Making money as a content creator is a tempting prospect for anyone who wants to express themselves fully. Just making things, no more being stuck in an office or reporting to somebody else. But knowing people can make a living off TikTok and knowing how it’s done are two entirely different things. So let’s pull back the curtain and discuss strategies for making money on TikTok. Whether you’re starting out or already a seasoned pro, there’s something to learn.
Can you make money on TikTok?
TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with a reported average of 650,000 users joining a day. It’s also an excellent place for content creators to try their hand at earning an income from their work. How you’ll make money on TikTok depends on what kind of content you’re creating. Depending on your specific audience there are a handful of options including:
- TikTok’s Creativity Program
- sponsored posts
- affiliate marketing
- virtual gifts
Before we dive into the specifics of each option, let’s go over some of the basics.
How much do TikTokers make?
TikTok’s most prominent star, Charli D’Amelio, made around $17.5 million in 2021. However, she’s far from the only creator making money on the platform. Other top TikTok earners are raking in the millions. In many cases, these top earners have only been on the platform for a year or two.
It’s worth noting that some influencers making big bucks on TikTok also have other lucrative endeavors going on. But many of those deals came about directly from their renown on the social media platform. Meaning that if you can get that TikTok success locked in, outside opportunities can come knocking.
Who makes the most money on TikTok?
According to Dexerto, these are the TikTokers making the most money per sponsored post on the platform as of 2023:
- Khabane Lame: $153,800 per post
- Charli D’Amelio: $149,000 per post
- Bella Poarch: $92,600 per post
- Addison Rae: $88,700 per post
- Will Smith: $73,000 per post
- Kimberly Loaiza: $70,200 per post
- Burak Özdemir: $66,700 per post
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: $64,301 per post
- Dominik Lipa: $62,001 per post
- Dixie D’Amelio: $57,500 per post
In reality, we don’t have exact breakdowns of how much TikTokers are making and what methods they’re using to make it. The potential for five-figure sponsored posts or six-figure brand deals is certainly there for top earners, but these things fluctuate so quickly and vary so widely, that they shouldn’t be considered a map of any sort for new TikTokers coming up.
How many videos do you need to make money on TikTok?
There’s no magic number of videos you need to start making money on TikTok, although there are obvious benefits to having a decent number of videos under your belt.
For one, accessing certain features on the platform may require a minimum number of views on your page within a specified time frame—it’s usually easier to hit that number when you have more videos.
Having a consistent flow of videos also shows people that you’re a serious content creator who is committed to building their page. This is important both for people browsing your TikTok and deciding whether or not to subscribe and for brands who might be considering working with you.
So, while you don’t need to wait until you hit a certain amount of content to start monetizing in some way or another, you should make sure you’re cranking out enough content to fill your page out for other reasons.
Who can make money on TikTok?
Ultimately, anyone who adheres to TikTok’s community guidelines and keeps their account in good standing can make money. But the rules for eligibility for TikTok’s Creativity Program (which we’ll discuss more shortly) are a good starting point.
To be eligible, you must:
- be at least 18 years old
- have at least 10,000 followers
- have at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days
- have a U.S.-based account
If your account meets those criteria, you’re in a good position to start looking into making money on TikTok, as that means you’ve built up an audience and you’re creating content people want to engage with.
So let’s get to it!
How to make money on TikTok
There are a lot of different ways to monetize your presence on TikTok, and this list is only just the start. As you go through, consider what speaks to you and what might vibe with your audience, bearing in mind that no single option here is likely to make you rich overnight. But with a lot of hard work and a little luck, combining a few of these can set you on the path toward making a living as a full-time content creator, if that’s your end goal.
1) Join TikTok’s Creativity Program
The Creativity Program only launched at the beginning of 2023 and is meant to be a replacement for the Creator Fund, with a focus on videos that are at least one minute long. According to the website, the program offers qualified users “higher cash incentives with earnings based on qualified views,” with earning potential up to 20 times that of the Creator Fund.
