With more creator programs and funds becoming available, we wanted to expand on our previous articles about the Passion Economy and Creators Branding.
In the Passion Economy, we explained how creators were emerging as a new segment of digital native professionals and entrepreneurs. In contrast, the article about Creators Branding provided insights into how you could build a brand as a creator.
In this guide, you’ll discover more insights about the creator programs, funds, and tools available to help you monetize your passion.
What is a Creator Program?
A creator program, such as those from Clubhouse, TikTok, and Substack, helps aspiring creators build their audiences, connect with brands, and perhaps most importantly, monetize their passion.
For instance, creators may receive a monthly stipend, tech gear, support, analytics, coaching and mentoring from program leaders and experts, plus networking with other creators.
Why Creator Programs Matter
Here are three reasons why creator programs matter:
- They represent new revenue streams for creators (and may mean it’s the end of the “starving artist” era).
- They open new career paths that were not possible before.
- They are booming in popularity because they address a pain point.
Creator Programs Overview
Let’s take a look at some of the available creator programs.
Generalist Membership Platforms
Membership platforms like Patreon, OnlyFans, and Memberful enable creators to charge monthly subscriptions for premium content.
Patreon is a membership platform that helps creators connect directly with their fans for a monthly subscription fee.
Patreon charges a percentage of creators’ subscription income in return for publishing and paywalling their content. So, creators get paid between 88% to 95% of their subscriptions.
Key Patreon Stats:
- More than 6 million monthly active patrons support the creators they love in exchange for exclusive membership benefits.
- Over 200,000 creators use Patreon to create content on their terms.
- Patreon has paid out $2 billion to creators since 2013.
OnlyFans is the social platform revolutionizing creator and fan connections. The site is inclusive of artists and content creators from all genres and allows them to monetize their content while developing authentic relationships with their fanbase.
Content creators can earn money from users – the “fans” – who subscribe to their content. It allows them to receive funding directly from their fans every month, as well as one-time tips and a pay-per-view option.
Key OnlyFans Stats:
- More than 100 million fans pay a monthly fee and tips to creators for videos, photos, and the ability to send personal messages to them.
- Over 1 million creators worldwide use OnlyFans to connect directly with their fans and take home 80% of their earnings.
- To date, OnlyFans has paid out over $3 billion in creator earnings.
Memberful is a professional membership software creators use to sell memberships to their audience from any website rather than a centralized platform like Patreon.
Independent creators, such as publishers, educators, and podcasters, use Memberful for gated content, private podcasts, online courses, newsletters, and communities.
Patreon acquired Memberful in 2018 but runs both platforms independently to accommodate different creator preferences.
Memberful takes a 10% cut with no monthly fee for its limited basic tier, $25 per month plus 4.9% for the full-featured Pro version, or $100/month plus 4.9% for its Premium version.
Social Media Creator Funds
Social media companies have been quick to realize that they can also entice creators to use their well-known platforms. Here’s a look at some of the creator funds on offer:
Facebook & Instagram
Facebook announced plans to reward content creators with more than $1 billion by the end of 2022 through new bonus programs.
For example, creators who make videos on Facebook with in-stream ads enabled will receive bonuses. Plus, video creators and live streamers will also receive monthly bonuses based on the number of viewers who send them money through its Stars system.
In the meantime, US-based Instagram creators (invite-only) will get a one-time bonus for enabling IGTV ads, as well as additional bonuses for making Reels and passing certain milestones in Instagram Live.
So far, Twitter has not announced any Creator Fund initiatives. However, the platform has released a new feature called “Super Follows” to a select number of creators in the US.
Creators can set a monthly subscription of $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 to monetize “behind-the-scenes” content for their most engaged followers on Twitter.
Pinterest launched its first-ever Creator Fund worth $500,000 in cash and media midway through 2021.
At least half of the fund is for creators from underrepresented communities in the United States and includes creative strategy consulting and money for content creation and ad credits.
Creator Fund members receive hands-on training to succeed on Pinterest in a four-week workshop covering topics like making Idea Pins, taking advantage of Pinterest trends, and measuring campaign success. They also get personalized consulting to boost their Pinterest creative strategies, plus a financial grant of $25k in cash and ad credits.
On average, creators saw 2.9x more Idea Pin impressions and 72% more monthly viewers than their previous performance after joining the Creator Fund.
