If Everyone is a Content Creator — Is Anyone? [Data + Expert Insights]

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Caroline Forsey
Caroline Forsey

Published:

Quick riddle for you: What do you have in common with podcast hosts, YouTube sensations, TikTok stars, and Instagram influencers? Stumped? Okay, okay. I'll tell you the answer.

content creators film

Statistically speaking, you probably also consider yourself a “content creator,” at least on some level. Recently, our State of Consumer Trends Survey revealed that 50% of millennials and 46% of Gen Z call themselves content creators.

That number might seem high at first, but when you consider how deeply ingrained social media has become in our lives, it starts to make sense.

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What did surprise me, however, was this: out of those who call themselves creators, one-fourth have less than 1,000 followers, and almost 50% have less than 5,000 followers.

This confused me. In high school, I had roughly 100 followers. But I'd never considered myself a content creator. I guess, as it turns out, maybe I should have.

To investigate whether the idea that “everyone is a content creator” is true — and what it means if it is — I spoke with three content creators and influencers about their relationship to the label. Let's dive in.

Is anyone who creates content a content creator?

Li Jin is an investor and co-founder of Variant Fund, a venture firm investing in the ownership economy. Jin, who's been called The Investor Guru for Online Creators, believes everyone is a content creator.

As Jin told The Information, "No matter which industry you're in, people are all going to be creators …

This embrace of virtual brand-building is already starting to happen but will accelerate in coming years, as doctors, CEOs and other established professions, including venture capitalists, realize the importance of cultivating online profiles."

Jin adds, “Everyone will have to build influence online, because we're living more of our lives online … All of us will have to adopt some of the skill sets and behaviors of creators in order to be successful.”

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    If a content creator is defined as someone who “produces entertaining or educational material that caters to the interests and challenges of a target audience”, then it makes sense to label anyone with a social profile as a content creator.

    It doesn‘t matter whether it’s just me posting a funny Instagram video to share with my 300 followers or a major TikTok influencer doing the same thing for her 3 million fans.

    Leslie Green, HubSpot's senior social strategy manager, agrees. She says, “Nike believes 'everyone is an athlete,' and I also believe everyone is a content creator. There may be varying levels of skill, but if you have a phone with a camera, you're a content creator.”

    Internet personality Jensen Tung also supports that statement, saying, "I believe anyone who creates content is a content creator. The term should not be gatekept, because who determines the cut-off line?”

    Tung notes that what counts as a high follower count varies across platforms. Tung emphasizes that tying content creation with money and followers commercializes the activity and neglects the artistic side of content creation.

    “Just like how athletes are labeled amateur athletes and professional athletes, I believe content creators can be labeled similarly. A content creator who makes money can be labeled a professional content creator,” Tung says.

    content creator quote, leslie green

    A few years ago, being a content creator — or influencer — required a certain follower count to earn the title, and it was a relatively exclusive club reserved for brands, mega-influencers, or celebrities.

    Now, anyone with a smartphone has the opportunity to become one.

    There‘s something incredibly freeing about this: As we broaden the scope of what we mean when we say “content creator,” we’re inevitably opening the doors for more diverse voices.

    This means consumers worldwide can find content creators who mirror their unique, distinct experiences.

    Our 2024 Consumer Trends Report showed that when customers consider the types of content brands post on social media, 38% find relatable content to be the most memorable.

    In other words: Content doesn't need to reflect one singular version of reality anymore. Now, it can encompass all of them.

    Nicole Phillip, The Hustle's senior social media manager, told me she sees major benefits to the fact that there are no guardrails when it comes to labelling yourself as a content creator.

    As Phillip puts it, “Content creator is definitely an overused descriptor … But that speaks to how accessible the arena is, which in some ways is great for people who otherwise would've hit glass ceilings or invisible walls trying to get their work out there through conventional means.”

    To become a content creator, you only need a smartphone.

    Admittedly, there are levels of skill, expertise, and influence within the creator economy, just like there are levels in any profession.

    But what‘s surprising is that, unlike other professions, there’s no entry-level requirement to becoming a content creator.

    You don't need to possess certain skills or live in a specific region or be an expert in a particular field. You just need to own a phone or a computer.

    That’s perhaps what makes it so enthralling for so many. Consider, for instance, how the hashtag #contentcreator reveals more than 9 million results on Instagram:

    content creator instagram

    What's equally interesting is the growth of the creator economy over the past few years Goldman Sachs reported that the creator economy market could nearly double over the next five years from $250 billion to $480 billion by 2027.

    The creator economy, a term that refers to the marketplace of content creators as it relates to businesses, skyrocketed during the pandemic.

    The pandemic also greatly impacted the requirements of becoming a content creator. As people were stuck at home with nothing but their phones, they had to make due. And, as it turned out, audiences didn't care about super-polished content, anyway.

    Instead, audiences appreciated and sought out the more authentic posts that spoke to the true state of the world.

    As Phillip acknowledges, “Being a content creator used to mean you had a super large following and created original content that would consistently go viral to large audiences. Then, we started having micro and nano-influencers, which lowered the barrier to entry, so there's no particular follower count necessary, either.”

    She adds, “In terms of content types or quality, there's an audience for every niche and ability, so someone who only has an iPhone 8 just recording their thoughts during their morning commute can compete in the same space as a celebrity makeup artist operating with a DSLR and an entire team.”

    It's undoubtedly thrilling to consider the possibilities of creative individuals with fewer resources competing in spaces with high-profile, mega-rich celebrities.

    But that leads me to my next point: What's the end game with all of this, anyway?

    U.S. Consumer Trends Report

    Learn how consumers act, how they think, and what they expect now and beyond. Topics include:

    • Purchase habits.
    • Data privacy.
    • Workplace trends.
    • And more!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      Becoming a content creator on social media is no longer a means to an end.

      A few years ago, becoming an influencer was oftentimes a stepping stone to fame.

