Supercreator Daily: Is Instagram really the best platform for you to earn a living?
It’s one thing to share and promote your creative work on a social app. But it’s another to host your entire business on one.
Instagram flooded the zone yesterday with a torrent of product releases and announcements dedicated to creators who live off their creative work — or have a desire to do so.
First, the Facebook-owned photo and video app announced a native affiliate tool that will allow creators to earn commissions for their purchases they inspire people to make. The company said sellers can set their own commission rates and affiliate posts will be labeled “Eligible for Commission” so people will know their purchase will support the creator. (The Federal Trade Commission, which requires explicit disclosure from influencers who earn affiliate revenue, declined to comment on whether this label satisfies its guidelines for social media endorsements.)
Creators with their own product lines can also now link their shop to their personal profile, in addition to their business profile to display and sell products directly to fans. Eligible creators in the US will also be able to release exclusive product launches from the Instagram app by linking their account with one of Instagram’s four merch partners by the end of the year. Additionally, creators can earn extra money when they hit specific milestones when using Badges on Instagram Live and Stars on Facebook. For example, according to an Instagram spokesperson, Instagram creators are eligible to earn an extra payout when they go Live with another account. And today Facebook launched the Stars Challenge, a program that gives creators free Stars for broadcasting a certain number of hours or earning a set number of Stars within a designated time period.
The announcements came during day one of Creator Week, an invite-only event featuring a week of virtual professional development programs for aspiring and emerging creators across Instagram and Facebook, which owns the popular photo- and video-sharing app. Facebook says it designed Creator Week to help creators build their careers, support their wellbeing and connect with their peers. (Disclosure: The Supercreator accepted an invitation to attend.)
The event comes just weeks after Zuckerberg and head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced a suite of new features, many which have been released during Creator Week. Facebook is also working on a marketplace that would facilitate brand partnerships by pairing up creators with advertisers who want to reach their followers.
Sessions so far have included media training, entry-level tutorials on breaking into entertainment, starting a podcast, funding a merch line, plus talks on minimizing burnout and misconceptions about the app's algorithms. Creator Week also features global programming, including virtual events and France and other markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“I think that any good vision of the future has to involve a lot more people being able to make a living by expressing their creativity and by doing things they want to do, rather than things they have to,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video to kickoff Creator Week. “At the end of the day, I really believe people are naturally creative and we want to share what we make with others — a lot of times you want to turn that into a career as well.”
Facebook’s pivot to creator empowerment has been swift, even if they’re late arrivals to the party. As I mentioned last month, Zuckerberg once described Facebook as a communal “digital town square” before repositioning the app as a cozier “digital living room.” Now Facebook is commercializing itself as a digital shopping mall.
Zuckerberg gushes about the next generation of creators who are now able to build businesses on Facebook’s apps without acknowledging his company’s role in stunting the economic well-being of the current one. “We believe that you should be rewarded for the value you bring to your fans and to the overall community,” he said during the aforementioned Creator Week kickoff video. But for a decade, this energy was missing in action as Facebook ran ads against high-quality creative work without sharing any of the revenue of with the creators themselves. Meanwhile, creators resorted to non-creative day jobs to survive extraordinary student debt and economic recession. So you can imagine my exasperation as I watch Zuckerberg and Mosseri sit on their high horses while they rail against Apple store’s 30-percent App Store tax.
Where Zuckerberg and I agree is on the notion that creators need the tools and the economy around them to sustainably live off their work. And I’m glad his company has invested resources into building accessible versions of these tools — no matter how opportunistic the timing may be. “Our goal is to be the best platform for creators like you to make a living,” Zuckerberg said. “And if you have an idea that you want to share with the world, you should be able to create it and get it out there easily and simply -- across Facebook and Instagram - and then earn money for your work.”
But I’m skeptical that the best place for creators to earn a living is not on an app like Facebook, which owns the relationship between creator and fan and the digital real estate on which the connection occurs. Eventually, Facebook will set the terms on how much of a cut it will take from the revenue creators earn and maintains the discretion to reset them according to its whims. While it’s one thing to share and promote your creative work on a social app, it’s another to host your entire business on one.
Here’s everything else you should know today:
President Joe Biden cut off talks with Senate Republicans on a compromise to his infrastructure plan. “The President is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Related: A pair of progressive senators warned the Biden administration that they could withdraw their support if the infrastructure negotiations abandon key investments to fight climate change. “An infrastructure package that goes light on climate and clean energy should not count on every Democratic vote,” Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico tweeted earlier today.
The Senate passed legislation in a 68–32 vote yesterday that would invest nearly a quarter-trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to compete against China. 19 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted for the bill.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act with another filibuster. The bill would require employers to prove that any pay gap between a man and woman is due to job performance rather than gender.
