Beginner's guide to making and creating in the creator economy
No-code apps/websites, content, curation, and digital products. Check out the creator-maker starter resource pack too!
Table of Contents
Disclaimer: This post is not about my take on the creator economy. It's a brief guide about what an aspiring/new creator or maker can do in the creator economy. You can find:
- What tools to use
- How you can make some internet money (Content, curation, and digital products)
- Real-life examples from real people
- A creator-starter pack of resources and tools at the bottom
The creator economy democratises the internet for anyone who wants to create and monetise. It empowers and enables people who shirk away from traditional means of work. I'll leave this to the experts to talk about it. (even though most of them have moved on to web3 by now lol)
I'm writing this to document my observations so far of what other creators and makers are doing. So I hope this brief guide may help you understand what you could do. Most of all, consistency is key. Keep creating! ⚡ Here's the link if you want to skip this and see the full starter pack of resources. Best read with this guide though!
🖥 Apps and websites💻 No-code💻 Notion products💻 Others📚 Content✏️ Writing🎙️ Podcasts📽️ Video👾📸 Others👩🏻🏫 Courses and communities👥 Communities👩🏻🏫 Courses🤹🏻♀️ Curation🗃️ Digital products🚀 Sell and launch⭐️ Here it is — my Creator-Maker Starter Pack ⭐️
If you believe you need to code to build an app or website, think again. This is where no-code comes in — now anyone can build things on the internet. No-code is not here to replace code. On the contrary, you could even say it's a gateway to code. The point of no-code is that it allows everyone to access and leverage the ability to bring apps and websites to life without needing to code in the beginning. There are plenty of no-code tools in the market now, so where do you start? How do you choose which no-code tool to use? It depends on what you want to build. (No ideas yet? I wrote a small thread to help generate ideas. Or check out Ritika's article about it) You can build most landing pages or websites using the list of tools below. You can use them for your portfolio or personal site, product page, events page, or even to collect emails. Need an app for a more functional use case like allowing users to log in and out? Adalo, Bubble, or Glide are your best bet. Maybe a directory of things, or even a job board? Try Pory, Softr, or even Notion might help too.
- You could use other tools like Pory or Siteoly to build a directory.
- I built a landing page using Softr + an app using Adalo to help people to record their moments of gratitude with photos.
- You could use Carrd or Dorik to build the landing page, and Glide or Bubble to build the app.
Notion does wonders. It started as a way for taking notes and knowledge management, but now it has evolved to a new level of possibilities. Now you can do a lot with Notion, thanks to builders who have created Notion products as extensions of Notion, such as widgets and forms you can use to build on top of your Notion page as well as making customisable websites and blogs out of Notion.
You may be wondering — why do this instead of creating your own website from other no-code builders? Personally, I use Notion a lot so it makes sense for me to host my site on Notion using these Notion products. Also, it's usually easier than setting up with other no-code tools.
You made some cool things now. Awesome stuff. Now you can take a step further to monetise some of your work. Maybe you'll build a SaaS tool, or you'll charge based on paid content. A bit more on that in the other sections. You can also do a few other related things: Designs
- Website themes: After making your own website, you could sell your website theme. You can make them for Webflow, Wordpress, Squarespace or other site builders. Those site builders usually have a marketplace where you can sell your themes.
- Design templates: You can create and sell reusable landing page templates, components and mockups on design tools such as Figma, Sketch or other design tools you are familiar with.
- Logos and banners: Make and sell logos and banners on sites like Fiverr or directly on your most used social media platform. Even with the accessibility of easy-to-design tools like Canva and MagicPattern, some people are still not that great with designing.
Audits and expertise
Perhaps you're good with your job and you want to offer advice, audits, coaching, or selling your expertise to others. Do it! You can create a simple landing page to offer your services there. If you want to audit someone else's work, you can use Loom (A screen recording tool) to record your screen while you give feedback. Then send the link to your customers when it's done. A lot of Notion experts and other consultants do this, and they are usually paired up with a course or a community.
Content is a big one. You can do a lot here depending on your topic of interest, i.e. what you like to talk about. You won't make big bucks immediately because you'll need to think about building and growing your audience too. It's a long-term investment. The more you create, the more credibility you build for yourself, the more you're able to attract an audience. Your content may be free, but you could also slowly offer consultations as a service to supplement your content.
A blog? A publishing platform? A newsletter? You get to choose. Pick a few topics to focus on. Then, write, write, and write. How do you pick between a blog and a newsletter? The only difference is that with newsletters, you can 'own' your audience rather than relying on social platforms such as Twitter. What people mean by 'owning' your audience is that even if platforms like Twitter suddenly cease to exist or you are blocked, you're still able to reach out to your audience with their emails. This also serves as a validation that people are willing to give you their emails so they can keep up with your writing updates. You have the option of publishing your content on one channel or you can publish the same content on both channels. Whichever works best for you. With blogs, you could slowly run ads when you start to have a bit more traffic. With newsletters, you could run 'ads' in the form of sponsorships. Build up your credibility by publishing a number of newsletters for a few months. Then slowly think about accepting sponsors. Alternatively, you can write a guide or an e-book. It can be lessons and failures of building your existing skillset, product or niche, or on a specific topic.
Experts and use cases
- Every: A bundle of newsletters. Charged by subscription.
- Lenny's Newsletter and Lolita's Newsletter: A mix of free and paid content using Substack. For paid users, you also have access to a community and special events.
- Ness Labs: Articles are published on their site, and shared again on newsletters using ConvertKit.
Podcasting may sound easy because you're just talking, right? You're not wrong, but there are other factors to consider like:
- What will you talk about?