Not to be left behind, LinkedIn has launched its Creator Accelerator Program. The scheme is for “creators who are eager to start conversations about the world of work and who want to build a community in the process.”
Perks of the program include personal coaching with a dedicated creator manager, early access to creator tools, a built-in creator network, and a $15,000 grant. Creators will also be promoted across LinkedIn’s brand, social, and editorial channels to get their content in front of more LinkedIn members.
YouTube launched its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund to reward creators for their most engaging and most viewed short-form videos throughout 2021 and 2022.
Every month, YouTube will invite thousands of eligible creators to claim a payment from the fund. Based on viewership and engagement with their Shorts videos, these payouts may range anywhere from $100 to $10,000.
To qualify, creators must produce original content rather than recycled content from other channels.
Snapchat is also investing millions in creators in the booming short-form video space.
When Snap launched its Snapchat Spotlight program, it promised to reward creators with a share of $1 million a day based on popularity.
Six months later, after paying out more than $130 million, it will now pay “millions per month” to creators.
The TikTok Creator Fund is neither a grant nor an ad revenue-sharing program. Instead, creators receive funds based on various performance factors of their videos, including the number of views and the authenticity of those views, plus the level of engagement on the content.
TikTok has pledged $200 million to the Creator Fund over the next three years. And it also plans to boost the fund to $1 billion in the US over the next three years and more than double that figure globally.
The good news is there’s no limit on the number of creators who can join the program and get a share of the funds.
The Clubhouse Creator First accelerator program (currently closed to new applications in the US) aims to support and equip emerging creators with the resources they need to bring their ideas and creativity to life.
Clubhouse will support the selected creators by sending them equipment (such as an iPhone, iRig, or AirPod Pros, if required), providing assistance in developing concepts, and matching them with relevant brands for sponsorship opportunities. Plus, they also get a guaranteed monthly stipend of at least $5,000.
Clubhouse chose 50 creators in its first program based in the US and has now extended its accelerator program to India.
Vertical Creator Programs
Platforms like Substack, Medium, Twitch, and Epic Games enable creators to earn money for their specialist skills.
Substack launched in 2017 as a platform for monetizing email newsletters. Since then, it’s added support for podcasts.
Key Substack Stats:
- More than 500,000 subscribers pay for content on Substack.
- Substack takes 10% plus credit card fees from paid subscriptions.
- The top 10 authors on Substack collectively make over $15M per year.
Substack has several creator programs to help aspiring writers at different stages in their careers, including fellowships, mentorship programs, educational resources, and grants.
Its latest program, Substack Pro, pays writers an upfront sum to cover their first year on the platform. In return, writers agree to let Substack keep 85% of the subscription revenue. After that, there’s no longer a minimum guarantee, but writers retain 90% of the subscription revenue.
Medium is a platform for writers of all levels.
Writers can join the Partner Program to earn money by publishing member-only content. (Or they can keep their content free and accessible to anyone.)
Program writers get paid according to how much their content is read – as members read longer, writers earn more. Each month, Medium distributes a portion of the subscription fee to the writers its members read most.
The company currently has around 725,000 members who pay $5/month or $50/year to get unlimited access to every story.
In March 2021, Medium announced a change in its publishing strategy and business model, decreasing its focus on paid journalists and increasing support for its independent writers.
Previously, Medium ran a Bonus Scheme of $500, $100, and $50 for writers. But it’s since launched an inaugural Creator Fellowship Program to run for three months from the start of August to the end of October 2021. Successful applicants will receive a minimum of $200/month depending on their history of Partner Program earnings and the consistency and the quality of their writing as determined by Medium staff.
Twitch (a subsidiary of Amazon) is a video live streaming service that focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions. It also offers music broadcasts, creative content, and, more recently, “in real life” streams. The core demographic consists of 65% male users, 73% of whom are under 35.
Key Twitch Stats:
- 140 million unique monthly visitors.
- As of September 2021, Twitch had 8.07 million active streamers.
- Over 2.2 million creators broadcast their games live on Twitch monthly.
The Twitch Partnership Program is for those creators who stream a variety of content, from games, music, talk shows, and art to just about anything else you can imagine.
Twitch Partners can earn revenue by accepting subscriptions from their viewers for $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99 per month. The number of Twitch Partners has increased 68% from 27,000 to 45,365 since 2017.
In short: If you love sharing what you do with a live community and have built up a sizable audience on Twitch or other services, you can apply for the program.
