Old Trends in New Form: Creators and their Craft

Jun 28, 2021

There’s nothing new about creative professionals making a career out of their passions. But in today’s creator economy, these careers have never been more lucrative. 

Here’s a look at the growing value and self-sufficiency of creators in the digital landscape.

On craftsmanship and the Internet

Artisans and craftspeople sold their goods locally in their towns and cities centuries ago. Every town had a blacksmith, a carpenter, a silversmith, and a tinsmith. Citizens knew where to go for horseshoes, or jewelry, or kitchenware. 

Trades were predominantly physical. Most artisans filled essential needs in their communities. They fixed oxcarts or plows. They sold essential goods. Some few made a living selling niceties like glass and jewelry. 

There was a small place for artisans who sold non-essential goods. Sculptors, jewelers, and tailors of fine clothing. There still is a place for these creators today. In a world of manufactured, mass-produced home goods, consumers are willing to pay higher prices for handcrafted furniture, hand-blown glassware, or custom-tailored suits. In fact, the Internet has given more woodworkers and sculptors opportunities to make a living by connecting them with customers all over the world.

Modern artisans and craftspeople can pursue their trades by selling services online to people from all over the world. Skilled cover designers can make a good living designing book covers for indie authors. Talented copywriters can earn money writing email campaigns. Influencers can sell access to their fans to businesses who pay them to tweet out promotions to thousands of followers. 

Words and numbers play a much larger role than physical objects. This means that more artists and writers and entertainers than ever before have a chance to earn a living. Modern consumers have more time and more money to spend on leisure. While physical trades will never find itself without a place even in the modern economy, modern artisanry is dominated by writers and musicians and artists.

More platforms, more opportunities

Online platforms and tools are now geared towards creators. The likes of Amazon and Kobo provide opportunities by allowing authors to self-publish their way to six-figure annual incomes. YouTube and Vimeo give comedians and videographers a place to monetize their videos. Bloggers can publish their own blog on WordPress, Medium, or Substack. Shutterstock and flickr present photographers a place to share and sell their work. Patreon has allowed audiences to become patron supporters of artists and writers. 

The most popular platforms are social media sites. Creators who develop a sizable following on Facebook, or Instagram, or any popular social media platform, are regarded as influencers.

Crowdfunding has also helped many creators launch careers. Kickstarter has been used by thousands of creatives to fund new books, new documentaries, new comics, forthcoming albums, or innovative board games. 

As the creator economy grows, the role of marketplaces also grows. More companies hire outside creative talent, and solo professionals understand that their best opportunities lie in meeting the needs of those companies.

By facilitating interactions between businesses and creators, social media channels, publishing platforms, and marketplaces will allow more people to earn a living doing what they love, while also allowing brands to find the talent they need.

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