Would you rather be an astronaut or a content creator? Apparently, children today are three times as likely to want to be a YouTuber than an astronaut.
Becoming a thriving content creator is the new American dream, at least for the 54% of young Americans who would take that path if given the choice. One in four Gen Zers say that they plan to become a social media influencer.
One of the most profitable ways to be a content creator is TikTok, which has exploded from a niche app to a global social media phenomenon in just a few short years. With one billion monthly active users, TikTok presents significant opportunities for creators to transform their passions into profits.
Making money on TikTok requires more than mastering the latest dance, or taking videos of what you ate yesterday. There’s a chasm between what a consumer sees while scrolling, versus the planning and hustle it takes actually to make a liveable wage on TikTok. While TikTok does pay its creators, it’s far from what they’d get from a salaried job. At two to four cents per 1,000 views, a creator would make between $20 and $40 for a video with one million views.
So, how are TikTok creators like 26-year-old Eric Sedeño earning enough money to leave stable full-time jobs in favor of making TikTok shorts? Savvy content creators are brilliant marketers who understand that the key to financial success on TikTok is stacking revenue streams.
In this article, you’ll learn the six income streams that successful TikTok creators stack to turn them into successful entrepreneurs.
- “Content creator” is the most sought-after career for today’s rising generation.
- TikTok has 1 billion active users each month and pays its creators two to four cents per 1,000 views.
- TikTok creators with 100K+ followers make $200–$1K/month, while those with 1M+ followers earn $1K–$5K/month from the Creator Fund.
- The highest-earning TikTok creators don’t rely on the Creator Fund; instead, they earn revenue by stacking multiple income streams that rely on their success as a creator.
How to Make Money on TikTok
TikTok creators can monetize their content and accounts by joining the TikTok Creator Fund, selling merchandise, going live, getting paid brand partnerships and sponsorships as influencers, promoting affiliate links, and running TikTok ads.
TikTok creators who want to maximize their earning potential should consider combining multiple income sources instead of relying on just one or two. Top creators are successful because they leverage their large followings for brand sponsorships, collect virtual gifts during live streams, sell custom merch, and offer exclusive content to paid subscribers.
Building a diversified money-making strategy takes time, but it allows TikTok stars to be creative and authentic and understand their target audience. Here are six ways creators are making money on TikTok.
1. Join TikTok’s Creator Fund Program
While the Creator Fund isn’t paying the bills for up-and-coming handles, it should still be the first milestone for any creator wanting to earn something from TikTok. TikTok’s Creator Fund provides an opportunity for more prominent creators on the platform to earn revenue directly from their videos.
To qualify for the program, you need:
- 10,000+ followers
- 100,000+ video views in the last 30 days
- Age 18+
- A TikTok account in good standing and adheres to TikTok’s community guidelines
Once approved, you can earn money based on views, engagement, and overall performance. According to TikTok, the amount each creator earns depends on the overall Creator Fund pool and how their content stacks up against others in that pool.
Earnings are historically minimal, with averages of two to four cents paid out for every 1,000 views. A million views may seem like a lot for small accounts, but it only generates $20–$40. Creators on TikTok with 100K+ followers can earn between $200 to $1K monthly, while those with 1M+ followers can earn $1K to $5K monthly from the Creator Fund.
This is easy money that is otherwise left on the table.
TikTok’s Creator Fund provides established creators with a passive income stream and an opportunity to monetize their audience directly on the platform.
2. Sell Merchandise to Fans
Selling merchandise is a fan-favorite monetization tactic many top creators use on TikTok and other platforms.
Platforms like Teespring, Merchful, and Shopify make designing and selling merch online easy without any upfront inventory costs. Creators design their branded products and make them available for purchase. When an order comes in, the platform handles printing and shipping the product to the customer on their behalf while taking a portion of the proceeds.
This income stream may be a poor fit for some creators, but visual creators like designers, artists, and lifestyle influencers will see significant income with custom merch options.
To increase sales and engagement, showcase your merchandise prominently on your TikTok profile and incorporate it organically into your content. Create special fan packs or offer limited-time products to generate excitement. By providing unique and creative merchandise, fans can have a fun way to support their favorite creators while helping them diversify their income.
3. Go Live and Collect Virtual Gifts
One of TikTok’s most unique and lucrative features is the ability to go live and collect virtual gifts from your viewers.
On TikTok, creators can use the LIVE feature to connect with their followers through interactive live broadcasts. Fans can watch the live stream and interact through comments. The virtual gift feature makes it particularly lucrative, as viewers can send gifts worth a few cents up to over $100 while watching your videos.
Data indicates that TikTok viewers are highly engaged with live streaming content, displaying a 50% greater interest compared to non-TikTok users.
Jakey Boehm, an Australian TikTok creator, earned $34,000 in a single month by livestreaming while he sleeps. Boehm says when he realized there was a future with TikTok LIVE, “The first week I made about $5,000 dollars, and that’s where I thought, ‘This is big, I can do something really crazy here.’”
In order to go live, a TikTok handle must meet specific criteria, including:
- The account owner must be at least 16 years old.
- The account must have at least 1,000 followers.
- Accounts that have been suspended or banned from live streaming previously may not regain live privileges.
- Only public accounts, not private accounts, can broadcast live on TikTok.
- TikTok requires users to verify their phone number for additional security before going live.
- TikTok evaluates factors like views, comments, and sharing activity before approving live streaming.
Live streaming is an obvious companion strategy to partnering with brands to sell products, as 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching TikTok LIVE.
4. Partner With Brands as an Influencer
TikTok creators can monetize their social media following through influencer marketing. Partnering with brands as sponsored influencers is a money-making opportunity for creators to earn revenue while sharing their content.
