It’s easier than ever for entrepreneurs to earn a living with the internet thanks to the creator economy. From influencers and artists to video game streamers and podcasters anyone can become a content creator.
New platforms like Patreon and Substack help build, grow, and monetize audiences for creators. By building a community, these entrepreneurs drive supporters to action like paying for content or merchandise.
Here are five ways your campaign can adapt the creator economy playbook to engage supporters.
Write Content-First Newsletters
Despite headwinds with spam filtering algorithms, email is still one of the best ways to deliver content directly to your supporters online. Writing a periodic newsletter is the foundation for any creator who wants to build and grow an audience online.
Most campaigns only use email for fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and event turnout, but more campaigns are also writing a weekly content-first newsletter focused primarily on keeping supporters engaged and up to date. These newsletters can also boost the overall deliverability and sender reputation for your campaign’s other emails.
Purpose-built platforms like Substack or Beehiiv give you the tools you need to write, publish, and grow your own email newsletters.
Host A Private Community
Content creators know their livelihood depends on their fans so many create private communities where their most engaged audience members can interact directly with the creator and other superfans.
Campaigns can recreate this by building out a private Facebook Group for specific groups like volunteers or donors as perks for supporting the campaign. The candidate and campaign team should provide unique updates and respond to questions.
Offer Unique Merchandise
The concept of “1,000 True Fans” is the foundation of the creator economy. Kevin Kelly defined a “true fan” as someone who will buy whatever you produce. One way that creators create – then capture – more value for their fans is with meaningful, unique items for sale.
Instead of the usual hats, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, your campaign can offer gifts to your donors that are relevant or meaningful to the candidate or your region. Blake Masters, candidate for US Senate in Arizona, has offered unique, signed editions of his book Zero to One.
Schedule Supporter-Only Events
Campaigns have been doing supporter-only events forever – they’re called fundraisers. But creators are using virtual event platforms along with in-person opportunities to engage their fans. Sometimes the in-person gatherings are more about building a community than generating revenue.
In-person meetups are more feasible for a political campaign since most supporters share geography, but there’s plenty of opportunity for these events to be more creative. Some ideas:
- A campaign conference where the candidate, staff, and allies brief supporters on the election.
- A “pay-what-you-wish” fundraiser with a special guest.
- A day of service for volunteers to help with a community project.
Create Exclusive Content
For creators, platforms like Patreon make it easy to share exclusive content, like early drafts, works in progress, or ad-free podcasts, with paying supporters. These fans are interested in supporting the creator’s work and following along in their process.
Campaigns have plenty of content and news they can make available exclusively to supporters. Extended cuts of TV ads, photos that didn’t get to Instagram, and previews of major announcements all have value to a supporter. Share them via your private community and email as a way to thank and reward your fans.
Embracing the ideals of the creator economy for your campaign takes a mindset shift about who your campaign serves. Instead of the media and pundits, your campaign is for the supporters who donate, volunteer, and vote.