How to Earn Passive Income in the Creator Economy

In this Running series, we share advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are fighting business battles out there every day. (Responses have been edited and shortened for clarity.)


Who are you and what is your business?

I’m Alfonso Cobo, Founder of Unfold, a social storytelling app that lets you create photo templates and organic websites to sell anything.

What are the biggest trends you see in the creator economy?

The biggest trend we’re seeing is creators diversifying their revenue streams – users selling products are starting to explore content, content creators are selling physical goods, and creators are diving into Web3. The focus is on becoming less dependent on a platform while building passive income streams that bring steady income, giving developers more space and stability to focus on their craft. Most influencers currently still rely on branded deals, and most are looking to diversify.

See also: 17 Passive Income Ideas to Boost Your Cash Flow

What are the top trends in social and digital selling?

Social commerce will soon surpass social advertising – it will quickly become a huge part of global e-commerce. Overall, we see great returns for brands and businesses that use social selling and recognize that this is also an opportunity to build a stronger relationship directly with the consumer.

We’re building and seeing smarter monetization tools, and the real key is that there are so many touchpoints and platforms that you want to eliminate friction points along the way. Organic sites are a big trend in social selling because they offer creators a unified ecommerce link to share across their platforms and communities. Next, sellers are looking at Web3 as a way to drive new revenue channels, more transparent business models, and more engaged communities.

What are the biggest challenges YouTubers face?

Developers need to maintain a presence across a range of different platforms as there is no central hub that brings together all the tools and data they need in one place. Every tool and platform on the market has its own niche and goes deep into a specific use case or industry.

This also makes it difficult for developers to truly own and monetize their audience in a platform-agnostic way when they may have vastly different followers or content styles from Instagram to TikTok.

Smart creators understand that their audience consists of different types of fans with different passions and willingness to pay, but this requires a high level of focus and offers different levels of offerings such as editions, 1/1s and auction mechanisms to meet fans where they are and transform them from casual and active fans to superfans.

See also: 3 Strategies That Helped Me Develop 13 Income Streams

Unfold became part of Squarespace in 2019. What insights do you have for entrepreneurs about integrating into a larger ecosystem?

I asked myself three questions about becoming part of their ecosystem, and all of the answers were yes:

  1. Are you offering something with a similar goal but in a different vein? We found that what Squarespace offers online, Unfold offers on social media. So yes.

  2. Do your customers’ goals overlap? There is a lot of overlap between our clients’ goals, which are to create and monetize their brands with the highest design alignment across digital selling. So yes.

  3. Will we approach integration with caution and patience? We gave ourselves a few months to watch our products grow independently, which highlighted opportunities to create new versions that fully complement each other. At that time, Squarespace’s mission evolved into providing creators with anything to sell anything, and as we gave ourselves a discovery phase, our natural role emerged – providing opportunities for social media monetization in the broader ecosystem.

What’s next for you?

Monetization tools will continue to be a priority for us as we expand the ways our clients can set up and test new revenue streams. We will continue to release products that help creators tell their stories in a consistently beautiful way across social platforms – this consistency across platforms and channels will help attract long-term customers. And creators want the ability to roll out multiple bio sites so they have the flexibility to add more link-in-bios as they gain new audiences. We want to empower creators to successfully tell their story the way they want to, and we will focus on new video content creation and monetization tools to help them do that.

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