A new global study commissioned by The Tilt surveyed over 1,400 content entrepreneurs to understand who they are, what they aspire to, and what it takes to build a successful content business.
The findings, published in a report called The Unconventionals, debunk common stereotypes about content entrepreneurs. Many assume, for example, that content entrepreneurs are under-30 YouTubers or TikTok influencers. In The Tilt study, the largest and most financially successful cohort was Gen X (40%), and many voiced their dislike of the term “influencer.”
As one person explained, “People don’t consider it a real business because they think about Instagram influencers or YouTubers doing silly stuff. Content creation covers a lot more than what most people think, including business blogging and education.”
Content entrepreneurs differ from content creators because they are building a business rather than simply publishing content — and they are overwhelmingly inspired to pursue this career path because they want to achieve success on their own terms.
Other key findings:
- 86% named financial freedom as a reason they chose that career path.
- 85% say a college degree isn’t a requirement for success as a content entrepreneur.
- 95% are not tied to cities; they just need an internet connection to run their business.
- 76% say now that they’ve experienced life as content entrepreneurs, it’s hard to imagine returning to traditional work.
- On average, it takes nine months for a content entrepreneur to earn their first dollar, and 26 months until they generate enough income to support one person.
- The overwhelming majority don’t require investors; three in four relied on their savings to get started.
- More than half (57%) aim to grow a business that supports at least a few people; just 6% say they pursue content entrepreneurship as a hobby.
- Those who are supporting at least a few people with their content business are monetizing content through four different channels on average — meaning revenue diversification is a key strategy for financially mature businesses.
- 54% of those who launched their business in the last three years say the pandemic was a trigger.
- 64% say burnout is a problem for content entrepreneurs.
Content entrepreneurs say a successful content business requires discipline, entrepreneurial savvy, and persistence. They grow their audiences by providing valuable and interesting content that fills a specific need – and they make money from that content, often across multiple platforms or distribution channels.
While some content entrepreneurs are making a comfortable income for themselves alone, others are powering high-growth content ventures with many employees. “These are not people with side gigs or who are out for the ‘hustle,’” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt. “These are serious business owners who’ve found a new way to grow a business – building niche audiences and then monetizing those audiences in multiple ways. I believe they are the backbone of the entire creator economy.”