Bulletins

The creator economy competition is only just beginning

Instagram is paying creators thousands, but its rivals have set aside millions.

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Instagram is paying creators for using its Reels feature.

Image: Instagram

The creator economy is anyone's game, as long as companies have the money to spend on it. The latest player to drop cash is Instagram, and it's willing to pay users thousands of dollars to post Reels, its short-video feature.


It's hard to figure out how Instagram determines how much to pay in its Reels Play Bonus Program. It just says creators can earn money "based on the performance of your reel." According to TechCrunch, users were paid anywhere between hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands. Instagram does have one program, though, called "Reels Surprise," which rewards users with up to $10,000 for their content.

But at the end of the day, all that matters is that Instagram made clear it's able to pay up. Unfortunately for Instagram, lots of others offer cash for the same sort of content.

  • YouTube established a $100 million fund for creators to post Shorts, which is meant for videos 15 seconds or less.
  • Meta (both Facebook and Instagram) dropped $1 billion on creators who produce content on either social network.
  • Pinterest is putting $20 million toward "Creator Rewards" in a push to encourage users to use its service, which now also includes short-form video features.
  • Snapchat, at one point, was dishing out $1 million per day to get its Spotlight feature going, but as of June it pivoted to "millions" per month.

The leader here is pretty clearly TikTok, which was a short-form video service before anything else. Users with at least 100,000 followers can make anywhere between $200 and $1,000 per month. And that's just base pay; if you throw in live broadcasts, brand deals and TikTok's own creator program, users are looking at thousands more (or millions, if you're Charli D'Amelio).

Most of the funds are going toward video, with written creators getting less of the pie. Sure, there's Twitter's Tip Jar and Facebook's paid newsletter service. But the creator economy, at least at this point in time, seems to boil down to how well services can help creators draw viewers using some effects, their phone's video camera and maybe a ring light. And the money for that competition is only just starting to trickle in.

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