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12 Wealth Creation Strategies For Finding Success In The Creator Economy

Discover the wealth creation strategies you need to succeed in today's creator economy.
12 Wealth Creation Strategies For Finding Success In The Creator Economy

I spent much of my twenties drifting in and out of low-paying freelance writing jobs. I even claimed social welfare while unemployed for a year. Then, during my thirties, I worked as a copywriter for the British software company Sage and found a measure of financial security.

At the same time, I built a content business on the side. I didn't quit my job because I'd spent a year unemployed in my 20s, and I'm a Dad to three kids. I still wanted to build a content business and provide. After my content business hit a revenue goal and I turned 40, I said goodbye to my full-time job.

These days, I spend most of my working days writing articles, recording videos, and commissioning work by freelance writers for various niche websites that I run.

This article will explain how you can find financial success in today's creator economy. I'll profile 11 different wealth-building strategies you can try while focusing on creative work.

I use some of the strategies in this article within my business. I also interviewed several professional content creators who use variations of these creative wealth-building strategies.

Disclaimer: I'm not a financial advisor, so you got to do your research. The content here is for informational purposes only.

Set Financial Goals For Building Wealth

Before you apply these strategies, take a moment to step back and set financial goals for your business. Consider the following questions:

  • How much of an emergency fund do you or does your business need?
  • Do you want to work 60 hours a week? Or do you want to work three or four days a week and spend your free time with family or friends or pursue different hobbies?
  • How much do you want to pay yourself each year, and how often?
  • Do you value location independence?
  • Are you prepared to work on creative projects that don't generate cash flow in the short or even medium
  • How much will your business contribute to a personal savings plan or a retirement plan?
  • Do you want to employ people or work with contractors?
  • Do you want to spend time working in your business or simply work on it while others ensure the trains run on time?

It takes time and patience to see success with the below strategies, but clear goals will help you make better business and financial decisions.

For example, I prefer working with contractors on specific projects rather than hiring full-time employees. To me, financial freedom means paying myself to work on creative projects of my choosing without the headache of managing employees or building a bigger team.

I also built an emergency fund to cover six months and invested the rest. Several full-time content creators advised an emergency fund covering this time frame simplifies quitting the heroin of a salaried job to work on a risky side hustle.

1. Join A Partner Program

New creators can join a partner program, tap into an existing audience, and get paid for their work.

It's difficult to gain traction online in the beginning. For example, if you start a blog, it can take months, if not years, before people read it. So how can you acquire some without testimonials and referrals if you're looking for clients?

Far easier to go where an audience already exists, like on Quora, Medium, or YouTube.

Many of the biggest social media networks offer partner programs creators can join after hitting a certain follower, reader, or view count.

Don't expect much earnings at first. They will accumulate over time. You can use invest this side-hustle revenue into your craft or business. For example, a new writer could buy grammar checker software, while a blogger could purchase a better camera.

Joining a partner program also enables testing ideas in public before turning them into fully formed products. Darius Faroux writes regularly on Medium. He told me:

"I always write a few articles about a topic and see the response, And if those articles are all well-received, then I think about writing a book," he says.

Example Content Creator To Study

In the below video, YouTuber Ali Abdaal describes the long-tail opportunities of the YouTube creator program and how much he earns each month:

2. Become An Affiliate Marketer

Creators can record videos, write reviews or document tutorials, and easily earn money by recommending their preferred products and services to a growing audience. You don't have to provide support or create a product either.

Affiliate marketing is a fantastic revenue generator for my business.

Several years ago, I completed coding and web design courses on Lynda.com, now known as LinkedIn Learning. I wrote up my experiences as a review. I didn't have any intention of earning money from this content. I simply documented what I liked and disliked about the course in a 2,000-word blog post with pictures.

One day while at work, a friend came over to my desk and said, "Bryan, I'm thinking of taking out a course on Lynda.com. So, I Googled, 'Is Lynda.com worth it?' And your review came up number one."

A few days later, I received an email from the Lynda.com affiliate team. They explained if I used affiliate links in their review and added a disclaimer, I'd earn a small commission from referrals. I agreed, and 60 days later, I received a PayPal commission for several hundred dollars. I used the money to pay for new tires for my car.