TikTok has a list of requirements for both users and their content to qualify for the Creativity Program and directs creators to apply via the “Creator tools” section in the app settings. How, exactly, the program pays out remains vague, as TikTok says the amount is “calculated based on qualified views and RPM (average gross revenue per 1,000 qualified views),” the latter of which fluctuates based on several factors.
Until it becomes more clear how the Creativity Program works and whether TikTok creators feel like it’s more beneficial to them than the controversial Creator Fund, this is a good option to explore, but not to rely on for all your TikTok income.
2) Connect with brands on the Creator Marketplace
TikTok makes it easier than ever to connect with brands through their Creator Marketplace. Creators who meet the criteria in terms of followers and engagement will either be invited to join or allowed to apply. This adds them to a database of TikTokers searchable by brands looking to collaborate on sponsored content.
The amount of money a creator can make through the Creator Marketplace varies. Unlike with the Creativity Program, you and the brand will agree ahead of time as to how much you will be paid per post, and what their expectations are. Building a relationship with brands that make sense for your audience can lead to bigger collaborations in the future.
3) Create sponsored TikTok posts
The Creator Marketplace is one way to find sponsorships, but it’s not the only way. Often, brands will reach out to you directly once your account is gathering enough engagement to be of interest, but you can be proactive as well. Consider the current size of your following, as well as the type of content you create, and make a list of appropriate brands that might benefit from collaborating with you to promote their products or services.
If you’re reaching out to brands directly, you’ll want to create a press kit describing who you are. Include any press you’ve received, your TikTok analytics, and any other partnerships you may have already done with other companies.
From there, target companies you’re genuinely enthusiastic about and make it clear what you can bring to the table. If you create niche content that goes hand-in-hand with the company you would like to work with, you’ll be in a better position to sell both yourself to the company and its product to your audience.
4) Explore affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is where you advertise a product or service to your audience in return for a predetermined percentage of any sale made. This is done using a specific link or code. It’s one of the most common forms of advertising across social media platforms. While it isn’t likely to bring in large sums of money, it can serve as supplementary income, especially if you consider your audience’s interests and choose the partnerships wisely.
5) Cash in on TikTok’s virtual gifts
TikTok also makes it easy for creators to earn money through virtual gifts. To be eligible for virtual gifts, you again have to meet certain criteria regarding follower count, be at least 18 years old, and have an account that has been open for at least 30 days.
If you meet those criteria, you can enable gifts in the app, and fans will be able to send you these virtual rewards in response to videos or while you livestream on the platform. TikTok then awards Diamonds based on the video’s popularity, which creators can ultimately redeem for money.
When you hear “merchandise” in conjunction with TikTokers, you likely immediately think of t-shirts, hats, or other apparel that directly promote a specific brand or creator—and that’s a good place to start. If you have a particular video that went viral, you could capitalize on that with merchandise referencing it, or you could even just sell fun designs featuring your username or image—Fiverr is a great place to track down an artist who can work with your budget to get that up and running.
But there are other merchandising opportunities as well. Think outside of the box. If your TikTok is dedicated to book reviews, you can sell mugs or notebooks or even write your own book to promote to your audience. As your brand gets bigger, you may be able to partner with existing companies to create a puzzle, a makeup line, or something else that will resonate with your particular audience.
7) Advertise your TikTok videos
If you want to increase your revenue from TikTok, you have to build your audience. Ideally, most of this will happen organically as you create top-notch content, but sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. If you decide to promote your videos with paid ads, you can utilize TikTok’s ad manager to do so. This will likely be of particular interest to creators who have products or services to sell.
No matter the size of your audience, Patreon allows your most devoted fans to set up monthly payments to help fund your content. Many creators offer perks in return. This includes exclusive content, early access to new videos, or even the ability to chat with you.