Vice President Kamala Harris invited every female senator to dinner at her residence at the Naval Observatory next week. The group of female senators includes 16 Democrats and eight Republicans.
Democratic Rep. Val Demmings of Florida officially launched her campaign today to unseat Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next year. “I know how to get through tough times,” Demmings said. “I’m not afraid of a tough fight.”
The House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to reverse its decision to continue defending Donald T**** in a defamation lawsuit. The suit was brought on by writer E. Jean Carroll, who alleges T**** sexually assaulted her in the mid-’90s.
Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group led by activist Stacey Abrams, announced Hot Call Summer — a month-long campaign to mobilize young voters of color around the For the People Act, the voting rights bill I wrote yesterday. The campaign will feature virtual events, a paid media campaign and plans to text at least 10 million voters in 2022 battleground states that have seen controversial voting legislation move in state legislatures.
86 percent of children surveyed believe that people of different races are treated unfairly in America. The study, which was commissioned by Sesame Workshop, also found that nearly half of the children surveyed said that they have personally experienced discrimination of some kind.
A record-high 47 percent of Americans think abortion is morally acceptable. According to the Gallup poll, just one point separates them from the 46 percent who think abortion is wrong from a moral perspective.
COVID-19 continues to spread in communities with low vaccination rates. This is especially precarious because highly contagious virus variants pose a threat to those who haven’t had shots.
More than 100 demonstrators last night marched from the campus of New York University to the townhouse of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to protest for higher pay and better job security for employees at The New Yorker. Wintour is also the artistic director at Condé Nast, the publisher of The New Yorker.
Tribeca Festival dropped “Film” from its name. The rebrand embraces storytelling forms beyond filmmaking, including podcasting, gaming, virtual reality and TV.
The New York Times hired Stella Bugbee, previously editor-in-chief at The Cut, as its new Styles Editor. “In the wake of the last 15 months of fear and grief and lives lived largely at home, she’ll help us document the rebirth of how we live, how we present and how we consume,” The Times’ braintrust said in a statement.
Facebook is on the hunt for a new global ads chief. Carolyn Everson is departing after a decade-plus tenure as the face of the company’s advertising business.
Facebook is planning to release its first smartwatch next summer. It’ll reportedly have two cameras that can be detached from the wrist for taking pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s family of apps.
Uber updated its app to make it easier for drivers to pick you up. Now drivers can see what aside of the street you’re own, will receive more descriptive labels with extra context and take into account when you request a ride while you’re on your way to a planned pickup spot.
Apple Podcasts is launching in-app subscriptions on June 15 after a month-long delay. The feature enables listeners to subscribe to certain shows or networks for perks like early access and an ad-free experience.
iOS 15 will allow some iPhone users to send data directly from their Health app to their doctors’ electronic medical records systems. The update should be available this fall.
Supercreator Select: “How did you find your mentors?”
Each week, I answer a reader-submitted question on current events or how to work and live as a creative professional. For this week’s Ask Michael column, a reader asked how I found and maintain a connection with my mentors. Here’s a snippet of my answer:
I’ve been blessed with a community of extraordinary mentors at every step of my career. But the wild part is I never set out to attract them. And many of my mentors weren’t looking for “mentees.” At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and relationships are built on trust.
I also think what’s helped me is that I’ve almost always had a high level of clarity about the kind of work that fulfills me and a willingness to learn and be coached. These qualities tend to situate me near people who want to see me win and are willing to share their experience and connections to help me level-up.
My complete response will be featured in this weekend’s issue of the Supercreator Select, a new exclusive bonus newsletter for premium subscribers to The Supercreator and also includes weekly interviews and a breakdown of the stories I’ll be covering in the upcoming week so you can focus your attention on the stories that matter to you and your creativity.
In addition to the Supercreator Select, premium subscribers enjoy:
Commenting privileges and invitations to members-only pop-up discussions
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A link to my private calendar to book Supercreator One-on-Ones, virtual office hours to discuss whatever’s on your mind and get face-to-face professional support
Subscriptions also enable The Supercreator to deliver an ad-free reading experience minus aggressive pop-ups, annoying auto-play videos or third-party sponsored content. Subscribe to The Supercreator to get the Select sent straight to your inbox this Sunday. Already a subscriber? Login at any time to manage your account.
Read All About It
Rebecca Jennings at Vox on the emptiness of “couple goals” TikToks:
Celebrity PR relationships have existed since long before the internet, but there’s something deeply cynical and sad about newly microfamous teenagers orchestrating one themselves. Consider, for instance, the number of apparently straight teens on TikTok making content that many have considered queerbaiting(though could, on the other hand, be an earnest means of exploring their own sexualities). Even if you’ve never been in love before, it’s easy to mimic the outward appearance of a romantic relationship, and it’s even easier when both parties understand that doing so successfully will grow their following.
