How Creators Make Money on TikTok

TikTok has taken the social media world by storm since coming into the scene in 2017, with over 800 million active users to date. This is all great, but the question that always sticks out on apps like this is: “how do all these creators make money?”

Written by Justin Patterson

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There are 4 main ways of making money on TikTok. I want to start this by talking about one of the more obvious ways of making an income on TikTok:

Brand deals

Yes, this means influencing on TikTok. An influencer, simply put, is an individual who has the ability to affect the purchasing decisions of others due to their relationship with their audience.

Companies highly value creators who have strong engagement and connection with their fanbase, because that allows them to promote products effectively. A tip when thinking about how to become a successful creator: be genuine and authentic. Followers will only stay engaged with your content if you appear “real”.

Once you develop strong audience engagement and connections, it’s time to utilize TikTok to make some money. (Note that it’s not just about your follower count, companies value engagement over number of followers because engaged audiences prove to convert better.)

Many creators use platforms such as Creator Hood to find appropriate brand deals. By promoting products and services, brands will pay you for these features. This is why it’s so important to be authentic, as your followers will not be supporting the products you promote if they sense them as just a “money grab.” In order to have success, you need a strong fan community, and stay true to yourself by choosing to promote brands that you actually support and that make sense for your audience.

Live streaming

This is an option where you’re able to utilize your connection to your followers to earn money without the need for additional brands.

Various unique stickers that users can reward to their favourite TikTok creators.
Various unique stickers that users can reward to their favourite TikTok creators.

The system is simple: any TikTok user is able to buy “coins” (type of currency on TikTok) using actual money via the in-app purchase system. Users then exchange their coins for virtual gifts. Finally, during a live stream the user can reward the creator with the gift, which is essentially the equivalent of giving them a small amount of real money. The creator gets 80% of the donation, and TikTok keeps the rest.

Note that you need at least 1000 subscribers to start a live stream.

Selling your own products/services

If you already have an existing business, TikTok is a great tool to freely promote your company. The key to this is to be creative, authentic, and follow the current trends in the TikTok world, in order to get TikTok users excited about your business.

For example, you could have a business where you sell your own unique paintings. Traditionally, you may just post these paintings in a local group or on Instagram. Well, with TikTok you could be creative and show how the painting is created, the materials used, all while using a trending song. You could post these TikToks regularly, along with additional ones showing how to purchase the paintings, the prices, and any other information that is relevant.

TikTok or TikTok users aren’t directly paying you for this. However, through this method, you are able to utilize your existing business to capture the growing and vast users on TikTok. By putting up a video that is fun, creative, or involves a relevant trend, your business will be getting a ton of new eyes.

Alternatively, if you don’t already have a business, TikTok can be a great place to start. Whatever your passion is, whether it be art, fitness or cooking- TikTok is a place where you can easily get started with creating content, and blast it out to the world. It may take more upfront time, but if you’re consistent and authentic you can build an engaged audience. Then you can start monetizing that audience by selling your product/ service.

TikTok creator fund

Now this is where things get interesting. If you have been on TikTok and seen creators asking for likes or shares so they can make money for some reason, they are referencing the Creator Fund.

Brief history of the creator fund: It was created back in July 2020 and was “promised to pay eligible TikTokers for their videos.” Originally, the fund was planned to distribute $200 million to users over the age of 18, with minimum 10K followers, who’ve amassed at least10K views in the last 30 days. Due to the excitement of the announcement, TikTok committed to grow this fund to over $1 billion over the next three years.

It’s easy enough to join; simply switch your account to “pro” in the settings, then tap “Apply” in the Creator Fund section. If this sounds too good to be true, well you might be right.

People who have qualified for the program have spoken about how it’s not clear how exactly this Creator Fund works. Users have said that their engagements have been varied, with their payouts not being what they were expecting.

One user has spoken about his experience with the Creator Fund, citing that his engagement has gone down since joining. This has been the experience for many creators who have joined the fund, with one user stating: “I think there is some correlation between joining the fund and getting less views, which can be discouraging because I suppose I expected my views to increase.” TikTok could be preventing these creators videos from reaching the For You Page of different users on the app, in order to limit the amount they have to pay each creator that is joining the fund.

Business Insider reported in August 2020, that many creators made next to nothing, even though they received thousands of views. Janelle Correa, recently went viral for a TikTok she posted. She enrolled in the fund in August, and she stated her earnings are only around $30.

However, I will say, no matter what is actually going on behind the scenes in regard to the TikTok algorithm, certain users have seen success while being apart of the Creator Fund. It is something definitely worth checking out if you meet the requirements to apply for it, as you do have the potential to generate money from it!

Closing Thoughts

TikTok has become a great platform to grow your following, while at the same time giving yourself the opportunities to generate a source of income. As TikTok continues to flourish, there will be even more opportunities for anyone to reap the benefits of the platform. By using one of the recommendations in this blog that best align with your circumstances, you will be giving yourself the best possible chance to make some additional cash!

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Are you a creator and don’t know the best way to engage with your audience to get the best results? Backr is here to help you! Sign up for early access here and be the first to know when it’s ready (coming soon!!)

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Justin Patterson

Business development & marketing at Backr.

Building audience engagement strategies for content creators. Come check us out backr.ai

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