dotLA Summit: Why Building Community Is More Important Than Gaining New Followers

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
dotLA Summit: Why Building Community Is More Important Than Gaining New Followers
Photo by David Ruano/ dot.LA

Earning a living from OnlyFans or Twitch is much harder than it looks.

Only a tiny fraction of creators earn enough to quit their full-time job. Not to mention that building a large enough following can take months or years — if it happens at all. Content creators must constantly adapt to platform changes, keep abreast of new trends and stay up to date with a demanding and capricious audience.

In a panel at the dot.LA Summit, Senior Editor Drew Grant spoke to leaders from the creator community to find out what challenges and opportunities lay in store for today’s content creators.

The main takeaway: Influencers are now creators and building a strong community of devoted, loyal fans is more important than gaining a million new followers or going viral. But what led the shift from “influencer” to “creator?” Evan Britton of celebrity discovery platform Famous Birthdays credited a TED Talk by Instagram head Adam Mosseri about how creators would lead the internet of the future.

“So there was a complete 180 from people on a platform that are just trying to do affiliate deals, to [...those people] being the core of the platform,” said Britton. While the term “influencer” and “creator” are interchangeable, the latter is used more often in a professional context.

To that end, brands have embraced the creator economy, and even “micro-influencers” with relatively small followings have landed paid opportunities and sponsorship deals.

“At every level, people are here to play and brands want to build their voice,” said Ashley Rudder, head of creator partnerships at ecommerce platform Whalar.

Rosie Nguyen, the co-founder of creator platform Fanhouse, said her own personal account had 500 or so paid subscribers.

“If I were to host an event, they would fill the room — like they would be there for me — because they were there every month,” Nguyen added. “And that to me is sometimes more valuable than the [...40,000 followers] on Instagram or the 7,000 followers on TikTok and all these other numbers.”

To put her point in perspective, Nguyen brought up this year’s VidCon, a conference for creators, as an example of quality meaning more than quantity: “There were speaker panels without a single attendee for creators with millions of followers on TikTok.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


LA’s Largest EV Car Sharing Program Is Expanding, and Letting Other Cars Charge at Its Facilities

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

charging station
Blink Charging

It ain’t easy being a charging company…or at least a lot of them aren’t making it look easy. Between reports of abysmal charger uptime, declining stock values, lack of standards and meaningless jargon (is “hyper” really faster than “ultra?”), the race to electrify America’s roads has been a bumpy one. For Miami-based Blink Charging, however, the solution to smoothing the transition may be about becoming more than just a charger company.

Read moreShow less

MyFitnessPal’s Tricia Han on How Cultural Understanding Strengthens Health Data

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Tricia Han
Image courtesy of Tricia Han

On this episode of Office Hours, MyFitnessPal CEO Tricia Han discusses her role revitalizing the company and redefining its mission during a time of uncertainty for the company.

“I love a good reboot,” she said. “Let me just say that. That's how I came to be at the company.”

Read moreShow less