Sustainable Creator Business Models

I was walking down the beach in Waikiki on my first full day in Hawaii at 5:30 am. Waiting to watch the sun come up. And along my walk, I passed a tree.

The tree stood out to me. It’s obviously a unique-looking tree trunk. A massive tree so close to the beach filled with many birds happily chirping away. The kind of tree you hope to encounter when going to exotic places.

How interesting I thought to myself. A massive and vibrant tree is formed from the interconnection of many small trunks. Unlike the trees I’m used to seeing on the east coast of the United States. Trees with one trunk and elaborate root systems. I was struck by a thought looking at this unique tree system.

The tree was symbolic of an average person navigating the Creator Economy.

What I mean is that most successful creators live off many small income streams that they bootstrap together. By creating many small wins, they form a robust lifestyle business. It’s usually not one major project that sustains them, but many small individual income streams that add up to a stable income. Each creator that builds a business this way is in a sense like the tree I came across this morning.

A unique ecosystem of varying life-sustaining resources.

Perhaps I saw this metaphor because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Ie; that the majority of creators would be better off focusing on putting together multiple small wins rather than chasing one big win. Because there is often more resilience to a multi-income business model.

Put another way, I think about the creator economy in terms of a baseball analogy.

Some teams are well suited to hit home runs. And that can ultimately become their primary goal when stepping up to the batter’s box. But the majority of teams are better served by seeking to consistently get on base. Again, and again, and again.

The analogy: the average creator should aim to achieve many smaller goals, stitched together repeatedly. To achieve the broader goal of consistently driving in runs. Scoring points on a smaller and seemingly less impactful scale. It’s not always sexy. Yet it’s a strategy that is often more easily accomplished and better suited to survival.

So what does this tree and baseball analogy convey in terms of actionable insights?

If I were a creator (I am), I would aim to be the unique tree with many small trunks. Or the team that plays “small ball”.

My goal should be to operate within my niche by creating multiple streams of income. Creating information capital assets that by themselves, don’t amount to a living. But taken together, add up to a winning strategy. The overall goal is that the entire business model and lifestyle is not exclusively dependent on any one income source.

It creates resilience against single points of failure. It de-risks each asset. And from a psychological perspective, it removes the performance anxiety of feeling like you need to hit a home run every time you create a new asset.

Of course there is no one right creator business model. But if you’re looking to create a sustainable creator lifestyle, I would recommend aiming to become like the unique tree.

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