A Creator Economy Journalist’s Perspective With Kaya Yurieff Of The Information

Today we’re speaking with Kaya Yurieff of The Information. Kaya Yurieff joined The Information in April 2021 to launch the creator economy newsletter and cover the rapidly growing sector. Previously, she wrote about technology and social media platforms at CNN. She started her journalism career writing breaking news at TheStreet. She is fluent in Polish.



[00:00:00] Jessy: Hi everyone, and welcome to the Wiim Podcast. Women in Influencer Marketing is a first of its kind exclusive networking group made up of inspirational women. This podcast is where we explore influencer marketing and get real about women in business. Find us wherever you download podcasts, and of course, you can always find us at iamwiim.com. That’s i am wiim,double i .com.

Hey everyone. So if you are tuning in to the video version of this podcast, ignore my giant eyebrows. Cause I’m getting them micro bladed and it’s like day two of the second session. Anyways, they look extra crazy when you first get them. And my makeup is all messed up cuz I can’t, I’m not even supposed to put makeup on.

Oh my gosh. Anyways, ignore them because they go down after, like after the first. Couple days. This is my second session, so I can confirm that anyways. If anyone’s looking for a place to get their eyebrows, microbladed, I have the most incredible place here in New York City. Highly recommended. 

Anyways hi everyone. If this is your first time tuning in, you’re probably like, why the hell is this woman talking about? Eyebrows and micro bleeding. I thought we were supposed to be talking about influencer marketing. We are, except, I’m a real person, so I to infuse my real life into this show. If you are new, giant, huge, warm. Welcome.

I’m super excited to have you guys here. Of course, those of you who tune in every week this is the Wiim podcast, y’all. So we’ve had this podcast. We’re going on four years actually, which is so exciting. New guests, fantastic guests all the time. Sprinkled in with some solo episodes so you can hear a little bit more from me and my strong opinions about all things influencer marketing, women in business, entrepreneurship, the whole nine.

This guest she is incredible. I, if you are unfamiliar with the information, I highly recommend that you check them out. It got outta my radar probably like a couple years ago at this point. I don’t know how I found it. Probably an article that somebody shared and I was like, the information, what is this?

They have a whole section on the creator. I find journalism broadly fascinating nonetheless. Journalism, all about the creator economy oh gosh. With the likes of Taylor Lorenz and stuff like, woo. And I don’t know. And even in the age of, Donald Trump and journalism has really taken a turn and is way more in the spotlight than it ever has been before.

I feel like there’s a magnifying glass on it the way that there hasn’t been in a long time. I’m all for it. I think we should always check our sources, not take anything at face value and Kaya doesn’t either. She takes her, research so seriously and. She gets to meet really fascinating people.

We talked a little bit about like how she even comes up with the stories that she covers and how much of it is, her opinion and how much of it is just her disassociating her opinion, just to give you the facts.

I’m sure a lot of you listening to the show now are like, I’d love to be quoted in a place like the information, we talk about that too, like how do you find your sources? Who do you quote, who do you interview? And I love that this career path exists within the creator economy. If you are, fresh outta school or looking for a change, know that you could be a reporter of the creator economy. Not enough people talk about some of these more unique career paths within our industry.

She was a fantastic guest. I’m so excited to welcome her. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

All right, so I could not be more excited to chat with you. I don’t wanna introduce you. I want you to talk about yourself. We’ve heard a little bit about you on paper in the intro to the show. Why don’t we start by just having you like briefly introduce yourself and share a little bit, how you even ended up in this incredible role that you’re in today.

[00:05:03] Kaya: Sure. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. So I’m Kaya Yurieff. I’m a reporter at The information, which is a tech subscription outlet, which covers Silicon Valley in the business world. And I came on in April of last year after four years at CNN where I was covering social media platforms, tech to launch our newsletter on the creator.

So I’ve covering. Really the business side of being a creator. So startups in the space that are catering to creators, doing profiles of creators and how they run their business and how they got started on social media and just talking to the platforms and tracking how the big social players are fighting for creators and rolling out tools for them and looking at up starts too.

So that’s been the holistic view of it. And it really, I thought I always wanted to be a journalist, but I thought I would go into politics. I went to school in DC and I just felt like the natural path. But I got into business journalism through an internship with Bloomberg News and I started covering tech. 

My first job was covering stocks like I was writing about like oil companies and just all sorts of different sectors. And I really was drawn to tech and once I actually went back to CNN after being an intern there and I was on the tech team and I was the youngest on my team, and I really thought we should do more coverage of like Snapchat and social media companies and looking at influencers. 

When I was in college, Instagram and Snapchat were both starting to become really popular and I watched, blogs like Batches create this huge social media presence on Instagram or like some of the original influencers, like the Fat Jewish and just watching them go from like meme page to entrepreneurs and making canned rose brands and all this stuff.

