How to Find Creators as a New Creator Economy Startup
The creator economy as an industry has been one of the fastest-growing in recent years. But although the economy as a whole has been growing incredibly fast, the creator company space has, unfortunately, been left stagnant.
As it is right now, there’s a LOT of unsatisfied demand for creator-focused companies and tools. Not because there’s a lack of creator-focused companies, but because companies have been faced with a great obstacle. Acquiring creators.
Both as a creator and as someone who has worked in a fast-growth creator economy startup, I’ve come to learn exactly why that obstacle exists. And more importantly, the solution all creator economy companies have to know in order to thrive and help as many creators as possible.
Why Creator Economy Startups Fail
Most creator economy companies spend years developing tools and new solutions to help creators with their careers. And when it’s finally time for action, boom, the 60M+ creators worldwide suddenly disappear.
This is an issue every creator economy startup has.
And of course, we were there too, thinking that the hardest part is over and all we have to do is run a few ads, and then creators would start raining down on us.
Well, after trying pretty much every marketing channel we made a realization. Creators are not ordinary customers, so getting to them using common advertising practices wasn’t going to work.
Some of the things we tried include Facebook and Instagram ads, Google ads, Influencer marketing, and even community building on Discord, Reddit, and Facebook. And while there definitely were some short-term results, none of these methods were consistent and more importantly scalable.
One approach we spent a lot of resources on was using influencer marketing platforms to find creators. After all creators and influencers are two sides of the same coin, right?
In short: too many limitations, too few creators. All we got was a ton of analytics about their audience and advertising performance.
Keep in mind, we’re a creator company that’s trying to find a customer acquisition channel. Influencer platforms may have the data we need but they serve brands that are doing influencer marketing. Needless to say, it was way too expensive to onboard a creator using their data (the cheapest option we could find was $400 per 250 creator contacts per month)
How To Actually Find and Acquire Creators
Not very long after experimenting with our marketing, we learned from our product consultant that the biggest link-in-bio tool is using targeted cold email for connecting with creators (through a so-called sales intelligence tool for the creator economy space, called Influencers Club).
I did a bit of digging and it turns out that Influencers Club completely understood the problem that creator economy companies face. They had figured out that creators are not ordinary people, but more so businesses. And the only effective way to reach them was to treat them as such.
I was intrigued by the way they operate. After reading a few articles on their blog I decided to get in touch with them and see exactly what they do and how they do it.
Essentially they are both a creator discovery and acquisition channel for companies in the creator economy.
In their HUGE database of 50 million Instagram creators, they store creator emails and data associated with them. Data points like number of followers, age, gender, location, Instagram bio, niche, past collaborations, engagement rate, and so on.
So finding relevant creators is easy for them considering the size of their database. By using the data points they collect they just filter through it and generate a list of targeted creators based on certain targeting criteria.
They also have some VERY specific targeting options, like targeting creators based on the type of link they have in their bio (or on their linktree page), targeting based on a certain keyword that’s mentioned in their bio, or based on interests they showed throughout their most recent posts.
During our meeting, I explained to them our targeting criteria and we got our very own list of creators shortly after.
All that was left was to contact and acquire the creators.
If you want to get a target list of creator emails, schedule a free strategy call with Influencers Club.
Influencers Clubs’ approach to acquiring creators was with B2B tactics. Heavily personalized cold outreach.
And since we didn’t have anyone in-house that was capable of doing it, we had never tried it before. So we wanted to know more.
Cold email was the perfect channel for creator outreach and acquisition.
1. It was low cost
2. The scalability was practically infinite
3. We could get feedback from actual people about our services — and not just ad analytics
And the personalization aspect was the key in all of this. Since the majority of brands send creators the same emails, it makes sense why so many of them ignore, delete, or send those emails to their spam folders. Well, I’ll be.
The answer was clear, we had to try this. Except, none of us were seasoned email marketers.
Sure, we were given a few pointers here and there but still. We needed help. So we decided to ask for some advice from Influencers Club (again).
And oh boy, they were no strangers to email marketing (their stats did all the talking). They send over ~400k emails per week (across all their clients) with an average open rate of 57%. This plus the experience they had racked up exclusively with creator economy clients, made them a powerful asset.
We came to an agreement that we’d have one of their teams help us out with sending the emails.
They gave us two options in terms of email strategy:
1. Gas on the fire (sending emails at scale)
2. Focused attention (sending hyper-personalized emails)
Gas On The Fire
“Gas on the fire” was what they called their large-scale email campaigns. The flashy name aside, sending cold emails at scale was no easy task. It was time and resource-intensive. But the potential was HUGE.
Influencers Club would send anywhere from 10k-300k emails per month depending on the client’s specific needs. The emails they send are personalized based on the attributes they’ve already collected about the creators, or in other words their data points (30 in total). This way they effectively send large numbers of emails, without missing out on any personalization opportunities.
And according to the pro cold email marketers themselves, this was the way to go for MOST creator companies. But one size doesn’t fit all.
Gas on the fire is perfect for creator economy companies that know their product-market fit, their value proposition (one that already works well), and want to acquire ordinary creators (<100k followers) in large numbers.
Here are some examples of the style of email they use:
To book a free partnership call with Influencers Club, click here.
Focused attention was a hyper-personalization approach. The emails sent were meant to speak directly to the creator, and develop a relationship with them. Personalization was done exclusively 1 on 1.
Someone from the team had to take the time to research each individual creator, by watching their videos, going through their Instagram and Twitter feeds, even reading their comments, all to find something meaningful to put in the email.
The benefits of this approach were significantly higher open, and response rates, but the drawback was the intensive manual work. And there was a limit to the number of emails that could be sent per day, 50.
Focused attention was for companies that needed high-value creators. In other words, use cases where closing a single creator with a large number of followers meant more ROI for the company.
Key Takeaways + Useful Resources
After the first two months with cold email (gas on the fire was our decision), we acquired more creators on our platform than all of our previous marketing efforts combined.
These are the key takeaways:
- Creators are businesses and not ordinary customers
- A content creator is not the same as an influencer (especially from a creator company viewpoint)
- The success of cold emails depends on two things: relevancy of the prospects, personalization of the outreach
Useful resources for creator economy companies:
- 15 Creator Economy Pitch Decks
- Findcreators.io — free creator discovery tool
- Creator economy investors — a list of investors interested in the creator economy
To book a free partnership call with Influencers Club, click here.