- Is it solo, with a partner, or inviting guest speakers on every episode?
- What equipments do you need?
- Recording and editing your audio (Lots of editing)
If you're just starting out, you can start off with a normal video recording session with an existing video tool like Zoom. Make sure you record it, then use a video editing tool to remove the video. Similar to newsletters, once you get enough traction and credibility on your podcast, you can start to reach out and accept sponsors on your show too.
Writing, filming, editing, a lot of editing, and talking in front of the camera (not necessary but it's preferred). That's video-making for you. It is the type of content that has the highest effort but gives you the highest value — provided your videos truly add value to your audience. If you're publishing on YouTube, you can earn money through their Partner Program via ads or memberships. You can also create and upload your videos to sell access on Nebula. Better yet, sponsorship opportunities are also possible when you accumulate a big enough audience on your channel.
- Rachel How: My Twitter friend who just started making videos about design and productivity 2 months ago has nearly 10k subscribers on YouTube!
- Anna Akana: Making skits with lessons. She has a sponsor in almost every episode at the end.
- Pick Up Limes: Making vegan recipes and lifestyle videos
Stream in real time of yourself building an app, auditing someone's work, or the most used case would be playing video games in front of a live audience. Twitch would be your go-to for live streaming, or even Discord could work too. For Twitch, you won't be able to reap the benefits of a Twitch Affiliate when you're first starting out, but there are other ways you can do like accepting donations. More here.
I'm sure you have a few gorgeous photos you've taken lying around in your folders. You can also sell them in a few marketplaces like Etsy or even stock photo sites like Unsplash.
Social media influencers Posts photos, videos, and reels on your social media profile. Pretty self-explanatory as you can see this everywhere on Instagram and TikTok. When you have a big enough audience, brands will go to you for sponsorships or partnerships.
Communities tend to be used to complement another product, and most of the time it's a course. But you can create a community around anything, like a specific tool or product, or a newsletter. Your community could be a public or a paid/private membership. It's a way to allow your students or audience to continue learning and connect with other like-minded people in your community. How? Pick a topic of interest for your community, and build a structure around it. Share premium content, host weekly meet ups, mastermind groups (peer to peer mentoring), and/or events with guest speakers. You can make your community private so that only paid members have premium access to special meet ups and events. You could still create a standalone community. Grow and nurture your community so your members are able to build and form close connections with each other around a specific topic. But you need to provide them enough value for them to learn and stick around.
- My Twitter friend Kevon Cheung created Public Lab for people who want to up their building in public game. You're not only paying for a membership to a private community, but also get access to live events with guest speakers, a library of free resources, office hours, and more! The community is hosted on Circle.
- Interintellect — a place where you can host and attend salons about a range of topics. Their salons are open to the public but a fee is required. You can pay for a membership to join their community with discounts for their salons. The community is hosted on Slack.
Cohort-based courses are all the rage now, but they can be time-consuming. You may need a proper team because you'll not only need to organise and create structured content for your students but also conduct live classes for them too. Check out this list of cohort courses here to get a taste of what can be created. You can start off easily with self-paced courses with pre-recorded video and written content. Email courses count too by dividing your content up into a 7-day or more email drip. When someone signs up, the first email of your course gets sent to them right away.
The creator economy gives access and the ability for everyone on the internet to create, but with this, the internet has become oversaturated. Information overload. Decision paralysis. But this is where curated content comes in handy. CaaS (Curation as a service) is catching up in trend to help mitigate the issue of oversaturation. It's also a fantastic opportunity for people who aren't confident to create things of their own yet — why not try your hand in curation? There are curation tools like Beyond and Faves, but you don't need a tool for curation. In fact, you already see them in newsletters and blogs where people curate their favourite articles or videos. Newsletter sites like Morning Brew and The Browser curate the best content on the internet so you don't have to worry about reading bad ones.
Digital products can mean a lot of things, but they generally mean e-books, templates, swipe files, and curated lists or databases of a certain topic. Generally, you can make them on "note-taking" apps, databases, or on a separate website too.
The possibilities are endless. It can be a template for your reading list, planning, checklist of a process, journaling and so much more. Any common process or structure that a person might make for themselves. Most of the time people use Notion to build these templates, but you can also use other note-taking apps like Coda and Craft. Your Notion pages are private, but you just need to make the pages with the template public and set it up as a product. All someone has to do is duplicate it to use.
Resource database or swipe file
Build a database of resources and tools, creators to follow, companies, or a guide to certain topics. All you need to do is organise your information in a way that's structured and presentable before you set it up for the public. Note: A swipe file is commonly used in marketing where you compile inspiration and examples for your next marketing idea or campaign.
Now that you have your product, you can plan for your launch and potentially monetise it. Also if you're serious about it, don't forget to market and promote your product a lot. You might have the best product out there, but if you don't talk about it, no one will know about it. For digital products, you can consider selling your products on marketplaces like Gumroad (most used), Flurly, and Paytable (Airtable access). Additionally, you can set up an affiliate program for people who want to help you promote your products. Generate more leads with their help. With this in mind, you could help others who are offering affiliate programs too. There's also Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-fi. Set these platforms up on your website or anywhere so that people can support your work via donations. Even with your content, you can remind your audience to support you so you can continue publishing great content for them.
Here's a use case for selling a database of resources and tools 😄✌🏻 Some of the resources are on this blog post already, but you can check out the full version in this starter pack. Here's the link to read more and get the starter pack for yourself.
Alternatively, check out my Buy Me a Coffee if you want to support me 💛