      A few names come to mind: Consider King Bach, who became famous on Vine and has since starred in multiple TV shows, including The Mindy Project and Punk'D; or Addison Rae, a TikTok dancer who was recently featured in Netflix's movie He's All That.

      And yet, nowadays, becoming an influencer is in-and-of itself the goal.

      One TikTok creator, Brady Lockerby, decided to become a full-time TikToker after recognizing the financial incentives outweighed her previous employment.

      @bradylockerby

      How i became a full time content creator! #contentcreator #fulltimecreator #fulltimecontentcreator #fyp comment questions I want to make this a series

      ♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery - Dante9k Remix - David Snell

      As she notes, she made roughly $50,000 in her corporate 9-to-5 job. By comparison, she now makes upwards of her yearly corporate salary in one month.

      Lockerby told me, “The first time I posted on TikTok, I never expected it to turn into what it is today for me. It's something that truly just fell into my lap. Once my TikTok career started to take off and I realized, 'Wow, this could actually be my job,' I made the plunge and quit my job. Freedom was probably the driving force.”

      She adds that nowadays most people are interested in money and receiving free items. However, she still believes that building authentic relationships is key.

      “Whether that‘s with your followers or a brand, if you don’t have that trust, no one will believe your content. You make the choice to put your life online, and it makes my heart warm to know that people genuinely care about not only what products I'm promoting that month, but about me and my life,” Lockerby says.

