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Mapping The Creator Economy SignalFire's Market Map Reveals The Balance Between Professional And Amateur Influencers


Mapping The Creator Economy: SignalFire’s Market Map Reveals The Balance Between Professional And Amateur Influencers

Creative industries have become distinct for all content creators, offering a wealth of earning and income opportunities.

With its rapid growth, the creative industries have gained tremendous traction and become a major force in the digital space for influencers of all levels.

SignalFire (a silicon valley venture capital firm) published a report that delves into the dynamics of the creator economy, particularly focusing on the equilibrium between professional and amateur influencers. 

The article contains a comprehensive study of the different types of creators operating in the creator economy.

It also looks in depth at the characteristics of both professional and amateur influencers and the challenges they face.

It also examines the balance between the two groups of creators and their importance to the influencer industry.

The SignalFire report offers valuable insights into the role of professional and amateur influencers in the field and how they should plan for a better future in this economy. 

You can read the full report here

Overview of the Creator Economy

According to Hubspot research, the creator economy is worth more than $100 billion, and according to Linktree statistics, some 200 million people were already a part of it by 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing industries.

It encompasses various creatives, including social media influencers, YouTubers, video game streamers, and podcast hosts on various platforms.

One of the most important characteristics of the creative industry is its potential to offer all creatives an equal opportunity to monetize and grow their business in the digital realm.

Creators can generate revenue in various ways, including sponsorships, brand deals, affiliate marketing, merchandise sales, and more.

This has helped creators turn their passion into a full-time career.

According to SignalFire’s research, there are primarily two types of creators: professionals and amateurs.

The tags themselves are self-explanatory, but to briefly summarise: Professional creators are those who have built a brand and earn an income from their content.

They work with brands and advertisers to promote products and services and may have their own team managing their business.

On the other hand, amateurs are individuals who create content as a hobby or to build their brand and monetize their content. They often have not reached a large following yet.

Compared to professionals, amateurs may not have the same income level but often have creative freedom and greater authenticity in their content. 

Professional influencers

As mentioned earlier, according to SignalFire’s study, professional influencers are content creators who have established their own brand, have a large following, and thus earn significant income from their content.

These creators have turned their online presence into a full-fledged profession and invested a lot of time building their brands and promoting products and services.

It is worth noting that professional influencers usually have a larger audience. According to Hootsuite’s report analysis, professional influencers average over one million followers on at least one social media handle.

A large following allows professional influencers to reach a wide audience and generate a lot of engagement and ultimately revenue. 

And the income potential is another peculiar factor that distinguishes professional influencers. 

SignalFire report provides a detailed study on income generation by professionals. 

With various methods of generating income, such as merchandise, brand deals, and sponsorships, professional influencers have the potential to earn a considerable amount of money through their content creation. 

Sometimes they earn 10, 100, or even 1000 times more than another non-established influencer for a similar ad campaign or sponsored post.

Nevertheless, professional influencers encounter several challenges and competition within the creator economy. 

With the growing number of influencers, the competition for brand sponsorships and partnerships has become fierce. 

As more individuals pursue content creation as their full-time career, influencers must continually differentiate themselves and stay relevant. 

In addition, professional influencers must be careful to create high-quality content to engage their audience and stay relevant in the rapidly changing industry.

Also, the influencer industry is highly unpredictable due to constantly changing algorithms, making it difficult for influencers to generate income and challenging them to be flexible and adaptable.

However, by adapting and growing with the change, influencers can generate substantial income from their content creation and continue growing their brand. 

Amateur influencers

According to SignalFire’s research, amateur influencers are content creators who typically have a smaller following and earn considerably lower income from their content.  

These creators enter the industry out of a hobby or passion for creating content rather than as a vocation and have grown their following over time. 

As per Forbes, Instagram has been the primary platform for almost 48 million amateur creators. 

Unlike professional influencers, amateur influencers tend to take a more personal and credible approach to their content, as they are not tied to brand partnerships and sponsorships.

With more creative freedom, they are frequently perceived as more authentic and relatable in the eyes of their audience, thereby establishing a sense of trust with their opinions and recommendations. 

This creative freedom enables them to experiment with their content, making it more exciting and unique. 

However, amateur influencers also face several challenges and competition.

With limited resources and a smaller following, growing and monetizing their content becomes arduous.

Unlike professional influencers, amateur influencers tend to have fewer brand deals and sponsored posts, often generating their income via affiliate marketing or barter marketing. 

Furthermore, the increased competition lowers their earning potential. 

In addition, it can be difficult for amateur influencers to compete in a larger pool of fellow artists within the industry.

Due to a small following, it becomes difficult for them to retain followers as people prefer to go with the crowd.

Also, when specializing in niche markets, it is difficult for amateur influencers to make room as the audience for a certain type of content is limited.

Despite the competition and challenges, amateur influencers are on the rise and gaining recognition because of their creativity and authenticity.

