Creator Wellness will be a central goal of new products

To be a modern creator is exhausting for many. The falling economic costs of production and distribution have been replaced by new taxes – physically, emotionally, psychologically – as your community expects new content, access to their heroes, and authenticity for open books. Coupled with the social media platform algorithms, which in themselves reward frequency and commitment, this combination deprives the creative process of joy and freedom of choice and burns out the creators. Performing around the clock comes at a cost, and that only affects fans, let alone trolls.

What Can a Creator Do? I would suggest a better question: “What can these companies do to help the developers?” and that we are about to enter phase 3.0 of Creator Wellness, in which the products will incorporate their own perks to support their participants on the supply side.

Phase 1.0 was the earliest day for “user-generated content”. Our understanding of the impact on the creators was immature or subconsciously naive as the teams that built the platforms often did not resemble (in all definitions of the word) the creators on the platform. At the same time, the tremendous growth of this audience meant that “being a creator” and “going viral” were phenomena that quickly surpassed previous models in size and volume. The creators had to find out their own welfare.

Phase 2.0 was the start of Creator Health initiatives. Most of these programs were / are one-off, but well-intentioned – platform companies that team up to work with high-profile developers build relationships that are optimized for long-term economic sustainability. Burning out is bad business for creators. The larger endeavors, like YouTube’s Creator Academy, should be recognized as thoughtful and caring. However, it is unclear whether the advice offered here is firmly anchored in the platform’s incentives. When it doesn’t, it’s like a school counselor preaching balance to the athletes while allowing the soccer coach to continue the two-day training until the final week.

So how do I hope Phase 3.0 looks like? It has creator wellness built fundamentally into the product itself, in a way that signals to both the creator and their community that this stuff is important. I suspect it will be different for each product based on unique aspects of the medium, but here are three possible experiments:

  • “Seasons” – One aspect of the seasons (television, professional sports) is that they have [drum roll] Low season! That’s true! Rest and recovery time incorporated into the meta schedule, which sets their own expectations for fans when content will be available. If you’re a football fan, you might want the NFL to be played 24/7, but you don’t yell at Patrick Mahomes for not fitting it on a Sunday in May. Products will experiment with this type of built-in publishing format as a template, as opposed to something developers do on an ad hoc basis.
  • Publication speed limitation – Imagine if the platforms themselves created scarcity and weakened the overdrive for most posts by experimenting with their own versions of healthy rate capping (limited posting windows, limited amount of content per day / week, etc.). Could take many forms, but might feel artificial if not built into the product from the start – meaning I think this has to be basic product DNA and shouldn’t be applied later.
  • PTO – Ok, listen to me. What if every year developers who crossed the X threshold (views, dollars, whatever) got a PTO from the platform? You have one week off to get involved and (a) you will not be penalized in the algo, and (b) you will receive the average amount of your income from the previous 52 weeks. And when you take it, your community will see a special “On PTO” account status that enables some features like “Best of Content” or some other system-provided interaction mode while the creator is on pause.

What else do you think can be done at the product level to support Creator Wellness? Hit me on that Twitters.

Notes and more

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