To get started, consider the products and services you use regularly and trust. Then, create content about how they help you in your business or creative pursuits.

Read my guide to the best affiliate marketing programs for creators.

Affiliate marketing expert Matt Mc Williams told me:

“The number one rule in affiliate marketing is find products that serve your audience. Find quality products that serve your audience. You either need to have had a personal experience with them or they have such a reputation that you feel comfortable promoting them.”

Example Content Creator To Study

3. Build Niche Content Websites

Building and flipping niche content websites is an ideal business model for those comfortable with the written word. Creators can earn a 32-47 multiple of monthly profits from selling their digital real estate too.

If you enjoy writing and publishing informative and helpful content online and understand the basics of search engine optimisation, it's relatively easy to build a niche content website. Typically, these sites focus on a single hobby, interest, or pursuit like:

  • Coffee
  • Long-distance running
  • Writing
  • VPNs
  • Yoga
  • Weightlifting
  • Sewing
  • Watches
  • Home brewing
  • BBQs
  • Cats and dogs

Some niches are more competitive than others. If you need inspiration, check out Discover a Hobby.

In the beginning, a creator can deploy sweat equity and write this content. However, they must also enjoy keyword research and potentially using content optimisation tools like Clearscope.

Alternatively, a builder can commission freelance writers using WriterAccess, UpWork, the Problogger jobs board, or a content agency. The former approach works well for creators on a shoestring budget, while the latter is faster if more expensive.

Once you build a content flywheel, a website can continue to acquire traffic. The owner can monetise via affiliate marketing, display advertising, and digital courses. Then, they can use this income to source more content or start a website in a different niche.

The downside of building niche websites? It takes at least a year before a new niche website attracts meaningful traffic. And a Google algorithm update or reverse engineering by competitors can hurt a profitable site.

Website builder and flipper Mushfiq told me:

“New website owners are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money without any knowledge of what a content website is into these deals and that’s a bad thing to do. So, start from scratch, understand it, and then buy down the line.”

Learn how to build a niche website.

Example Content Creator To Study

  • Mushfiq of The Website Flip (he specialises in building and flipping websites)
  • Jon Dykstra of Fat Stacks Blog (Jon builds content websites that earn five and six figures from display advertising)

4. Coach Your Ideal Customer

This CEO and entrepreneur are working on their laptops building a social media marketing strategy to showing bloggers how to make money on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Teamwork on this promotion will bring lots of sales for their startup.

Model: @Austindistel
https://www.instagram.com/austindistel/

Photographer: @breeandstephen
https://www.instagram.com/breeandstephen/

This photo is free for public use. ❤️ If you do use this photo, Please credit in caption or metadata with link to "www.distel.com".
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

Coaching enables creators to learn more about and help their audience while getting paid.

Many new content creators jump straight into the "Let's create an online course and sell it for a couple of hundred dollars" model." But creating online courses that people want isn't that easy.

Firstly, it's hard to create an online course that resonates with an audience on the first go. Secondly, selling an online course is difficult if you haven't done it before or don't have an active email list. Thirdly, many students buy and then forget about completing said courses.

So sometimes, it's easier and more helpful to offer one-to-one coaching. It's a good way of improving cash flow in the short term until a more passive business model helps with building wealth.

A few years ago, I offered to coach new writers and bloggers. That strategy helped me earn a couple of hundred dollars each month, which I invested back into the business. Over the years, I've also paid online coaches thousands of dollars to help me solve various problems in my business, as it's faster and more effective than taking a course created for the many.

Content creators who work with businesses offer a variation on the coaching model. Instead, they consult for a company.

Example Content Creator To Study

5. Offer A Service

Creating a service can bring in income relatively quickly, assuming it's one an existing audience wants.

In 2021, Google released a page experience update that required website owners to make a series of technical fixes to their sites and improve the overall user experience. I spent half a dozen hours trying to fix one of my sites and found the process frustrating.

I couldn't get my WordPress website to achieve a green page experience score, and I was worried traffic would dip after the update. So, I hired an agency for several hundred dollars that guaranteed a green or positive page experience score. They fixed the site, and I went back to writing articles.

