In the past, making money from digital content creation used to be seen as a luxury or a pipedream. Unfortunately, there weren’t many funding opportunities for creators, only fueling the annoying stereotype of the “starving artist.” 🙄
But in 2023, we’re officially unsubscribing from the whole “starving artist” thing. These days, more and more creators and creatives are making a living from their creative projects—as they should!
Many organizations and platforms are even offering grants and funding specifically for creators, influencers, writers, designers, podcasters, musicians, artists, and other creatives. A grant is free money you don’t need to repay that you can use toward growing as a creator or funding your projects. In other words, grants are pretty awesome. 🤑
Finding grants you qualify for can be tricky, but we’re making it easy by rounding up the 12 best grants for creators and creatives in 2023, along with their eligibility and application requirements. Read on to discover some awesome grants to potentially fund your creative endeavors (and stay until the end for a free resource from us on how to financially thrive as a creator)!
What is the creator economy, and why is it important?
First, definition time. The term “creator economy,” refers to an economic system where creators create, distribute, and monetize their content (“content” can include anything from videos and writing to art and audio). So if you’re a creator or creative making money from your content, you’re already part of the creator economy.
According to the 2022 MBO Partners State of Independence in America research study, 8.1 million independent creators earned money in the creator economy in 2022—14% more than in 2021. So the creator economy isn’t slowing down any time soon, and more and more organizations and platforms understand the value of supporting and financing creators.
Which is a good way to circle back to what you all came here for: the grants!
Wave, one-stop money management for small business owners and creatives (hi, that’s us), and the Shorty Awards, an awards competition honoring digital and social content, are teaming up to help creatives grow and fund their creative endeavors!
Applications are open to creatives in the US and Canada, including:
- independent creators who produce editorial, fine art, and/or commercial content, such as social media content, podcasts, videos, short films, etc.
- freelance creatives and consultants, including designers, copywriters, illustrators, and producers who provide services to brands, agencies, nonprofits, etc.
Your application will be judged by a panel of experts from the Real Time Academy based on the originality and creativity of your creative project; the quality of your work samples; the social impact of your work; and how well the funds will help you grow as a creative.
How to apply
You can apply now on the Shorty Awards’ website until September 15, 2023 (the early bird deadline is June 29, 2023 and the official deadline is August 28, 2023, though!).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A brief description of your project or business and how the grant will benefit it (300 words max). Your project can be a work in progress or recently completed within the past year.
- A short essay on why you deserve to receive the grant (400 words max). You can talk about your:
- Creative professional achievements
- Following and engagement on social media and/or other digital platforms
- Previous recognitions/award wins
- Extracurricular work that gives back to the community
You’ll also need supporting material, including:
- Visuals or files of the creative project
- Up to three additional pieces of work/projects completed between June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2023
- A short bio and your contact information
Whether you’re into showing off your dance moves to trending audio, sharing reviews on #booktok, or teaching your quirky dog to talk, you might be able to make some money through the TikTok Creator Fund. TikTok created the fund to support creators and compensate them for video views and video engagement. TikTok also recently announced the Creativity Program Beta, which funds creators for high-quality videos over one minute.
To qualify for the TikTok Creator Fund, you must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be a legal resident of one of the 50 states, District of Columbia, or the territories of the United States (creators in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain can also take advantage of the fund)
- Have at least 10,000 authentic followers
- Have at least 100,000 authentic video views in the last 30 days
- Post original videos in line with TikTok’s Community Guidelines
How to apply
If you meet the requirements, you can apply through the TikTok app. Go to your account settings and click on “Creator tools,” where you’ll find the TikTok Creator Fund.
We love Pinterest not just because it's great for creating vision boards, but because they created their Pinterest Creator Inclusion Fund to help creators from underrepresented communities connect and grow. In April 2023, Pinterest announced that its fund would now be available to creators in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France, in addition to the original US, UK, and Brazil.
Winners will receive a cash prize and ad credits, a six-month subscription to Headspace, and virtual hands-on learning sessions with Pinterest and other industry experts.
