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How 937 creators would spend $2,022 (Creator survey results)

We asked over 900 creators how they’d spend $2,022 to grow their business. Here’s what creators and entrepreneurs need to reach their goals in 2022.

If you had $2,022 to spend on your business, what would you do with it?

Would you invest in new filming equipment? Join an elite business mastermind group? Hire a virtual assistant to lighten your load?

Most creators are self-funded, and knowing what resources are worth spending money on can be tricky. Budget limitations mean creators often have to make hard choices about what to buy now and what to put on the backburner.

But how would that change if financial barriers were erased?

To answer this question, we asked over 900 creators what they would do if they received $2,022 to grow their businesses.

Their answers revealed five main spending categories:

  • Hiring extra help (43%)

  • New hardware (25.4%)

  • New software (26.7%)

  • Education and coaching (24.3%)

  • Paid advertising (17.8%)

(Because we asked an open-ended question, almost all creators named multiple things they would purchase. We tallied their responses for every item mentioned, so the percentages add up to more than 100%.)

Our goal for this research was to identify what entrepreneurs want and need to succeed in the modern creator economy.

If you have money to invest but aren’t sure what to prioritize, this information can help shape your roadmap. But if you don’t have resources to put toward your business right now, that’s okay too.

Creators spend money to get results. Hiring extra help results in more time. New hardware results in higher quality content. Coaching results in improved clarity and direction.

Each purchase is linked to a desired outcome, and you may be able to get similar results with budget-friendly alternatives. Throughout the post, we’ll share ideas to keep your business moving in the right direction, even if you don’t find $2,022 in an old coat pocket.

So how do you get the most mileage out of the budget you have? What investments are most important for reaching your entrepreneurial aspirations, now and in the future?

Here’s what our creators had to say:

43% of creators would invest in external help for their business

If you’ve ever wished for an extra set of hands in your business, you’re not alone.

43% of creators want to bring in outside help, which includes hiring freelancers , virtual assistants, consultants, team members, social media managers, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers.

This also includes working with experts to develop course modules and partner on specialized projects. Additionally, this category covers done-for-you services like logo design and website development.

Being an entrepreneur can feel like having fifteen different jobs at once. Outsourcing business tasks helps creators reclaim their time, feel less overwhelmed, and get additional perspectives.

Several respondents explained that hiring others would allow them to focus on projects within their wheelhouse and delegate less enjoyable tasks.

Not everyone specified what type of external help they wanted, but of those that did, here’s the breakdown:

10.57% of all respondents would hire a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants can help with organization, behind-the-scenes projects, and administrative work. Some even offer specialized services like customer service, community support, and social media management.

You can learn how to find, hire, and manage a virtual assistant in this post and how to work with your virtual assistant effectively in this guide.

If you can’t hire a virtual assistant just yet, these resources can help you stay organized and get more done as a solopreneur:

7.68% would spend the money on their website.

Many creators want to hire a web developer or designer to build a personalized website. Some also want help migrating their existing website to a new platform.

It’s best to hire a professional if you want advanced customizations, but if you’re looking for a simple, clean, and easy-to-use option, you can try Podia’s intuitive drag and drop website builder for a fraction of the cost.

5.66% would hire a graphic designer.

Graphic designers can create custom assets for online courses, ebooks, digital products, and social media accounts.

If you want to upgrade your images on your own, this guide has helpful DIY graphic design tips to get you started.

4.16% would invest in a new logo and branding materials.

A fresh logo or custom branding consultation can breathe new life into your business.

Need to rebrand on a budget? Check out these actionable branding tips for entrepreneurs you can incorporate today.

3.95% would work with an editor or writer.

Some creators specify that they would like to hire a sales copywriter or ghostwriter. Words have power, and well-written content can do wonders for your business.

Here are some resources to help you take your writing to the next level — no outside help required:

2.03% would hire a videographer.

Videographers can help film and edit videos for courses, marketing materials, social media, and beyond.

2.03% would hire a photographer.

Creators typically work with photographers for brand photoshoots, product photography, and new website images.

1.71% would hire someone to help with search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO services include site audits, specialized tools, and consultations. SEO is your ticket to organic website traffic, which can mean more eyes on your work long-term.

Professional SEO work can get pricey, but you can DIY your website’s SEO on a smaller budget with the help of these free SEO tools.

Bottom line: Over 40% of respondents are looking for outside help with their business.

If you find yourself tangled in a neverending to-do list, delegating to experts, assistants, and service providers is a great way to earn back time and receive experienced input.

25.4% of creators would invest in new hardware

Just over a quarter of respondents (25.4%) said they would spend the money on new hardware like computers, cameras, webinar gear , headphones, and lighting . This number also includes home office upgrades.

