Creator Economy

Creator Earnings Report Breakdown, Where Are We In The Creator Economy?

By Editorial Staff

NeoReach went straight to the source to as Creators themselves what the earning potential is across their monetized channels. In collaboration with Influencer Marketing Hub, we released the Creator Earnings Benchmark Report for 2021 which you can download here!


  • Creator Economy startups have earned $800 million in venture capital investments since October 2020
  • After 4+ years on their platforms, 46% of creators earn over $20k annually
  • With a similar growth trajectory to the Gig Economy, the Creator Economy total market size can be estimated at around $104.2 billion
  • 72% of Creators list Instagram as their primary platform for content
  • 78% of self-identified full time Creators make more than $23,500 annually
  • 77% of Creators bring in the majority of their income from brand deals, 3x more than every other revenue source combined
  • There’s no real income to follower count correlation, with some surveyed Creators reporting half a million dollars in income difference but only 1.8k more followers

The Big Picture

With the constant upward trend of influencer marketing, it’s not surprising that the Creator Economy has emerged as a marketing and business leader. Creator Economy startups have earned $800 million in venture capital investments since October 2020. These investment numbers indicate a greater trust and dependence on the Creator Economy, marking it as a force to be reckoned with. Plus, Creator earnings are growing with the economy – and not just through brand deals.

The Creator Economy has its basis in generating income from online content. From sponsored posts and brand deals to passive content monetization, there are endless opportunities to make some cash. And it’s not just petty cash. 43% of surveyed Creators reported Creator earnings above $50k or more each year purely from online content.

Although it’s only been a monetized platform for about a year, TikTok is the second most popular platform for Creators. Last on the podium, even after 15 years of social media evolution, YouTube holds third place. They must be doing something right. 

In partnership with Influencer Marketing Hub, NeoReach did extensive research on the Creator Economy to compile this report. NeoReach surveyed over 2,000 Creators to find out the state of the Creator Economy now and what they hope it could turn into.

The “economy”, as we’re referring to it, includes startups, VC funds, and market size. We also looked at the earning power of Creators on different platforms and found out that success isn’t always money-centered. Finally, we analyzed each platform for Creator preference, profit, and following potential.

This report defines the Creator Economy in terms of the Creators themselves. From their input, we can see the economy’s earning power and even greater future potential.

New to the Creator Economy? Read about the future of the Creator Economy and where influencers are leading here

Research Methodology

NeoReach and Influencer Marketing Hub put their expansive Creator network to use, sending out an open survey from March to April 2021 to collect info on the Creator Economy, Creator earnings and monetization channels, and Creator sentiment towards making money through their content. Participants ranged from nano to supernova Creators, ensuring the intel ranged across the whole spectrum.

All of the information in this report came either directly from Creator data or the NeoReach Social Intelligence API in conjunction with Influencer Marketing Hub’s suite of resources. 

The report does not contain all Creator data on sponsored content and other monetization forms, but there is a credible range of following sizes, income levels, social media platforms and more to showcase various Creator identities and overall state of the Creator Economy.

Thoughts from the NeoReach COO

The Creator Economy is booming, raking in over $1 billion in fresh venture funding in the last year alone. Since 2013 NeoReach has been an active contributor to the Creator Economy, generating over $100M for Creators across all of social media with our software and services. While there’s been some hesitation, we can officially say there is real, sustainable money in becoming an influencer.

Not only are companies like YouTube, Snapchat, Twitch, OnlyFans, and Patreon paying out hundreds of millions a year to thousands upon thousands of Creators, there are also over 100 newly funded companies. With an estimated $104.2 billion market size, the Creator Economy is not slowing down.

This report is full of surprises, but one thing’s for sure: old media is over. The migration to digital media is underway and Creators are taking control. We want to shine a positive spotlight on the people who bring us online joy and highlight how Creator earnings are continuing to open up being a ‘Creator’ as a career.

Creator Economy Analysis


Over the past seven months, $850 million in venture capital has been invested into the Creator Economy, providing plenty of groundwork for new startups. April 2021 brought in a total of $338.8 million across Series A – F fundraising rounds.

creator industry startup investments secured

startup investments by company

Market Size

That $850 million investment is responsible for the recent rapid growth of the Creator Economy. If you pair that with the overall industry size valued at $13.8 billion this year and hundreds of new startups, the total Creator market size can be estimated at around $104.2 billion.

The Gig Economy has an estimated future value between $1-4.5 trillion by 2023. With a similar trajectory, the Creator Economy can expect to reach the trillions in just a few years. Those billions of dollars are an investment in the Creators themselves. The people are the businesses.

The Creator Economy encompasses a gumball rainbow of markets, and that’s not even including merch sales. If you count the various social media platforms, Influencer Marketing industry, over 50 million Creators, and 500+ startups, the Creator Economy is a multi-billion dollar superstar.

companies powering the creator economy

Survey Results

NeoReach and Influencer Marketing Hub surveyed over 2,000 social media Creators to get their input on the Creator Economy, monetization, and general sentiment towards using their content as a career. This verified data comes from those 2,000+ Creators.

Creators’ Earning Power

income distribution

Depending on the platforms and amount of content a Creator produces, creating can be a full or part time job. To compare with the general idea of a “job”, we analyzed annual income for Creators based on just their content (i.e. no merch sales). Not even one percent of surveyed Creators make over $1M, but 43% make above $50k a year. That’s definitely a livable wage.

