You may not be the biggest Logan Paul fan, but it's hard to ignore the strategy he's built around his creator business.
He's amassed a following of over 100 million, has one of the most popular podcasts in the world, and even if you hate him, his name seems to somehow make its way into conversation.
He's recognized the opportunity that sits in front of him with the following that he's tirelessly built, and has chosen to build equity in himself rather than other brands.
What do I mean by this?
Most creators who make money solely from their content are typically doing it through a few different ways:
Rather than continue down this traditional route, Logan decided to create Maverick - his own clothing brand and membership club - in May 2020, just a few short months after the pandemic began.
The website showcases a clip of Logan jumping over a charging bull and he shared on an episode of Impaulsive that the company made between $30-40 million in its first year.
Now, that could just be revenue or it could be net profit, but either way it's a wildly impressive number.
And you may be thinking that selling merch is overdone and the market is saturated - and you'd be right.
But creators who view and market their merch as a 'movement' and a true brand are finding much more success than those who throw a logo they haven't built equity in on a shirt and hoodie and try sell it for $80.
And that's exactly what Logan has done so far.
Since he's built community around his content for so many years, the moment he launched the brand, it had traction. And since he's defined his audience as young males (I mean, who else really watches his content?), he can narrow down the messaging and brand he wants to build.
He's done that by using taglines on merch such as "nothing to see here ;)" and "we're not the same".
To piggyback off of the merch, they've built out Maverick Club - an "inner circle inner circle that includes things from exclusive, uncut content, to real-life hangouts, insane giveaways, limited edition Maverick Clothing, site-wide discounts, free shipping, and a ton more"
The Maverick Club costs $20 a month and to be honest, if I was a big fan of a creator and received all these benefits, I'd probably join.
I don't know how active Logan actually is in the community but for creators who have built up a tight audience, giving access to yourself (like Logan's zoom calls and dinners) and providing exclusive content are two of the best ways I've seen to reward those diehard fans.
Now, they aren't solely marketing Maverick as they do have sponsors on their podcast, but they're in constant rotation and I do think it'd seem odd if he was always pushing his own merch and brand in every ad placement.
He now has Prime, a beverage brand in partnership with KSI, and frequently (sometimes subtly) promotes it in the podcast as well.
One thing that he does to help drive attention is have guests—who typically have large followings of their own—try the drink so they can then clip it and get more views.
Most recently, he launched 99 Originals - an NFT project of 99 Polaroid pictures he took during an unforgettable, several-month-long, global journey.
But overall, he's turned down millions in brand deals to keep his own brands in the spotlight so he can capture the full financial upside his audience provides.
Outside of building equity in yourself, a few other reasons why a creator may decide to turn down brand deals could include:
You know your audience better than anyone. If a product or sponsorship doesn't align with what your audience, it doesn't make sense to accept money and try to push a product that won't convert.
It may even hurt your relationship with your audience because they could view it as a cash grab.
Some brands are willing to spend all their money on influencer and creator marketing because it's their only hope to sell what they have to offer.
They're hoping to use the trust you've built in replace of the trust that they don't have.
And sometimes, the price simply doesn't make sense. Not all brands can afford to pay the appropriate price and that's okay.
Kindly decline and move on.
There's also been a slight shift towards brands utilizing "micro-influencers" over spending the big bucks that high profile influencers demand. This is creating new opportunities for those who create niche content, have built authentic relationships with their following, and have influence on their audiences decisions.
But overall, the lesson here is that nothing can replace building equity, most often in yourself.
Brands will come and go but if you're in the creator economy for the long haul, start building your brand and your name so you can be the one with leverage, not the brands.