Audience Growth

Short-Form Learning, Community Building Among Top 2023 Trends for Creator Educators

by Nicholas Bouchard · Published Jan 12, 2023

To be a content creator in 2023 isn’t just about trying to be internet-famous anymore. A burgeoning creator middle class is in it to make a steady and sustainable living — from paid content subscriptions, selling digital products, and other revenue streams. In its Digital Learning Trends 2023 Report, online course platform Thinkific takes a deep dive into this phenomenon, exploring especially the creator educator explosion in recent years.

Surveying over 2,000 people in the U.S., Thinkific asked creators about the content that they make and consume, how they’re earning money, and how they go about building their community.

Read on for the key takeaways from Thinkific’s Digital Learning Trends 2023 Report — with a bonus at the end. You can download the full report here.

1. Short-form learning is on the rise.

There was a time when online learning was only marginally better than sitting in on a college lecture — at least you could wear your pyjamas while taking the class. However, educational content today has broken free from what’s offered at universities and similar institutions.

With numerous creator educators teaching various topics on TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms, online learning has become more accessible now than ever before. Not only that, but digital learning content is also getting shorter in length, meaning it’s more easily digestible and can be consumed on the go.

Here’s what you need to know about the microlearning trend:

  • 41% of people surveyed by Thinkific said the main benefit of short-form learning is discovering new topics.
  • 68% of respondents prefer consuming digital content on a mobile device rather than a computer.
  • Studying a topic in short sessions over a continuous period can help you remember 80% of what you learn — even 60 days later.

What does this mean for creators?

Good news: You can do a lot more with less! Short-form learning content doesn’t require the massive amount of resources that more elaborate, long-form educational programs typically need to create. By leaning into this trend, you can whip up more bite-sized lessons and content, while keeping your audience engaged and helping them learn.

2. Want to earn a sustainable living as a creator? Become a creator educator.

While some of the top creators in the world are making content to keep people entertained, there’s a shift happening in the creator economy, and it’s going to favor creator educators. Almost 25% of Thinkific’s respondents identify as digital creators, but more than twice as many of them are interested in creator educators than creators who simply provide entertainment to their audience.

Less than 3% of creators make more than $500,000 a year, and nearly 90% make less than $100,000 annually. But that doesn’t make you can’t make a steady income as a creator. Thinkific’s report suggests that creator educators can build a lasting business that brings true value to their audience, and that they can earn a sustainable living without needing to become millionaires.

What does this mean for creators?

Are you offering some kind of educational content yet? Digital learning is rapidly turning into a huge market, and you have plenty of options when it comes to entering this space. You can offer coaching, subject primers, how-to guides, and even online courses. Whatever you decide to pursue, you’ll be in good company. About 51% of creators planned on offering courses in 2022, compared to 31% in 2021.


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3. Make community building a top priority.

There are two measurements that are often used for describing a creator’s success: the number of followers they have, and the amount of money they’ve made. And although publications like Forbes tend to put a lot of emphasis on these metrics, as a creator, your shouldn’t lose sight of building a meaningful connection with your community by focusing only on ways to grow your followers or generate revenue.

Here’s why cultivating your community should be one of your main priorities as a creator:

What does this mean for creators?

The days of just picking an online platform and pumping out content are long gone. If you’re a content creator, there’s a huge benefit to putting more time and energy into building a lasting community. With a loyal and engaged audience who trust you, your can expect more sales for your digital products and other merch.

4. Diversifying your income streams means resilience.

We’ve written about this before, but Thinkific’s research confirms it: brand sponsorships and ad revenue payouts are on the way down. There was a time when creators of any size could expect regular offers for sponsorship deals, but it seems that a new wind is blowing amid recession fears.

When 43% of people have a side hustle on top of their regular job, content creators need to diversify their income, too. And they’ve been doing it: the share of creators with multiple income streams has increased by almost 50% since 2018, with full-time creators now having an average of 2.7 income stream.

What does this mean for creators?

When you diversify your income, you become less dependent on any one platform or activity for revenue. That makes you are resilient to outside factors, whether it’s YouTube changing their ad revenue-sharing policies in the future, or a recession slashing influencer marketing budgets. Make sure your content is distributed on multiple platforms, look into selling your own digital products, and find other creative ways to monetize your audience.

Bonus: The 3 Cs of content creation

As you go into 2023, take the lessons of 2022 with you. Thankfully, you don’t have to memorize them all, because Thinkific came up with a pretty simple way to remember them. Here are the three Cs of content and course creation:

  1. Community: Remember that the people you’re creating for are your number one priority. They’ll give you everything you need to keep creating, including income when it’s time to monetize.
  2. Convenience: Tailor your content to your audience. If you’re a creator educator, make short-form content that people can consume on their phones.
  3. Control: Power up your brand with quality content that you control, and protect your burgeoning business from the unexpected by building multiple income streams.

On trend and on target

2022 brought challenges we’re still adapting to going into 2023. But for content creators and creator educators, adaptation is the name of the game. Just remember to keep your content short and sweet, explore ways you can educate your audience, build a strong community, and diversify your sources of income. That way, you’ll go into 2023 ahead of the pack.

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Nicholas Bouchard
About the author

Nicholas Bouchard

Nick Bouchard is a content writer and marketer with a passion for creation. His hobbies range from writing fiction to wrestling. He can only be photographed in national parks and on mountains, and pictures of him usually come out blurry. Some wonder if he even exists at all.
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