. All kinds of creators are monetizing the audiences and communities they’ve curated. And, there is no more visible example than professional athletes.
Traditionally, athletes have monetized their digital presence through influence and followers. The primary business case involves partnering with brands looking to target your audience’s demographic by monetizing a large social media following. The model works well for those who are naturally inclined to get in front of the camera and create promotional content.
But that isn’t me at all. I’m not an entertainer — never have been, and probably never will be. Even when my job was to play one of the flashiest positions in the NFL, I made it as workmanlike as possible. However, most of the opportunities that have come my way try to position me in that way. After trying a few and feeling uncomfortable like a fish out of water I knew I had to figure out something else.
To start, I don’t identify myself as a former NFL player like most of the world does. I am a current Executive Coach and Development Consultant. Over the last 15+ years, I’ve worked to develop a unique set of skills and experiences as a high performer, business strategist, investor, and consultant across a number of industries. And yes, part of the journey was playing football.
My mission and vision now are to support others who are traveling the same path I once did. However, trying to lean into the creator economy as my current self created an internal conflict that had two components:
- As an introvert, it was challenging to figure out where and how to jump in without completely abandoning who I am and how I operate. My goal has never been about influence through likes, clicks, and views. But the reality is, those metrics make every type of creator a direct competitor for attention.
- As a former athlete, people assume I still provide entertainment value, either through sports commentary or some other sports-related content. But I don’t have any interest in joining the sports media world or getting stuck in the entertainment world I left years ago.
With this backdrop, it took me a while to figure out how to be authentic to myself while also building a platform with business potential without selling out. Sports-related content consistently outperformed other types of content and attracted a captive audience. Other content underperformed, partly because I didn’t share it consistently enough. Sure, I could have found generic quotes and reposted others’ content to improve my posting frequency, but that approach didn’t feel like it would help me achieve my goals.
I decided to go off the grid for a while to figure it out. I spent the last quarter of 2022 figuring out how I could enter the creator economy on my terms. In the process, I came up with a few pillars that will guide my journey going forward.
These three pillars led to this newsletter and other projects that are coming soon. Hopefully, they can provide a little clarity for you:
Integrity is key to value
Stand on your word and deliver what you say you can deliver. In a world where people where IP laws haven’t caught up with the times, it’s easy to hijack ideas and use them as your own. But, there is a difference between repurposing and curating ideas vs. taking ownership of ideas that aren’t yours. Stand firm in what you know and overdeliver value. Your audience will respect it and allow you to build authority that leads to opportunities to scale. Deliver someone else’s message, and you’ll lose their trust and the ability to reach your vision.
Authenticity is more than surface level
Scaling your voice isn’t as simple as hiring a social media manager. Your voice is nuanced, especially as an introvert. Your voice is more than the tone and copywriting that targets your audience. Part of your voice is the timing and frequency. When you speak and why is just as important as what you have to say. Decide if you want to be you, or the CEO of the brand and move accordingly.
Share what matters to you
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries — from the kind of content you will produce, the frequency you produce it, or the platforms you share it. Even if your goal is to impact as many people in your audience as possible, don’t feel the pressure to try and keep pace with other creators. Not every trend is for you. Stay in your lane, but continue finding ways to make the lane wider.
Learning how to embrace the creator economy as an introvert can be complex, if not challenging. But it is possible to make it work for you. A major key is making it sustainable for your life. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Build relationships on your terms. Stay authentic to who you are. Chances are you’ll connect audience that operates the same way, and you’ll be in a better position to serve them.