 There were some reporters starting to cover it, but it was definitely an undercover area compared to now. 

[00:06:55] Jessy: I gotta say, first and foremost, you probably don’t know this, we didn’t talk about this when we were chatting before we started recording, but you are like living like my dream life.

 I am like a self-proclaimed news junkie and I don’t know if I have the chutzpah to do what you do, but I think it’s the coolest job ever. And then so you like, you’re working at CNN, first you intern there, then you end up working there and like of course they did digging on you and I saw your background and saw your cool work history and now I see like you’re at the information, which is like such a cool, like in my mind it’s like this, like newish, I don’t new age, up and coming, interesting publication

. You’re hovering social media, so you’re look at the cutting edge of things. Like I just, kudos to girl. Cause, I think it’s awesome what you’re doing with your life. So I’m curious though, I’d love to dig in a little bit more .

Of all the paths to go down. You said you were interested in like politics, you went to school in DC like all the things, like how did you end up covering the creator economy? Was it like a conscious choice? Was it just like you wanted to be at the cutting edge of something? Like how did that really go?

[00:08:18] Kaya: Yeah, I think so when I was at CNN I had this broad beat of covering tech. So in the beginning I was covering like startups and even science topics, and it was really general. And I was drawn to the social media stories and some of the incremental things that they were doing. Six or five years ago now to attract creators.

So it was kinda a side beat and side stories that I was pitching. So I did a story on burnout, YouTuber burnout. I did a story on how Trans creators on YouTube were, connecting and providing education to other creators and some of the issues that they face. Their content being demonetized.

And so I started kind pitching some of those stories, but at the same time I was covering the broader tech space. So like Facebook privacy issues, new iPhones. So it was kinda this very broad beat. So when the information had this job open to focus solely on the creator economy, I was super excited to do that cause it was something that I was covering.

 Half that half broader tech. And I think as a journalist and as a creator too, if you have more of a niche, I think your work stands out more. You’re more of an expert on it. I do think that having the general tech background actually helps me do my job better because understanding, the privacy changes that Apple has made and how that’s impacting Facebook’s business is very relevant to covering the creator space.

So understanding what’s going on more broadly and at tech platforms, I think really just helps with having a niche beat. But I think, just as creators have niches, I think journalists who focus on one company or one sub-sector really are the ones that do really great work because they’re so in the weeds and on top of everything that’s going on, versus having a more general beat.

[00:10:07] Jessy: I love that you’re saying that we’ve actually spoken about it on this podcast quite a bit. Cause I feel like in terms of whatever aspect you’re working in I dunno, people like historically have educated and taught people that. You could be a generalist, a lot of different things, and I agree isn’t it great to be like the go-to person for the creator economy or for fill in the blank and you become an expert in your space and if people know you for that thing you’re one of the few people that are thought of when it comes to this specific niche.

So I appreciate you saying that and part of our organization, sure, they were gonna talk a bit about like the creator economy and journalism and how that all like impacts very much the creator economy, like what you are writing. It makes a huge impact on this entire industry, which I think that it’s so dope,

 But we’re also, we’re always wanna talk about women in business and our career paths, and I love that you work in the creator economy, but in an area that like, I don’t know, people wouldn’t necessarily think that like I to be a journalist on the creator economy. That’s interesting.

And I wanna make sure that our listeners, especially the ones who are like right outta college and are only exposed to a certain amount of job prospects are aware that oh my gosh, I could be like Kaya, like I could work for a publication and write about it and put my thoughts out there and interview people, tell interesting stories and I think that’s incredible.

So my question to you, how do you decide on the stories that you cover?

[00:11:56] Kaya: Yeah, I think what’s great is I have the newsletter as an outlet, and then I can also, we do events, we do I do broader features on the space. So I have these different kind of mediums and modes of what I can cover. And I think with the newsletter, you can get a little bit more in the weeds on things and cover incremental stuff or something that might not be a whole full story you can still encapsulate in the newsletter. 

I think of it as really curating the most important things that are happening in the creator economy that day, it’s Monday through Thursday. We’re off on Fridays. I have another junior reporter too that helps with the newsletter as well. So that’s really helpful cause for a long time I was doing it just by myself every day. 

It’s opened me up to be able to do features. So there might be something that is interesting and that a newsletter column, and then we can get into kind of startups or we’ll highlight a startup or, we’ll, we have a running series called Creator Spotlight, where we profile creators every week and talk about, how they’re building a business and how they’re making money and how they got started and if they expanded beyond a certain niche.

So that’s something that might be a story on its own or it’s we can make it into a kind of a digestible format and it’s a weekly running series. I think with the newsletter you have a lot more flexibility and you can go in the weeds on certain staff. This week we had a study on the highest earning pets on TikTok, and that was just like a fun blurb in the newsletter that probably didn’t need to be a full on story but it was just some fun stats and then you can click on the report and go deeper if you’re interested in that.