Looking at the size, income, and engagement of various Creators shows their growing control in using their accounts as passion outlets and full time jobs. Those who have been in the industry longer have greater earning power. 46% of Creators earn over $20k annually once they’ve been online for four or more years.

Measuring Success

success by social media platform

how do you measure success

Though a large check is certainly a plus, Creators on 4 out of 7 platforms actually said they would consider Engagement Rate as their top measure of success. With the rising audience sentiments of authenticity and transparency in brand deals and regular content, it’s no wonder 17.11% of Creators value engagement.

Looking to run an epic influencer marketing campaign in the Creator Economy? NeoReach has the best experience in creating viral campaigns that convert on social media. Sign up here! 

Platforms for Monetization

platform breakdown

creators primary platform

Creator earnings vary largely by social platform. Though a presence on multiple platforms is the norm, 72% of surveyed Creators list Instagram as their primary content channel. In terms of content monetization, Instagram has a huge lead over TikTok and YouTube, which reported 13% and 9% respectively.

Creator Follower Tiers

creator follower tiers

Only 4% of Creators ranked in the topmost Supernova tier, amassing over 10M followers. Almost half of those surveyed are categorized as nano-Creators and have followings of 100k or more. While more followers might seem like the goal, larger followings usually sacrifice the Creator’s most important indicator of success: engagement. Smaller followings allow nano and micro-influencers to lead more successful campaigns.

Looking for some of that Supernova campaign power? Check out the most followed people on TikTok here.

Content Creator Employees Age Breakdown

creator employee age breakdown

Brands are taking the cue and hiring in-house content creators as integral parts of their marketing teams. However, the largest age group represented in these content creators averages 30-40 years old. If the main social media demographic and rising influencer stars are Gen Z, why are 40% of in-house content creators over 30?

Annual Creator Income vs. US Salaries

job comparison

job comparison table

Being a Creator is often seen as a hobby or passion gig, not serious or legitimate work. This idea becomes clearly outdated when you consider that 70% of surveyed Creators commit to social media work full time. Like any “legitimate” job, Creators dedicate the majority of their time to earning a living through social media, and it is their main source of income. 78% of these full time Creators make more than the average bartender. Creator earnings were reported to average an annual income on par with an entry level software engineer.

Years as a Creator in Relation to Salary

years vs income

The more time you’ve spent working on social media the easier it is to make it your career. 51% of Creators who have 4+ years of experience make over $50k a year. More than a quarter can support themselves after just three years. Once you hit the six year mark, only 17% make less than $20k, steady part time work if you don’t dedicate the majority of your week to creating.

years vs full time

For those who do plan on making it their livelihood, the majority of people choose to create full time after just 2-3 consistent years. By year 6, about 84% of Creators are working full time online.

Sponsored Posts vs Creator Income

Sponsorships are the main source of income for most Creators, and 94% have made at least one sponsored post in the past year. The 6% who didn’t either weren’t monetized or relied on other forms of monetization besides sponsored posts. Sponsorships were well represented across all income brackets as 42% of Creators uploaded 16+ sponsored posts, more than once a month.

Engagement with Fans

engagement vs followers

Larger Creators probably know the term “superfan”, but the larger the following the harder it is to know the fans themselves. Though 54% said they frequently interact with superfans, Creators with over 8M followers answered: “rarely to never”.

superfan engagement vs fanbase

Even if they don’t know their superfans, Creators almost certainly interact with their followers on a regular basis. In fact, 91.7% of Creators said they engage with their fans multiple times a day. This frequent engagement builds authentic, trusting communities that make Creators an invaluable part of modern campaigns.

engage with fans table

The potential to generate additional streams of Creator earnings increases when audiences have superfans who are willing to pay for more personalized interactions with the Creator. This is where platforms like Clash are excelling and why ‘tipping’ features on other platforms are being introduced.

Revenue Sources

actual highest revenue source for reported creator earnings in the creator economy

Though there are several forms of monetization, 77% of Creators rely on brand deals. That’s 3x as many as every other revenue source combined.

ideal revenue source for creator earnings

When asked what their ideal revenue streams looked like, 70% of Creators maintained a preference for Brand Deals as their highest source of income. However, Ad Share Revenue had 8.5% more responses, indicating that some Creators would like to rely on a more passive form of revenue as well.

Sponsored Posts & Income

followers vs income

One of the most surprising results from this survey is around Creator earnings, revealing there is no definite correlation between follower count and income. More followers don’t necessarily mean more money, with some surveyed Creators reporting half a million dollars in income difference but only 1.8k more followers.

followers vs sponsored posts

Although the majority of Creators create 16 or more sponsored posts a year, Creators with following 3 times as big opt to post around 11-15 annually. But it’s also true that the highest earners have lower comparative followings. The data continually supports the importance of the Creator themselves and their connection to an audience.

Get in Touch

NeoReach is dedicated to leading the best campaigns with the most up-to-date information on the Creator Economy and the Creator’s themselves. NeoReach has the software and data capabilities to tap into the most strategic influencer initiatives. That’s why we spent months compiling this data and analyzing the market.

To learn more, you can get in touch with our team to schedule time with our influencer specialists for out-of-the-box influencer campaigns, custom reports, and more!

This article was written by Christiana Sinacola

Want to run a campaign with the latest market insights? Get started with us today!

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