      Hey hey welcome to another episode of marking.Its the green your show for marketing minded people everywhere I'm your host kit bobner CMO at HubSpot, I'm joined as always by my co-host, Kieran Flanagan to see him over at zapier and we have a very, very special guest.Today we are joined by Lenny Rich, its key and Linnea is the host of whinnies podcast.
      He is the author of linney's newsletter.He is one of the Foremost experts on product and growth in the world.To me, at least I love his content.We've been wanting to have money on for a long time.Lenny, I'm so excited to have you on the show.Thanks for having me quite the insurer.Really appreciate it.You deserve that kind of an intro.
      Are you serious?You've got one of the top business podcasts in the world.You've got this incredible newsletter and you've built on some amazing experience and product and growth, and are now taking that out to the world and teaching everybody.So we're excited to have you here with us today, and I know there's a bunch of places we want to go.
      Kiran.I want to kick it over to you so you can kind of kick things off and our discussion today.Lenny, you have an incredible background.I know we've talked before, and you may want to give the audience some context of, you know, your kind of Journey and Tack or at least at Airbnb.The thing we would really love to start on is in relation to that.
      What if anything is being different or the same about growing like a Content audience, an audience for Content mediums and that you managed to bring some of those learnings from Airbnb into what you're doing today.Like I'm really interested in how this stuff that you used to do translates to what you do today.I think what's most interesting is it's very few things translates.
      That's interesting.Yeah so I LED supply growth at Airbnb for a long time and then I led the team that helped the booking experience help it help you book on Airbnb.So basically optimizing conversion and so I spent a lot of time on growth but interestingly what I found with the newsletter and with the podcast is nothing, helps it grow.
      Other than just consistency and quality of content, no hacks, you know?Like once in a while there's a couple spikes here and there but there's no nothing like sustainable helps.It grow other than just consistently putting out good stuff.Like like I was just going to say I tried referrals, I tried paid ads, I tried guest posts and those that helped early on, there's a few things that help early on just any get get kick-started.
      But if you just look at like the trend line of growth, nothing makes a dent other than just keeping at it and keeping the quality bar high.Can I say one thing that I do?Think I've been like a consumer of your content.And so, you know, obviously one thing that helps is That you are in that space and you are very well regarded within that space.
      Where does help you get the kind of people onto your podcast and maybe get people, you know, interact with your content.But the thing that I think stuck at in terms of your content early on, was how you included these kind of mini case studies, right?You just put out a post on inflection points and it's all real-world stories and it's case studies like but they're miniature case, study does not like this like 24-page case study on her Facebook.
      That this is like these kind of quick hits of all of the Things that companies did around a singer or topic, so do it kind of agree that help differentiate you.And if so was that on purpose or you kind of just stumbled upon that like was that a very thoughtful like I'm going to try this as an experiment or just like I'm gonna do this because I want to do it.
      So with questions like that Seinfeld has this funny thing that people ask them.Like people are like hey Jerry Seinfeld.Why don't you like do other types of Comedy?Like why did you like how do you narrow it on this thing that you do and he's like this is all I know how to do.Like if I could do other things, I would do other things.And so with that post in a lot of Post like if I had the answer I'd be like, here's the answer.
      I've got.Yeah, but I just don't and so it comes out of like I just want to get you the best possible answer when we go research and ask people that actually know what they're doing.Hmm.Where it actually started.The first time I did that, I left her being be.Is there a long time?People kept asking me all these questions about how to build a Marketplace company.
      Hmm.And I was like, well, here's like what Airbnb did but I don't know if that's the way to do it.Maybe there's other things that could work, maybe there's things, we did that worked In Spite of Ourselves and so what I did is I embarked on this.Research Project Loon just talked to all the biggest Marketplace companies and see what they did.
      And see if there's any patterns that emerge across all Marketplace companies and that turned into this five-part series of how to kick start in scale, Marketplace business, and that did really well.So it kind of learn from that experience of because it really good way of doing.I'm just kind of doing primary research on behalf of people and it's like very low cost for them.
      And I spent all this time doing the work and I could see why it's valuable.Yeah.Because I've done a lot of work for people.That's what I want to get into.Like one of the things you said it's like keeping the quality.Bar high, right?And I think hearing you and I and doing this show, we've learned that stories examples data and more importantly just to what you were saying.
      Lenny research matters so much.It's like, oh, you have this unique perspective and insight that as real depth to it.That's what really resonates with people.But somehow Lenny, you do that constantly and I think that's what I don't understand is like you between the newsletter and the podcast you have this like unending flow of it and as somebody who's doing it right now, it's very hard but it takes a lot of time like Pulling it off.
      The secret is lots of hard work and many hours of have work.One of the advantages.I have unlike you 20 full-time jobs.This is trade ohms.So there's this kind of like cool flywheel that kicks in.Once you get to a point where you could do this full-time is you just have a lot more time than anyone else.And I find a really direct correlation between the amount of time I put into something and the success of that piece.
      So the secret is just putting in time and the things that you find useful.Usually the person spent more time on that than somebody else that tried to do that and not nearly as well.Well, Why I agree with you, on the time part, the other part of that is like what you pick to spend that time?All, because they there, a lot of people who put a lot of time in and pick bad stuff.
      Yeah.Okay, I do have, it doesn't resonate people to retrieve.Love to hear how you pick the stuff.We pick the stuff, and I didn't think about it this way, but it ended up being really powerful is.I started the newsletter as an advice column like a Dear Abby type thing where people send me questions and answer their question.And what's turns out a smart about that is that that content is rooted in a real problem?
      Somebody actually has not just me pontificating on something that may be a So that helps a lot as just like rooting your work on.Like what if somebody actually need and that kind of comes back to it?One of the most important parts of writing and content is there's like a job to be done.They need to nail better than somebody else.
      So if you think about newsletters, what are the jobs to be done?There's like entertain me.So there's a lot of newsletters and podcasts of just like fun stuff and humor jokes and Comics.Another job to be done is help to make money.There's a lot of newsletters that help you invest in Bitcoin timing and stuff like that.There's a job to be done of, just help me be better.
      Life.So there's like Emily austere and like, you just like practical advice stuff.Another job to be done, which I mean, is just, I want to be better at work and so what are ways I can help you be better work for me.It's like help you build better products grow product.You know, there's all kinds of work, so there's like a lot of opportunities like help sales people be better.
      Salespeople, help Engineers, be better Engineers.So there's a lot of, like, niches within that, but I think it's really important.You figure out.What's the job you're doing for someone?And then just do that better than anyone else that's doing it out there.And the key there is just putting in the time, which does speak to your background in All right, thank you.Approached everything from, you know, job to be done a problem to be solved.
      Maybe.Yeah, I was gonna say that.You said there wasn't that much transferable that is definitely a pure, rip out of the product world.There's one we got one.You think I'm obsessed by is like, for people who have like weeks, your kind of success how much of it is like very thoughtful because when you were in Arabi, I'm assuming like part of leading to grow.
      Team is hypothesis iteration test and experiment trying to find the thing and like how much were creators success is stumbling upon the Thing versus like being Very intense full about that as the thing and it's times, like, maybe it's part in part.
      Like, you did go through a process when you were like, okay.Well, here are the jobs to be done.Here's one that I could solve and I can solve it.I feel I can solve it in a better way but then there's like a little bit of stumbling and hopefully this is going to be the thing that resonates.Yeah.So to be clear I wasn't actually like what are the jobs to be done on?
