How Sarah Renae Clark Monetized a Small Art Community 🎨

How an art creator built a $2 million/year business

Hi, hey, hello. Has social media ruined photography? That’s the question photography creator Peter McKinnon explores in his latest Reel. Sometimes the expectation of showing “the highlight reel” limits creators from exploring the highs and lows of creativity. Whether you make YouTube videos, TikToks, or scripts, it’s a helpful reminder: Just because it’s not perfect doesn’t mean it’s not worth pressing publish.

How a Coloring Book Creator Made $2 Million in One Year

Art creator Sarah Renae Clark released the “Color Cube” last year, which helps artists compare and pick out colors for their work / Sarah Renae Clark

Art creator Sarah Renae Clark made $2.4 million in the 2022–2023 fiscal year…with fewer than 300,000 YouTube subscribers.

Context: Clark, who shared a look at her business onstage at VidSummit this week, started her YouTube channel in 2020 after four years of making art content on Instagram. Between sales of merch and digital color guides, Clark was making around $450,000 a year from her channel until recently.

But her top line didn’t soar until last year, when Clark released the Color Cube, a four-dimensional box that shows different shades of colors to help artists find what works well together.

What made the difference? Understanding her audience. The Color Cube solved Clark’s audience’s need to plan out their artistic work before putting pen to paper or brush to canvas.

  • “Merch is about your brand, but the best products are about your audience,” Clark said at VidSummit.

  • She credits her success to 1) paying close attention to what her viewers were asking and searching for and 2) developing a product she could easily integrate into her videos.

“If you can sell sponsorships, you can sell your own product,” Clark said. “Just because you’re a small creator doesn’t mean you can’t make something meaningful for your audience.”

She recommends starting with digital products—they require less upfront investment, they’re easy to update, and they create a simple mechanism for audience feedback. Even if only 5% of your audience opts into buying your product, Clark said, that’s a share that can grow over time.

Meta and TikTok Tease Ad-Free Subscriptions

Meta and TikTok introduce ad-free experiences behind a paywall / Illustration by Moy Zhong

A new wave of premium, ad-free feeds might be coming to a social media platform near you, as both Meta and TikTok confirmed upcoming subscription products this week.

Meta’s plan: Starting in Europe and charging users up to $17 a month for ad-free browsing on Instagram and Facebook.

  • FYI: In March, Meta laid down a plan to let users opt out of "highly personalized ads" to limit the effect of an EU privacy order that constricted the company's revenue ceiling.

  • Meta’s subscription, which includes several options across devices (mobile/desktop) and platforms (Facebook/Instagram), marks a “major turnaround” for Meta’s free-to-use model of nearly two decades, the Wall Street Journal noted.

TikTok’s plan: Testing a $4.99 subscription tier for an ad-free experience for users outside the U.S.

  • There’s no timeline on when the new offering will roll out.

  • Early user tests suggest that the subscription only blocks ads served by TikTok—not marketing campaigns from individual creators, TechCrunch writes.

Big picture: The jury is out on whether subscription products can replace any substantial portion of advertising revenue for Meta and TikTok as they follow the lead of competitors like X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube.

The creator POV: It doesn’t appear that either new product will affect revenue payouts all too much—we’ll keep you posted as each platform continues to develop its premium offering.

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Indonesian Government Bans Social Commerce

Indonesia places bans on social media shopping / Illustration by Moy Zhong

Indonesia has banned e-commerce through social media platforms (including TikTok and WhatsApp) in an effort to curb online sales and support brick-and-mortar businesses, the government announced last week.

Social commerce in Indonesia, by the numbers (2022)…

  • 6 million → sellers using TikTok Shop

  • 55% → share of Indonesian internet users who purchased something on social media

  • $5 billion → annual sales from live shopping across platforms

Zoom out: Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, so this ban could drastically impact hundreds of millions of consumers and plenty of creators, too. “The government must give the sellers another solution,” one Indonesian shopkeeper told Rest of World.

🔥 Press Worthy

  • Kick streamer Johnny Somali was arrested in Japan for harassing locals—leading government officials to ask creators to refrain from violating citizens’ privacy.

  • Emma Chamberlain tops Forbes’ “Fashion 50” top creators list.

  • BeReal revamps its marketing strategy as it searches for “The Realest Person on Earth.”

  • Spotter Labs, the AI-powered wing at Spotter, is giving creators the chance to demo their new tools. Want in? Sign up for the waitlist here.*

  • Digital culture commentator Jules Terpak interviews the CEO of Spotify about the company’s revamped audiobook offerings.

  • Pat McAfee’s ESPN debut succeeds on digital but struggles on cable.

*This is sponsored advertising content.

📚️ Thank You For Pressing Publish

The content we’re looking forward to reading, watching, and listening to this weekend.

  • Read: Remember Sam Bankman-Fried? The former FTX CEO is standing trial on accusations of fraud starting this week, and Ringer writer Katie Baker has a recap of all of the case’s key players (and jargon).

  • Watch: In an illuminating video essay, Wendover Productions explores the conditions that led West Virginia to become significantly poorer than its neighbors to the northeast.

  • Listen: Looking to switch up your work background music? Now that it’s October, Lofi Girl is back with a new Halloween-themed playlist full of “spooky beats to get chills to.”

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