The 2023 Unsung Content Entrepreneurs

Nika Talbot
4 min readMay 1, 2023
The Shift newsletter for content entrepreneurs

An estimated 50 million people are operating in the creator economy as of 2023, but most attention goes to the 1% who make big bucks and have audiences totalling over 1M.

So called ‘middle-class creators’ — those earning money from a content business — get ignored.

So, The Tilt has launched the Content Entrepreneur Awards with its first class of Unsung Content Entrepreneurs. They did a callout in their newsletter and socials, asking their readers for nominations. Meet the shortlist.

It features creators of all ages from around the world covering diverse topics. Some great people here to connect with and learn from.

The top Unsung Content Entrepreneurs will be announced and celebrated at Creator Economy Expo, May 1–3 in Cleveland, Ohio.

I nominated Marianne Lehnis, founder of The Green Techpreneur, and am delighted she made the shortlist!

It would be fun to turn this into a #CreatorChallenge and follow the journey of a small cohort, over the next 12 months.

Team up with a couple of other newsletters in the space, interview them all and share on our platforms for wider reach.

Where are they now, and where do they want to be this time next year? Set some goals and accountability. Check-in regularly and share any asks/offers…

Then interview them all again next year to see how far they’ve come…

…and turn the interviews into an ebook: The Creator Business Book to share ahead of next year’s CEX. A book is a brilliant business card and goody bag merch!

Most awards are a one-off event, which is a missed opportunity, IMO. Why not share a creator’s journey, problems, solutions, and learnings over a year or more?

Others can come on board and join the challenge… keeps us all motivated, working towards shared goals, and builds a deeper connection.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

So, let’s get this challenge started!

Interview #1 with The Green Techpreneur coming up in the next issue.

Let me know if you have any questions for Marianne or the other nominees, and if you’d like to join the challenge.

Good to put yourself out there and enter as many awards as possible. IPSE has just launched its Freelancer Awards 2023 — few new categories. And the Publisher Newsletter Awards has been extended till 5 May.

Get entering! If it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Teens and chatbots…

Julieta and her mates have been playing around with Snapchat’s new AI chatbot.

‘My AI’ is pinned to the app’s chat tab above conversations with friends.

It’s powered by the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but some key differences exist. You can name it, design a custom Bitmoji avatar, and bring it into conversations with friends.

So far, mixed reactions, and it’s raised some privacy concerns.

You don’t have to interact with it, but you can’t remove it unless you pay for Snapchat+, their premium service. It says it doesn’t know where you are, but if you ask where the nearest pizza place is, it tells you exactly where you are.

It’s less formal, a bit chattier than ChatGPT (we had both tabs open to compare responses), and has an attitude… didn’t like it’s new name: “KittenWhiskers”. Named her “Curious” because she asks so many questions.

We asked Kitty to name the 50 states of the US, and it refused, saying, “I don’t think that’s a good use of your time.” Had to ask three times and eventually got an answer.

Teen verdict: “Everyone is playing with it now cos it’s new, and it helps with homework, but we might not be bothered in a week….”

Well, it’s teaching them prompt engineering, which is a valuable skill. They will be using these tools in the future, so why not learn about AI together, talk about it, and help shape it.

The Shift Hot 5 🔥

Introduction to content design course is back on FutureLearn. Next iteration — a free 4-week course. Learn how to apply user-centred design methods to enhance your digital content and comms. Register here.

Creator Economy Summit takeaways. 400+ people in LA last week at The Information’s annual event. Search #creatorsummit on LinkedIn to see some insightful recaps and thoughts on the state of the creator economy.

The “magic no 39” — if your podcast episode is downloaded 39+ times in the first week of going live, it qualifies as among the top 50% of all podcasts worldwide! Top tips from Chris Phin on how to make money from podcasting (article + replay).

Passionfroot Guides for Creators — how to price newsletter ads, podcasting checklist and more to come. Really like their #TechForGood ethos and service — doing a demo of their backend OS that helps creators manage their financing and workflows in one place. More of this to come…

Great piece by Simon Owens on why the Creator Economy “middle class” does exist. I don’t like the framing of a “creator middle class” either — good to query the definition. Creators aren’t employees, they’re small businesses/entrepreneurs.

And businesses take time to build, which is why these studies should have minimum requirements for inclusion and take a long-term view. A creator career is definitely feasible, though. Send him your thoughts.

Enjoy the Kingy Thingy! 👑

Nika :)

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Nika Talbot

I help founders impact the world with their stories. Writer at The Shift | Big ideas, writing & entrepreneurship in a new era. Human creativity + AI ✨