You can set up different tiers to encourage people to give more money each month. Creators decide how much effort they want to put into creating or providing these perks for their loyal fans. It may take some trial and error to determine how much people are willing to pay and for what. But Patreon can be a lucrative form of income for creators with a dedicated following.
9) Turn on TikTok Tips
In 2021, TikTok introduced the ability to tip creators directly on the platform. Although this doesn’t carry the same incentives as something like Patreon, seeing a tip option right there on the page might influence fans to make spur-of-the-moment donations if they like something they see.
TikTok’s tipping option isn’t available to everyone, however. Users can apply to activate this feature if they meet certain requirements, including being at least 18 years old, having a minimum of 100,000 followers, and maintaining a personal account rather than a business account.
10) Become a UGC creator
Brands frequently partner with influencers to sell their products, but more and more are also working with user-generated content creators to add a more authentic feel to their advertisements.
UGC creators don’t need to have a large following and often don’t even need to post the videos they create on their own page. They work with brands to create reviews, instructionals, product demos, unboxing videos, or similar, which the brand will then share on their social media or website. Diving into UGC creation may not be a good fit for someone who is already a recognizable influencer, but for everyone else, check out our full guide to becoming a UGC creator.
11) Teach an online workshop
This option is particularly well-suited for “how-to” creators who are highly specialized in their niche. Does your TikTok focus on refinishing thrift store furniture? Recreating dishes from popular chain restaurants? Offering helpful hints for job interviews? It may be fairly straightforward to rework what you do into an online workshop or ongoing course, and viewers will immediately see the benefit, as they’re already familiar with your work and style from your videos.
But even creators whose content doesn’t revolve around showing others how to do something may be able to find a way to make money through workshops. If you’ve gained an audience for your wicked accordion skills, people may be willing to pay for courses in which you run through the basics, teach recording techniques, explain maintenance and repair of the instrument, or any number of other things. If you plan things out in advance, you can even test the waters by offering some how-to videos in addition to your normal content so your audience starts to see you as a teacher in addition to being an entertainer.
12) Offer consulting services
If you feel confident in your skills, why not turn around and help brands or even other aspiring influencers beef up their social media presence? Different companies may be looking for help in different areas, ranging from branding to content creation to cracking the TikTok algorithm.
You can note that you offer consulting in your TikTok bio, linktree, or on your website, and you can also reach out directly to brands you think could benefit from your services. Learn to pinpoint places you think they could improve, point to your own page as proof of concept, and you might be surprised at the bites you get.
13) License your content
When your TikTok video goes viral—or sometimes even just when it’s starting to pick up traction—video licensing companies may swoop in and offer the creator a deal where they license it out and split the profits. These deals can be lucrative in certain scenarios, but make sure you thoroughly vet any company that approaches you and pay close attention to the terms of the contract. Specifically, you’ll want to note whether they’re asking for an exclusive license, who retains copyright, and whether the terms only apply to a single video or if they’re for existing and/or future content as well.
What happened to the TikTok Creator Fund?
The TikTok Creator Fund launched in 2020 as a way to compensate top creators on the platform and encourage them to keep devoting time and effort to making videos. TikTok made a three-year commitment to pay hit video makers from a one billion dollar fund, but top creators frequently criticized the low payouts. In November 2023, the platform announced that it would be discontinuing the TikTok Creator Fund effective December 16, and shifting focus to the Creativity Program.
Choosing a money-making strategy
With so many options available for making money on TikTok, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
Ideally, as you continue to grow your brand and channel, you’ll be able to incorporate a number of the options so that you have multiple revenue streams coming in rather than relying on just one or two ways of profiting from your content. As anyone who has been in the content creation game for a little while can tell you, platforms shifting policies or adjusting the algorithm can knock things out of whack in a heartbeat. When that happens, having different revenue streams can be a lifesaver.