      What job can I do for people that it's that's like looking back.I could see why we're not okay, it was 90% stumbling and more specifically.So I left your beam be.I was there for seven years.Like intense hours.It was just like a go.Go.Go culture for a long time and I was just like, man.I'm I'm gonna just take a break and my plan was let me start a company.
      Again, maybe let me explore some ideas.I had maybe do advising on the side as a thing, maybe join a company.Just like, here's some options, I'm thinking about and the thing I stuck to is, let me pay attention to what gives me energy in this phase and do more of that just like lean into that when I get energy from something like I have a meeting with someone, did I get energy from that or does that suck?
      And if something stopped me of energy, I did less of that.Now, It's kind of my rule and I just found that writing gave me energy and so I spend more time doing that and the startup stuff didn't and other things.And Advising didn't.I was just like doing advising calls like Antoine, it's a sapping me of all my energy so most of it was just leading into what was giving me energy and then I had this conversation with a friend about I thought I wanted to start a company but I'm doing this writing thing on the side with the hell.
      Am I doing writings?That is no future here.And my wife's like why are you writing this note future writing.With some boys.Like there's nothing nothing comes of this on the internet writing and you know you're just wasting your time, you come on.She's like I thought you wanted to start a company, get a real job.Exactly.And but this friend had a great Point like, you enjoy doing this people seem to Value it, which is super rare that you do a thing that people value and find want to keep reading.
      That's like very rare.And his advice was, don't take that for granted like maybe see where that goes, even if there's no future there, just double down on that, maybe, maybe it'll eat somewhere.And so that's what pulled me down that road is just like, this is working maybe He just made me explore it.And so I just kind of kept doing that and is continuing to grow mostly by just continuing to do.
      So, it was a lot of stumbling.Like, I haven't written much on the internet before I started down this path.When you came from a product background which there are some writing, but it's not like right now public writing.Yeah, you're not writing every day as a product leader and so clearly that was something that like resonated with you as a way to spend your time I mean here and I've talked about this on a past episode would take you push words like it is the best way to organize your thoughts and learn something is to That's exactly what started me like.
      Yeah, I just wanted, like, the reason I wrote the thing first thing I wrote, which ended up doing shockingly well, which helped me to keep motivated.Is I just wanted to remember what I learned, yes at Airbnb.Yeah, my first thing that I wrote was like what seven years later.Be taught me about building a company just because I was thinking, I'd start a company and I'm like, okay I don't want to relearn everything.
      With the hell did I actually learn?Let me just sit down and write this down and it's exactly like there's this quote I'm sure you've heard of just like I don't know what I think until I've written it down.Yes.And I fully feel that Yeah, when people are talking to me like it's interesting right?Because I'm going through on board and like employee on born of my first time in a long time and when I'm in a meeting and like learning about things, and people are talking to me, I kind of like somewhat, understand it, but I actually need to write it out in some stuff like strategic, memo or two pager and then I kind of internalize it and it makes sense to me.
      And I think it's an incredible skill that people underestimate that, you know, it does no matter what discipline you do within the company, right?Anna such like an intrinsic part.Of how you communicate in today's world, especially when we're gravitating much more towards remote work, but actually, right in is how you communicate anything within the company and its a real skill to be learned.
      So I think I agree, like I think it's a great way to internalize your your learnings.Yeah, I think a lot of people look at it like that post.You mentioned about growth inflections.Like, imagine many people think I already have the answer.As I start writing, like here is the answer to how to what causes an inflection growth, but it's the opposite.I start just like, dumping thoughts into a dock getting quotes talking to people and that forms my foot.
      The conclusion like that comes after I start writing the writing.Helps me get there versus I come into it.Thinking.Here's the answer.Yeah.Like the magic of it is like the summarization in the framing it's like oh I know that I want to answer this question but I don't know what the most important parts are.I've made, I've got 10 really important things, but I know that there are three there like the most important, I need to figure those out and that's the blind of the Art and Science that.
      And so I kind of get the natural progression of how you got to writing and the ritual of the newsletter and getting their kind of recurring.Hell, did you like then say, hey, you know what, I want to do when you do a podcast, that's even harder, it's even harder to get out into the world.It has way more Logistics, it's not just me sitting in a room writing.
      I've got to like have all these conversations and scheduling and everything.Like why?So I may not feel like this on the outside but I'm trying to like keep it chill and not do a lot.So I've had these like things I should do, write a book, start a podcast, right?Of course.And I've always liked, I will never do any of these.
      I just this like the newsletter life is really good.Like I just write a novel.Awesome email once a week and I make a meaningful income like much more than it made it here BB and so I'm like why would I do anything more?This is great.Yeah sounds awesome.To me, it's pretty sweet.It's so and so I've avoided all those things for a long time but with the podcast, I did a hairy stebbings this podcast.
      When he gets the at one point and at the end of the recording, he's like plenty of you idiot, you should be doing a podcast, you're you're good at this.You have things to say.There's a lot of opportunity and podcasting he's like you should do a podcast.So That's actually what got me over the home like Harry, stebbings telling me you should do a podcast and it was like years and years of me just like I will never do a podcast.
      There's so many podcast with the hell would I had to and then I just started trying it and I just started doing it actually turns out.It's a lot easier than the newsletter, to be honest, really.So so the newsletter like the simple way to think about what the newsletter I have to come up with unique interesting insights and write them out and graph them in.
      It consumed, a boy podcast, I just say extract that from a someone else's brain like you guys are doing here.And so like, you know, it takes like maybe three four hours per episode of prep and recording and have a producer that helps edit it.The newsletter takes like 10 hours, minimum proposed some 20, some 100.
      Wow.It's also podcast is easier.It's more lucrative.It turns out and it's a little more energizing, you know, this is like fun and it's like the end of it.You feel kind of cool.He did this whole thing.You got to see humans, like but I will say the podcast, like a lot of stuff.I did turns out to be smart, looking back.It's easier to grow the podcast with the newsletter.
      Yes, every episode I share with my audience.Just like now so I think the right orders build an awesome newsletter and then launch a pod casts harder.I think the other way around.Yeah, the podcast is a great add-on to engage existing audience.It is definitely a hard like front door to build, which is like, first way to build that Medium.
      Hopefully it's not too bad jumping around.Like, one thing I'm really curious about that just coming back to news there.Just for one moment is and it kind of ties really nicely to your latest post if anyone's gonna be that some flexion points.Like I'm curious like how quickly you got to the inflection point where you were like, oh like This could be a business, right?
      Because one of the things you mentioned is perseverance, right?And perseverance is a really underrated skill because everyone's looking back.I started off looking for the hacks.It was like well if anyone can give me the hacks Lenny, think I need a hacks because like he's growth principles baked into the fork he does.And he's like no like consistency and perseverance.
      And so, how long did you have to have that kind of perseverance for until you saw some sort of inflection point?Where, like, wow, like I could actually tell my wife, this could be a business, right?Like I got time, I teach you something real here.Actually, when I started the newsletter actually called it project, avoid getting a real job and that was the goal.
      Like can I make enough money?Can I make more salary than I made in salaried?Are being beaten?That was like initially actually the goal was can make 100K year because that's like wow holy shit year 100K for been writing a thing once a week and then I'm set that goal 300K and then it's gone.What far beyond that?So there is actually a couple hacks I wouldn't call them facts but that have led to large to some inflections.