So it’s really a mix. And then for features, I really look at it as more either bigger picture or honing in on a trend. I’ve done stories on, create our economy startups pivoting into Web3 and Crypto, which is something that I noticed. I did a story on tech employees who are also creators. So an Instagram employee who’s also an influencer on Instagram and some of the tensions that might arise from balancing those two jobs.

So that’s just a flavor of the different stuff that I do. But I think having a newsletter and being able to do features and news together just is a great outlet for me to be able to touch on different aspects of the industry. 

[00:14:17] Jessy: I think that’s so cool. First of all, I think it’s awesome that you get to tell so many different stories, right? Like I mentioned earlier, what you write makes such a huge impact on this creator economy and like the amount of, I don’t know, do you ever feel like. Do you feel like you fully appreciate that your work really does make that much of an impact? And does it make you nervous, uncomfortable, excited? Like what does that make you feel? 

[00:14:47] Kaya: It’s so funny cause I think with a newsletter sometimes people will reply to an email and it’s a little bit more immediate than when you put a story out there because when you have a story, people have to go dig up your email. And normally they have like very strong opinions either way if they’re gonna reach out to write to you.

So it is nice with the newsletter format where people can just like, shoot me a note. I started this during covid, right when vaccines were starting to come out. So we were still in pretty deep lockdown so, being out a little bit more in the world at conferences, again, it’s really nice when you run into people and they say, oh my gosh, I read the newsletter, or you get that feedback.

It’s really nice. But I think most of the time just putting the newsletter out there or putting features out there, and obviously you read, people sharing it online or read some of the comments, but it’s been nice in person to get that feedback for sure. 

[00:15:37] Jessy: And yeah, like in terms of feedback so we were talking about like how you decide on what you write about and what you feature and things like that, do the comments or what, what’s circulating out there ever influence maybe, do you do like a secondary feature or go deeper into a story or, oh, I should really look into that. What is your news source to help you decide like what you cover? 

[00:16:05] Kaya: Yeah, I think we definitely have a pretty specific audience here. So a lot of like venture capitalists and people that work at tech colla platforms read the newsletters. There are certain things they’re really interested in. They’re really interested in startups, funding, we have a startup watch, section in the newsletter where we highlight a startup that we think is doing something really interesting. So those have been really popular. 

Another thing that we noticed is that charts are really popular. Oftentimes when we do charts in the newsletter, they’re shared on Twitter or LinkedIn and elsewhere. So we’ve noticed that. So that’s something that we’ve tried to do more of. I think our challenge sometimes with the newsletter is that it comes out later in the day. So around 5:00 PM Eastern, depending on news, sometimes it goes out later.

But if there’s a big headline in the morning that’s creator economy related, we don’t wanna just do a digest of the news cause people probably have already seen it. So it’s really about doing analysis or comparison or saying something kinda new about what’s happening.

So we’ve done charts comparing, like tipping features on social media platforms, creator funds, subscription products ad formats. I did a chart that was pretty popular on Twitter about how all social platforms look the same and we did this kind of chart of like okay, short form video. These are all the platforms that have it and I think just seeing something visually, especially in such a noisy and busy sector is really helpful for people where it’s like, it seems like everyone’s rolling out tipping. Let’s actually look at this. High level and see what are the take rates? Which platforms have it, what’s the format?

So that’s been something that we’ve noticed is popular. I think too, like I ask people in the space all the time, I’m like, what do you wanna read about? What are you interested in? And get ideas that way too. 

[00:17:50] Jessy: That makes perfect sense. Like the idea of putting the story together or a key part of it into some visual component, it makes it so shareable and lean into the fact that like you’re covering the creator economy. Like how does become shareable on social media?

I’m sure that’s like a big, like that would make a lot of sense that you guys would focus on. What is like the wildest story that you guys have covered? Maybe it’s just gotten the most engagement or you’re like, I can’t believe I wrote on this. What is the wildest story you guys have covered thus far?

[00:18:26] Kaya: So we somewhat recently launched weekend section, which is more focused on tech culture. It’s kinda like an online magazine type style. So we have a cover story every week. So I did a cover story recently on YouTubers, virtual YouTubers. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that genre.

[00:18:46] Jessy: I am. But tell me more. 

[00:18:48] Kaya: Not a lot of people have. Basically it’s people who live stream with a virtual avatar and using motion capture technology. If I was like an anime girl, it would be doing my movements right as an avatar. So it really opens up the medium to lots of different people who might not wanna be on camera for whatever reason.

It started in Japan on YouTube and it’s made its way over to the US and it’s particularly popular on Twitch. And there’s a V tuber named Iron Mouse who is this mysterious woman who’s Puerto Rican, there’s not a lot known about her. No one knows her age, where she lives, her real name, she did a sub athon, which basically a lot of streamers do to drum up excitement and they keep their stream live and they get more subscribers that way and attention.