To be eligible, you either need to be a creator from an underrepresented community or an independent publisher, digital magazine, or content collective that serves underrepresented communities. You also need to meet the following qualifications:
- Be over 18 years old
- Have between 750 – 10,000 followers on Pinterest
- Sincere interest in growing your content creation skills on Pinterest
- Not monetize content over $10,000
- Create 20 – 25 pieces of content that connects to the current cycle’s theme
- Be able to commit to office hours and virtual skill-building sessions
How to apply
Applications are only accepted during specific “cycles” throughout the year, which each last around six weeks. There are two more left in North America in 2023, so be sure to check back!
Want to score a grant and get the chance to have your creative masterpieces honored?
Winners are awarded with grants between $1,000 – $3,000, along with free entry to the Young Guns competition, a portfolio-based competition that honors creatives under 30.
BIPOC creatives under 30 with at least two years of professional experience who haven’t won Young Guns before can enter.
How to apply
You can apply through the Young Guns website. There’s no application fee.
As many successful creators know, Snapchat isn’t just about sending cringy selfies to your best friends anymore. Snapchat’s Spotlight Challenges give creators the opportunity to submit their best video snaps for the chance to score a cash prize.
The minimum amount of money a creator can win is $250 USD, and there are usually three to five winners per Challenge. The snaps need to use a specific lens, sound, or #topic to be considered.
Need some inspo to start snapping? Verified TikTok creator Hayley Thompson earned tens of thousands of dollars in 2022 by placing in 31 Spotlight Challenges. In January and February 2023 alone, she’s already won cash from five Challenges.
For each Challenge, the top (“relevant and highest viewed”) 50 videos will be judged on:
- Creativity and originality
- Innovative use of the Snap Creative Tools
- Unique point of view
- Entertainment value
Winners also need to be over 16 years old and a resident of the US or DC.
Here are some of Snapchat’s Spotlight-specific guidelines:
- Snaps should be high-quality videos, between five to 60 seconds, with sound
- Avoid copyright infringement, solicitation, or any content that doesn’t follow Snapchat’s Community Guidelines
- Remember to add a #topic on the Send To page
How to apply
To find the “Trending Page” in the Snapchat app, go to the Spotlight page, and click on the trending symbol on the top right corner.
Tap on the Challenge you want to enter, where you can read the Challenge details and eligibility requirements and view other video submissions.
Then, tap the camera icon to create your video using the Snapchat camera (remember, it needs to meet the submission requirements for the Challenge!).
Love sharing career and industry thought leadership on LinkedIn? LinkedIn’s Creator Accelerator Program is a six-week incubator-style program for content creators in the US, India, Brazil, and the UK that offers coaching, exposure, and resources.
Winners receive a financial award and early access to LinkedIn tools, plus the opportunity to grow their audience, connect with the LinkedIn community, and bring new ideas to life.
In 2022, the Program specifically focused on creators passionate about technology and innovation.
According to LinkedIn, anyone “driving professional conversations about the world of work” counts as a LinkedIn creator. Any LinkedIn members 18 years or older and based in the US can apply.
How to apply
Applications are currently closed, but you can follow the LinkedIn For Creators page to learn more about the Program.
Podcasters, we want to thank you for making our commutes, meal prep, and gym seshes way more entertaining, so here are some grants you might qualify for. The Black & Brown Podcast Collective is providing microgrants to help podcasters and content creators of color grow.
Black & Brown Podcast Collective have several different grants you can apply to, each with their own eligibility criteria. You can dig deeper into the eligibility requirements after creating a free account on their website.
How to apply
According to the Black & Brown Podcast Collective, their application process is fairly simple. Create a free Black & Brown Podcast Collective account and fill out some basic information. There are no fees to apply,
Don’t sleep on NFTs. There’s been a major boom in non-fungible tokens (NFT) innovation in the past years, and the Ripple’s Creator Fund is supporting indie creators in the NFT space. Winners receive a financial award, plus technical, marketing, and creative support for innovative NFT projects.
In 2023, Ripple was looking for creators focused on “blending physical and digital experiences with real-world utility.”
