Curious about all things creator economy, and what’s coming around the corner? Then this is the Earned episode for you! Conor sits down with Avi Gandhi, the Founder of Creator Logic, the fastest-growing newsletter in the creator economy space. The newsletter, which Avi started a little over 8 months ago, has amassed over 10,000 followers who subscribe to read the latest and greatest on all things creator economy. Avi has also become one of the creator economy’s leading voices on LinkedIn, which has earned him a fanbase over 15k followers.
We start the episode by diving into Avi’s vast experience building and leading a creator-facing team. Avi reveals that after 15 years working in the creator economy (with previous experience at Patreon, Wheelhouse, Wikinvest), he’s worn nearly every possible hat. This experience led him to start Creator Logic, which bridges the gap between creators and brands. Switching gears, we unpack the future of the creator economy, and Avi shares his predictions for what’s next in terms of social networks, systemic shifts, and business models.
Avi touches on the mistakes made by “outsiders” of the industry, and explains how 2020 was a learning period for everyone as the idea of creator-led marketing came to the forefront of consumer strategy. We explore the differences between reaching creators and consumers, and Avi shares that no matter these differences, the need is the same: to connect with people. To close the show, Avi reveals how he built up his (fast-growing) LinkedIn following, before leaving us with a few pieces of insightful advice for success in an ever-changing social world.
The following interview has been lightly edited for concision.
“I think helping creators understand all of the options in front of them is a worthwhile mission and way to spend my time”: Why Creator Economy Expert Avi Gandhi Started Smash-Hit Newsletter, Creator Logic
Conor Begley: I'd love to start with what made you get into this [industry] in the first place. Could you give a quick story on your background?
Avi Gandhi: I've spent over 15 years in the creator economy, since before it was called the creator economy, and I've sat at every seat around the proverbial table. Over that time, I was one of the first talent agents in the space even before the Vine days, when YouTube AdSense was invite-only. I was signing YouTubers and trying to figure out how to make them money back when they didn't make money. I helped establish a lot of the models that we now take for granted.
Since then, I've been an influencer marketer and a producer. I've built a production company, I've founded companies, and most of those didn't go well, but the current one is doing okay.
Most recently, I led the creator partnerships team at Patreon. The throughline there is that generally I'm working with creators and trying to help them make money. As an influencer marketer, my first priority is trying to drive results for whatever company I'm working with—likewise on the creative partnership side. A lot of these companies—like Patreon or Wheelhouse, where I built their production business—had a mission to help creators make more money, grow their businesses, and be the infrastructure for that.
One of the most interesting things that I've learned through experience and observation, and through talking to creators, is that the creator economy is so vast and diverse. We tend to talk about categories, and put people in groups such as gaming creators, beauty creators, and comedy creators. The reality is that you could talk to five gaming creators, all of whom play the same game, and they'll all make money in completely different ways. One of them might be almost entirely AdSense on YouTube, while another might not have a presence on YouTube, but maybe they do on Twitch. Another one might have a TikTok channel and make money by selling merchandise.
There are so many different ways that creators can make money, and we read a lot of headlines about how only four percent of creators are making over $100K, and I want to change that. I want to help more creators make money, because I have been on the vanguard of a lot of these business models. Now we're seeing the diverse ways creators are making money. I think helping creators understand all of the options in front of them, how other creators are doing it, and how they could do it, is a worthwhile mission and a worthwhile way to spend my time.
So that's the inspiration for Creator Logic. I interview creators about how they run their businesses. Where's the money actually coming from? Which social audiences are driving revenue? What tools and platforms and partners are they using? How do they work with brands? How do they work with content partners?
Then LinkedIn is both sides of the coin, because LinkedIn is about educating creators, but it's also about educating the creator economy—educating brands, educating creator economy companies, executives, early-career folks who are learning the ropes of how to work with creators and what the business models are. In the long run, I think that if everyone has a better understanding of how the other side works—if creators understand why brands have the terms that they have in their contracts, and if brands and creator economy companies understand why creators may not be interested in what they're offering, so that they can tweak those offerings—I think it's ultimately healthier for the entire ecosystem.
“I have a thesis that the creator economy is colliding with the economy and eventually will become the economy”: How the Intersection of Creation and Small Business Is Transforming The (Creator) Economy
Conor Begley: I think what's really interesting is that not every creator has tried to directly monetize their audience the same way. I host a podcast, but we don't sell any ads or make any money via the podcast. It functionally ends up being an advertisement for the company. In your case, you're creating great content, not selling media. You might here and there, but ultimately it's a way to drive consultancy, new products you might want to launch, community, all these kinds of things.
That's the case for a lot of people. They're doing it for a variety of reasons because the cost of entry is so low. Do you have access to the internet and a phone? You can be a creator. It’s a worthwhile investment for a very wide variety of people.
Avi Gandhi: It's interesting that you say that. I think first off, there's some controversy in the entire space around who is a creator, and what constitutes a creator. Depending on who you ask, you'll get a different definition. One of the definitions is someone who makes content and makes money off of that content. I would argue that there's plenty of creators who are not monetizing.
I have a thesis that the creator economy is colliding with the economy and eventually will become the economy. That trend is largely powered by the intersection of creation and small business. There are a lot of creators who are making content and have huge audiences with hundreds of thousands, even millions of followers. But to your point, they're not selling ads, doing sponsorships, or selling merch. They're driving those people to a business, and that business might have nothing to do with content creation.
One of the guys I interviewed for Creator Logic, Duke Alexander Moore, has a tax firm that creates under the name “@dukelovestaxes”. He signs mostly creators and small business owners to his firm as clients, and that is his business. Another guy I follow on Instagram is a fishmonger, “@funkyfishmonger” on Instagram. He owns a fish market in New Jersey. I don't live in New Jersey, so I can't buy from him, but I've made many of his recipes. If I ever end up in New Jersey, you bet I'm going to go buy some fish from him. So there's many examples of this. I follow bartenders in London, and when I was in London a couple of weeks ago, I went to their bars and tried their specialty cocktails.
That to me is as much part of the creator economy as someone who is making content and selling sponsorships, running AdSense, selling merch, or one of these models. I think that's the future of the creator economy.
I think a lot of the problems that your full-time creators face, the creators who are making their content their business, a lot of those problems have been solved. There are enough monetization platforms, there are enough awareness platforms, there are enough link-in-bio platforms.
Now, I think the new problems are, how do we let people build bigger businesses, or build different businesses, and leverage content and creators? How do we connect those dots? To me, that's really interesting.
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