Epic Games (Fortnite)
The Epic Games Store is a video game distribution platform that launched in December 2018.
Key Epic Games Store Stats
- The store has 471 titles and more than 180 million users.
- Gamers spent a total of $700 million in the store in 2020.
- 3 million users access the store daily.
The Epic Games Support-A-Creator program enables creators to earn money by creating content for Fortnite, Rocket League, and many other games in the Epic Games Store.
Players declare their support for a Fortnite Creator in-game by entering the Creator’s Code via the “Support-A-Creator” button. And creators earn 5% of the value of in-game purchases made using their Creator Code.
Other games have a minimum rate of 5%. Regardless of the game, players can choose to support a different creator at any time.
Creators earn modest sums. For example:
- Fortnite: If your in-game supporters spend 50,000 V-Bucks in-game, then you would earn $25.
- Epic Games Store: If your supporters purchase $100 of games, you’ll earn $5 (at the base Epic-funded rate).
How to Join a Creator Program
As you can see, there are numerous creator programs available. Choosing the best one comes down to the type of content you create and where your audience spends their time.
Some platforms accommodate various types of content while others are niche. For instance, TikTok features short-form video content while Substack predominantly features written content plus some podcasts.
Platform-Specific Creator Programs
If you want to tap into the available creator funds, you’ll have to meet the requirements for each scheme. Here are the links for each platform:
Facebook & Instagram
You can explore the monetization tools and bonus programs for Facebook and Instagram that best fit your needs, check your eligibility, and apply accordingly.
Twitter Super Follows
You can apply to join the waitlist to set up a Super Follows subscription by swiping open the sidebar on your Home timeline, tapping on Monetization, then selecting Super Follows. To be eligible for the waitlist right now, you need to have 10K or more followers, be at least 18 years old, have tweeted 25 times within the last 30 days, reside in the US, and follow the Super Follows Policy.
Pinterest Creator Fund
At the time of writing, applications are closed for the current cycle of the Pinterest Creator Fund. You can sign up for the creator newsletter to learn about future opportunities.
LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program
If you want to join the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program, you can apply here until Tuesday, October 12, 2021, at 11:59 PM ET. Applicants must be 18 and over, LinkedIn members, and residents of the United States.
YouTube Shorts Fund
Each month, YouTube will reach out to creators to tell them that they qualify for a Shorts bonus from the fund. Check the eligibility criteria.
Snapchat Spotlight Program
Follow the guidelines for submitting Snaps to Spotlight to benefit from the program.
TikTok Creator Fund
You can apply for the Creator Fund within the TikTok app through your Pro/Creator account. You’ll need to meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be based in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, or Italy.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have at least 10,000 followers.
- Have at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days.
- Have an account that fits with the TikTok Community Guidelines and terms of service.
Clubhouse Creator First Program
- Clubhouse Creator First Program in India: You can start by filling out this form.
- Clubhouse Creator First Program in the US: You can start by filling out this form (when it reopens).
Medium Creator Fellowship
To join the Creator Fellowship or any other Medium program, you must be fully enrolled in the Medium Partner Program (MPP) once you’ve met the eligibility criteria:
- Have at least 100 Followers on Medium.
- Published at least one post on Medium.
- Publish at least once every six months to keep earning.
Twitch Partnership Program
If you love sharing what you do with a live community and have built up a sizable audience on Twitch or other services, you can apply for the Twitch Partnership Program.
Epic Games Support-A-Creator Program
To apply for the Epic Games Support-A-Creator Program, you need to check that you meet the eligibility requirements., sign in with your Epic account, describe your channels, and accept the terms.
Creator Program Advice
No matter which platform you decide to use, you’ll need to build an audience. It’s easy to forget that despite all the tools and creator funds available, you still have to connect with people and build a relationship before you can expect them to pay for your content.
Building your audience doesn’t necessarily have to take place on your chosen platform. For example, you could use one platform to build your audience by sharing valuable content and directing people to your membership profile on another for additional premium content.
On the other hand, if you’re focused on a native content on a specific platform, connecting, engaging, and building your audience on that platform makes more sense.
Creator Programs, in a Nutshell
Creator programs help emerging creators fund their passion. There’s a creator program for every kind of creator, from established social media networks to generalist memberships and niche verticals, as each platform tries to capture more of the market.
Ultimately, you have to choose the best platform and creator program to match your creative skills, build your audience, and turn your passion into profit.