The traditional view of a "creator" often conjures images of young influencers sharing their lives on platforms like YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, usually with a focus on entertainment and lifestyle content. However, that's not always the case: professional adults, or “grown-up” creators, are increasingly active in the creator economy. These individuals bring a wealth of professional experience and expertise, and are changing the landscape with their unique approach to content creation.

One notable observer of this trend is Avi Gandhi, an experienced writer, advisor, and entrepreneur in the creator economy. He coined the term “grown-up” creators to describe these seasoned professionals entering the field of content creation. Check out Avi’s newsletter, Creator Logic, for more nuanced insights into the creator economy and valuable perspectives on this evolving trend.

But if you're new to the concept of "grown-up" creators, start by learning what they are and how they stand to change the creator industry.

The Rise of “Grown-Up” Creators

A smiling woman holding her smartphone in front of her. The video she’s watching on her phone is superimposed on the image; it’s a TikTok video of herself talking to the camera while wearing a green suit, and the video has over 900 likes.
In the Skillshare class “How To Market Yourself on TikTok as a Creative Professional,” teacher Erin McGoff shares her secrets for creating successful TikTok content for a grown-up audience.

As Avi Gandhi observed, there's been a significant recent influx of professionals into the creator economy, particularly during the pandemic. This period saw a surge in professionals like Cece Xie, a lawyer turned career and law content creator, as well as Kat Norton, also known as Miss Excel, who blends professional skills with engaging content.

Not all "grown-up" creators emerged in 2020, though. Ones like Nyasia C and Graham Stephan, for example, were creating content about real estate investment well before the pandemic.

While purely entertainment-based content is unlikely to ever go away, the shift from young, casual content creators to mature professionals has nevertheless been significant. By leveraging their extensive knowledge and experience, "grown-up" creators like those mentioned above are able to offer content that resonates with a more mature audience that's seeking professional development and industry-specific insights.

What Could This Shift Mean for the Creator Industry?

A smartphone mounted horizontally on a tripod in a furnished room. It’s equipped with a microphone that’s topped with a fuzzy windscreen. The room is visible on its screen, including a wooden bookshelf and white tabletop.
In the Skillshare class “From Clueless to Content Creator: Make Engaging Videos That Attract An Audience,” teacher Aaron Palabyab shows students how to shoot high-quality videos with a smartphone.

The emergence of "grown-up" creators has the potential to significantly transform the creator industry. Here’s how:

More Utility-Driven Content

An overhead view of a brown wooden tabletop. In the center of the tabletop is a tablet displaying an illustration that reads ‘Long Term Success for Artists,’ and a woman’s hands are resting on the table beneath the tablet. Items such as a box of colored pencils, a notebook, a potted plant and a laptop surround the tablet.
In the Skillshare class “Long-Term Success for Artists: Grow and Maintain Your Income Streams,” teacher Mimi Purnell provides utility-driven content for artists of all kinds.

Experienced content creators are reshaping content strategies by prioritizing utility, professionalism and development over pure entertainment. Their content often includes in-depth tutorials, expert advice, pro tips and educational materials that provide tangible value to their audience.

Such useful content improves the overall quality of the content landscape, and also broadens the appeal of the creator economy to include professionals seeking continuous learning opportunities outside of seminars and conferences.

Growth in Gated Communities

Consumers of "grown-up" content often gravitate towards platforms that support gated communities and professional networking, such as Substack, LinkedIn and Slack, as well as mainstream social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.

As such, "grown-up" creators have the unique opportunity to achieve growth not only on popular social media sites but also in hard-to-access communities of professionals and peers.

Increasingly Outsourced Content Production 

A person sitting at an outdoor table at a restaurant or cafe while typing on a laptop. The laptop is running the video editing software DaVinci Resolve, which the man is using to edit a video. There’s a latte in a glass jar sitting on the table, and a potted leafy green plant is visible in the background.
In the Skillshare class “Freelance Editing Essentials: Launch and Build Your Video Editing Career with Confidence,” teacher Ryan Kao shows students how to make a living by editing videos for other creators.  

Gandhi notes a trend of outsourcing production skills among "grown-up" creators, which impacts the skill demands within the creator economy. In his words, “I think production skills will become less important as they continue to proliferate and become cheaply hireable via gig platforms. We're already seeing plenty of huge creators who have no idea how to edit video—this was not the case just a few years ago.”

This shift allows professionals to maintain high-quality outputs without the need for extensive technical skills, all while providing more opportunities to freelance editors, producers and graphic designers looking to advance their own careers.

New Monetization Strategies

A graphic illustration consisting of a dotted circle and four green labels arranged around it. The center of the circle contains text reading ‘The Patreon real growth cycle,’ and the four green labels are titled ‘envision,’ ‘adjust,’ ‘launch’ and ‘reflect.’
In the Skillshare class “Membership Mastery: How to grow your creative business with Patreon,” teacher Hallease Narvaez illustrates how students can use the Patreon growth cycle to increase their number of paying Patreon subscribers. 

Professionals entering the content creator economy are likely to adopt monetization strategies that align with their expertise, such as offering specialized courses, consulting services and paid communities on platforms like Patreon.

In other words, by leveraging their professional backgrounds, "grown-up" creators can create niche, high-value content that attracts paying audiences seeking premium content and comprehensive learning experiences.

These strategies differ from creators who are purely focused on creating entertaining content. They typically rely on merchandise sales, ad revenue, paid sponsorships and product placements to generate income.

Start Your Creator Journey with Skillshare

Anyone with unique insights to share can become a creator, and Skillshare is where you can master skills you need to get started. From marketing and content production to filming and business growth, our classes are designed to help you effectively share your knowledge.

Best of all, many of our experienced teachers are even available for 1:1 sessions, so you can get the personalized advice and valuable guidance you're looking for.

Written By
Carrie Buchholz

Carrie Buchholz

Carrie Buchholz is a freelance writer who lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and dog.

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