Consider topics you're an expert in or skills you possess that others lack. Then, you could potentially bundle up a final outcome, like a green page experience score or an edited podcast, as a service and sell this to potential clients.

This approach will help you learn more about an audience and their pain points before moving up the value chain. Ideally, your target client is happy to pay more money if a service saves them time or solves a headache in their business.

Example Content Creator To Study

6. Write And Self-Publish A Book

Writing and self-publishing a book helps creators build credibility and expand their audience.

I've written and self-published several books over the years. I occasionally receive emails from readers who've read books I wrote years ago.

Books possess a greater sense of permanency than articles or newsletters. They're also great if you want to spread your ideas. The problem is most books sell less than 250-3000 copies in their first year unless an author invests hours and money in promotion.

So why bother self-publishing? Many authors don't write a book for royalties alone. Instead, publish because it's a credibility builder for their business. They also use books to land public speaking gigs, attract clients or build an audience that buys higher ticket items. Neal Schafer told me:

“A book gives you an excuse to reach out to people, right? Part of building influence is reaching out to people that are more influential to you and I noticed this when I reached out to other podcasters.”

Authors also focus on building a back catalogue of work that pays out over time. Here are some fun, aspirational back catalog sales figures:

  • Dan Brown is worth $178 million has a back catalogue of over ten books
  • John Grisham is worth $225 million and has a back catalogue of over 27 books
  • James Patterson is worth over $400 and has a back catalogue of over 200 books

Example Content Creator To Study

7. Start A Newsletter

Content creators can own a relationship between them and their audience by creating free and paid newsletters. Building a free or paid newsletter is an insurance plan against an algorithm or partner program change.

Whatever type of content you're creating, encourage some readers, followers, fans, or listeners to join your email list. Give them something for free like a report, a checklist, a video, an interview, or a bonus. Once on your email list, you can send them your latest content. You can also promote products via affiliate marketing. And if you have a reading engaged email list,

Alternatively, some creators offer paid subscriptions and send customers premium newsletters and content that sits behind a paywall.

I've started several newsletters over the years, some of which worked and some flopped. I've tried various tools, including MailChimp, Active Campaign, ConvertKit, and, more recently, Substack and Ghost. The tool used is usually less important than the content created when building a relationship with an engaged audience.

I've also experimented with paid subscriptions for newsletters, and it's a challenging business model. It doesn't work for every niche, and sometimes it's better to get your ideas out there for free rather than relying on paid subscriptions. But it can still be a great way of bringing revenue into your business.

Luke O'Neill, author of Welcome to Hell World! described his pivot from freelance writing to a paid newsletter:

“You think of a story and you pitch it and you might have to wait, who knows how long, to even hear if you're going to be allowed the privilege of doing the work. You might wait weeks to see if they like it. Once it finally comes out, you might wait months to even get paid. I encourage anyone who…thinks they can strike out on their own to do it, because it's just such an unburdening.”

Example Content Creator To Study

8. Create And Sell A Digital Product or Course

The best digital courses bring in chunks of revenue if focused on a specific niche or problem. Expect to spend as much time promoting as creating.

Creating and selling a multi-hour course at a high price point is on par with writing a book in terms of effort. A course can also bring in a lot of money in one launch, but a creator may run into cash flow problems until their next launch.

After looking at course analytics and talking to other course creators, this model isn't ideal for spreading a message. Many students buy courses, only take a few lessons or forget about them entirely.

If you want to create a course, focus on a specific topic instead, like, for example, how to edit a listen-friendly podcast or how to set up profitable Amazon ads. Use platforms like Teachable to sell your course. Alternatively, consider using Kickstarter to raise money before creating a course.

Ramit Sethi told me:

"Too many people have an idea and excitedly jump right into the building process—starting a website and building products. If you’re trying to start and grow a business, put all your energy into finding and getting at least three paying customers. Talk to your friends and family. Talk to the people having problems in your market. Customers willing to pay you is when you know you’re providing true value to your market and the world."