      So early on the way I got my say first 100 subscribers is I wrote a popular thing on medium and that got me some followers on medium and that turned into Twitter followers.And I started tweeting nuggets from that post on Twitter and that started building the Twitter audience.So there's kind of like, why we love Twitter and medium.
      So I got me about that, 100 subscribers.This is like one of the examples of I wouldn't call it a hack but it led to a spurt is doing guest posts on other newsletters with the same audience.So for me I got the next thousand subscribers by doing a guest post on the first round review and Andrew Chen's blog and so those helped a lot.
      It was just me getting started.And the key there was like I had interesting things to say and they wanted to share it.So that was the key so it comes back to Quality again.So that got me to the first thousand subscribers then to get to the next 10,000.It was just writing every week for nine months, just keeping at it and just if you look at the growth chart is just linear growth through those nine months.
      So then I was about 10,000 subscribers and that's when covid hit.And I was making no money for a year Airbnb.Stock was like Like dead, like some money now please.Yeah.Like I assumed I could do this because I had some Savings in Airbnb stock that one day would IPO and it was not looking good.
      They had to like, take this massive two billion dollar loan and it was just like not, but travel was going to not happen again, maybe.So I got really worried.And so that's when I actually launched the pay plan.I was like, okay, project avoid getting real job.Let's do this for real.Let's see if I can make money doing this.And so I launched the pay plan about nine months.
      After I started writing and it did like, okay initially, but basically just doing that for another year, two years, every week, help to continue to grow and kept growing growing across 300 K.So then, the actual next big inflection came actually a fairly recently where step stack launched this feature, where you can refer other newsletters, you can recommend other newsletters, which seems like a really simple, non no big deal feature, but turns out, a lot of newsletters are recommending my newsletter.
      So when you sign up for my newsletter, you get recommended 10 newsletters that I love.And I picked M.And so there's this like really cool Network effect that's happening now.So about a thousand other newsletters recommend my newsletter.Wow.And so soon as they launch that feature, I just have this like hockey stick of growth that's happening and it's still happening and I think I'm an onboarding flow when you sign up because I'm the number one business newsletter, you kind of get recommend when you letter.
      So if there's never been an easier time to grow large newsletter because of that, one feature, if you write awesome stuff and people recommend you, you can grow really quickly.Now, I remember back in the day, the problem to solve for Their audience was distribution because Use that are somewhat like podcasts or most of the newsletters and keep.
      And I talked to all of the users when we were through the kind of research phase of trying to buy the hospital, like they're predominately all paid advertising in some respects because there's no like one built-in core mechanism to like grow those.And so they really did.They let it sounds like substract those thousand users.
      Get any type of affiliate commission for recommended you like, nope, they just, they just do it organically.Yeah, it's just like what do you think?Is awesome.And yeah, it's just like, what do you think is great for people to even and Feels nice to recommend great stuff, that's it.Yeah, you know I tried referrals and doesn't work.Like it's I think for some newsletter work obviously morning brew and stuff like that.
      But I think if it's I think it has to be a certain personality of a newsletter for be like send this to all your friends, get ya, get ya, get stickers.You know, it's what it needs to be more, you know, higher altitude versus the depth that you go to in your newsletter.Right?Yeah.Because I think I was going to ask actually and you kind of maybe add sir.
      It was sub stack and I'm interest with both.You think is if you were going to go down that original path and you started a company The thing, you are going to have to really think about it.And most Founders do is like defensibility, like how is this like thing defensible?How about not be commoditized, and what's interested in content is a feedback loops are really quick, like, hip.
      And I talked about this where you see someone has figured out like threads on Twitter and then like everyone does threads on Twitter, right?Or someone figures out.I'm posting is the thing that everyone is shitposting, right?And so everyone can replicate things much faster because the barrier to entry is much lower and I was going to ask you like as a founder of a Content brand, like how do you think about defensibility but maybe your defense ability.
      Is well, I've got inserted into the sub stack, the you know, framework.And so it's gonna be really hard for anyone to replicate that on the one hand.I don't really think about that.I think if you just keep providing valuable stuff to people, they're going to keep wanting it.So I think the question is, will someone come around?
      It does much better than I the same thing.Like I'm not that smart people have more time, they're more experienced.It could definitely happen, hit 100%.But I will say, I don't like, I don't know why it hasn't happened.Honestly, I have found a lot of people are modeling their newsletters now For my newsletter, like, I see, welcome emails, just like completely copied.
      My welcome emails.There's a lot of like, advice column style newsletters, exactly.Like, I like the intros are the same.So there's a lot of like, you know, it's the sincerest form of flattery people modeling the approach, no one's come like right at exactly what I'm doing it.
      I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.Obviously have a head start.I don't think about it too much, but it definitely happened.I don't think there's much of a moat, you know, talk about that though because I think your moat is, you know, the grind.That you've done obviously but then it's also like that quality of content like that taste and knowledge which you have on the core subject area.
      And you've talked about a lot on the show so far, but I guess I'd love to take a trip inside your head.Like what are the questions?You ask yourself to know.If something is meeting your bar, that it's like, it's really great, and like, this is going to be something that is valuable in the world, and to be more valuable than anybody else could do this week, and subsequently, I feel great about it.
      Like, I wish I had like a formula of like, here's what I look for.A lot of it comes down to.I just look at it again and again and again, like most of my writing is just editing.I start with just like a bunch of content and writing and both points.And then I form it into something and then I just look at it, like a hundred times as I keep reviewing and editing email it to myself.
      I look at my phone and I basically get to a point where I just feel like this is strong enough and there's nothing I can cut and there's nothing.That's just like consistently confusing me and that's kind of the horbet.I just look at it a thousand times and keep looking and looking.Looking at, what can I cut?There's a book that's been really influential my writing called on writing.
      Well, oh yeah.Ramesh loves that book to basically, this is cut.Everything is the conclusion just cut, chi chi chi and it's like a hundred chapters on all the things you should cut.So that actually had a big impact on me, and I just kind of look for that, like, what is not necessary and then how do I just tightened simplify and bullet-pointed and charts and tables it?
      So that's the core of it.But, you know, I try to find like ways to engage people in the beginning, like, make it a surprise or make it interesting or story at the beginning.That's what I'm trying to.Got a little bit as like actual writing writing not just, here's content information, but mostly it's just looking at a thousand times and that comes back to the time, like I just have the time to do that and I think that's what makes it better.
      Yes, you've really your bar of quality is like, oh, I have a feedback loop of topics that people want because of the format, I'm doing this thing.And I men have a research process that I go and validate that topic through through my own first-party research, talking to people and then you're like, I try to be ruthless editor and break that down and make Get the best clearest most simple, distillation of that solution.
      Like I remember having a college journalism Professor, he was like go through and underline every just and every very and then cross them all out like get rid of like all these things that don't do anything and you're saying like that's a really important part of just getting the idea as tight as possible.
      Yeah.So let's look at the example of that growth inflections post which was super recent.So the question there was what causes an inflection and growth.And what I do with those is I think about what are the companies I would love to At insights from and stories of like what helped them grow.So the way start there is just make a list.