And so she did sub athon and she is actually now the most subscribed to female twitch streamer of all time, which is really crazy. And she has just smashed all these records and she has a disease that, she’s often bedridden and she relies on plasma donations. So the fact that she’s been able to be a streamer and be able to use this avatar as an extension of herself was just a really fascinating story.

So it was focused on her, but also looking at the V tuber space and talking to another V tuber as well, who used to stream on camera and then switched to V tubing. She also has a health condition too that causes scarring on her face and some other issues. And she said that it’s just helped, really helped with harassment and has just been a really great kind of creative outlet for her.

 That was a really fascinating deep dive for me cause I wasn’t super familiar with V2 culture. There is, entire V2 management agencies and because a lot of v YouTubers too are anonymous. That raises a ton of questions for how comfortable brands are with working with them.

They don’t really know who the person is. I spoke with Iron Mouse over discord, over a voice chat. And, I don’t know her identity. I don’t know who she is, but, so this was a really unique, interesting story and just a window into, gaming culture and not just gaming too.

They’re not just gaming and they’re doing other things on stream, but that was a really interesting story that I had to really learn a lot about. It wasn’t something I had, I was super familiar with before I wrote it. 

[00:21:16] Jessy: That is fascinating. I knew the teeniest tiniest bit about that space, but you just educated me so much and now I definitely wanna go and check out that article, that piece for a piece like that, do you have a preference?

Do you do quite a bit of research before or do you like intentionally go into it? Not blind, but open to learning and just ask questions as they come up in real time. What’s your style for investigating like a new, a fresh story for you? 

[00:21:50] Kaya: Yeah, I think you always go into a story with somewhat of a thesis, but that can obviously change and you have to be open to that changing, especially as you talk to more and more people. I think the key with these stories is just talking to as many people as you can and getting as many perspectives as you can.

I do definitely do research. At the beginning I do research in between. I really try to have the experts educate me. So I spoke with, the founder of one of these V tuber agencies who was on the founding team of Twitch as well, and was basically like, talk to me as if I’ve never heard of V tubers or streaming or anything.

And just kinda bring it down to that level. I spoke with, the developer of an app that’s actually making you able to stream with your V tuber. So you try, I try to talk to as many people as I can. Obviously the creators themselves but it’s an ongoing process. I spoke with the, with YouTube as well to hear about the trends that they were seeing.

So I think the more voices you can get and the more voices you can talk to just makes for a better story. But I definitely am doing independent research on my own as well as doing the interviews. 

[00:23:00] Jessy: Do you find that people are always. What are people’s perceptions when you reach out? Are they excited to speak with you or are some people like a little nervous when you approach somebody to do research or interview them? Are most people receptive to it or are some people a little hesitant?

[00:23:22] Kaya: I think it depends on the person. Generally I think people are pretty receptive. Sometimes it’s just an issue of time. If they don’t have the time that week or for the deadline. I think people generally wanna kinda have an idea of what the story’s about and other people that you’ve talked to sometimes.

But I think generally people are, especially, people that have an a niche expertise, like they wanna share that and they wanna educate people and they wanna make sure that the story is, reflective of, their view or their work. So I found that generally people are pretty receptive and wanna chat and wanna be involved. Obviously it depends on the topic, but… 

[00:23:58] Jessy: Depends on the topic. It’s interesting, I asked that because I remember when I was representing influencers, I had we had, I think it was like 2020 reach out. This is years ago. I just got the sense that they were gonna spin it in a way that was like, it felt like it could have been negative, so I guess maybe it like, depends like who you’re speaking with. 

If I like as a talent manager for example, I don’t know I feel this natural like inclination to be like protective of my clients. And anyways, I was like a specific scenario that I thought of where I was like, oh, should we even talk to this reporter?

So I guess it depends on it depends on your work historically and like the type of content you’ve put out there. Are you putting people on blast? Are you like a TMZ who’s just intentionally like being, sensational or are you really just drilling down to facts and things like that.

And so I think your work probably speaks for itself and, the publication probably speaks for itself, that there’s so much credibility in what you’re doing and certainly not trying to put people on blast. So it makes sense that people would be receptive to you. 

I would love to hear, you’ve covered, so many different topics within the creator economy and I think it’s interesting for people to read your stories for so many reasons. I wanna hear your opinion today, Kaya, like you are supposed to think critically about influence and marketing. It’s like your job. So in that vein, what do you think needs to change in the creator economy based on all the stories that you’ve covered?

[00:25:37] Kaya: Yeah. Yeah. So I think with the newsletter I have a little bit of an opportunity to provide some of my analysis and commentary. I’m definitely not an opinion writer but I do think people want a point of view, which I think is different than an opinion because like you said, I’ve been covering the space, so if there is an announcement, like for me, it’s more about putting it into context.