However, it is important that they focus on building their brand through their element and strength and secure a place in the crowded industry.

Comparisons between Professional and Amateur Influencers

Influencer marketing plays a crucial role for brands and businesses, with professional and amateur influencers being the main players.

Both groups significantly impact the creative industry, but the industry needs to be balanced for these two groups.

Professional influencers are often regarded as content leaders and substantially impact the industry. 

This may be a challenge for aspiring amateur influencers to elevate their content game and establish themselves within the industry. 

Size of the Audience and Income Potential

As mentioned earlier, some key differences between these two groups are their audience size and income potential.

The former tend to have a larger following than amateur influencers. In addition, professional influencers have a very high-income potential as they are able to secure brand contracts and partnerships.

According to survey analysis conducted by Hypeauditor, professional influencers with more than 1 million followers earn $15,356 per month, while amateur influencers earn $1,420 per month.

The above study shows an average 10x gap between the earnings of the two. 

Content Quality

When comparing professional and amateur influencers, the quality of the content is another important factor to consider.

Professional influencers often have excellent resources, equipment, and a team of professionals that enable them to create high-quality content.

Amateur influencers, on the other hand, may have to rely solely on their own resources for content.

The difference in content quality is reflected in the types of images, graphics, paid music, and goals used by these influencers to create content.

On the other hand, high-income potential sometimes leads to a need for more content authenticity and creativity. 

Professional influencers may emphasize sponsored collaboration and brand deals more over creating content that resonates with their audience. 

Because amateurs are not paid heavily they tend to be true and honest and create content on a variety of verticals. 

Authenticity in content creation is another big gap that modern advertisers and money spenders are noticing more and more. 

However, when it comes to a broader reach, nothing beats the engagement that a professional influencer offers. 

On the other hand, brands can get much more exciting responses when working with amateur influencers, as they have an authentic and loyal audience. 

As per Sprout Social, professional influencers typically work with the intent to promote specific services and products, charging a fee per post as per the size of their audience. 

In contrast, amateur influencers primarily focus on creating engaging content that educates and informs their audience, aiming to build their brand. 

However, they are more focused on providing information than promoting themselves. 

And with the advent of amateur influencers, brands are preferring to work with influencers, who have built a loyal and more genuine community with their audience. 


Despite their differences, both creators face similar challenges and certain disadvantages, with competition being the most challenging.

The oversaturation of the influencer market may lead to a decrease in the value of influencer marketing due to the increasing number of influencers competing for brand deals and sponsorships.

Although both professional and amateur influencers bring something exciting to the table and play an essential role in the creative industry. Ultimately, it depends on the brand and its goals.

The balance between professional and amateur Influencers

For the sustainability and growth of the creator economy, the balance between the two groups, professional and amateur influencers, is crucial. 

A balance offers several benefits to both brands and audiences. 

SignalFire’s research shed light on the importance of this balance and how it affects the industry. 

Professional influencers have established a presence in the industry, whereas amateur influencers are a valuable new addition. 

Professional influencers are best for brands seeking high engagement and increased overnight response. 

On the other hand, brands seeking to raise awareness of their product and services may benefit from leveraging amateur influencers. 

Also, amateur and growing brands prefer amateur influencers who charge less than professional influencers. 

Amateur influencers typically work from the audience’s perspective, offering valuable, genuine insights into the products or services they promote. 

If this balance is upset, it can completely destroy the element of authenticity in the creative industry, turning it into a marketing agency rather than an influencer market.

For any enterprise, be it small or large, a mix of these two types of influencers can foster diversity in content and create a more engaged audience. 

To target different demographics, this blend can be effective and will allow brands to reach a wider audience 

Also, from the perspective of sustainable growth, the creative economy must have a balance between both groups of influencers.

This balance enables and creates space for diverse content and meaningful engagement.

Over-reliance on professional influencers can limit diversity and concentrate power in a few hands, while overemphasizing amateur influencers can lead to a lack of quality and consistency in content.

This balance is essential and beneficial for both brands and audiences.

Nonetheless, the creative industry is fast-growing and offers attractive opportunities for both professional and amateur influencers.

Understanding its differences and challenges and finding an ideal balance will allow the industry to reach its full potential.


In conclusion, SignalFire’s research article sheds light on the creator’s economy and enlightens deeply about the importance of influencers and maintaining a balance between professional and amateur influencers.

Professional influencers can be identified more accurately by their audience size, income potential, brand partnerships, and sponsorships, while amateurs are known for their authenticity and creative liberty. 

However, it is important to monitor and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of the digital domain. 

Professional and amateur influencers should leverage their unique strengths and skills necessary in the influencer industry. 

It is crucial to strike an equilibrium for a defined future of the industry and to unleash its potential.

For more insightful analysis of Creator Economies research, check out our take on Hootsuite’s report “How much do influencers make in 2023?

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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