      Here's the companies that would love to capture stories from and then I just go email people that I know at these companies and what's cool.Another flywheel that kicks in with this is the more of this I do.The more connections I've built more companies, I'm close with.So I just kind of email these people and I try not to bug them too much, but often people are excited to, you know, contribute.
      So I just sent an email, here's my question, what do you, what can you share?And then I just capture all those and see what comes out of it.That's roughly the approach.I think that is like, understated and how powerful it is like there's a we can you talk you and I talked about this tripod up in the last podcast kept, there's a Twitter handle where there's a sales community and they tweet like real stats from that sales community and that's Tails Community.
      It's Anonymous.So I don't actually know if they do tweak things that you can't really share as a public company.But whatever, whatever it's really like.It's but it's anonymize and it's aggregated, right?But being able to get like you know, the look behind the scenes, there's kind of two ways.Think about your content.
      First of all, like you described it, like I'm learning like you put when you're putting a gate case together at your, the Curious learner that's kind of learning on their behalf and enjoy your framing it up.And I really like interesting way and then you're actually able to help take people behind the scenes.Like they feel like an Insider, right?
      All like I'm an Insider.I get all of the kind of hot stuff.If you actually pay to your for your pay subscription, you kind of like the inside or not.I know you actually have a huge Community as well as part of that.And so I think there's like something in that like that there is like poor thing.Things that really make that content much more powerful than they just the average post.
      You're going to actually read even more.Basically, like I'm just doing a lot of work for people that would cost a lot of money spending tens of hours doing.Yeah, answering a question for you.It's like not that expensive to get the answer well, but it's so building on that though, like that makes total sense of the newsletter but it's very different when you're doing the podcast right?
      Like because you're having this real-time interaction, you're trying to pull the Things out.You don't control what the other person is going to say.So, you know, what does lynnie know today that he didn't know and he started the podcast about how to actually do those things really well, like, get the best information from people.
      So, when I've just like upgraded, the look of the podcast, like, I look back in my first episodes I was just like, so, from being funny looking at is like, very basic look.So there's the look of it, I think mostly it's just working on the interview techniques and continuing to follow up on questions.Where someone has a really big answer is a A big part of it.
      Same with the newsletter.Like, I just tried to get to like real concrete stuff, not just like, here's a general theory.I have on something, keep dive the five wise, just keep diving and then I can cut stuff that doesn't work.So that's a big part of it.Part of it is just wedding guests a little bit better like, you know, some guests come on and they don't actually know it's much as you think and so trying to get to that a little bit earlier.
      I don't know, it's all the interview technique is kind of what I find just like not having to like respond to every answer someone gives and just like on to the next question, on to the next question people.Yeah, people don't want.It'll be like awesome, great.That was so interesting.It's just like something else.Sometimes, it's like fun, you know, it's a balance.
      So it's a lot of interview and I try to watch my interviews and try to, like, see what it's annoying and dumb.If we do the same thing, it's painful to watch yourself about 40 days.I only got, it's great.I love that.It's like, that's the downside of starting a podcast.You have to, like, listen to yourself.I can't get enough of myself on the big screen.
      I mean if I had to do a cover letter, like you're wearing your sweater, it's not this one.You keep you keep getting confused.If you like or hate the sweater comment on the YouTube right now.I would love to actually hear how you that guests because I could be kind of like, you don't, you don't like bring them on for initial conversation and say, don't know.
      No, I'm not putting you back because you suck like how you just met them up front without the known?I'm trying to rely more on referrals from other guests that have had that are awesome.So that yeah, that's a lot.Yeah.And then Watching their other toxin videos helps a lot.Just like what do they got to say that kind of thing right?You know you never know until you actually talk to someone are there some interviews you just don't use not yet.
      Okay.Everything's been good, good enough.So you've done the news that are you have a community, you have a podcast.Let's say you had infinite time and infinite resources or just have the motivation to do it.Yeah.What is the other thing you would like to do like as a creator that you are not doing?Like what's that thing that you think would?
      When you apply that energy would make you feel the same sort of way as you do at the new center in podcast, this would make Me feel the same way but I think I would do a book.Is that what you do book man?Yeah but it's so painful, it's so much work.It's so much work.Especially the topic you're going to do it on and how much information you already have that in it deep down but you got to do it we all want him.
      One day, got to give the people what they want.I guess I think they'll all get smarter and it'll be better the longer a way.That's how I tell myself.Can I just can I say that about everything?Is that forecast?A Nation Hack that I can use for my own life?Take it but seriously what's the holdup to do it?
      A book, just the workload that it's getting, my wife actually has published a couple of books and I've see the process.It's so hard.It's just like, you know, it's like a year of intense work.You don't make much from it, you know, maybe when point one percent of people make some from it it's just the workload.I like Life's good, you know.
      Like I talked about the newsletter like why would I want to bury my head against the wall for a year?But I think I'll probably do it at some point.I just I don't think it's time yet.Why can't you do it book?That's just a collection of the newsletter.That's what I thought.I would love to just like have on the shelf behind us you know your first at that, right.
      I think though that's the mistake people make they think it's going to be that easy if they have a bunch of content.So let's start together but it never is if you want to make it awesome like I have a high bar and deep.I'm very detail-oriented about the stuff so I just want to make it super awesome and it was just like up my life.Yeah.Okay.So see, I got to ask you my favorite question for detail oriented people.
      It's like, how do you know when to stop?Like how do you like your editing that newsletter?And you were just like pounding your head against the wall.Like how do you know?Like okay we're good here.I'm going to stop.Move on to the next one.I think very concretely.It's when I don't find anything else to tweak when I look at it.So I look at it, I'm like, okay, let's fix this fix that, then, come back to it later in the day.
      Look at it.Okay, maybe there's what title I can make a little better and when I find that there's just nothing, I'm a changing that tells me it's ready to go and yeah, could always be better.But, you know, I'm publishing once a week and people aren't paying me like a hundred thousand dollars like 250 bucks a year.Like, it's not going to be perfect perfect at forever, but it's mostly when I'm not changing something, that's the assignment.
      And to me all to that is like you've worked really hard to build all this stuff and you were like at its operation, not start a business and you kind of now ended up with a business in your room, you're making stuff but what are the unintended positive consequences of all this?Like what are the really good things that have happened that you like I didn't expect this.
      But like my life is way better because of like doing this.Creating I also want to share the downsides because I think people don't think about that, but there's like so many upsides, like Angel Investing.Is it so much easier?I was hoping you talk about.Yeah, like most Founders would love to have be involved in helping so that helps a lot and so I get just like access to a lot of cool.
      Founders and companies.That's one thing.The other is the you know I just get things like at least once a day if it's just someone saying really nice things about how much the stuff I've done has helped them so that's always nice and then just meeting I think meeting a lot of really amazing people through the community Through the founders that I talked to you like the network is gone really big and interesting on the downsides I have no time off.
      No pay you know PTO No One's Gonna pay me to take time off.No 401K matching, no health insurance.Current like I just have to go bomb a care.No disability.You know like if things if I like get injured I don't know what happens.Like you just you know.Stop.Yeah.If you can type what's it is concerning.Right.You like it?Like I don't know if I can go skiing guys.