And also, part of my job too, I don’t do PR. I’m trying to tell the story and tell it fairly and, in some cases be critical of whether it’s a company’s attempts. I wrote a story about Spotify’s Clubhouse competitor and how it was basically a ghost town and how there wasn’t a lot going on there. And talked a little bit about my experience of opening up the app and there was a room where literally a person was speaking to no one. So there are those moments. 

But I think to your question on influencer marketing I think what’s been interesting to see is, TikTok rise and it’s really put some juice into bringing back some creativity. I think we’ve all seen the Instagram posts that are just feel super product placementy and just don’t feel super authentic. 

And I think what a lot of TikTok creators have been able to do successfully is integrate products in a little bit more of a natural way. So there’s so many amazing comedy and hilarious comedy creators who do skits and have characters that they play, and they’ve been able to bring brands into that naturally in a way that’s entertaining and halfway through you don’t really realize it’s even an ad. 

So I think that’s been really refreshing to see versus like the toothpaste or gummy vitamin ads that we see on Instagram. I think another issue too is there’s definitely more that can be done on paid transparency.

There’s been a lot of studies and reporting out there on underrepresented creators getting paid less or women getting paid less than male creators. There’s some startups that are starting to pop up to address that and acting as like a glass door of brand partnerships.

It can be a really lonely career and if you’re a journalist or you’re a lawyer, you can go online and get a market rate for what your salary should be. But that’s really hard, when you’re a creator, because it depends on so many things. You can be a nano influencer with 10,000 followers and still make a really good living, right? Just because you have a smaller follower base, you might have a more engagement and how do you price that? How do you negotiate the rights? And like all of this stuff goes into it. So I think just more transparency on the brand side and just for creators, maybe it’s just talking to each other or managers have a good intel into, how much other creators they work with are making. So I think that’s another issue. 

And then two, another thing is, the payments take so long. No one talks about that, right? Like it could take, 30 to 90 days for a brand to pay a creator for a sponsored post.

So I’ve spoken to creators who are, doing gig work or stuff in the meantime because when they rely on brand partnerships and it can take so long for them to get paid. They have bills to pay in the meantime. So I think that’s another thing too. And you’re seeing, again, startups come in and do some upfront financing and other features like that to help. But I think those are just three things that stand out to me. 

[00:29:08] Jessy: You definitely have your finger on the pulse because I cannot concur more with all of those things. The, oh my gosh. You’re saying 30 to 90 days. I feel 90 days is like the norm now, and it’s even going beyond that.

We talk a lot about that in Wiim. Oh my God. And our Facebook group and our Slack channel, like our Slack board, like people are like, oh my gosh, did you work with such and such company? Because I haven’t gotten paid. They’re so delinquent. What do we do?

[00:29:38] Kaya: Yeah.

[00:29:39] Jessy: And the issue, one of the issues is that it’s like who has the power in that dynamic? And it’s the person who’s paying, like what leverage do you have if you’ve already posted, right? If you’ve already signed a contract, you’ve already posted and people like, oh, write in, as clause to be able to, protect myself from late payments. 

But that is only so good as if you’re willing to enforce that agreement and very few people ever do when things go awry. So I appreciate that you’re saying all those things. I wanna hear more stories about those, I wanna hear solutions about those things. Cause they’re very prominent issues. We hear them a lot.

And so my next question to you is these are the things that you think need to change, like pay transparency, for example, like high five to that tenfold for sure. I can definitely concur with that in my opinion. What do you think is actually next to change though? Cause I think that is a completely different question

[00:30:49] Kaya: Yeah, I think something I’m watching is just the monetization space. For so long, brand partnerships have been the bread and butter and I’m curious if that changes at all.

I don’t think it goes away, but we’ve seen over the past year or two years, this push from tech platforms to really offer more direct monetization. For a long time, YouTube was the only game in town if you wanted to make money just by creating content. And they’ve built a really powerful, partner program. And I think a lot of companies now are waking up to the fact and trying to do a similar thing themselves. 

We’ve seen the rollout of creator funds and a lot of them like the YouTube Shorts fund and Facebook’s billion dollar investment in creators. Those are all set to run outta the end of this year. So I’m curious kind of what happens next. There are platforms still going to be really aggressively court and creators do things like online courses, or substacks or Patreons become a bigger slice of a pie for creators.

I think, creators have realized that it’s really important for them to diversify their income. So that’s something I’m interested to see if it does change. I don’t have a good answer on whether it will, and obviously each creator has a very unique business and different things work for different people, but I think that’s been really interesting to see, like we saw this huge rollout of tipping and subscriptions and all this stuff. Does that actually work? Is that a meaningful driver for people? 

