Last month, Squarespace launched a range of tools to help creators monetise their work and build communities of fans and followers online.
While not unprecedented for the website building platform, the explicit focus on creators did mark a new turn for Squarespace — as did its collaboration with Björk .
To find out more about the new tools, the opportunity for Squarespace, and what it was like working with the enigmatic Icelandic songstress, B&T caught up with David Lee, the company’s chief creative officer.
Why is it important for Squarespace to offer these tools for SMEs and creators?
The digital ecosystem is changing at a rapid pace and so are the needs of our customers, which is why we’re constantly expanding our product offerings to meet the needs of the creators and entrepreneurs who use Squarespace. From monetizing video content to being able to run your business from your phone, we want to make it easy for people to transact with their customers. Our latest updates unlock more ways for Squarespace users to succeed online.
How large is the potential market for content creator monetisation?
We’ve seen an appetite from creators and entrepreneurs globally to diversify their revenue streams and monetize the content they share online. In Australia, the creator economy itself has grown by 48 per cent in the last two years and almost half of Aussie online content creators are now earning money from monetizing their content. We’re constantly looking for ways to support this next generation of sellers with accessible tools that can help them start and scale their careers.
You launched the campaign with Bjork, what was it like working with her? Why was she a good fit for the campaign?
With the launch of Fluid Engine, we feel that we have the most expressive design platform that allows anyone to create an online presence with full creative control. Our in-house creative team is constantly looking to identify and set trends that provide creative inspiration to our customers. This is why we introduced a new series called Squarespace Icons, which will feature collaborations with some of the most iconic visionaries in the world.
And who better to kick this off than Björk, who is not only a creative icon, but someone who continues to inspire and experiment. She has redefined what it means to be a musician and a fashion icon, so she was the perfect partner to bring our vision to life. Björk has made it a priority to retain her artistic freedom like many of the people building their digital presence on Squarespace.
We had an opportunity for our designers to work directly with Björk in Iceland to experiment and stress test our new design platform for her latest album. She was not only down to earth, but very collaborative. She had a very specific vision of an online world that was inspired by nature, a world where there are no straight lines, and used the narrative arc of her new album Fossora as inspiration for the overall art direction of the website. She not only released all of her music videos on this site built using Fluid Engine, but the design of her new website provided the inspiration for our first Icons templates based on her creative vision. This new template has turned out to be one of the most popular new designs we’ve introduced this year.
There are a number of new features designed for video production. Why was this a big area of focus for the update?
We’ve always been driven by our mission to make beautiful design accessible to everyone, and video production is no different. It was important for us to apply the same design principles to video creation so our customers can unlock its potential for themselves.
Video is one of the most powerful creative formats right now – more than eight hours are spent each week watching videos on social media. We wanted to make sure that with accessibility to these tools, people can now produce high quality content without the barriers of time, money and expertise that video content normally has.
How closely does Squarespace work with creators and SMEs?
We are constantly creating new products and features that allow creators and entrepreneurs to grow their online presence and turn it into a real business. Whether you’re a creator who’s built a following and now needs to find new ways to monetize, or the small business owner looking to find new ways to market themselves – we try to live vicariously through their shoes to understand their goals and provide new ways for them to monetize their brand and products or services. It’s not enough to simply put yourself out there, we are very focused on finding what will set them apart and help them stand out online.
This is incredibly important today as your website and social presence are your online identity, and Squarespace has always made a real effort to support these entrepreneurs. We recently held the “Make It Awards” for the first time in Australia this year to award SMEs grants to help their businesses. This helped us learn more about the needs of our customers which in turn, assists us in building the right platform with the most effective tools.
What advice would you give to creators looking to engage with marketers and brands, and what do they need to help monetise?
It’s important for creators to find an authentic match with brands. You need to understand who your audience is and find partners who feel like a natural extension of the content that’s built your following. At the same time, brands need to understand that when you collaborate with creators, it’s just as important to let them tell your brand story through their lens and give creators the creative freedom to come up with content that feels authentic for their audience.
At Squarespace, we are trying to help creators grow their audience in new ways and to provide new tools that will allow these creators the ability to monetize in numerous ways. Once you’ve built an audience, you can now put special content behind a paywall, you can now sell merchandise from an online store, you can find ways to connect with your audience by selling your time and scheduling appointments, etc. Having the ability to sell anything and everything in one place is key, but to make sure it’s done in a way that stands out and is an expression of your brand is just as important.
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