In 2024, creators are recognizing that merely having an audience is insufficient for building a sustainable career and business. According to Jim Louderback, a creator-economy expert and former CEO of VidCon, relying solely on AdSense is no longer the key to becoming a sustainable creator – engagement and strategy, on the other hand, are.
Prioritizing engagement and fostering a sense of community among followers is where the shift has focused. Creators are steering their audiences towards new and immersive experiences to cultivate a strong sense of connection and, at the same time, capitalize on it financially. Fortunately, the creator economy is thriving (predicted to double in value by 2027 – now only three years away) with a multitude of startups dedicated to facilitating this shift.
Popular social-media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are now viewed as “awareness engines,” guiding creators’ most dedicated fans into more personal spaces both online and offline. Platforms such as Kajabi, an online course platform that acquired community startup Vibely in 2022, and Nas.io, an “all-in-one” tool for community monetization founded by content creator Nuseir Yassin, exemplify the trend.
In addition, platforms like Uscreen, originally designed for on-demand video content, have evolved into central hubs for creators like Adriene Mishler of “Yoga with Adriene,” who utilizes the platform to host her Find What Feels Good community. In the evolving landscape of 2024, creators are strategically leveraging these platforms to prioritize engagement and build lasting connections with their audience.
While many creators still use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to connect with their audiences in comments, DMs, and groups, this list is focused on startups building community tools.
Circle is a community platform used by creators and brands to sell memberships, founded by two former Teachable employees, Andrew Guttormsen and Sid Yadav, as well as Rudy Santino. Teachable’s founder, Ankur Nagpal, who has since left the company, invested in Circle and recently highlighted it as a startup to watch. The company has raised $28 million in capital and was most recently valued at $250 million, according to the company.
Cost: Starts at $39 per month
How creators make money: Creators can charge one-time fees and recurring membership subscriptions
Kajabi is a popular online course platform that expanded into online communities after acquiring online community startup Vibely in 2022. In October, Kajabi announced that its creators had earned more than $6 billion using its platform.
Cost: Starts at $149 per month
How creators make money: Recurring membership subscriptions.
Founded by Facebook and YouTube star Nuseir Yassin (known for his Nas Daily videos), Nas Company’s Nas.io product helps creators monetize their audiences with community tools. The platform offers group chat features that integrate with WhatsApp, Discord, and Telegram, as well as tools like courses.
How creators make money: Paid memberships and courses, selling digital goods, and ticketed experiences and events.
Patreon is a subscription platform where creators can share exclusive content with “patrons” who pay a monthly fee. Founded in 2013, the platform has been a staple of the creator economy, and in 2023, rebranded to focus on its own app and community tools. Patreon added tools like e-commerce last year, and this year, rolled out group chats, profiles, and a redesigned app. Patreon also has a Discord integration tool that creators can use.
Cost: free but creators can opt-in for premium features that start at taking an 8% cut of their Patreon earnings
How creators make money: Recurring membership subscriptions, digital products, one-time-fees.
Uscreen is an on-demand video platform that lets creators charge fans for memberships. Founded by PJ Taei in 2015, the platform has expanded into community tools over the past year.
Cost: from $149 a month
How creators make money: Creators can charge one-time fees, pay-per-view models, or monthly subscriptions.
While not a dedicated platform, many creators use Facebook Groups to build communities around their content. Creators can monetize through sponsored content, partnerships, or exclusive content for group members.
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