[00:32:15] Jessy: Exactly. It exists, but are people getting five extra dollars or are people getting, an extra income stream? I’ve heard a lot of people talk about oh we are so excited we finally got access to, let’s say bonuses, and deals for example, or part of this program or that program, whatever.

 It’s like this privilege that you’ve, unlocked access and it was so hard and people are starting to finally like come to terms of the fact that like we’re talking hundreds of thousands of views for not that much money. 

And people are starting to poke holes in it. I think it’s like people just like you who like really dive into it and not just take it at face value, but really say okay, what does this actually convert to? What does this actually mean? I hope there’s more income streams. I hope you know, somebody who, I’m an influencer marketer, so it’s all, it’s so much about like brand deals and brand endorsements. I hope that influencers find, discover, explore additional ways to make income beyond just that, because it could be unpredictable in terms of the frequency of work they’re getting. 

And I dunno, it’s like, do you only just wanna promote other people’s brand? Don’t we wanna have your own, something with more ownership to it? The jury’s out and I look forward to learning more from you in terms of are the meaningful additional revenue streams from the platforms directly or is it something else?

For example, I was reading an article this morning talking more about, how Instagram is now, finally, not finally, but they’re leading into the NFT space where it’s so interesting. You’re talking about Web3. I’m like that geek. I’m obsessed. Obsessed with all things Web3 and especially how it relates to the creator economy. So when it comes to like Instagram and NFTs for example, like in their, one of their initial announcements with Adam, my unofficial boyfriend. He was saying, I know that the key core sort of question that some people have who are very familiar with Web3 and NFTs is like the fact that it’s decentralized. And the fact that like Instagram is the antithesis of that and like, how will that work? We’re still trying to figure that out. 

I appreciate the transparency. I appreciate him, being candid and stuff, but I’m curious how that’s gonna pan out. What are your thoughts on I dunno, NFTs broadly and how that relates to the creator economy?

And then specifically if you wanna talk about Instagram’s involvement in that. I think that’d be awesome to hear

[00:35:14] Kaya: It’s funny cause I talk to recruiters usually once a week. Sometimes I’ll do a bunch of interviews in one day and space them out. But I have a list of questions that I ask everyone, and obviously it can vary a little bit, but I’m often asking creators about NFTs and I would say like 80% of the time it’s met with like dead air and it’s just like huuuuh.

I think we’re still really in the early days of it. One creator was like NFTs, I’m still deciding whether I wanna launch a podcast. That’s where I’m at right now. So I think it’s early days. We saw this huge hype cycle around it last year. Obviously people sold an NFT for a record amount of money, and I think that really started kicking things off.

Marketplaces like Open Sea, raised, crazy funding from venture capitalists. We’re definitely seeing it cooling. NFT prices have have gone down pretty dramatically. We’re obviously in a broader market downturn, so you’re seeing also crypto prices fall.

So I think some of that excitement is at least fizzling a little bit. And some of these, like NFTs that sold for crazy amounts of money now are not being able to fetch kinda those same prices. I’m more interested in NFTs that can provide some sort of real world utilities. 

So if you’re a musician and someone buys this NFT and they get, backstage passes to your concert or something I think those are the opportunities where creators, whether it’s an artist or a meet and greet with a YouTuber, whatever it is, that’s where it can provide some value. Cause I think just. Owning a digital JPEG is not super exciting for most people. 

So I’m interested to see how it shakes out. We’re coming off of this like huge crazy wave. And now we’re seeing YouTube also planning something with NFTs. Obviously on Twitter you can change your profile picture to an official NFT.

I think it’s still niche and creators are still figuring out what the value is. I think also at the same time we’ve seen like lawsuits against crypto scams with some big celebrities who have been promoting it. So I think creators are also often cautious where they’re like, if this is a space I don’t totally understand yet. I don’t wanna necessarily be selling this to my followers, or I don’t want this to look like some kind of gimmick or get rich quick thing.

So I have seen creators, a lot of creators take like a thoughtful approach to it of just being cautious, trying to learn more about it. I still think we’re in such early days. I don’t own an NFT. I’ve never tried to buy one, but I’ve also heard it’s super complicated. Like I think the check is just not really there yet.

So I think there’s just a lot that still needs to move forward. But the sense I get from a lot of the creators I speak to is that, they might dabble in it, they might try to do one type of NFT launch and learn from it, but a lot of them are still sitting in out at this.

[00:38:21] Jessy: it’s very early days. And look as somebody who, like your background is like covering tech and you still do, obviously, but I think it’s spot on way. I agree with what you’re saying in that the tech is very early days and the fact that it’s so difficult to even add money into like your crypto wallet, like Meta mask or whatever it is, that’s like such a huge barrier to entry, that like they just, we have to overcome that before it can become anywhere close to mainstream.

