In March 2022, Nuseir Yassin - the man behind the 40-million strong Nas Daily page on Facebook, and owner of Nas Academy - hosted a creator conference in Dubai. There was a stellar lineup of speakers - Youtube pioneers like Casey Neistat, Snapchat sensations like Yusuf Omar, and Facebook stars like Humans of New York. Companies from various areas of the creator economy were also in attendance - like JellySmack, Instagram, and Notch.
We heard talks and workshops on topics ranging from turning content into a career, the democratization of media, and how creators should talk to brands about money. As well as inside scoops on a whole host of creator growth stories - like how Erika Kullberg got 11M followers on TikTok in just 3 months.
Below, we share three key takeaways from the three days we spent at the summit.
1. Creators are sticking it to traditional institutions
It’s clear that creators in many regards represent a rebellion against traditional institutions - and that fact was a source of pride and motivation for many of the attendees at the Nas Summit.
Hugo Amsellem, VP of Community at Jellysmack, gave an interesting talk based around the idea that creators represent a shift from “permission to permissionless”.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to turn your creative skill into a career, you'd typically be relying on backing and distribution from a traditional institution like a bank, record label, movie studio, or newspaper publisher.
That has changed. Now, platforms like Youtube, Instagram, Snap, and TikTok have democratized the way content can be created, distributed, and monetized.
Creators now hold the power, and have the biggest platforms fighting each other for their loyalty. Just look at the flurry of creator funds that have been announced by TikTok, Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram.
The notion of this “permissionless” generation of creators is exemplified by Yusuf Omar, one of the star speakers at the Nas Summit. Ridiculed on live television by BBC presenter Nick Robinson for his brand of “selfie journalism”, Omar went on to become an award-winning journalist with a Snap Original show, First Person, while his Hashtag Our Stories series has over 1M followers on Snap.
Erika Kullberg represents another way creators are rejecting traditional institutions. She dedicated many years of her life to becoming a corporate lawyer. With a $250K salary and a job at a prestigious law firm, it seemed like she’d made it. However, she was miserable. She decided to quit her job, launch her own business to democratize legal information, and eventually create a wildly successful TikTok and Youtube channel.
Her story was a source of inspiration for everyone at the Nas Summit, and is a shining example of how creators represent a combination of rebellion and entrepreneurship.
2. Creators are becoming savvier business owners
As more creators realize the potential to earn a living from their content and audience, they’re beginning to become savvier business owners. The most successful creators are building business empires around their personal brands - exemplified by Ammar Kandil who made a star appearance at the Nas Summit.
Having built up a media brand and community of over 8.5M people across his Yes Theory channels, Ammar is also building a separate clothing company called Seek Discomfort - which he told us drives the majority of his revenue.
Creating online websites and stores is also a smart way to create truly owned assets, rather than relying solely on third party platforms and being at the whim of algorithm changes, hacks, and other potential volatilities. The web3 space could provide further opportunities around true ownership for creators, and was certainly much-talked about at the Nas Summit.
Youtube star KSI, meanwhile, ventured into the music industry and has become the first Youtube-native creator who's achieved seven Top 10 songs in the UK charts, and fellow Youtuber MrBeast launched a nationwide burger restaurant brand. And let’s not forget Nuseir of Nas Daily himself, who has turned his personal brand based on his Facebook videos into a thriving 100+ person business called the Nas Academy.
For creators, the focus should always be on creating great content and growing an engaged following - but once a community exists, it’s all about leveraging it in different ways that add value to the community while creating new revenue streams.
3. We’re still early and there’s room to grow and monetize
The third takeaway from the Nas Summit is that we’re still relatively early in the creator economy. There’s still a huge amount of growth potential - from new platforms, new ways to optimize content, new ways to monetize, and a stronger supporting startup ecosystem built for creators.
Let’s dive into that last point. We’ve established that the terms “creator” and “entrepreneur” are synonymous. But if we look at the existing ecosystem supporting creators, it’s clear that there is plenty of room for growth to truly level up their businesses. Whether that’s creator banking (like Karat Financial), creator payments (like Willa), or creator insurance against hacks (like Notch), we’re at an exciting stage in the creator economy.
As all these moving parts in the creator economy mature, it will likely pave the way for even more creators to build sustainable businesses based around their content and skills.
In short, there’s never been a better time to be a content creator!
To learn how Notch protects creators’ businesses, click here