Ed Kilgore at Intelligencer on Vice President Kamala Harris:
To put it more bluntly, Harris will likely become the public face of a doomed effort to enact major voting-rights legislation that cannot be enacted without the filibuster reform Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (with a few other Senate Democrats probably quietly abetting them) have made impossible. And even if conditions on the border improve (which is a development hardly within the full control of the U.S. government), Harris will be identified with an exceptionally fraught issue that divides Democrats and energizes Republicans. Thus, through no fault of her own, she may suffer in public perceptions, particularly as Republicans focus their fire on her as a riper target (and as an obviously easier object for racist and sexist contempt) than the hard-to-demonize Uncle Joe. There is already a “polling gap” between the two members of the Biden-Harris ticket, as The Hill noted last month.
Willy Blackmore, Marisa Carroll, Ben Jacobs, Nia Prater, Valeria Ricciulli, Caroline Spivack, and James D. Walsh at Curbed on New York City’s upcoming mayoral primary:
While this is ranked choice’s biggest test yet in New York, it’s not the first. A few special elections have been decided on ranked-choice ballots since February, and the instant-runoff system was first put into practice when none of the nine candidates in the City Council race for District 31 in Queens reached the “50 percent plus one vote” threshold necessary to claim victory. Over the three weeks after the deadlock, Board of Elections officials hand-counted ballots, whittling down the field until Selvena Brooks-Powers, a veteran government strategist, tallied 51.6 percent of the 7,451 votes. And with the most recent mayoral-primary poll showing Eric Adams in the lead with just 22 percent of the vote, it’s highly likely the naming of a winner could be similarly drawn out — with second or even third and fourth picks making all the difference.
Tyler R. Tynes at GQ on NBA-star-turned-TV-host Dywane Wade:
It’s been a big year for Dwyane Wade: He became a minority owner of the Utah Jazz, he’s a fixture in TNT’s basketball pre-game shows, and now the future Hall of Famer and NBA Finals MVP is the host of a new game show on TBS called The Cube, which premieres this week on June 10th. The Cube puts teams of two players inside a Plexiglass box, where they are given nine lives to complete seven challenges, each worth more money, with an ultimate prize of $250,000. The contestants aren’t just trying to get rich: In one episode, for example, one duo needs the money in order to renovate a basketball gym for “at-risk youth” in Texas.
Peter Kiefer at Los Angeles Magazine on Twitter power broker Yashar Ali:
On Twitter, Ali often shares very intimate, often moving details about his family, his friends, and his constantly shifting state of mind. But for a journalist who puts so much of his private life into the public sphere, he is secretive and resistant to scrutiny. Several years ago, when he transitioned out of working in politics, he stopped going by his birth name and switched to Ali, a move he says he made to protect his family. He rarely consents to interviews and ignored several requests before consenting to meet with me, two times over three months. There are very few photos of him on the internet, and he darkens his silhouette during online appearances. He required that all of his on-the-record quotes be pre-approved and firmly rejected a photo shoot, claiming he didn’t want to be recognized by Scientologists. But the church isn’t the only one on his trail. While reporting this story I was contacted by a well-known private investigator, who was digging into Ali’s past on behalf of another client.
Michelle Santiago Cortés at Refinery29 on Main Character Syndrome:
People who have Main Character Syndrome think life is a movie and embrace the memes that encourage this outlook, saying things like: “you have to start romanticizing your life.” It’s a departure from reality, and it’s little wonder that “main character” can also be used as an insult to describe a person who thinks everyone is as obsessed with them as they are with themselves. It’s become so common, in fact, that people who are insecure and feel like they’re becoming a parody of their own personality, have even started declaring that they are #NotTheMainCharacter — the latest main character trend to take over TikTok.
Whether you resist or embrace the designation of “main character,” what’s clear is that, during the pandemic, main character memes have helped us to accept life’s highs and lows as entertaining plot developments, to consider our misfortunes proof of the importance of our story, and to justify indulgence as being key to our archetypal hero’s journey. It’s no coincidence that the earliest main character meme to go viral came out in May 2020: a TikToker had “hunkered down” in her childhood home and her daily walks through her neighborhood served to remind her — and her whole block, apparently — that all this is her story. “This is the time that I walk through my neighborhood, to remind everyone in my neighborhood that I’m the main character in this neighborhood,” they sing, in the video. “Look at me! No, look away! No, look at me! Ah!”
Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters by Steven E. Koonin ($23): I’m learning as much as I can about climate as the midterm campaign season kicks into high gear in a few months so I’m clear on which candidates are best suited to take on our environmental crisis.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate you for sharing part of your day with The Supercreator. See you tomorrow. —Michael