Example Content Creator To Study

  • Ramit Sethi of Growth Lab
  • Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income

9. Ask For Fan Support

You can ask for money for a coffee on Patreon or use some other type of donation service. For example, singer Amanda Palmer raises thousands of dollars on Patreon every time she creates and releases "a thing."

If you have an engaged audience, ask them to support the show or support your content by donating a couple of dollars each month using Patreon or Buy Me A Coffee. You may be surprised by the results. Podcasters use this model all the time.

New creators have nothing to lose by inserting this call-to-action at the end of a video, article, or podcasting. They can easily turn it off if no one accepts. However, this model may confuse an audience if a creator also offers a membership program or paid newsletter.

Growth marketer Steph Smith used a variation of this model to ask for support for creating a premium ebook: Doing Content Write before writing it. She said:

“I tweeted about it. I just said, ‘Would people read this?’…and a bunch of people were like, ‘Absolutely, yes, I would want this.’ I just pulled up a Gumroad page to pre-sell it. That was a nice way of validating the need for it before actually investing the resources.

Example Content Creator To Study

10. Invest In Passive Stock Market ETFs

The S&P500's growth since 2012

An ETF or an exchange-traded fund is a basket of securities that tracks the performance of the S&P 500.

The best ETFs are usually low-cost and less risky than buying shares in a company. They also tend to be proven performers over time and generate better returns than leaving a lump sum in a savings or bank account.

The S&P 500 gains approximately 5% to 10% every year, year-on-year, with a few exceptions. In 2021, it saw gains of between 20% and 30%.

Any trading chart for the S&P500 show why it's foolish to bet against its performance over time, despite black swan events like the coronavirus and the 2008/2009 financial crisis. I also like ETFs as I don't have to worry much about an ideal asset allocation.

Building content businesses, selling digital products, and joining partner programs are all incredibly risky. So it's good to take some money off the table and put it into a business rainy day fund.

If you've money left over from your small business each week or month, you could hedge content bets in content with an ETF. You can save money by looking for ETFs with a low expense rate, ideally 0.5-0.75%.

11. Invest In Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin's meteoric growth since 2015

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum will power the future of the creator economy. If web 2.0 involved building wealth using big tech platforms, web 3.0 will enable creators to build wealth and platforms they control.

Twitter recently rolled out a feature that enables content creators to tip each other using Bitcoin. Newer social media networks, like Bitclout, offer similar services.

Bitcoin is the digital version of traditional investments like real estate and gold. Even sceptics can't deny its growth over the past decade. For example, on May 22, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz purchased two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin. Today, that stack is worth a modest $400-600 million.

Even a small allocation in Bitcoin and similar alternative assets can prove lucrative. Plus, understanding how the blockchain operates will help forward-thinking creators pivot their small businesses when the time comes.

Example Content Creator To Study

12. Explore NFTS

NFTs are a relatively risky investment for creators today, but a few will power the future of the creator economy.

Many of the most forward-thinking creators use non-fungible tokens to connect with their audiences and create and sell new forms of digital intellectual property.

Artists can create a non-fungible token or NFT once and earn in perpetuity. They can sell a piece of digital art and earn 5% of any subsequent sale on the secondary market, something unheard of before NFTS.

Some NFTs may look like an overpriced JPEG, but they serve as passes for virtual communities where holders can interact with like-minded collectors and creators.

Creators will find ways to use alternative investments like NFTS for crowdfunding music, offering membership programs, and releasing exclusive products.

Some forward-thinking creators have also used NFTs and pegged them to real-world assets. For example, each piece of Damien Hirst's The Currency NFT corresponds to a real-world artwork locked away in a mysterious vault in London. Holders will be asked to decide: destroy the NFT or the physical art? In other words, which will have hold value.

Learn more about the future of NFTS.

Example Content Creator To Study

The Final Word: Wealth Creation Strategies

If these wealth creation strategies sound overwhelming, pick one strategy and apply it within your content business. Pivot if you feel like a monetization strategy isn't helping you get paid to live a creative life.

Some wealth creation strategies worked well for me, like affiliate marketing and ETFs. However, they took a few years.

I've had less success with other strategies, like creating courses, at least in terms of time and effort versus reward. The right model depends on your aptitude, niche, and ideal customer.