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In U.S. creator economy boom, big tech battles for online talent

Katie Feeney, an 18-year-old from Olney, Maryland, was in her calculus class on Zoom in November when she learned that a week of posting skits and unboxing videos on Snapchat earned her $229,000. Portland-based personal trainer Julian Shaw dug himself out of $18,000 in credit card debt during the pandemic by selling fitness education videos “with a bit of sex appeal,” on OnlyFans, a content subscription site favored by sex workers paid directly by followers for posts. In the last year, major social media companies have raced to announce dozens of features aimed at attracting creators, an estimated 50 million people like Feeney and Shaw who range from internet personalities posting beauty tutorials on YouTube and TikTok to independent journalists selling newsletter subscriptions on Substack to video gamers live-streaming on Twitch.