Here’s a closer look at some specific investments creators mentioned:

16.76% of respondents would buy video equipment.

Video equipment includes recording devices, green screens, microphones, lighting kits, and other gadgets for producing high-quality videos.

If you’re considering a video equipment refresh, check out our top microphone recommendations and pro-level lighting tips.

Remember, you don’t need to have the fanciest, most expensive gear to make great content. Some simple audio and lighting adjustments can give your videos a fresh new look.

5.12% specified further that they would buy a new camera or video camera.

Given the booming online course industry and the popularity of video-based social media, it’s no wonder that people want to record high-quality videos at home.

Unsure which camera to buy? This video includes creator-friendly video gear suggestions .

If you don’t have the budget for new tech right now, this guide covers how to film amazing videos using just your iPhone.

4.06% would purchase a new computer or laptop.

Multiple creators mention that their computer is outdated and sluggish, resulting in wasted time and frustration. A new computer would mean greater efficiency and fewer headaches.

2.67% would upgrade their home office space.

This includes purchasing a new desk, upgrading monitors, installing soundproofing, or creating studio space to film.

1.28% would purchase podcasting equipment.

Higher-quality microphones and audio gear can take a podcast to the next level.

Learn some of our best tips for improving your audio in this video.

This data tells us that producing top-tier video and audio content for online courses, podcasts, YouTube, and marketing campaigns is a priority for our creators.

People care deeply about making the best content they can, and equipment upgrades can be a game-changer.

26.7% of creators would invest in software

The right software keeps businesses running efficiently.

Over a quarter (26.7%) of respondents would use the money to purchase software and digital resources like email marketing tools , graphic design software, and video or audio editing software .

Several creators hope to pay for annual software subscriptions upfront and wave recurring bills goodbye.

Additionally, 16.97% said they would upgrade their Podia plan or pay for a year in full.

Podia is an all-in-one platform where creators can sell online courses , digital downloads , webinars , coaching , and communities .

Higher-tiered Podia plans include access to advanced features like affiliate marketing , and many creators want to take these for a spin.

Click here to try Podia free for 14 days.

The percentage of people who would spend money on software and hardware is almost the same, which tells us that digital tools are just as important as physical ones in 2022.

Luckily, not all software comes with a steep price tag. Elevate your business on a budget with 13 of our favorite free tools for creators.

24.3% of creators would invest in their education

The desire to learn is a common trend throughout the data.

Nearly a quarter of all creators (24.3%) hope to deepen their knowledge through coaching, courses, mastermind groups, business books , and training programs.

Creators are excited to learn about entrepreneurship and hone their skills. They aren’t deterred by the unfamiliar and believe that investing in information will help them reach their goals faster.

13.55% of all respondents specified that they would spend money on coaching.

Business coaching, mindset coaching, and group coaching programs are popular requests, reinforcing what we learned from launching our Podia Creator Community .

People don’t want to embark on their entrepreneurial journeys alone, and getting guidance from seasoned mentors and coaches can prevent creators from reinventing the wheel.

If a paid course or coaching program isn’t in the cards right now, free communities are a great alternative.

For example, you can learn helpful business tips and connect with over a thousand inspiring members inside our Podia Creator Community . It’s 100% free and available to all Podia creators.

17.8% of creators would spend the money on paid advertising

If you’ve ever fantasized about having a hefty ad spend to play with, you’re in good company.

17.8% of creators would put the money toward paid advertising campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google.

Getting work out into the world can be a challenge. Paid social media and search engine advertising can help creators reach a wide audience quickly and systematically.

When done right, paid ads can drive consistent traffic to your products.

If you’re interested in investing in paid advertising for your business, check out our guides to Facebook ads , Pinterest ads , and YouTube ads .

Don’t have the marketing budget for ads right now? No problem. Here are some free and low-cost strategies you can use to get your creations in front of more eyes.

Additional ways creators would spend $2,022

While most answers fell into one of the five categories above, other interesting trends emerged:

3.95% of creators would use the money to create scholarships and give donations.

Some creators hope to form scholarships so deserving students can join their programs for free. Others plan to donate some or all of the money to charitable organizations.

2.3% of creators would invest in in-person events and travel expenses for their business.

This number includes experiences like conferences, trade shows, and, in one instance, traveling to record content with guest artists.

Also, some creators would put the money toward hosting in-person events, reserving venues, and running retreats for their customers.

2.03% of creators would invest in raw materials needed for their craft.

Materials like paint, instruments, yarn, and other physical items can be a significant expense for those who teach art, music, crafting, construction, and other hands-on skills.

On a similar note…

0.85% of creators would rent studio space.

Dance instructors, musicians, and cinematographers need specialized space for filming and producing their content.

1.49% of creators would get their books published.