But when you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to try a few strategies wholeheartedly rather than dabbling in everything all at once. That way, you won’t get overwhelmed and your audience will be less likely to get annoyed by a sudden large pivot towards everything being about money.
We can’t pick your strategies for you, but we can suggest a few things to consider when you’re weighing your options.
1) Who is your audience?
Understanding your demographic can save you from potentially wasting time setting up income streams that won’t pay off—or can steer you in a better direction. For instance, if most of your viewers are teenagers, they might not be tossing money in your tip jar, but advertisers might want to reach them through sponsored partnerships.
2) What does your niche lend itself to?
Certain niches just immediately make sense with certain moneymaking strategies. Comb through TikTok hashtags to see if you can find any patterns. If ideas for merchandise or online courses that fit perfectly with the content you’re putting out were jumping out at you, it probably makes sense to follow through on that.
3) What is the time commitment?
This is particularly important to consider for part-time content creators. If you’re already stretched thin just making your videos, you probably don’t want to add something that will majorly increase your workload just yet. Of course, there’s always a cost-benefit trade-off, but be realistic with yourself about what you can handle, especially when it comes to ongoing income streams like Patreon.
4) What are your short and long-term content creation goals?
Something may sound like a good way to put some cash in your pocket, but will it distract you from your long-term goals? Will it shift you away from your core audience or desired demographic? Conversely, will any of these help push you further toward where you want to be in ways beyond just money? These things can be hard to predict, but it doesn’t hurt to think about them before you dive in.
Additional tips for making money on TikTok
No matter which income-generating options you choose to pursue, it’s helpful to remember that the only reason they’re possible is because of your work as a TikTok content creator. Which is to say, be careful not to get so focused on things like merch or sponsored videos that you stop creating the things that attracted an audience in the first place, or that made you interested in pursuing this career path. Even just on a practical level, that can make it difficult to keep the momentum when it comes to making money.
So let’s briefly talk about some things you can do to increase your likelihood of financial success on TikTok that are a little more abstract:
1) Study what other creators are doing
Keeping tabs on other creators both in and out of your niche is endlessly beneficial—you’ll learn more about what kind of content people are responding to, discover possibilities for collabs, and, of course, see what creative new ways other creators may have come up with to generate income. You might even come up with your unique spin on making money by doing this, but even just keeping your content creation game ahead of the curve can help keep the money flowing in.
2) Come up with a strategy
It’s easy to just hop on TikTok and start posting content right away—and there’s nothing wrong with doing just that—but it doesn’t hurt to come up with a strategy and outline your short and long-term goals so you know exactly what you’re working towards and how you want to do it. This will help you stay focused as a creator, and can also provide you with goal posts to hit as a businessperson.
3) Stay true to your brand and yourself
The last thing you want is for your audience to feel like you’ve “sold out” by turning your page into product placement and endless ads. An easy way to combat this is to make sure you have a clear image of what your brand is and that any collaborations or sponsorships you take on stay in line with that. You want your audience to trust you, and trust can be very difficult to win back online.
4) Be authentic
Similarly, don’t forget that TikTok viewers often value authenticity—possibly more so than audiences on other more refined platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Care about what you’re creating, engage with your audience in meaningful ways, and don’t be afraid to adjust when something doesn’t seem to be working. Be yourself, not just something you’ve seen work somewhere else.
5) Value your audience
You want your audience to still be there even if the brand deals dry up and the Creativity Program doesn’t work out. A devoted audience can be incredibly profitable. For that to be the case, you need to treat them well, engage with them, provide the content they’re expecting to see, and do what you can to make them want to keep coming back to watch your page, follow you to other platforms, and buy your merch/subscribe to your Patreon/tip your TikTok.
6) Be patient
While there are some incredible success stories surrounding TikTok, most creators don’t shoot to fame overnight. It may take some time, but making money as a content creator is within reach for just about anyone who sets their mind to it—and as a bonus, you get to make that money doing something you love.