The Rise of the Creator Economy
Steps to Building a Billion-Dollar Brand
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✏️ ON MY MIND
The Rise of the Creator Economy: Building a Billion-Dollar Brand
The creator economy has seen a significant shift in recent years. Gone are the days when creators solely relied on brand endorsements or advertising revenue.
Today, according to Rachel Rodgers and Nathan Barry, co-hosts of the Billion Dollar Creator podcast, the most successful creators build lasting brands, offer tangible value to their audience, and focus on long-term equity.
Here's a deep dive into the strategies and insights shaping this new era.
Beyond Personal Branding: Building a billion-dollar brand requires creators to think beyond personal branding. A brand should be scalable and have longevity, independent of the creator's personal identity. For some of us, that may look like building a media company.
Sell Products, Not Attention: The focus should be on selling products or services that offer tangible value rather than just capturing attention through advertising.
Recurring or Repeat Purchases: The hallmark of a successful brand is the ability to drive repeat purchases, whether consumables or subscription-based services.
Choose a Better Business Model: Opting for business models that resonate with broader investor markets can significantly increase a business's value.
Equity Over Short-Term Gains: More creators are now emphasizing the importance of getting paid in equity, valuing long-term growth over immediate cash flow.
Spotlight on Business Models:
Tempest: a digital recovery program that empowers you to quit drinking and live alcohol-free. This online sobriety course established its brand identity separate from its creator, Holly Whitaker, and competitor Monument acquired the business on May 11, 2022. Holly blogged about how she felt after the acquisition here (fascinating read).
OptinMonster: Transitioned from a WordPress plugin to a standalone SaaS product, amplifying its value.
Metalab by Andrew Wilkinson: Diversified from an agency model to invest in other industries.
Real Estate investment: A timeless model where investing in properties ensures a steady income stream. (Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger made his first million dollars from real estate, not acting?)
Celebrity Creators Embracing Equity:
While the individuals listed here are celebrities from music, TV and movie worlds, there’s a lot that we can learn from them when it comes to turning attention into revenue plus equity.
Beyoncé: Advocated for equity over one-time payments, emphasizing long-term value.
Kylie Jenner: Built Kylie Cosmetics, owning all the equity, which paid off significantly during a later sale.
Kim Kardashian: Leveraged her brand to create SKIMS, capturing more value by promoting her products.
Glossier's Emily Weiss: Transitioned from a blog to a successful cosmetics brand, emphasizing ownership and equity.
The Rock (Dwayne Johnson): Ex-pro-wrestling star turned Hollywood actor The Rock launched his tequila brand, Teremana Tequila, emphasizing the potential of leveraging personal brand equity to create a successful product.
Ryan Reynolds: A prime example of a celebrity leveraging his brand for business success. He sold Aviation Gin and Mint Mobile, which T-Mobile acquired for a staggering 1.3 billion. His strategic moves in the business world showcase a clear brand-building and equity capture playbook.
Creators to Watch:
I’m on a mission to find and profile diverse Creators who are doing cool things - not just the typical folks you see being spoken about (i.e. Mr Beast). Here are a few to keep an eye on:
David So: An old school YouTuber (1.3M subscribers) who ventured into apparel with Scrt Society and food businesses like Drips & Swirls and Junbi Matcha & Tea.
Philip Wang: Co-founder of bubble tea cafe BOPOMOFO and a key figure behind the YouTube channel Wong Fu Productions (the channel just celebrated 20 years and had 3.23M subs at time of print) and has loyal Patreon subscribers.
Anna Akana: After 10+ years on YouTube, Anna reportedly has a net worth of $3.7M. As an actress, she has a professional casting agency with its own studio. She makes money from brand sponsorships such as Betterhelp, selling her Manifestation guidebook and her loyal Patreon subscribers.
Jay Hoovy: Tiktok influencer (100K followers) and founder of Stan - a “Shopify for Creators”. Jay successfully raised $5M from VC Firm Forerunner Ventures and recently had managing partner Eurie Kim roast his pitch deck on his YouTube channel (very entertaining and insightful).
Harry Mack: Freestyle rapper who reportedly makes between about $4,000 and $8,000 per Youtube livestream from Super Chat contributions. I broke down the various income streams Harry has in a previous newsletter. Since publishing that, I also noticed Harry sells merchandise through his website.
Emma Chamberlain: 22-year-old phenomenon Chamberlain has 22M+ Youtube followers, 15.6M IG followers, with estimated earnings of $22M. In June 2023, she raised $7M from investors to expand her Chamberlain Coffee brand and products nationally across the US. She also appeared on Forbes’ Top 50 Creators of 2023 list.