While many creators mentioned that they hoped to publish a book in the future, 1.49% of creators specified that their book was in its final stages. They need the money to pay publishing fees and other costs associated with traditional and self-publication.

If you want to publish your writing but aren’t sure where to start, check out this guide to writing and self-publishing an ebook in just one week .

0.75% of creators would spend the money on legal fees and consultations.

While it may not be as exciting as a shiny new podcast setup, using the money to tackle legal expenditures like trademark and copyright fees, establishing an LLC , and consulting with a lawyer is a smart move for some creators.

The variety in responses shows how diverse creator journeys can be. There’s no cookie-cutter formula for success, no one way to build a business, and that’s how we like it.

Can you buy time as a creator?

As we read these responses and looked for patterns in the data, one thing that kept jumping out was the need not for money, but time.

While it’s hard to quantify this into a neat statistic or category, many creators shared the same sentiment that they wanted to use the money to buy time to work on their passions.

Ironically, time is one of the only things creators can’t purchase.

But this struck a chord with me, and probably you too. We’ve all daydreamed about what we could do with hours, days, weeks of uninterrupted time to work on passion projects. Time is perhaps our most valuable asset as creators, and there never seems to be enough of it.

That said, here’s how creators would address this issue:

As we mentioned earlier, 43% of creators would invest in outside help for their business. Hiring assistants, specialists, and team members can keep projects on track if you don’t have enough time to do everything yourself.

3.42% of creators would spend the money on time-restoring expenses like childcare, household assistance, time off from jobs, and working fewer hours on side gigs like driving for Uber.

5.2% of creators would fund personal living expenses like rent, utilities, internet bills, and their own salary so they could spend more time on their business.

Creators also noted that having extra money in the bank relieves financial pressures and daily worries, unleashing greater creativity. Producing excellent creative work is challenging during stressful times, and the funding can provide some breathing room.

For example, one applicant explained that the fellowship would cover their living expenses for three months, freeing up their time and energy to produce several new programs.

With the money, they wouldn’t have to put time into jobs that weren’t fulfilling, and they could go all-in on their business.

Even though we (sadly) can’t purchase extra hours in the day, these creators came up with innovative workarounds so they can spend more time doing what they love.

Before we wrap up, here’s a quick overview of how we gathered the information in this study.

How we conducted this research

In February 2022, we announced the first Podia Creator Fellowship. The winner received $2,022 to build their business and a one-on-one coaching call with successful creator Khe Hy .

To be considered for this prize, applicants had to be Podia customers and members of the Podia Creator Community . They also had to fill out an application with questions about their business aspirations and plans for the prize money.

We asked, “If you won the $2,022 fellowship, what would you spend it on? List anything that’s on your mind,” and included an open-ended answer field.

We received over 900 incredible applications.

Then we grabbed a cup of coffee, read them all, and organized the responses. We used responses from 937 creators, and most answers fell into the five main categories discussed above.

We also tagged responses that mentioned specific expenses like cameras, coaching, and hiring a virtual assistant.

These tags helped us get more refined data about what people would buy within each overarching category. And if an answer didn’t fit into one of the five categories above, the tags helped us identify other trends.

Applicants were at all stages in their entrepreneurial journeys. When asked about their experience level:

  • 30.85% identified as beginners

  • 8.11% identified as novices

  • 40.98% identified as mid-level

  • 15.80% identified as advanced

  • 4.27% identified as experts

Creators came from a variety of niches. There were people offering art classes , business mastermind groups, mindset coaching, informational ebooks , music lessons, and everything in between.

We loved seeing so many entrepreneurs build livelihoods around their passions, which gave our data a unique range of perspectives.

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Key takeaways from our creator survey

We asked over 900 creators how they would spend $2,022 to improve their businesses. From their detailed responses, we learned that:

  • Doing everything alone can be challenging. 43% of creators would hire external help to elevate their business.

  • Creators want to produce the highest-quality content possible. 25.4% of respondents would buy hardware, and 16.76% specified that they wanted better video equipment.

  • Online businesses rely on digital tools. 26.7% of creators would buy software subscriptions to keep their business running smoothly.

  • Creators are ready to learn. 24.3% of applicants would invest in education, and 13.55% specifically wanted coaching or mentorship.

  • Paid advertising is still a good option for reaching a wide audience quickly. 17.8% of creators would spend money on paid advertising campaigns.

This data offers a top-level look at how creators want to invest their resources, but remember that you can still achieve amazing things in your business without a huge budget.

Of the 937 responses we used to calculate this data, no two were identical. Your journey might look different from other creators around you, and that’s a beautiful thing.

About the author

Nicola is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. She lives for lizards, loves to travel, and can often be found cooking up new recipes in the kitchen.