The Creator Economy: Today Vs. 2025
We live in an age with countless options where the financial rewards for curiosity have never been higher.
- sell planters made from basketballs
- film cooking videos
- shoot aesthetic photos or vlogs
- sell luxury press on nails
- sketch and showcase art
- build a discord trading community
- stream music independently
- blog about your bad dates
- launch a homemade candle business
^Work done for its own sake. Check my pals out ;)
This essay will break down why creating content will be better than working for a career. No, it’s not ‘self-help’ bullshit writing. The purpose is to demystify the future of work through the lens of crypto. This essay will explain:
- Creators Inventing Jobs
- A Contract To Escape Communism
- Crypto + Internet = Web 3.0
- The Creator Economy In 2025
Creators Inventing Jobs
When I say “creator” I’m talking about “people posting on the internet”. Like a Pixar film saying “anyone can cook”, the internet has made it so that “anyone can create” or consume:
A creator economy means that people can build a career using the internet. Those who invent their jobs online are called creators, builders, founders, or whatever else. Inventing a job comes down to product and distribution.
The internet allows us to create products with zero to low cost, while attracting an audience for it. You can share an item, video, audio, picture, writing, or code on platforms like Amazon, YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, or Github. These are products getting distributed.
My product is this essay. The words are written with zero cost (aside from thinking and time). Twitter and this web domain are two of my distribution platforms. I’ve created free content sitting on public pages for anyone to access, read, and share at any time.
That’s the creator economy in a nutshell: Creators building careers by producing and distributing content on the internet.
Let’s check out a different kind of economy:
A Contract To Escape Communism
The height of China’s communism happened around 1978. During that time, farmers in a village called Xiaogang were forced to give all their crops to the government. The communist party would then re-distribute smaller portions of food to every family.
A village farmer once recalled:
“No one owned anything. Work hard, don’t work hard — everyone gets the same, so people don’t want to work.”
Like the plot of A Bug’s Life, farmers worked as a collective to gather food for the grasshoppers:
To fix their communism troubles, the Xiaogang farmers formed a secret contract:
“Rather than farm as a collective, each family would get to farm its own plot of land. If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest.”
The contract gave families a chance to keep some of what they grew. It made farmers work harder than usual––secretly competing to see who’s plot would produce more food. In just one year, the contract motivated farmers to secretly grow food for themselves. It gave the village a greater harvest than the past five years combined.
“It was the same land, the same tools and the same people. Yet just by changing the economic rules — by saying, you get to keep some of what you grow — everything changed.”
Web 2.0: Internet Of The Past
Today’s internet is similar to Xiaogang’s story. Web 2.0 is the network we’ve all come to love, yet choose to ignore its flaws. Just like farmers not owning the food they grew, creators don’t own their content on internet platforms:
- Internet platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok control online distribution. They offer creators a place to showcase content, but monetize all data being shared in exchange
- Creators don’t own their digital labour on a platform despite increasing the network’s overall value. Platforms pay creators and offer monetization methods, but they don’t give users equity from what they directly contribute
Web 2.0 doesn’t incentivize for people to create content online. It encourages platforms to build monopolies instead. The internet makes it easier to become a creator, but it’s the ease of ownership, monetization, and authentication of digital content that needs to be solved:
- Creators today are like village farmers growing content, yet owning none of it
- The internet platforms are the communist party offering distribution, but monetizing all content (including user data)
- Crypto may be the contract allowing creators to receive equity for their contributions
Let’s check how crypto changes the economic rules of the internet:
Crypto + Internet = Web 3.0
“Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it — in a decade, century, or millennium — we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise” — John A. Wheeler
The crypto industry is the biggest experiment happening in the world today. It’s raw, new, barely a decade old, and wildly misunderstood. The internet that we know and love is called Web 2.0. New prototypes are being built by marrying crypto with the internet — giving birth to Web 3.0.
An experiment’s purpose is to succeed and/or fail. Your current stand on crypto doesn’t matter. Don’t look at what it is today, look for what it could be in the future. If it succeeds, Web 3.0 will offer creators the tools to own direct equity from their online content.
Let’s consider what makes Web 3 special:
Internet Native Money
“Prior to 2009, you could send any information you want to anybody, anywhere in the world, instantly…except the most important information of all: value. Now we are all caught up.” — allen farrington
Crypto offers native money specifically for the internet. We must know how the web works to truly understand cryptoland. The internet is made from layers of protocols stacked together. Protocols are rules for devices to communicate with each other online.
TCP/IP are two internet layers where computers deliver data across networks. They allow for chunks of data called “packets” to communicate between other protocol layers. You wouldn’t be able to read this without TCP/IP packets.
Cryptocurrencies aren’t just money. They too are protocols resting on the internet. This allows for payments to turn into packets similar to TCP/IP. Crypto provides internet native money because it transfers value the same way we deliver messages through the web:
Bitcoin was the first digital money that was conceived from the internet. It runs directly on top of TCP/IP layers––allowing for money to travel in bytes rather than banks. Why is this special?
Software Can Now Hold Money
Money can now be stamped into code. This is a completely new invention.
Over the past century, finance has adapted to technology known as fintech. Payments have now diversified outside of physical cash also making daily transactions go up. A majority of purchases are no longer happening with cash. Money today is transferred via “payment rails”, which are infrastructures built to move digital value. For example:
Digital transactions in the US would likely reference:
- ACH (“Automated Clearing House”)
- CHIPs (“Clearing House Interbank Payment System”)
- Debit Cards
- Credit Cards
The payment rails above would then link to your bank account to complete the transaction. Fintech software doesn’t really hold any money. It just maps to the appropriate bank account to withdraw the amount. So while fintech uses technology to make payments easier, all it’s really doing is improving an inefficient system.
With crypto turning payments into network packets, we can transfer money through software alone. Crypto evolves with the internet, while older payment methods conform to it. It’s bonkers to think about, but here’s an example:
Compound is a smart contract sitting on top of the Ethereum blockchain. It allows borrowers to take loans and lenders to give loans. The code itself handles the transactions by locking money in the form of ‘cTokens’.
Here’s a piece of Compound’s code as an example:
The function above settles the money owed from a borrower. It liquidates their assets if they do not pay their lender. Notice the cToken automatically being repaid to the lender? It’s digital money that doesn’t reference payment rails, banks, or your identity. It directly connects borrowers to lenders, while the code itself holds the money. cTokens can also liquidate for dollars (if there’s a need for it).
How are Web 3 protocols like Compound different from Web 2 applications like PayPal? The code is all open, the community runs the platform, and equity goes to network contributors. There are no central servers and no employees that handle any transaction between lenders or borrowers. It’s entirely done through software. No payment rails involved. Why is this special?
Tokenomics: Fungible And Non-Fungible Digital Contracts
“All money is a matter of belief. When the world loses faith, the currency becomes worthless paper” – Adam Smith
With network native payments and software securing money, we now have contracts to prove media ownership. How? Through blockchains and tokens:
Tokens are value holding software deployed on a blockchain network. (Cryptocurrencies101).
Blockchains are a consistent model of trust without third party validation. Agreements are met by having scattered computers combining to form a secured network. Each computer individually does work to verify the correct information is settled. This guarantees a consensus will be reached regardless of some system failures.
Tokens use blockchains to make strong commitments that its code will run as designed. Tokens can be thought of as units of account with built-in property rights. It makes sure that the rules on the protocol can’t be changed — unless it’s agreed upon by consensus. In other words, tokens guarantee value from blockchains the same way currencies get backed by central banks. The difference being centralized vs. decentralized. Think of it as another way of verifying information whether it’s money, media, utility, ownership, or value.
Tokens use the governance powers of blockchains to prove value in two ways:
- Fungible: interchangeably valued
- Non-fungible: uniquely valued
Fungible tokens are like the ‘digital economic contracts’ of the internet. Owning a token gives you a private key that allows access to its underlying service. It can serve as an internet application where you have control over your data.
The purpose for fungible tokens: Units of account between two or more people, without a middleman.
Examples of fungible tokens and their protocols:
- Bitcoin (digital native store of value)
- Ethereum (virtual computer hosting smart contracts)
- Uniswap (decentralized crypto-exchange)
- Compound (borrowing and lending loan service)
- MakerDAO (stablecoin pegged to the US dollar)
- Stacks (smart contracts on Bitcoin)
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) serve as the ‘digital property contracts’ of the internet. NFT’s are digital media that comes with a cryptographic address attached to the media file. This address is used to prove originality for any audio, video, picture, or text on the internet. Non-Fungible Tokens can track who the creator and owner of the original content is.
The purpose for NFT’s: Internet-media property rights between creators and consumers.
Examples of non-fungible tokens and their markets:
- Cryptopunks (10,000 unique collectible characters)
- Bored Apes (10,000 cryptographic art of bored apes)
- Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot basketball video collectibles)
- Open Sea (NFT market place for all things digital)
- Rabbithole (Earning crypto by using decentralized services)
- Mirror (Tools to build crypto-native business models)
Video games are a good analogy for both tokens working together:
- Roblox is an online game with its own currency called ‘Robux’ (fungible tokens):
The creator economy will mimic this format by 2025.
The Creator Economy In 2025
“It is interesting to me to see blockchains and smart contracts being used to replicate many of the things we use to build applications on the Internet. Slowly but surely a decentralized infrastructure that mirrors the centralized infrastructure is getting built out.” — Fred Wilson
The fundamental idea behind crypto is the concept of trust. Creators today have no choice but to trust centralized platforms to connect with people. The structure of the internet will soon change as decentralized applications get built out. We’re going through a shift similar to the internet era itself:
With the birth of blockchains, we can outsource trust to cryptography. It counters central trust by providing the math and computation needed to run a trust-less system.
What would happen if the Web 3.0 experiment succeeds?
- Money would be embedded as bytes into network protocols
- This would allow for software to secure digital value (tokens)
- The logic of tokens provide built in property rights for its owner
- This give us tools that track ownership beyond just money
- Applying crypto to media will let users own their digital contributions
- Equity will be found in decentralized finance, social media, influencers, content, protocols, or communities, since money is baked into the network
- Users would have complete control over their personal data being shared online
- Giant internet platforms would dismantle into smaller online communities
- Internet native money would allow users to become investors
- People would be incentivized to create content online as another way of building wealth
- Online contributions would be proven by the consensus powers of a blockchain
- Credentialing would be done through NFT’s also tracked on blockchains
- Just like Xiaogang farmers, creators will get to expand their economy by producing content greater than the past 10 years combined
“If you can compensate each person for their exact contribution, you don’t need to pay everyone the same salary. And if every person gets paid for their contribution, those who are particularly productive or innovative will get paid more than ever. And those who aren’t will no longer have a stable salary” — NFTs and the Future of Work
This essay’s purpose was to explain why creating content online will be better than working for a career. It’s shown the possibility of one day being able to own, monetize, trade, and share what you create at economic scale. Create content as digital insurance that you’ll one day get to claim. That’s if the Web 3 experiment succeeds. Until then, produce with thoughts of compensation, not attention.