In the corner of the creator economy conversation sits a powerful but little-noticed sector – the expert creators.

They don’t grab headlines like influencers do. Their videos rarely, if ever, reach millions of views. Most importantly, they don’t rely on social media channels to deliver the revenue that sustains their business.

In 2023, they expect to gross over $108K, according to The Tilt’s 2023 Content Entrepreneur Benchmark Research.

And that’s a big difference between expert creators and the rest of the creator economy.

Goldman Sachs recently predicted the 4% slice of the creator economy pie that earns over $100K a year will remain steady even though the number of creators will go from 50M today with a 10 to 20% compound growth rate over the next five years. 

Expert creators are often the hidden sector in the creator economy, but they are growing solid, sustainable businesses, says @Joe Pulizzi. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

“Expert creators are truly content entrepreneurs. Though often hidden in the creator economy conversation, they are growing solid, sustainable businesses,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt.

Given your participation in The Tilt community, you likely are an expert creator.

What’s an expert creator?

The Tilt defines expert creators as “people who create content about their area of expertise or passion. Expert creators build media companies (even small ones) and monetize their content. Some expert creators also sell a service (e.g., coaching, consulting, educating).”

Expert creators don’t need big social media audiences. They average 4K followers across social channels. Creators derive value from their audiences by engaging them more deeply.

Big social media audiences aren't required for #ExpertCreators. They average 4K followers across social channels via @TheTiltNews #ContentEntrepreneur research. Click To Tweet

Often, these entrepreneurs have built businesses based on what they learned in their traditional professional lives. Alexis Grant used her experience selling two companies to launch They Got Acquired to help other entrepreneurs considering selling their smaller businesses.

A trained engineer, Anthony Fasano left the traditional side of his profession to launch an engineering podcast and has grown it into the Engineering Management Institute.

Jade Weatherington, a former classroom teacher, went online to teach writing courses to school students. She expanded to grow a network of teachers and added a new business line – teaching others how to build online courses.

You can learn more about expert creators in the hundreds of content entrepreneur profiles in The Tilt.

How do expert creators earn money?

Influencers usually earn the lion’s share of their revenue through brand partnerships – promoting their products and services to their audience. Expert creators, though, say their most profitable revenue stream is consulting and coaching. It’s also the most frequent money-making channel, as almost half of creators (49%) say they offer that service.

The most common and profitable revenue stream for #ExpertCreators is consulting and coaching, according to @TheTiltNews research. Click To Tweet

Books are next up in popularity and profitability (37% of expert creators have them). As The Tilt partner Lulu explains, publishing a book can impact revenue more than actual book sales. It builds your authority as a subject matter expert and can open doors to speaking events. It also can act as a lead magnet to attract readers to your other revenue streams, such as online courses, consulting, and coaching. Online courses ranked third in frequency (35% of expert creators) and third in most profitable.

Of course, expert creators also work revenue streams common with influencers, such as affiliate marketing/links (30%), advertising/sponsored content (26%), and donations (15%).

Learn from expert creators with our CEX digital content packages. Expert creators give advice, how-to’s, and actionable takeaways on topics like podcasting, social media, revenue opportunities, and more. Titles include:

  • Jay Baer – The 6 in 6: How I Turned My Hobby into a 6-Figure Business in 6 Months
  • Anthony Fasano – How to Build a Niche Podcast that Drives Revenue
  • Alexis Grant – I Launched a Content Business Last Year. Here’s What Happened

Purchase a CEX package and start growing your content business today!

How long does it take to earn that money?

According to the research, it takes over 18 months on average for an expert creator to earn enough money to support themselves. Expert creators who spend most of their time on the business say making the first dollar takes nearly five months.

“The timelines can vary dramatically. The important part is to be ready to work on your business for a couple of years without requiring it to support you or your family,” Joe says.

Alexis secured her first dollar for They Got Acquired’s newsletter through a sponsorship she worked to gain before launching. She also earned a grant from a business incubator program.

Over 10 years ago, Anthony took a couple of years to earn the first dollar for his podcast. He grew his audience by speaking at conferences and events and sharing his self-published book.

For Jade, she cobbled together online teaching gigs on over 10 platforms when she realized she could work better and more profitably by launching her own business.

Building a business based on your expertise gives you a solid starting point in the creator economy, says @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

“The paths to content entrepreneurship are vast. But by building a business based on your expertise, the starting point is extremely solid,” Joe says. “That’s why being an expert creator in the creator economy is a smart business move.”

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.