“When taking a content-first approach, our job as marketers is not to create more content … it’s to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results.”

— Robert Rose 

From traditional to digital – media consumption in India has witnessed a paradigm shift towards the creator economy. The increase in internet access and the number of devices supporting digital media have enabled consumers to access the content of their choice. 

In line with trends observed globally, consumers in the country are increasingly using digital platforms for all types of content including audio, video, or text news. Enhanced internet penetration, mobile device proliferation, and the ease of consuming content anytime and anywhere have clearly become key drivers of this trend. 

With 560 million Internet subscribers, India is one of the fastest and largest growing markets for digital consumers. As per a report by McKinsey Global Institute, Indians have 1.2 billion mobile phone subscriptions and downloaded more than 12 billion apps in 2018 alone.

The average Indian spends 17 hours on social media platforms each week. Social media is an instrument of communication for society or people interacting with each other.

New or digital media has brought sea changes in interpersonal, intrapersonal, content, and group communication processes. Social media has touched every facet of an individual’s life today.  

India is home to the largest Facebook user base in the world with 270 million users. In 2019, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the country, Flipkart and Amazon were the most popular online shopping platforms and Facebook and YouTube were the most popular social media platforms. The share of video content is the highest today and is growing at a remarkable rate among all digital advertising platforms. 

Use of Social Media in India

What is fueling social media’s growth in India? The answer to this question is – Content Creators. With one million subscribers, India has over 1,200 channels today. On average, two creators cross one-million subscribers and 2,500 creators get 1,000 subscribers every day.

These statistics are important as in 2014, only 16 content creators in the country had over a million subscribers. So, what does the creator economy really mean? Guess what, if you are reading this blog, you are a part of the creator economy too. 

A look at the past – The stages of Content Creation 

During the manufacturing age, that is, a century ago, most people used their physical prowess to earn money. However, by the 1950s, India turned into a consumer economy as after the depression and second world war people looked at new ways to spend money. That is when people started performing services for others.

Traditional media, particularly television, encourage people to spend more money on consumer goods. Gradually we entered the knowledge economy, in the era of the internet.

We witnessed technology wiping out traditional jobs in services and manufacturing domains. This gave birth to a creator economy, where people earned money by marketing their interests, hobbies, and skills online.

The Creator economy emerged after 2016 when user-generated content came on the internet giving content creators immense opportunities. 

Delving Deeper into Creator Economy

The creator economy refers to all the people who operate in the value created by content developers. This could include software products and tools, blogs, video, audio, social media content – either in an original format or repurposed. Let us now take a closer look at the creator economy in India with examples. 

Most influencers are a part of the creator economy. However, the term influencer is at times misused. An influencer is someone who has the power through their content to influence their audience’s purchasing decisions and has a following in a distinct niche. Not everyone who thinks they are famous on social media is an influencer. Establishing a genuine following in their niche is imperative.  

The creator economy refers to all the people who operate in the value created by content developers. This could include software products and tools, blogs, video, audio, social media content – either in an original format or repurposed. Let us now take a closer look at the creator economy in India with examples. 

Most influencers are a part of the creator economy. However, the term influencer is at times misused. An influencer is someone who has the power through their content to influence their audience’s purchasing decisions and has a following in a distinct niche. Not everyone who thinks they are famous on social media is an influencer. Establishing a genuine following in their niche is imperative.  

1. Akanksha Redhu 

Fashion and lifestyle blogger, Akanksha Redhu is the biggest example of a content creator who stuck to her niche and influences hundreds of people every day. She started blogging in 2008 and has established her presence on different social media platforms since then.

Today, she has over 36,000 followers on Pinterest, more than 9,000 on Twitter, and 1.68 lakh followers on Instagram. She started a clothing and accessories brand in the last decade.

She has always been picky about the brands she works for and has firmly focused on fashion and lifestyle. Her blog was voted as one of the most trend blogs in India.

Her trick to growing on social media entailed starting a blog and then accepting paid work simultaneously. She makes her content engaging by being genuine and publishing content that helps her connect with her audience. She takes the feedback of her audience seriously and tries to communicate with them as much as possible. 

