“Too many newsletters and too few love letters is why we are the way we are.”
One evening in June last year, I casually posted this on Twitter and LinkedIn and went off to sleep. By the time I woke up, this random musing had fetched over 250 shares and 3,000 likes across the two platforms. I think that’s twice as much engagement as any of my most-read articles have got on social media to date.
As we, at Mint, announce yet another newsletter, one that will arrive in your inbox on a Sunday no less, these numbers serve as a constant reminder of what we are up against: a massive newsletter fatigue.
In this precursor post, therefore, I’ll try to build a case for why Like.Share.Subscribe, a weekly newsletter on creator economy and internet culture, is still worth your time.
As someone who has been reporting on this universe since 2015, I have seen the creator economy grow into a serious business, currently estimated to be worth Rs 900 crore in India and set to reach Rs 2,200 crore by 2025. In the last three years alone, content creators have gone from promoting brands for money to making angel investments in promising startups, to launching their own products and clocking crores in sales.
Scores of well-funded global and local short-video-sharing apps (and even lockscreen features like Glance) are thriving on the back of the content churned out by these creators every day. And even as the majority of creators outside urban India struggle to make decent money off their following on social media, there’s a running joke on Tech Twitter that, at this point, there are more creator economy monetisation startups than the total number of creators in the country.
Yet, creator economy continues to fight for respect.
Content creators remain one of the most widely panned communities on the internet, with labels like “influenza” attached to them. And the flak isn’t entirely unwarranted. Though there are digital creators across categories like lifestyle, entertainment, and infotainment (which includes subjects like medicine, finance, law, mental health, among others) who are widely respected for their knowledge and skills, some have grown too big to care that their content can often reinforce regressive ideologies, promote violence and hatred, or misinform. In the absence of an industry regulatory body, there are no guardrails to stop them–which should be a cause for concern given the influence they have over millions of people.
Two years ago, a top media executive had likened this ecosystem to the “Wild Wild West” in a conversation with me about everything that’s wrong with the influencer marketing industry. To the industry’s credit, there is a lot of order and structure that influencer marketing agencies as well as a slew of creator economy startups have brought in place. On the content side though, things have only gotten wilder. And yet, it’s hard to imagine a day without digital content creators: a whole generation depends on them for everything from entertainment to news.
Like.Share.Subscribe will focus on this ‘content’ part of the creator economy, but in a way that addresses larger issues instead of calling out individual creators to the extent possible. Many creators are learning and unlearning things just like the rest of us.
Through this newsletter, we hope to ask some hard questions of an industry that most of us understand very little of because of the sheer size and scale it has achieved in such a short span of time.
Like.Share.Subscribe will bring you stories that explain what aids as well as ails the creator economy, how it impacts your life, and why you could be mistaken if you think it doesn't affect you in any way.
On every other Sunday, we will look at unravelling an untold or overlooked aspect of internet culture, because every day the internet is changing how we live our lives. And frankly, because writing incessantly about the creator economy in these times takes a huge toll on one’s mental wellbeing (which also needs to be documented but that’s for another Sunday), I could use a break every now and then.
Side note: We will also try to avoid using the term “influencer” and “content creator” interchangeably. Because you can be an influencer on the internet even if you’re not a full-time content creator, meaning that you're not making money off the stuff you post online.
Let us know what aspects of the creator economy and internet culture you’d like us to look at. Do write in, and more importantly, do read.
Like.Share.Subscribe will not claim to be the last word on a topic, but we certainly hope it can be a conversation starter.
See you next Sunday.
Shephali chronicles how the internet is changing the way we live, and how our changing ways force tech companies to transform themselves. You can write to her on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin.