Karin Copeland

How Online Creativity is Driving the Economy

Traditional roadblocks to creative expression have evaporated.

Never before have creators been able to share work with a limitless number of consumers for free. And this translates to a powerful revenue opportunity. According to a new report, Pennsylvania’s online creators contributed $177,641,541 to the state economy in 2016.


At the heart of the traditional creative economy are industries that lie at the crossroads of arts, culture and technology. This list includes the fine artists, entertainers, designers, communicators, software and hardware designers, data scientists and creative industry supporters.


Now we are seeing the emergence of a new creative economy free of gatekeepers and middlemen. What’s driving it? The power of social media. Independent makers and influencers amplify art and find tribes. Creative companies connect directly with consumers on platforms like Amazon Publishing, Instagram, Twitter, Etsy and YouTube. This development is more revolutionary than it may appear.


A newfound freedom offers the ability to set up shop without a major cash investment.

There are almost no barriers to entry. If you’ve got an iPhone and an idea, you are well on your way to finding your audience. This rapid evolution yields benefits for creators as well as audiences, who can enjoy far more diversity in creative content.


Internet creators are not just reaching their audiences; they are making money. The Recreate Coalition just released the report Unlocking the Gates: American’s New Creative Economy. “Over the span of just two decades, the internet has unlocked the gate to the new creative economy, empowering nearly 15 million Americans to create their own content and earn billions of dollars in the revenues from posting online,” according to the report.


The US Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania is number 6 of the top 10 states for new creators, with 494,500 individuals setting up an independent online presence. In the United States, creators earned an estimated $5.9 billion in 2016. While some use internet earnings as supplemental income, many derive their primary income through creative content.

Just putting art out there on social platforms alone won’t make you successful

The content has to be unique. It must be so darn compelling that it draws big audiences, and must delight followers so thoroughly that they share it with friends and influencers.

These days, pursuing a career in the arts isn’t predicated on being wealthy, young, or from a specific background. If you can find the time to make art and maintain an online presence, you could very well build a successful source of income.


The ability to share art without middlemen is pretty revolutionary. The direct-to-consumer market gives artists the opportunity to present their most honest artistic visions to the people who are most interested.


Over the last 11 years as the Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council, I’ve had a front-row seat to the interaction between Philadelphia’s traditional businesses and its flourishing creative economy. As I strike out on my own, I look forward to facilitating growth on the ground level. Let’s empower the Philadelphia community to learn, create, and succeed. This is a city of innovators, dreamers, and initiators. Coming up, we’ll look at local creators who are making thousands of dollars per post. What are you working on? Send an email to get mentioned in a future column.


This article was originally published by Karin Copeland on BizJournals.com on May 2nd, 2018.

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Nationally renowned business expert who designs change through creative collaboration.




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