The 5 Stages of Creator Wealth
As a creator, you only have so much time, money, and content inventory to deploy towards building something lasting. Reaching the highest stages of creator wealth is a matter of allocating those finite resources well at each stage. And can ultimately be the difference between becoming like every 2011 other Boston sports blog or Barstool…
Stage #1: Becoming a creator full-time.
This is the dream for many creators. When combined, brand partnerships, platform revenue, and merchandising are enough to fund your life and content. So, you can quit freelance editing or your 9–5 and just focus on making.
Stage #2: Hiring employees.
This gives you leverage. You can be out shooting a video, while someone else is editing, and someone else is pre-producing.
**This is where most creators stop.** No qualms though. Creators halted Stage #2 have often built great “lifestyle businesses.” The fundamental problem to consider is: when you stop making content, you’ll have nothing except the cash that you saved when you were.
Stage #3: Reinvesting in audience expansion.
This is the highest leverage use of your money after a few initial employees. Pour everything back into growing your channel, your newsletter, your brand. Every brand deal. Every merch drop. Every ad rev check. Every dollar.
Stage #4: Taking capital generated from content and invest it in cash-generating businesses (so you can quickly stop funding their operations through content).
Many creators build or buy/promote DTC products for this reason. Regardless, it’s best to invest in businesses where you can have a meaningful impact in the growth trajectory in this stage. From card games to NFT funds to the picks and shovels of the creator economy — the goal is to build and retain equity that will exist long after you’re done creating.
Stage #5: Taking some liquidity off the table to invest it at discounted valuations as a strategic partner or just in general.
This is where the real wealth comes. You can deploy all kinds of cash and promotion towards venture-back startups or even source businesses from your community. You could even hire someone to run your own venture fund or private equity firm, that your business is a GP in. You can acquire a majority in a distressed business. The options and opportunities are endless when you have the cash, and the distribution.
These stages rarely happen in this exact order — they overlap, and flow in and out of each other. The key — as a creator — is to know the game you’re playing, so you can start early and have a plan for how to allocate time, capital, and promotion. Because, look, fortunately or unfortunately, this full strategy really only works on the way up, not the way down.