Creators, brands, agencies, and marketplaces in the NFT space can apply, even if they don’t have technical experience.
How to apply
Applications are currently closed, but Ripple will announce the theme for the next round of their Creator Fund before opening the application portal.
It can be hard to sit down and write without that 🤌 perfect scholarly environment. (Not that we’d know.)
That’s why the “Miss Sarah” Fellowship for Black Women Writers is offering a ten-day residency for Black women writers in a “restful environment conducive to reflection and writing.”
Black women writers both within and outside the US can apply, regardless of experience, but only travel expenses within the US will be covered.
How to apply
You’ll need to prepare the following for your application:
- Your resume
- A one-page statement about your project
- A one-page statement about how the grant will benefit your creative work
- Two letters of recommendation
- A writing sample from your creative work
Visit their website to check when the 2024 deadline is.
Is it your goal to be the next Taylor Swift? (And by that, we mean: be so successful you crash a ticket website?)
If you’re a US performing artist looking to branch out beyond the US, USArtists International is offering up to $18,000 to go toward in-person and virtual performances at international festivals or arts marketplaces.
The program is available to both solo artists and ensembles “across all performing arts practices and disciplines.”
How to apply
Specific guidelines for the 2024 cycle will be posted summer 2023. For more information on deadlines, you can sign up for their newsletter.
We’re all very font of grants, and we’re having a Helvetica good time writing about them.
Our next grant, the Malee Scholarship, aims to support women of color pursuing a career in type design through a $6,000 USD grant and access to a four-week mentorship program. The money needs to be used to support your career as a type designer, which can include rent (so you can focus on your project) or a design program (to level up your skills), for example.
The scholarship is open to any woman of color serious about pursuing a career in type design, whether you’re already in the type design industry or totally new.
You need to be over 16 years old, a US citizen, and a woman of color to enter.
You’ll also need to have:
- A design portfolio
- A resume
- An autobiographical statement
- A statement about your interest and experience in type design
- A statement about why you are an ideal candidate
- A statement of financial need and how you plan to use the funds
- A letter of recommendation
- Have a work-in-progress typeface project
You’ll be judged on your design and your leadership skills, too.
How to apply
Visit their website to learn when applications will open next and how to apply.
Looking for your next big break on the film scene? There are four Roy W. Dean Film Grants every year that can be used for independent feature films, documentaries, web series, or short films. Winners get a financial award, plus the option of scoring some deals on relevant goods and services.
All grant applicants get a free 15-minute consultation, where they can discuss their applications or projects.
Your project should have a budget of less than $500,000, be unique, make a contribution to society, and have a sincere need for financing.
How to apply
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare for your application:
- Cover letter
- Proposal (for documentaries) or synopsis (for shorts or features)
- Marketing and social media plan
- Crew information
- An estimated budget
- Sample work, including a trailer or previous work
The next deadlines are July 1, 2023 for the summer grant and October 31, 2023 for the fall grant.
Get funding for your creations now
And there you have it—12 awesome grants for creators and creatives. We know eligibility requirements can sometimes be super specific, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creator grants. We recommend doing some research on grants specific to your industry or location next—some strategic googling can go a long way when it comes to finding grants.
A tip from us on how to streamline your grant application process? Create a spreadsheet or list of all the grants you qualify for, along with their application deadlines, and then cross them off after you’ve applied. If the deadlines have already passed, you can use your handy spreadsheet as a reminder to apply next year!
Seeing a huge list of grants is also quite intimidating, so we recommended setting aside a chunk of time every week just for grant applications. With so many creative projects on the go, it’s easy to procrastinate on grant applications, so holding yourself accountable to at least an hour every week helps take away some of the overwhelm.
But grants aren’t the only way to thrive in the creator economy. There are also some money management best practices every creator should know about to make smart money moves.
We’re revealing all our tips and tricks in your free download of our Creator’s Playbook, a guide on proven financial tools and strategies to help creators like you grow, thrive, and live your best life in the creator economy. You can thank us by sharing part of your grant with us. 😉 Kidding, kidding—just send us a value pack of cookies, k?
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.