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Career development for creators: how to support freelance talent

By Kieran Wood, Co-Founder & Operations and Commercial Lead

Kairos Group


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August 2, 2023 | 6 min read

Following the launch of the agency’s own Beyond program, Kieran Wood of Kairos Group’s Horizon Union outlines the value of career development programs for freelance content creators.

A content creator at her streaming set-up

Career development for creators: too often it doesn't exist - but it can. / Videodeck .co via Unsplash

The creator economy is booming, especially in the gaming sector where brands are capitalizing on the benefits of partnering with creators to develop cutting-edge creative solutions to reach audiences in highly engaging environments.

Many creators work as freelancers, often working remotely on individual projects that are cogs in a more extensive brand strategy. With the pressure to produce a constant flow of content, it’s important to consider the impact this way of working can have on creators’ mental health.

From the pressure to constantly produce new content to the fear of negative feedback, the journey of a content creator can be tough to navigate. Here, we explore how the gaming and media industries can better support creators to foster positive mental health and career progression.

Creators’ unique pressures

While freelancers enjoy independence, flexibility, and choice, there are several pressure points that can have negative effects on creators’ mental health. These include pressure to constantly produce new content, fear of negative feedback, constant comparison to others, pressure to maintain a certain image, tricky time management, and imperiled work-life balance.

Many of these factors can also apply to full-time employees, and with awareness of how the workplace impacts mental health at an all-time high, much progress has been made when to ensure that employers have robust, effective procedures in place to support workers. Unfortunately, most freelancers do not have access to the same levels of support. And, due to the unique nature of their work, content creators have different support and development requirements.

Working with creators requires a long-term view

While many creators are freelance, this doesn’t mean that they’re fleeting contributors to an agency or brand’s success. Nor does it mean that they want to provide a transactional service. Many creators want to feel part of something bigger. They want a clear progression path and motivation to push themselves (and their brands) to the next level.

At Horizon, we know that developing creators drives growth, awareness, brand credibility, and monetization opportunities. By measuring success through varying industry metrics, our Beyond Programme and performance tracking tool provide clear insight and progression for creators to take advantage of an offering that is inaccessible to the wider gaming industry. This ongoing, high-touch approach enables us to better understand how our creators are working, their input and output levels, and any spot patterns and trends in productivity.

Measuring performance and progression

It’s important to integrate measurement and development processes into creators’ ongoing schedules and commitments. By clearly establishing and agreeing to time-bound, measurable objectives, both parties can receive the maximum benefit. At Horizon, we operate a quarterly measurement cycle aligned with the four tiers in our Beyond program. Based on quarterly performance, all creators receive an evaluation result on their status.

Measuring progression through standardized industry metrics ensures that you can accurately and fairly track the monthly, quarterly, and yearly progress of all your creators, enabling you to share accurate projections and progression paths. Focusing on the most frequently used platforms means that we use key performance metrics that are relevant and meaningful to our creators. However, it’s important to build in human assessment of progression too. We take an 80:20 approach. 80% of our measurement comes from platform data, while 20% is derived from human assessment of platform strategy and interpretation of the data derived from platforms based on an in-depth knowledge of the gaming landscape and its potential anomalies.

By establishing a formal, data-driven measurement process, we can provide creators with a transparent framework upon which to track progress and growth. This helps to mitigate the risk factors associated with constant comparisons on social media platforms and undeserved negative feedback that creators can be subjected to online.

Establishing an appropriate rewards system

Creators are motivated by a variety of factors. It’s important to conduct a collaborative review of what’s important to the creators you work with. Adopting a systemic, progressive approach enables you to offer a range of benefits (such as platform membership and EAP access) and support initiatives (such as one-to-one progress meetings, workshops, and event participation) that nurture and motivate your creators.

Over the coming months and years, the creator economy will continue to grow exponentially. Providing creators with purposefully designed progression and support that factor in both career growth and well-being is vital to ensuring the success of individual creators and the wider industry. With that, the Beyond program is an evergreen initiative, allowing Horizon to integrate new benefits throughout the tiers, as the industry continues to grow throughout the coming years.

Horizon’s Beyond program launched in July 2023 and is accessible to creators globally. Creators can find more information and apply to join the program here.

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Content by The Drum Network member:

Kairos Group

Led by experts with more than 100+ years of gaming and media industry knowledge, Kairos Group comprises multiple entities including Kairos Media, Kyma Media and...

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