I think it’s cool that, there’s been such in interest in it, in something so that seems so like obscure, like it seems pretty far fetched, like what you’re saying. Like most people think of NFTs as art and that is just like a, jpeg, let’s say, in a digital wallet. And the fact that like that alone, which is most people’s perception, took off and people were intrigued by that and talking so much about that, like that’s pretty fascinating. 

But I could not agree more than what you were saying about, if anyone listening wants to explore more about NFTs, definitely listen to what Kaya was saying, which is like explore NFTs in terms of utility. And we’re transparently looking into that. I’ve got so many ideas about how if you own a Wiim, NFT, that could unlock all these membership features and I don’t know, I don’t wanna give away too much of what we’re hoping to build here, but I agree.

And just as a consumer, not even as somebody who is looking to build my own NFT, but as a consumer, what NFTs would I wanna buy? I don’t know. I like, so I’m upset. Do you know the, my BFF community? I’m sure you do. Yeah.

For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s it’s a community, but they have a ton of like celebrities and stuff who aren’t involved, but it’s basically supporting the education about NFTs, Web3, Crypto for women specifically. So someone who owns a women’s focused networking professional organization, that’s my jam.

And I was introduced to it like a few months ago and I’ve been following them since. And I think it’s fascinating what they’re doing. Part of owning their NFT is that it gives you access to certain things, a lot of different things.

 That has more staying power. That I would assume motivate somebody to really purchase it and their NFT, I looked into it the other day. I don’t own it. I wish I good and I wish I got into it early on. I think it’s up to 600 or so bucks at the minimum to get one of their NFTs.

But it unlocks all these things, which is so fascinating. Anyways, putting NFTs aside, but I appreciate and hearing your perspective on, I think it’s really interesting for sure. What are some of the untold stories that haven’t made it to print, but you personally wish did?

[00:41:27] Kaya: I think we’re starting to see more of it, but we don’t talk as much about the darker side of the industry, we’re not having a labor conversation about creators in the same way that we are about gig workers. And that took some time. But I think people still have this perception of creators that it’s oh, it’s selfie, then it’s video and it’s easy and it’s fun and you get free stuff. And these people are building real businesses and are real entrepreneurs and they don’t have benefits of being in a corporation.

They have to figure out their health insurance. They don’t have PTO. There’s this meme that’s like quit by nine to five, and now I work 24/7 and it’s very true. So I think that’s an interesting conversation. 

And we’ve had all these, conversations and legislation and all this stuff come about with gig workers of whether they’re independent contractors or whether they’re employees, and I think we don’t really talk about that as much with, YouTubers are getting AdSense checks from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, but they’re not employees and they don’t have benefits.

So I’m curious like where that conversation goes. I think too, like we don’t talk very much about minors who are creators and children who are creators and the impacts there. Obviously there’s a ton of really thoughtful parents who are navigating those issues and trying to do the best that they can.

But I did a story in, I think it was early 20, about parents of teen TikTok stars who just went viral on the app and now ,they’ve had to contend with should my child go to college? Should they pursue this? What’s my comfort level? The content they’re putting out? So I think like some of those issues, I think we’re not talking about as much.

And I think too, just across the board, we need to do more work to cover underrepresented creators, underrepresented founders in this space and telling, some of those stories and telling more creator stories in general. 

[00:43:25] Jessy: I love that. I think that’s fantastic. We got into a bunch of questions actually from our members. A lot of them came in on our Instagram stories yesterday when I was telling people that I was so excited to chat with you. So I’d love to just ask you a few of those questions. So we’re gonna start with a fun one that came in and one of our Instagram followers asked, what’s your favorite social media platform?

[00:43:53] Kaya: Oh, that’s such a good question. I would say Instagram. 

[00:43:57] Jessy: Awesome. And what part of Instagram or why Instagram?

[00:44:02] Kaya: I do really like TikTok and I get into the rabbit holes of TikTok where you’re like scrolling and you’re entertained. But I think I like that Instagram has a little bit of everything where I’m catching up with friends, I’m direct messaging, I’m in group chats, but I’m also watching creators and connecting with creators.

So for me, it’s a good mix. Whereas I think of YouTube and TikTok as more like pure entertainment. I’m going there to watch stuff.

[00:44:27] Jessy: I love that. That’s awesome. We had another question come in from on our Instagram stories and they were asking, what would you tell someone, who would be like interested in becoming a social media, like tech reporter? Like basically somebody who would be following in your steps footsteps in early days. What advice who would you give them? 

[00:44:51] Kaya: Yeah, I think like when you’re early on in your career too, you just have to be open to just getting experience. Like I was writing about stocks and oil and gold companies, which has nothing to do what I’m doing now, but I think the skills that I learn there and just the basic journalism skills served me well. 

