How to make money on TikTok

TikTok on phone with money in front of pink background
Photo credit: Mehaniq/Shutterstock

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 number of options including:

  • TikTok’s Creator Fund
  • sponsored posts
  • affiliate marketing
  • virtual gifts
  • merchandise
  • advertise
  • Patreon

Before we dive into the specifics of each options, let’s go over some of the basics first.

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 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 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 Creator Fund (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
  • post original content

If your account meets those criteria, you’re in a good position to start looking into making money on TikTok. Even without the Creator Fund. 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

1) How to make money with the TikTok Creator Fund

The TikTok Creator Fund is an official fund that started in 2020 to compensate top creators on the platform and encourage them to keep devoting time and effort into making videos. It is currently available to creators based in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

The upside is that once you apply and are accepted, you don’t have to do anything but keep creating content. Any money that you make through this is paid out roughly every 30 days. Joining the Creator Fund doesn’t prohibit you from monetizing videos in other ways. The downside is that how the funds are calculated and distributed is notoriously vague. Many creators feel it doesn’t properly reflect the views or engagement their videos bring in. 

Ultimately, the TikTok Creator Fund likely won’t provide a solid income in and of itself, but something for you to treat as one portion of your larger strategy.

2) Making money with the Creator Marketplace

TikTok makes it easier than ever to connect with brands through their Creator Marketplace. Creators who meet 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 the Creator Fund, 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) How to make money with TikTok Sponsored 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) How to make money with affiliate marketing on TikTok

Affiliate marketing is where you advertise a product or service to your audience in return for a pre-determined 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) How do TikTok Virtual gifts work?

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.

6) Selling merchandise on TikTok

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 great 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) Advertising on TikTok

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.

8) Patreon

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.

And if you’d rather your audience have the opportunity to just send money your way on occasion rather than via a subscription setup, you can always direct them to virtual tip jars such as ko-fi.

Additional tips and tricks

While there are some incredible success stories surrounding TikTok, most creators don’t shoot to fame overnight. 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.

Figuring out the type of content you want to make and watching videos from other creators who have been successful can help. But, 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 just doesn’t seem to be working. Be yourself, not just something you’ve seen work somewhere else.

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.