With nearly 100 million monthly active users and two billion downloads globally, it’s an understatement to say that TikTok has experienced a meteoric rise since its global release in 2018. Its popularity has been noted at the highest levels of government, with President Trump threatening to ban the platform in the U.S. due what Trump’s lawyers cited as national security considerations.
As more attention is focused on the platform it’s natural to wonder — can content creators make money on TikTok? If you’re growing a TikTok following and curious about monetizing your audience, here’s what you need to know.
Why Making Money on TikTok is Getting Easier
Monetizing your TikTok wasn’t always the norm. In the early days of TikTok there were few branded posts. As an increasing number of brands have entered the space, selling opportunities for sponsored content on the social platform is becoming easier for creators.
The amount of money you can earn on TikTok varies, but just like any social media platform, if your content goes viral it could be lucrative.
It’s also actively making it easier for viewers to monetize their audience without the help of brand partnerships. With TikTok’s integration with Teespring, announced in late August 2020, creators can now sell merchandise directly to their fans.
As TikTok’s popularity continues to establish itself, more brands are flocking to the app, bringing with them opportunities to make some serious cash for creators who can establish TikTok followings.
How to Monetize Your TikTok
Monetizing your TikTok is one of the newest ways to make money online. Here are some of your options.
TikTok is a platform that emphasizes audio, with songs and audio clips often going viral on the platform — take Lil Nas X’s Billboard 100 hit “Old Town Road” as a prime example.
Artists attempting to replicate Lil Nas X’s path to success have started to pay TikTok influencers to include their audio in posts. Creator Skylar Krupa, who posts videos of his grandparents, has used this method to monetize his growing audience. He charges a rate of $25 per 25,000 followers.
There’s no formal way to arrange audio sponsorships, so teens who want to monetize their following this way, or even grandparents from the example above, have to reach out to artists directly or through artist management teams.
Creators who want to monetize their audiences directly, without relying on a brand’s advertising dollars, can turn to selling merchandise and products to their audience. TikTok’s partnership with Teespring means creators can sell merchandise directly in the app. The integration allows TikTok creators to customize a design from 180 different products.
To test the integration, TikTok and Teespring launched with an initial cohort of 7,000 creators in September 2020. They’re expected to announce how additional creators can start utilizing the integration.
Creators can also add links in their bio to a personal website or alternate merchandise platform where fans can purchase products. For example, TikTok user, @thedottist, has a trackable link to purchase her artwork directly embedded in her bio.
Promote a Business or Brand
Audio sponsorships aren’t the only way to make money with branded content on TikTok. Creators can also leverage their videos to help brands or businesses launch and promote products.
One of the early examples of influencer marketing on TikTok was Mucinex, the cold and flu medicine. Mucinex worked with creators to promote its products during the cold and flu season. The brand launched a challenge called #BeatTheZombieFunk and TikTok influencers, such as the brother-sister duo OurFire, to participate.
Creators who want to get started with brand sponsorships and don’t have representation can reach out to brands and businesses themselves or find opportunities through TikTok’s official Creator Marketplace.
Get Paid by TikTok
TikTok wants to help its biggest creators succeed and earn money solely through the platform. In pursuit of this ambition it’s launched a $200 million creator’s fund, with hopes to grow it to $1 billion by 2023. Through this program, TikTok will pay creators directly for making videos.
TikTok has been vague about how much creators can earn and how many creators will receive funding, including information about the minimum number of followers needed to qualify. Some TikTok experts have said you need at least 10,000 followers and 10,000 views on your profile within the last 30 days, but this hasn’t been confirmed by the platform.
Creators can apply through their TikTok profile. In the notifications section of your messages you’ll get an invitation to apply directly from TikTok if you meet their minimum requirements.
Convert Gifts to Diamonds
A popular way of earning money on TikTok is for creators to host live streams where their fans send them gifts, purchased with virtual coins that are bought within the platform. Creators can then convert these gifts into “diamonds” (TikTok’s virtual credits) which can be cashed out.
In order to purchase coins, fans must be at least 18 years old.
Creators who are 18 years old or over can withdraw diamonds for a cash value decided by TikTok at any time. Payment is made to a Paypal account of the creator’s choosing. TikTok imposes daily limits on withdrawals, which are displayed during your withdrawal process.
How Much Money Can You Earn on TikTok
The amount of money you can earn on TikTok varies, but just like any social media platform, if your content goes viral it could be lucrative. There aren’t any third party sources yet that have objectively quantified how much money TikTok creators are making.
Even popular creators, like Ryan Shakes, who’s been wildly successful, don’t release their earnings. Instead, we can estimate how much money you can make on TikTok by piecing together anecdotal evidence.
For example, London-based economist Tom Hartmann estimated in a Medium article that TikTok creators with 100,000 followers earn about $500 to $2,000 for sponsored videos. Doing the math, that could mean that top TikTok creators make somewhere between $50,000 and $150,000 for sponsored posts.
Another way to estimate earnings is by reviewing figures released by marketing agencies. TalentX Entertainment, an influencer agency, estimates they charge brands between $0.01 to $0.02 per video view on TikTok.
Then there’s TikTok’s creator’s fund — which they hope will encourage creators to make content full-time through the platform. It hasn’t released any information on what a full-time income might look like, but the idea is that it’d be substantial enough that creators don’t have to work other jobs.
Making Money on TikTok vs. Instagram and YouTube
YouTube pays creators a sum based on advertising dollars made by the platform from creator videos. TikTok, however, doesn’t have a specific equation for how creators are paid, making it more like Instagram. TikTok and Instagram allow creators to get paid by brands for creating sponsored content.
For some creators, this could create a barrier to getting paid — you need to establish a relationship with brands and convince them your content is worth their money. If you need to make money fast, the process of monetizing your following by establishing an audience and connecting with brands might take too long for you.
Other creators feel this strategy opens doors, as it allows them to eventually maximize earnings with any businesses that are interested.
|Active Monthly Users (Worldwide)||Nearly 700 million||More than 1 billion||More than 2 billion|
|Monetization Options||Product salesBrand partnershipsTikTok Creator’s FundHost a livestream||Product salesBrand partnerships||Ad money as a YouTube PartnerProduct salesBrand partnershipsChannel memberships|
|Barriers of Entry||Need a smartphoneNeed relationships with brands||Need a smartphoneNeed relationships with brandsCould need graphic design or photo editing knowledge to succeed||Need a smartphoneTypically, high-production videos perform better. Might need audio or lighting equipment.|
Using TikTok as a Side Hustle
TikTok is gaining popularity and will continue to have more lucrative monetization opportunities as the app evolves. If you’re willing to put in the work to build your audience you could end up reaping financial rewards.
This platform might be best for creative people who want to earn money on social media without investing the time and high production value that platforms, like YouTube and Instagram, typically require. That said, to succeed on TikTok you’ll need a solid understanding of the platform’s nuances and its culture, which can also be a major time investment.