Content monetization is a fancy way of saying “make money off your content”. There are lots of ways to monetize content and lots of people making lots of money doing so. TikTok has something like a billion monthly users so naturally, people want to know how they monetize their TikTok content to extract some income from those users, and that’s exactly what we’re going to look at here.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short form video hosting service owned and operated by the Chinese company ByteDance. It was launched in China in 2016 under the name A.me and shortly thereafter was rebranded Douyin. In 2017 ByteDance launched Douyin on the international market under the name TikTok, while keeping the Douyin name for the Chinese market. Within a year more than 100 million people had downloaded the app and by 2022 TikTok had reached 2 billion downloads worldwide.
Can you actually make money on TikTok?
You certainly can! But, there are a couple of conditions you will have to meet before you’ll be eligible for the TikTok Creator Fund, which allows TikTok creators to monetize. Fortunately, the conditions are straightforward and easy to understand. To monetize on TikTok you must have at least 10,000 followers and at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days. While neither condition is particularly easy to achieve, they can be met if you post quality content in one of the most popular categories, such as dance.
If you are skeptical about whether it’s possible to make money on TikTok take a look at the list below. It contains 6 of the highest earners on the platform, how much they made last year, and the kind of content they’re known for.
#1 – Charli D’Amelio
Last year 18 year old Charli D’Amelio earned a staggering £16 million, making her the biggest earner by far on the platform. Charli has 141 million followers who wait breathlessly for her to post her next dance clip. She has also garnered sponsorship deals with P&G, Hollister and Dunkin.
#2 – Dixie D’Amelio
If the last name sounds familiar it’s because Dixie is Charli D’Amelio’s younger sister and sometime collaborator. Dixie earned £8.5 million last year from those collaborations as well as from her own short music clips.
#3 – Addison Rae
Addison Rae occupied the #1 place on this list until she was dethroned by Charli D’Amelio. Although she’s now ranked third in earnings after pulling in “only” £7 million last year, she has more followers than Dixie D’Amelio. Like Charli D’Amelio, Addison posts videos of herself dancing.
#4 – Bella Poarch
Bella Poarch should give every novice TikToker hope. Why? Because she came out of nowhere and catapulted to the upper echelons of TikTok earners on the strength of nothing more than some lip syncing and light comedic videos. Last year she earned an estimated £4 million.
#5 – Kris Collins
Former hairdresser Kris Collins began making short sketch videos during lockdown and posting them to her social media accounts, including TikTok. Next thing you know they took off. She now has more than 44 million TikTok followers and earned £4 million last year.
#6 – Avani Gregg
Avani Gregg is another unlikely social media giant who rose to prominence on TikTok with her Clown Girl makeup tutorials. Last year this Indiana native earned a not-at-all-clownish £4 million.
As you can see you don’t have to come from a well-known family or be a movie star to start earning money on TikTok. It’s all about knowing what people want and putting it out there where they can see it.
What should you do to get started?
All of the above-listed mega-earners started out the same way every other TikTok user did. If you aspire to follow in their footsteps download the app (it’s free), set up a TikTok account (also free) and then get started using most or all of the following tips:
Pick a niche
If you’re just posting random videos about things that occur as you go about your day, more power to you. But don’t expect to unseat anyone on the biggest earners list. The best thing to do is to find a niche for yourself. It should be something you love or love to do so that creating content is fun and you’ll stick with it. Your niche can literally be anything that interests you (within reason of course) and seems like it will be of interest to others, like dancing.
Document, Don’t Create
Document, Don’t Create is a content marketing strategy built around the notion that if you’re going to publish a lot of content (which you should be doing if you want to make money on TikTok) you can’t spend a lot of time planning dozens of shots and camera angles, like you would on a film. Instead, simply turn on the camera and capture what you want to capture live, with minimal setup. This bare-bones production method will enable you to pump out the content that’s needed to carry favor with the TikTok algorithm.
Share the ups and the downs
Given how the virtual has superseded the real in many aspects of our lives it may be surprising that people want authenticity in the TikTok videos they watch. Why do the top earners have so many followers? Because most of them post simple, unadorned videos of themselves and their interests. There’s no artifice. No pretension. If you’re happy and energized, share about it. If you’re having a lousy day, let your followers know. Be real.
Learn from the best influencers in your niche
Art students are encouraged to go to the museum and copy Old Master paintings. The thinking being that the best way to learn is by copying the best. Same with TikTok. If you’re at a loss regarding what to post, spend some time scrolling through the videos of other creators in your niche and use their posts as a launching pad for ideas about your own content.
What monetization strategies can you use to start making money on TikTok?
The most important thing is to get those 10,000 followers and 100,000 video views in the last 30 days before you apply to the TikTok Creator Fund. Once TikTok has given you the thumbs up for monetization you’ll want to consider all of the following monetization strategies:
1: Partner with brands
Once you’ve been accepted into the TikTok Creator Fund and can monetize your content consider reaching out to brands related to your niche. Brands are well aware that social media platforms are where the customers are these days and are not shy about spending big if they think a creator will raise their brand profile and bring in customers. Many companies keep an eye on social media to see who’s hot and in some cases will reach out to creators they think are a good match. Brand sponsorships can be extremely lucrative.
2: Other sponsorships
Rule 1 of monetization success is “keep your options open”. While it would be great to have a brand with deep pockets in your corner you should explore other types of sponsorship including but not limited to:
- Sponsored posts.
- Affiliate links (more on affiliates below).
- Allowing your original content to be used in TikTok ads.
3: Collab with other influencers
The ultimate goal is to become an influencer, but if you’re just starting out you’re certainly not there yet. So here’s some food for thought. Industry research indicates that under 30s want to see content collaborations. So give the people what they want! Once you’ve achieved the 10,000 followers needed to monetize you’ll find established TikTok influencers will suddenly start taking your phone calls and returning your messages. Most of them anyway. Just make sure you collaborate with popular personalities in your particular niche.
4: Set up a TikTok Shop
The TikTok shop is a relatively new feature that enables creators, brands and merchants to sell their products directly through the TikTok platform via in-feed videos, TikTok live streams and the product showcase tab. If your product or products catch on you can make a significant amount of money through your TikTok shop. Just keep in mind the TikTok shop is not available everywhere as of this writing.
5: Organic product linking
Once you’ve established your TikTok shop you can create organic product links in your daily videos to drive traffic to it. The product link will need to be approved by TikTok but it typically doesn’t take long, and once approved a product link will appear in your video. How many product links you add to a given video is up to you.
6: Affiliate marketing
For some time affiliate marketing has been the backbone of the internet economy for the average person. When you add affiliate links to your TikTok profile you’ll earn a commission every time someone taps on one of them and purchases something. Affiliate marketing is the opposite of sponsorship. Sponsors pay you upfront to promote their product. Affiliates pay you after the fact if someone you refer to them makes a purchase.
How to make money on TikTok FAQ
How many followers do you need on TikTok to make money?
You need to have at least 10,000 followers to be eligible for the TikTok Creator Fund. Once you achieve that goal you can start monetizing your content.
How many views do you need to get on TikTok to make money?
You need to have received at least 100,000 total views of your videos within 30 days of applying to join the TikTok Creator Fund. But you don’t need a set amount of followers or views to add affiliate links or organic product links to your TikTok shop.
How else can you make money as a creator?
If you have skill or knowledge to share, one of the best ways to start earning money is to create a community app and monetize it. A community app from Disciple, for instance, can be a stand-alone platform for monetizing your skills or products. Or it can be used to augment your TikTok or other social media presence and earnings. A white label community app will provide you total control over monetization options, unlike social media platforms that call all the monetization shots.