But I think just like pitch ideas, especially when you’re young and starting out in your career, you have the benefit of really having your pulse in the cultural zeitgeist. I’m in my late twenties now, so I’m like farther away from what like teens and college students are doing online. So that’s really a huge benefit. Cause people always want to know what young people are doing. They’re the ones driving trends. Platforms wanna cater to them. So you have a really good hedge on what’s happening just by virtue of being young and being on these platforms.

So I think just, getting out there, pitching stuff, you could even start as freelance and identify some of the publications that are covering these topics and try to connect with editors and do that. But I think just getting your foot in the door in journalism in general will serve you well and you don’t have to have like your dream job or your dream beat day one. I definitely didn’t. 

It took me some time to get there, but I think especially as someone who’s young and on social media and using these platforms, you have so much visibility into the stories that should. Be told. 

[00:46:09] Jessy: Yeah. Oh, that’s such good advice. We got into another great, we got into a lot of great questions.

I’m like honestly filtering them cause we got a bunch. Another one that we got on our Instagram stories. Who are your favorite reporters to follow in terms of social media, influencer marketing or the creator economy?

[00:46:28] Kaya: Oh, there’s so many, so I’m gonna miss people. But I think like Taylor Lorenz is just such a pioneer of this beat and has become a personal friend too. And she’s really done a lot to legitimize this as a coverage area first, the New York Times now at the Washington Post. 

So definitely everything she does as a must read there’s a whole great team at NBC including Callan Rosenblatt, who just do really great kind of internet culture type reporting. There is a great sub tech newsletter by Kate Lindsay, who is really, has her finger on the pulse. It’s called embedded. 

And she talks a lot about internet culture. Kat Tenbarge also is at NBC and does great work. Rebecca Jennings at Fox does a column every Tuesday on what’s happening online. Definitely missing some people, but off the top of my head, there’s a lot of great women in this space who are covering these issues.

[00:47:21] Jessy: I love that there’s so many women. Those are like all women that you’re listing. That’s fantastic. Do you guys all know each, you’re saying like you and Taylor Lorenz are friends, but like you also meet each other, know each other, talk like I know influencers are all like best friends with each other.

It’s so funny. Do you guys have like group chats going?

[00:47:39] Kaya: Yeah, we do. Like Kelsey Ekman’s another one at Buzz. Feed who’s great. I think too I’m hopeful too as like Vidcon and stuff comes back and there’s more events, like we’ll see each other more in person.

I think this has been a really supportive group of women who really like, share each other’s stories and have just become friends just by virtue of covering beats. And obviously, sometimes we’re covering similar issues, but I think especially in this beat, there’s so much going on that I think there’s so much room for coverage and no one is covering the space quite in the same way or in the same area. Like I’m very focused on the business side. Other people might be more focused on, the internet culture side and what people are doing online or so I think there’s a lot of space. There’s a lot of space.

[00:48:30] Jessy: I think that’s really intriguing. So I appreciate you sharing that. It’s been so lovely having you on today, getting to know you. I’m a big fan of your work, so just I appreciate you doing the work that you do. It’s really so important to our industry as a whole. 

I don’t even know if we’ve really spoken about this, but every single Thursday I do a live audio room where I cover like the week’s biggest news stories and very frequently we include your stories.

So I’m just so appreciative of what you do and you help us all be so well informed. And so for anyone listening that hasn’t read your stories or wants to check them out, what’s the best way for them to explore your work and to even potentially get in touch with you? 

[00:49:20] Kaya: Yeah if you go to theinformation.com and you go on your newsletters, you can find the Creator Economy Newsletter and sign up for free to access kind of our full features and our database of creator economy startups, you have to be a paid subscriber, but the newsletter is accessible to anyone. 

You can also find me on Twitter and most social platforms. I handled @K.Yurrieff. I’m LinkedIn. I’m starting to share more on LinkedIn too. And my email is just kaya@theinformation.com. I read my DM. I’m pretty easy to, reach. 

[00:49:55] Jessy: Fantastic. And we will of course link all of that in the show notes to this episode. Kaya, thank you so much for joining today. It’s been such a pleasure having you. Is there anything that you wanna leave our listeners with before we go?

[00:50:10] Kaya: I don’t think so. Just to really appreciate you having me and thanks for all the great questions.

[00:50:15] Jessy: Thank you so much and thank you guys for tuning in and we will see you next week. Bye guys.


If you enjoy this episode, we gotta have you back. Check out our website from more ways to get involved, including all the information about joining our collective. You can check out all the information at iamwiim.com, leave us a review, a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask you to do is to share this podcast. Thanks for listening. Tune in next week.

Kaya Yurieff

Creator Economy Reporter, THE INFORMATION

Kaya Yurieff joined The Information in April 2021 to launch the creator economy newsletter and cover the rapidly growing sector. Previously, she wrote about technology and social media platforms at CNN. She started her journalism career writing breaking news at TheStreet. She is fluent in Polish.

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