There are a few main ways to collaborate with brands on TikTok:
- Paid Promotions: Create sponsored posts and videos promoting products you genuinely enjoy and use. Negotiate a rate with the brand based on factors like your follower count, average views, and engagement rates.
- Affiliate Marketing: Promote products and share a unique tracking link that credits you when users make a purchase. TikTok’s integrated affiliate program makes this simple.
- TikTok Ad Manager: Work directly with brands to create paid video ads running within TikTok’s ad network. You’re paid by the brand for each view or engagement your ads receive.
5. Crowdfund Creative Projects
Have you ever wanted to write a book? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few thousand pre-orders before you even wrote the first word? Successful creators do just this.
TikTokers with a large audience understand the power of leaning into their followers’ affection for them by gauging interest before they begin a time-intensive project, thus guaranteeing success before the product is even launched.
This could take many different forms, but popular ones include:
- Writing a book of memoirs
- Creating a digital course
- Designing stickers or art
- Writing a cookbook
- Launching a members-only platform
Promote the campaign heavily on your TikTok channel. Post updates, behind-the-scenes footage, and interactive polls to build excitement. Go live for real-time interactions with backers.
A successful crowdfunding campaign not only raises funds to turn your idea into reality but also strengthens bonds with your most engaged followers in the process.
6. Offer Coaching as a Service
Many TikTok creators have found a new way to monetize their expertise by offering personalized coaching services offline. This is a great opportunity for those who have built a following around their passion and want to continue pursuing it while earning income. By providing these coaching services, they can make money while doing what they love.
Popular genres for TikTok coaching include:
- Business and marketing coaching
- Fitness and nutrition coaching
- TikTok and social media growth coaching
Transactions for these services are handled off the platform through the coach’s own website or scheduling services. This is another reason for creators to diversify their platforms and create their own mailing lists, or websites to collect and store their customer’s information.
The pricing for coaching services depends on the level of depth required. There are different options available, including:
- Self-paced digital courses with prices ranging from $50 to $1,000
- Individual training sessions with prices ranging from $100 to $500 per hour
- Comprehensive cohorts with a multi-week curriculum and lessons led directly by the creator, with prices ranging from $1,200 to $9,500
TikTok creators who teach others online have identified their unique skills, expertise, and experiences. They create videos that highlight their credentials and offer free tips to establish their credibility.
Leveraging their TikTok following for coaching purposes can be an excellent way for creators to generate more publicity and attract high-value customers to their monetization strategy. Paid coaching can significantly expand a creator’s customer base, allowing them to reach revenue far beyond what they make on TikTok alone.
Tips From Top Creators
Top creators are happy to share their stories to success. They understand that whether you’re uploading your first or five-hundredth TikTok, creators are constantly learning. Here’s a selection of tips from top creators.
Be Authentic: Eric Sedeño went from full-time employment to TikTok brand deals, becoming his primary source of income. He doesn’t dance or cook, instead, he’s built a channel entirely around smiling and tie-dyeing. Eric’s account @ricotaquito has 900K followers.
“It doesn’t have to be so much of a strategy. It’s okay to just be your authentic self.” —Eric Sedeño
Tell a Story: If the last decade of marketing advice has taught us anything, it’s that storytelling is powerful. It’s still true, even if you have only a few seconds to tell a story. Sawyer Hartman, a vlogger and photographer, makes a point to add the “why” behind his tutorials and how-to TikToks. His TikTok channel @sawyerhartman has 300K subscribers.
“First, I use the text to establish a problem or grab attention. I usually address people’s fears and concerns right off the bat. And then, step by step, I solve the problem.” —Sawyer Hartman
Learn Marketing: Morgan Eckroth is a 24-year-old barista who made $141,000 last year with brand deals and a job as a marketing strategist for Onyx Labs. Her marketing strength has guided her in the world of content creation. Morgan’s account @margandrinkscoffee has 900,000 followers.
“Social media [as a side hustle] is cool because there’s a pretty low barrier to entry. But I do hesitate to say anyone can do it—or rather, that anyone should do it.” —Morgan Eckroth
Practice and Post Production: Nichole Ciotti has nailed the flawless transition. Her daily styling tips and outfit transitions are about as perfect as you can get. But the lesson stands for every creator—there’s more to going viral than shooting footage: the backend production value has to come through. Her account @nichole.ciotti has 800K followers.
“For flawless transitions, you want to move as little as possible in the frame.” —Nichole Ciotti
Niche Down: Chriselle Lim has niched down to a very specific group of people—moms who juggle their love of high fashion with their love of raising small children. Her account @chrisellelim has 2.8M followers.
“That’s the power of TikTok—finding a niche group of people.” —Chriselle Lim
Not All That Glitters Is Gold
“It’s very easy to lose yourself . . . Put those boundaries in place as soon as you can, so you don’t create something that will drag you down into burnout.”—Morgan Eckroth
Creating a successful brand and earning money on TikTok requires a lot of hard work, creativity, and patience. There are various ways to earn income, including the Creator Fund, live gifts, and sponsorships, but building a substantial income takes time and effort. TikTok fame rarely happens overnight.
Those who do find remarkable success on the platform need to be aware of the negative effects of TikTok. But if you’ve weighed the pros and cons and still want to go all-in on the platform, start small, set limits, and create a purpose.
For monetary success, it’s essential to diversify your monetization methods while maintaining authenticity in partnerships. However, investing heavily in your channel and prioritizing your followers over making money is vital. It may take hundreds of videos before one goes viral, so focus on letting your passion shine through in your content and be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint.
With persistence and steady audience growth, you can unlock monetization opportunities. Although there are potential rewards for creators on TikTok, treating it as a long-term game is essential. Realistic expectations and the right strategy can eventually turn your passion into profits, but it will take time to happen.
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