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Passion Economy vs Creator Economy: What’s the Difference?

In the age of smartphones and the internet, combining passion with the right digital tools could land you a well-paid job or a promising money-making venture.

Passion sells. This is the core of the passion economy, and in our previous post, we provided a glimpse into how the passion economy works and why more and more people are jumping into it.

So go sell it, Tumblr user AnimatedText

But one may ask, how is the passion economy different from the creator economy when both business models are anchored on digital platforms? As you read along, we’ll try to unpack that for you with several key points.

Who’s the creator?

In terms of content creation, it can be pointed out that in the realm of creator economy, the creator is primarily a social media personality, or what we better know as an “influencer.” They can be a YouTuber, a Facebook star with a large following, an Instagram A-lister, a TikToker, or a gamer—and oftentimes they leverage on social media trends for their content.  

Hey, girlies!

Are you not wondering why on YouTube, Facebook, and even on TikTok, videos about pranks—both the *actually* funny ones, but also those trying too hard—sell and rake in so many views? Why do gaming videos streamed on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch amass a huge following? Why do short-form vertical videos featuring the hippest sounds earn millions of likes? Why do curated Instagram feeds attract thousands and thousands of followers?

Well, because those are the trends across those platforms. The content creator has to keep up with the demands of the trends and hot stuff for them to stay relevant, and for their businesses to remain afloat.

Trendy content? Done.

On the other side of the spectrum is the worker in the passion economy space. In this space, creators do not necessarily need to rely on social media for the type of content they produce. This is what’s also been pointed out by writer Andrew Chen, who has been extensively writing about startups and the digital economy. He says that the people who work in the passion economy may not have any involvement in social media at all.

What exactly does this mean? Chen explains that the worker in the passion economy may be a tennis player, a retired teacher, a gardener, a baker, a music instructor, or someone else who is not necessarily a social media personality. While trend is the name of the game in the creator economy, in passion economy, it is passion—the topics and activities creators genuinely care about. For example, the so.fa.dog channel Nini Runs The World features Nini—a passion economy creator whose videos are all about running ultra marathons. 


To sum it up,

A creator in the creator economy works arounds trends, while the work of the passion economy creator revolves around niches.

Who’s the audience?

Now, this brings us to the next point. Who’s the audience in these two business models?

We’ve mentioned Nini—a budding creator on so.fa.dog. Her audience is not the general public; her audience are the people who share her passion, the ones who are genuinely interested in her stories of conquering the mountains.

It can be said that in the passion economy, the audience is a tight-knit group, but that does not preclude the creator from venturing into a larger crowd. In passion economy, the creator typically starts small by offering something valuable to a niche audience. This is how they build a loyal fanbase, and in one of our previous posts, we mentioned that a passion economy creator just needs to find 1,000—or even just a hundred—fans for them to sustain their business and make a living out of their passion.

Yodelers for Passion Economy 2021!

Remember, though, that this doesn’t preclude the passion economy creator to branch out to the creator economy. However, the passion economy creator can only do so once their brand grows, and their content becomes more relatable to the general social media audience.

In contrast, the content creator in the creator economy—the influencer—needs to have a huge following. That’s why certain platforms such as YouTube reward creators with recognition if their content creators hit a certain number of subscribers. On YouTube, creators with 100,000 subs are eligible for a Silver Play Button, while a million subs grants a Gold Play Button, and 10 million subs the coveted Diamond Play Button.

The Silver, Gold and Diamond Play Buttons. Source: YouTube

As in the passion economy, the audience size is crucial in the creator economy space. The audience size in most platforms serves as a key rubric for monetization, that’s why content creators oftentimes make it a point to ride on social media trends to attract more subscribers – which later on would become the basis of how much money they would earn.

Conversely, this does not stop the content creator to narrow down their audience to a specialized one and capitalize on this niche group.

How does the creator earn?

And speaking of earnings, one may ask, how different are the passion economy and the creator economy on this front?

In the creator economy, the ones who pay the creator are primarily the platforms themselves. Again, YouTube is the primary example. YouTube has a multi-tiered payment scheme for creators, depending on the number of hours the subscribers have consumed, the creators’ number of subscribers, and the number of views generated by the content creators’ videos.

Just a platform paying their creators, nothing to see here.

Facebook has the same approach. A creator who maintains a page must meet certain monetization eligibility criteria before they can earn from their creations, and the one that pays the creator is Facebook.

The creator in the creator economy can also earn money through brand partnerships and sponsorships, given that the creator has a considerable number of subscribers or followers. Talk about return of investment: The creator earns money from the sponsor, and the sponsor can boost its sales or services through the campaign made by the content creator.

Teamwork, ayyy!

Now, remember the 1,000 True Fans model in the passion economy space? That’s the core of how the creator in this space gets to earn. There is no middle man—meaning, the creator gets paid directly by their subscribers or loyal fans. The creator does not not need to rely on the number of fans to earn; they just have to set the subscription price their fans are willing to shell out. But again, the creators have to take into account that in exchange for the subscription fee, they have to create valuable content so they could genuinely connect with their fans.

No to the middle man, yes to the fan.

If you haven’t yet, download the so.fa.dog app and check out our awesome community of content creators and fans. Follow us on our social media channels, and stay tuned for our next posts right here on the so.fa.dog blog