The Creator Economy Needs To Lead Itself: Here's How

As a content creator or a creative solopreneur, you're empowered to become the kind of leader that you would want to follow.

Social media influencer
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When you work at a traditional company that has a great leadership team, those leaders can have a huge impact on your career. They can inspire you to do your best work and put you on a path that truly reflects your skills and passions.

But what if you don't?

Enter the creator economy. An entirely new market has emerged in recent years, set to defy corporate traditions by spawning a professional cohort that rely on their social media presences as products and who are their own leaders.

If you're a part of the creator economy, you don't have built-in leadership to guide or support you, and that lack of leadership can be a challenge and hindrance to some. The good news? As a content creator or a creative solopreneur, you're empowered to become the kind of leader that you would want to follow.

How, exactly, do you do that? Here's how to step into a leadership role as a creative solopreneur — and watch your business (and yourself) thrive.

Figure Out How to Motivate Yourself

In a Harvard Business Review article on how leaders can motivate employees, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School Nigel Nicholson wrote, "Your job is to create the circumstances in which their inherent motivation — the natural commitment and drive that most people have — is freed and channeled toward achievable goals."

In other words, great leaders don't motivate their people; they figure out how they're motivated — and create a work environment that fosters that sense of motivation.

When you are your own leader, you have to do the same thing — just for yourself. Identify what gets you motivated, and then structure your work in a way that plays to that inherent motivation.

Let's say you run a social media consulting business and you're a person who's motivated by external pressure. If so, you might consider setting tight deadlines with clients to create the structure you need to get things done.

Or maybe you're a TikTok creator and feel most motivated when you create a video that really resonates with your audience. In that situation, set up a folder with your favorite comments from your followers so that whenever you need a boost of motivation, you can read their comments to remind you why you're doing the work you do.

"If you are waiting around to create content only on the days where you feel motivated, you are never going to be consistent, because motivation is not something that we can rely on," noted Madeline, the YouTuber behind Cappuccino and Fashion. "That's why discipline is so important."

Everyone is motivated by different things. And being your own leader, you need to figure out what motivates you and then structure your schedule in a way that keeps you moving forward.

Don't Shy Away From the Organizational Side of Things

In order to succeed as a creator, you need some sort of skill or talent. But when you're managing your career on your own, it's not enough just to have a skill or talent; you also need to have the organizational skills to transform that skill or talent into a profitable business.

TikTok star Dixie D'Amelio touched on this point in an article for The247 by Lightricks. "I think to be a successful creator, you have to have two different sides. One side is organized and in charge of the things we need to do. The other side is creative and full of the things we want to do."

But while many creators and solopreneurs embrace the creative side (what they want to do), they struggle with or full-on ignore the organizational side (what they need to do). They wait for someone else to organize things for them, and as a result, their careers and businesses never really take off.

Leaders, on the other hand, know that organization is a part of running a successful operation — and so if you're going to be your own leader, taking responsibility for the organizational side of your business is an absolute must.

Invest in tools to help you manage the administrative side of your business, like invoicing. Create schedules to help you balance your time between creative work and business-related work. Map out strategies for how you're going to grow your career and get your skill or talent out into the world.

Instagram influencers will want to spend time researching potential brand partnerships, while if you're a freelance social media strategist, you might invest your time into creating a pitching strategy to target new clients. The more you invest in the organizational side of things, the more successful your business will be — and the more opportunities you'll have to invest in the creative side.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

One of the most important qualities that great leaders share is empathy.

"Great leadership requires a fine mix of all kinds of skills to create the conditions for engagement, happiness and performance — and empathy tops the list of what leaders must get right," Tracy Brower, PhD, sociologist and author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work, wrote in Forbes.

But just as great leaders need to show empathy to their teams, if you're going to act as your own leader in your own business, you need to be able to show that same kind of compassion and empathy — to yourself.

Brower outlined research that showcases the many benefits of empathetic leaders, from more engaged teams to higher levels of innovation. And those same benefits will translate when you practice self-compassion and empathy as your own leader.

As a solopreneur or content creator, if you beat yourself up about your "failure," it's going to make it harder to motivate yourself to start generating new ideas. But if you show yourself compassion, it will be easier to find the motivation to dust yourself off and get back to the drawing board.

So when something goes wrong in your business (and it will), act like a great leader — and cut yourself some slack. Not only will you feel better, but you'll get better results.

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