2 Ryan Kaji  

Ryan Kaji is a toy industry influencer, and the 10-year-old has over 30 million YouTube subscribers. We are living in an era where a child rules a significant section of the internet. With nine channels on the platform, Ryan has been one of the highest-paid YouTube stars for three years straight.

As per Forbes, his revenue last year was about $30 million. He has shows on Nick Jr, Amazon Kids+, and his own streaming channel. How does a kid earn so much?

The answer to this question is that he is not an ordinary child, he engages his audience by talking about the way business, technology, entertainment, and family life have changed over the past decade.

His followers feel connected. What gave Ryan an opportunity to grow was the technological change that made online videos more accessible to kids. Today’s younger generation does not look at traditional movies and television stars. They would rather get entertained by someone like Ryan Kaji who reviews his toys regularly. 

3 Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) 

Jimmy Donaldson, famously known as MrBeast is an American Youtuber who began posting videos at the age of 13. After his ‘counting to 100,000’ video earned tens of thousands of views in just a few days, he went viral in 2017 and has become increasingly popular ever since.

His content diversified to challenge and donation videos over time. International creators like MrBeast have started targeting the Indian audience considering the growing penetration of technology in the country.

He is dubbing his content to Hindi. International content creators want to come into India and capture a market as the country is known for its diversity in culture, language, and religion. The catch here is that for any content to be relatable and understood by the audience, the language plays a crucial role.  

India is home to over 19,000 dialects which creates an opportunity for multilingual creators to repurpose content from creators abroad and make it in their own language. This is also a major driver of the creator economy in the country.  

4. Tanmay Bhat

Comedian and YouTuber, Tanmay Bhat said in an interview, “I think the internet is where people will earn, learn and grow. That’s why there will be institutions that will fall.”

According to him, there is an opportunity for a creator in every vertical. For instance, YouTube is a creator economy play and BYJU’s is a creator economy model. He has 3.87 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.6 million followers on Instagram.

He believes that as a content creator, it is imperative to work on the likeability aspect. He has always followed the expert’s path where comedians create and release three videos in a month.

And out of the three videos produced, one of them has to be successful, which translates into higher ticket sales.  He has always used the right content marketing strategy to reach where he is today. His content has been consistent and relevant for years. 

5. Malvika Sitlani Aryan 

With 0.5 million followers on Instagram and 0.7 million subscribers on YouTube, Malvika Sitlani Aryan is known for her fashion and skincare content. Her beauty recommendations are important for her audience, which is crucial for any influencer.  

6 Roshni Bhatia 

Roshni Bhatia’s fashion content spreads positive vibes among her audience. She aims to create a platform of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty for young girls and mothers through her relatable content and ideas. She is a mother who actively and consistently shares her ideas with the audience and the following of over 585k is a testimony to her brilliant work. 

7 Siddhartha Joshi 

Siddhartha Joshi is an Indian-based blogger, designer, photographer, and travel influencer. He bonds with different people while traveling and shares his stories through social media. Due to consistency and topicality in the content, he has been able to influence thousands of people online. 

8 Aditi Mayer 

Aditi Mayer is a documentary photographer and a digital influencer. She is a storyteller who helps to deliver and synthesize knowledge. Her work as a fashion blogger equips her to discuss topics of sustainability from a personalized perspective.  

9 Swayampurna Mishra 

Swayampurna Mishra is a food influencer. She guides people to make healthy and delectable food items using the right ingredients. As she writes and talks about food items enjoyed by most of the Indian households, people find her content relatable and interesting. 

10 Namrata Purohit 

Namrata Purohit is a fitness enthusiast who shares content on staying healthy. She regularly uploads videos from her gym workout to motivate her followers and believes that fitness is not an overnight job, but more like a lifestyle. 

How are Content Creators performing their dream jobs? 

The creator economy is all about people performing their dream jobs and specializing in their passion. In the absence of the right tools and mediums, people were only stuck to their traditional jobs. However, the creator economy enabled them to make money from their passions. Who would have thought decades ago that one could earn a living sitting at home playing computer games or by making funny videos? 

Let us end the discussion with a quote by Joe Pulizzi, “Stop writing about everything. So many brands create content and try to cover everything, instead of focusing on the core niche that they can position themselves as an expert around. No one cares about your special recipe. Find your niche, and then go even more niche.” 

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