      Like I need my arms so I worry about that a little bit.Hasn't been a problem yet, like one of the great things but I always say like where everyone really wants to end up.Even when people talk about, like I want a semi-retired retire.It's like, I just want to be answerable to someone else's schedule.Like I, I actually wanted to take my own time and own my own calendar, and I think there's obviously You still have to work, you know, a certain amount of hours a week to do the work that you do.
      The you, you control your own time.And there's just something I think magical about, like, being answerable to your own calendar and not be knowledgeable to someone else's calendar. 100%, that part is amazing.There's this book that he probably read the subtle art of not giving of.And yeah, he talks about how like, people think they want just freedom from everything, but it turns out we still want to solve problems and do interesting things.
      So I actually thought it was like, I was trying to try to many retire a little bit was like, I just do the simplest thing just to Make enough money and that'll be great, but I feel like at this point, I full-time job hours.I work a lot and it was it's hard to resist.I think for folks like us totally is, I could be so we just don't want to sit around and just, you know, check Twitter all day and watch TV, we don't the brain to fade.
      You know, you gotta want to go and do something that helps people, right?You just want to do interesting things and yeah, well, yeah, finding work for ourselves.That's kind of what I've done.I just keep fighting like the podcast.Like I don't want to do a podcast, I don't need more work but it's hard to resist because it's just like, just a big opportunity and it's interesting.People keep asking 46.
      And it's also collaborative you get to meet a lot of really awesome people that maybe don't talk to as much if you're just heads down writing, right?So probably different kind of modality of was to rise.Another downside of the Creator life is like it's kind of you're alone like in the galaxies in her life and it's kind of fun to work on a team.
      The other downside I forgot to mention is there's like people think they're going to create this like viral you Tick Tock video or some amazing post or some amazing podcast and it's just going to go blow up and then life will be so great.You realize that's just like one thing one time and then Fades in.You're done.No one cares about it again, like a few days later and you realize it's just never-ending treadmill where you consistently have to keep putting stuff out forever.
      Like I don't know how you can get off this treadmill, like I do.Yeah, like a podcast, you can stop because it's ad-based.I'm guessing these letters subscription and people are paying for the next year.Every day there's an annual plan being bought every day so at least for a year I have to keep it going but like stopping, it sounds really scary because then I lose the income.
      So I don't really know the exit path for some like this.I don't think about it too much, but that is one downside is, like, you think it's like, cool.I'm gonna get a viral video, it's going to be so great, but you have to keep doing that for a long time and it's against last one.So, I will say a lesson.There is make sure if you go down this path, work on something.
      It really is interesting to you that you're curious about that you really care about versus creating a job for yourself.That sucks where you like writing about, I don't know, Bitcoin, all day and you're just like, I don't care discuss, try to scam.People are terrible work examples Bitcoin, it's great and it It is interesting, right?
      Like we talked about this in an episode before, but the Creator for very few of creators, the exit will be some sort of sale because they are the brand like mr.B's.You know apparently got offered a billion dollars for his YouTube channel and I suspect you can maybe say, oh, maybe he can like get himself out of being the brand like, mr.
      Pieces of brown, but it's not his face a little bit.Still, very hard to imagine.But that's one thing for creators is like, they are the brand and you have to I think you have to be explicit over time if you want to make that into a brand, that's not you front and center or I'll always be the brand but I'm not sure they want my exit is maybe don't call the Lenny's newsletter.
      If you want to do that or you gonna have to just sell it to another Lenny.There's water there.Yet there.They love the same stuff.There are billionaires their name, the Linens this letter.I mean it's you also underscore the importance that name doesn't matter.The content matters.That's right different, but everybody every spins, like six months coming up, their Nanny named, find the perfect for something or the perfect domain name and that does not matter what you hit.
      That matters is like hey, no find something.You like have a Process in grinded out crying, did I?Yeah.Like yeah, the name came from I was just signing up for sub stack and their default recommendation.When you're signing up is like your first name newsletter?Because I didn't know planned with this thing.So I'm like cool.When he's late, hilarious.
      That's that's a great story.As we're closing things out.One last question for me and Karen.If you have anything jump in, it's like if somebody is listening to this and they've been on the sidelines and they're like you know I've been thinking about a newsletter podcast like kind of that's what gives me energy.Not my job.Like what would you tell them?
      To try to persuade them that it's a worthy thing for them to do or to tell them, no, you don't want to do that because it's just going to be a complete miserable grind.This is going to sound obvious, but honestly, it's just do it.Stop thinking about it, just like tomato thing and see what you think, see, if you enjoyed see, people value at.
      That's the more important part.And like, I will say writing is like, I don't know.Some Hemingway never said this, probably, but people attributed to him but writing is easy.You just sit at the keyboard and bleed and that's how it feels a lot of times.And so it's not going to be easy.Easy.But just like all you have to do just like, sup stack you sign up, it's free, you write a thing, you could put it out there.
      Nobody's gonna remember if it sucks.All you do is just start, just like write a thing, right?That something that you want to get out of your head, right?Something you're trying to remember a crystallized and just see how it feels.Is this cool?Two people care about what you're writing and part of it is just realizing.Do I enjoy this and do I want to keep doing this and you only know if you start doing it.
      So yeah, it's like such clichéd advice but I think it's just like it's so easy to write.You're not going to record a video that's harder just like right.See how it goes.The thing I really took away as well as if you look at Japan and ten-year-olds.There's a higher percentage of ten-year-olds in Japan that want to be a YouTuber than anything else.Like everyone wants to create our life but really your kind of points are it's really the perseverance in the grind.
      Like everything is a grind, is just a grind that you choose and the other I think less and that's really important for people to take away is what makes great writers.Great is not what they put on the page, is what they take off the page, right?Like that editing is like so important.I think that's a really great takeaway for everyone, and I think that to that, like introductions, Is everyone always such long introductions like just skip the intro and just get right to it.
      That's something that I've learned.Also, I love it.This was a great conversation.Let me I know you are busy and you're taking time away away from your own creating to come and help us create.So thank you.First and foremost and everybody should go.Subscribe to Lenny's pod and Lenny's newsletter.And the last thing I want to ask you before we jumped off is like, who else is writing?
      Do you love?Like, what are the other newsletters?You're reading?Like, what else would you have?People take a look at?I've always feel worried.Not mentioning everyone.Awesome.But anyway, the three you have to name them three and if they don't make it I'm so it's okay, whatever.Whatever you think Noah Smith, he's got a newsletter called No opinions, which I just learned so much from reading his stuff.
      He's unsub stack, he's actually like right below me in the rankings, so it's like counterproductive to recommend him, but he said, yeah.And then Emily austere, like family.Kids stuff is always great.I don't know if you all know her but she writes incredible stuff on.Yeah, she's here, I stuff.So that one is awesome and She is on septic also and then Tyler Cowen is the other one that comes to mind immediately?
      He's got this new podcast called conversation with Tyler.He's got a ball, a Blog called marginal Revolution, I think it's called, and I always just learn so much every time I hear him talk, and he's an amazing interview of to love that.I'm going to go check out Tyler because I'm always looking to be better interview.Speaking of that though, let me thank you so much.
      We really deeply.Appreciate you, coming on Mark Against the Grain today.Thank you so much for time and we'll talk to you again real soon.

