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Creative Solutions for Creatives: Trends Powering the Creator Economy

The creator economy is turning passion into profits for the more than 50 million artists, musicians, and creators publishing content as a full- or part-time source of income. (1) These creators are driving a revolution in digital commerce and culture – producing content that entertains, engages and educates online communities in powerful new ways.

From sellers to developers to social and gaming content makers, creators are reshaping and expanding the small business ecosystem –and the opportunity for them to monetize their work is growing. Social commerce, which includes creator-driven work, is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025. (2)

During the covid-19 pandemic, the creator economy soared, as people began spending more time online than ever before. (3) Content platforms saw a dramatic increase in engagement and creators found new ways to connect with their communities. And that momentum shows little sign of slowing. Since the pandemic, digital content consumption has more than doubled, with the average number of views per piece of content shared increasing 207%. (4)

Trends fueling the creator economy 

Let’s take a look at the trends helping creators turn their creativity into commerce.

Faster payouts 

For many small businesses, cash flow is a persistent challenge. Creators often need to move capital quickly to help gain traction and build a following. In fact, 69% of creators surveyed by Visa say that waiting for payouts slows their momentum and 88% would engage more with a platform that offers faster payouts. (5)

Quick access to earnings can help creators capitalize on viral moments, opening further opportunities for advertising and brand sponsorships. The Visa Ready Creator Commerce program aims to help creators get paid faster by connecting platforms to qualified financial institutions and fintech partners that can enable Visa Direct, a solution that can help enable creators to get paid in 30 minutes or less  to their eligible Visa debit cards. (6) 

With Visa Direct, creator platforms get the trust and reliability of the Visa brand, while creators get seamless, secure access to their hard-earned wages. Nearly every creator surveyed—99%—say that a real-time payout option provided by Visa would make them trust the payout process more. (7)

eCommerce platform SamCart has more than 40K+ creators, selling over $2.8 billion of their own products, goods, and services. With the help of Visa Ready Creator Commerce, SamCart can quickly deliver funds to creators using their Visa debit cards. Faster payouts can help give creators the ability to reinvest in their business to help fuel their growth.

New cards for creators 

Fintechs and digital-first neo-banks are creating banking solutions tailored to the needs of specific communities and professions—like creators. 

We’re seeing card programs that allow creators to spend their funds, manage their business expenses, especially in high spend categories, like travel and content creation equipment—like cameras and audio devices. 

Take Oxygen’s Visa debit card, which provides benefits that are especially important for creators like travel insurance and cash back rewards. Or Willa, an app focused on creators and freelancers. Willa’s Visa debit card helps manage expenses and get creators easy access to their funds. The app also enables creators to request payments in seconds from the brands sponsoring them, agencies, and other partners. 

Creative Juice is another business banking platform that issues a Visa debit card along with invoicing, 1099 contractor payments, and tax support—all in one place.

And fintech enabler, Marqeta is on the frontlines of this new card category, helping thousands of platforms issue new cards –by providing an API-driven tech infrastructure for both virtual and physical across all card types. To help drive deeper engagement and loyalty, some of these card programs have unique offerings tied to rewards for creators that are tailored to their business spend and needs. 

New solutions for new income streams

Creators are finding new ways to monetize their work—from tipping, to establishing subscription services, to selling merchandise. 

Social media and streaming platforms have rolled out their versions of virtual tip jars—which enable small payments to be sent to creators. In the creator space, tipping can be seen as an extension of followers’ appreciation for a creator’s work. It became especially popular during the pandemic when the amount of content created and consumed increased. 

Through the Visa Ready Creator Commerce Program, we’re forming a connective layer between partners and platforms to help enable solutions for creators – like tipping globally with Visa cards. 

Another emerging income stream for creators is subscription plans. Implementing subscription services enables creators to create regular, recurring income streams. For many content creators, digital subscriptions have become a popular way for them to offer their community of followers curated and exclusive content. 

Social platforms diversify with native commerce 

Advertising on social platforms has become a hyper complex business that serves multiple customer segments—from multinational retailers to individual creators—with new forms of dynamic, shoppable content. 

How did we get here? For the last decade, social media platforms have generated advertising revenue in a straightforward way: getting eyeballs and clicks on advertisers’ content. But the opportunity to convert those views into actual purchases has never been greater.

Many social platforms are integrating commerce capabilities natively—for instance, a consumer might view a sweater on one post, and have it paid for and on its way to their door a few clicks later. By fusing advertising and commerce together more seamlessly, merchants and creators better understand their customer base, which can lead to increased sales.  

Traditional brands aren’t the only one’s harnessing native commerce. Creators are participating as ambassadors for traditional brands, creating organic posts that are immediately shoppable by their followers. They’re also launching their own small businesses entirely on social channels, developing their own product lines and promoting their products directly to their highly engaged fans or advertising to new customers. 

For any of this to work, the consumer experience must be secure and seamless. Additional clicks, lengthy form-fills and poor mobile experience can lead to drop off and lost sales. Now more than ever, social platforms and creators need world-class payments infrastructure and embedded finance to support their growth.

It all comes back to embedded finance 

The trends powering the creator economy wouldn’t be possible without embedded finance, which has been quietly transforming the way financial services are built, distributed and accessed. Embedded finance infrastructure has made it easier for non-financial businesses, like social platforms, to integrate financial products or services into their offerings. 

In the context of the creator economy, embedded finance is helping creators manage the backend of their business, so they can keep their focus on creating. We’re excited to see the creator community continue to evolve and to harness our network to support their journey. 

1. SignalFire, “Creator Economy Market Map.”
2. Accenture, “The future of shopping and social commerce.”
3. https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/seven-ten-americans-say-they-have-been-spending-more-time-online-year-ever
4. Source: Visa Direct Marketplace Report July 2020
5. Disclaimer: Actual fund availability depends on financial institution and region
6. Source: Visa Direct Marketplace Report July 2020