Independent creators are a fast-growing group of self-employed professionals who monetize their knowledge and skills by creating digital content online. The trend towards this type of work stems from a broader shift to independent work which was accelerated during the pandemic. Independent creators can pursue work they are creatively interested in while maintaining flexibility and autonomy within their career. Popular tech platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have a low-cost barrier to entry, making it easy for anyone to try their hand at content creation.
Our 2022 State of Independence research highlighted the growth of the creator economy, and we decided to dive deeper into this topic with our Creator Economy Research brief. Here are five takeaways from our latest report that define independent creators.
1. Independent Creators are Young and Well-Educated
The majority—70%—of independent creators are under the age of 40, which is not too surprising given the popularity of social media platform use among younger generations. This group also tends to be well-educated. Over half, 52%, report having a bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s degree and higher, which is much higher than the U.S. population overall at 38%.
Learn More: 5 Traits of the Modern Independent Workforce
2. Most Creators Work Part-Time
The creator economy lends itself to part-time work. Platforms are inexpensive and easy to use, and while content creation takes time it is easy to do on the side. It’s therefore no surprise that the majority of independent creators, 64%, report working part-time.
Content creators tend to have multiple sources of income such as a traditional job, or a part-time job to supplement what they make from their content creation. As online followings and sponsorships grow, some of this group will transition to the 36% of digital content creators that earn their full-time income from this work.
3. Independent Creators Tend to Be Entrepreneurial, Passionate, and Satisfied
Most independent creators—86%—say that they have always wanted to be their own boss and over 90% say they are either highly satisfied or satisfied with their work. This is a group that places high value on a career that is flexible and that allows them to pursue something they are interested in. Digital content creation also lends itself to a location-independent lifestyle and almost two-thirds of content creators report being a digital nomad or having been one in the past.
Most independent creators say that they are happier and healthier working as a creator than they would be at a traditional job. Many recommend this path their friends and feel that they are living fulfilling lives.
Up Next: What’s Driving Continued Digital Nomad Growth?
4. Tech-Savvy Skills Help Creators Monetize their Businesses
In order to create content and distribute it online, independent creators have to be tech-savvy. Most—87%—report being early adopters of technology and a further 84% say they are advanced tech users. This group is active on social media to build their online reputation and brand. Top online platforms used for content distribution include: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitch.
Another interesting characteristic of independent creators is that they are more likely to work as a team compared to other freelancers. Teaming up allows independent creators to access a wider range of skills to produce high-quality content. Almost half of all creators have teamed up to work on a project and even more plan to do so over the next year.
5. Many Independent Creators Have Future Independent Career Aspirations
Of course, being an independent creator isn’t all glitz and glamour. Challenges include lack of predictable income, creating a constant pipeline of work, and a lack of benefits that a traditional career would provide. These challenges can lead to burnout and a struggle to set and maintain boundaries outside of work. Yet the lure of becoming famous and making millions of dollars remains.
For many, digital content creation has become a steppingstone towards the prospect of a full-time independent career. The creator economy gives people a taste of entrepreneurship. Forty-one percent of creators with traditional jobs said they definitely or probably will become an independent worker or start a business over the next 24 months. There is also continued interest in trying out the creator economy. Over the next two years, 3.6 million Americans said yes, they plan to become an independent creator and 7.4 million said maybe.
Check Out: MBO Partners’ 2023 Creator Economy Report