      Unsurprisingly, our 2024 Consumer Trends Survey showed that 21% of social media users purchased a product/service based on an influencer's recommendation.

      However, only 37% feel that the content they see from brands (i.e., ads, billboards, social media posts, etc.) is authentic to them.

      In fact, customers can tell when something is worthwhile to interact with. So, the definition of quality material is constantly evolving. What’s popular this year can be dated and overdone the next — requiring you to be on your toes.

      However, one thing should be on your mind: Never lose sight of someone looking over your content on their phone and determining whether it’s worthwhile for them to spend time on. So, make it worth their time.

      It‘s also important to note that the money you make as a content creator is well-deserved. As easy as it is to earn the label of “content creator,” it’s not easy to make a living off of it.

      Youtuber Robert Benjamin limits the definition of content creators to people who make a full-time living making content.

      “Otherwise, I believe it‘s just a hobby and something you do for fun. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not a chef! I don‘t think that the number of followers matters — so long as you’re able to make a full-time living off of that following,” Benjamin says.

      Followers also vary by the topics content creators cover. “Every niche is different and just because you don‘t have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that you don't have a big impact on those that follow you,” Benjamin says.

      However, Philip predicts that in the future, many will actually consider quitting as the market becomes increasingly saturated.

      She told me, “People can get content from every corner of the internet, and to maintain an audience through such competition can be stressful and exhausting. I've seen this first-hand just working on branded social. There are no off days and you constantly have to feed the beast.”

      Although full-time content creation has its perks, it's still challenging. Occasionally, a creator can experience dry spells, difficult clientele, internet trolls, and creative blocks. In that case, preparing yourself to weather the storm is best.

      content creator, tiktok

      It‘s true: Content creation is a 24/7 gig. And if you don’t consistently post engaging content, you could lose your audience's attention as they move on to the new creator of the moment.

      On average, consumers spend 4 hours daily on social media, and over 50% look through social media to find entertaining content. So, you must engage your audience as a content creator to help your brand grow.

      But that shouldn‘t deter you from embracing your role as content creator if that’s what you want.

      As Green says, “Content creators have more power than ever. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram are competing for content and are actively helping to produce income for their most valuable asset — content creators. If you're looking to break into content creation, don't be discouraged. Brands and platforms are looking for your personality and expertise.”

      It’s clear from the success of each of these creators that no category is superior to another. As a content creator, your priority should be selecting the creative personality that fits your ideals and lets you express yourself freely.

      There’s a big difference between a financial creator offering straightforward, money-saving advice to millennials/Gen Z and one who only provides general financial advice.

      When it comes to the content brands post on social media, 63% are interested in authentic and relatable content. Among them, 52% of consumers enjoy content like images/photos/infographics, and 49% prefer short-form video content (e.g., TikToks, Reels).

      Moreover, 29% of consumers prefer to discover new products on social media through an influencer they follow, underlining the crucial role of content creators in the marketing landscape. So, brands are now seeking content creators more than ever, recognizing their value and impact.

      Green continues, “My best advice: pick a niche, stick to one platform, and focus on volume. Social media may feel like a crowded space, but there's room for everyone. Be patient, test a variety of formats, and stick to a cadence you can be consistent with month over month.”

      content creator, phillip

      Ultimately, just as art means something different to every individual, so too does content. This means the narrow scope we‘d previously defined as content creator was too limiting.

      There’s value in leveling the playing field and allowing anyone with a camera and a voice to be heard.

      After all, every content creator has the unique ability to connect deeply to their audience — and whether that‘s an audience of one or one million, there’s power in that.

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