Maybe it’s your entrepreneurial spirit. Maybe you heard about 20-year-old Addison Rae’s Tesla Model X. Maybe you got that “screen time” notification (the one where your phone passive aggressively tells you you’re addicted to the internet) and said, “Hey, might as well monetize this.”
However you got here, welcome. Here’s how to make money on TikTok.
TikTok ranks as the 7th most-used social media platform worldwide, with 689 million active users as of January 2021. That’s a big market.
Many people have already figured out how to earn money on TikTok, and some consider it a full-time job. Here are the best strategies for making money on the app.
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Can you make money on TikTok?
The short answer is: Yes, you can make money on TikTok.
But just like painting a picture or determining your ex’s ex’s relationship status, making money on TikTok requires a little creativity. While there are official, app-funded methods of earning cash (see Strategy #4 below), there are plenty of other ways that you can make money on the platform—even if you don’t have a ton of followers.
Similar to social media creators active on other platforms, many TikTok users have already reached financial success through the app. And while TikTok may seem like a new frontier, the strategies you can use to make money will probably look familiar (check out our guides to making money on Instagram and Youtube).
How much money can you make on TikTok?
The stats for the highest-earning TikTok stars (TikTokers? TikTokians?) are pretty mind-boggling.
As is the case for celebrities and small volcanoes, most of TikTok’s best-paid are young and hot. So, is all hope lost once you’ve reached senior status—that’s age 25 and up—on the app? Of course not.
In nearly every category, clever folks are using little videos to make big money.
Who makes the most money on TikTok?
So, blue-sky-wise, a successful TikTok profile can set you up for life—but even if you don’t have millions of followers and billions of likes, you can still use it to make money.
4 ways to make money on TikTok
Strategy 1: Partner with a brand you trust
Sponsored content on TikTok is defined as content for which you receive something of value. That’s the goal, right? For example, a brand might pay you to make a TikTok talking about how great their soy candles smell, or you might receive a free skydiving trip in exchange for posting about it. (Though we’re not recommending taking any free skydiving offers).
And brands are very much interested in entering such paid collaborations. A study on influencer marketing found that in December 2019, 16% of U.S. marketers planned to use TikTok for influencer campaigns—but in March 2021, that number went up to 68%. In other words, influencer marketing is blowing up on the platform.
According to the same study from eMarketer, companies want to partner with folks who have a following that knows and trusts them, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social justice movements.
Which brings us to an important point: don’t seek out to partner with companies whose views don’t align with your own. Your followers may care about your inspirational soup metaphors or how many languages you can speak or manicure, but they care about your ethics, too.
Here are some tips for getting started with sponsored content:
Only reach out to brands or organizations you really love
If your TikTok is all about your raw vegan journey and all of a sudden you start posting about your favorite local burger joint, your followers will see right through you. Not only is this confusing, but it also makes you look like a sellout. So, make sure that your sponsored content aligns with your regular content.
Make a press kit for your account
A press kit is like a movie trailer for yourself. It hypes up all of the great things about you (and gives brands good reasons to work with you) and includes contact information, photos, and notable achievements. Make them want to see what happens next, bag of popcorn in hand. Websites like Templatelab offer press kit templates for free.
Create a few non-sponsored posts
Brands will want to see that you have what it takes to drive sales to their business. Making a couple of (non-sponsored) posts chatting up your favorite pair of shoes will make that elusive specialty sock brand more likely to want to partner with you.
Use the Branded Content toggle
People don’t like being deceived—and it turns out, apps don’t like it either. Tiktok created the Branded Content toggle to make sure that users were being transparent. If you’re posting sponsored content, hit the button (or risk your video being taken down).
Strategy 2: Partner with an influencer
This is the reverse of the first strategy. If you are an established business looking to grow your presence (and make money) on TikTok, reach out to an influencer whose content aligns with your brand.
Fashionista Wisdom Kaye recently partnered with perfume company Maison Margiela in this TikTok, and food blogger Tiffy Chen partnered with Robin Hood (the flour, not the fox) in this one:
According to this study by Tomoson, every dollar spent on influencer marketing yielded an average of $6.50 for the business, with the top 13% surveyed reporting a return of $20. What’s more, half of marketers say the customers gained through influencer marketing were higher quality than customers brought in through other channels, like email marketing or organic search.
In conclusion: influencers, well, influence. Effectively.
If you’re in the U.S., you can use TikTok Creator Marketplace to find the right influencer for you. The marketplace site connects brands with influencers. Any brand can join, but it’s only accessible for influencers by invitation (for now).
Outside of the U.S. and TikTok-sanctioned marketplace, search for hashtags that align with you and your business (#dentist, #faintinggoats, #thrifting) and scroll through the content. Or, just explore the app yourself, liking the videos you like and ignoring (or hitting “Not interested”) on the ones you don’t. The app will start showing you what you want to see. It’s scary smart like that.
Take your time scrutinizing each creator’s page—we’ve all heard the age-old story of the tearful influencer’s non-racism non-apology. Stay away from problematic TikTokers. It’s 2021.
Strategy 3: Use Tiktok to advertise your products
If you’ve already established merchandise, this is the most obvious route for moneymaking: create TikToks that show off your products, including all the details that make them unique. Make sure you include a link to your shop in your bio.
Here’s a great example—fashion brand Klassy Network shows off how to wear a “brami.”
You can also create your own, personalized merch, like Italian Greyhound (and proud gay icon) Tika the Iggy did. The dog’s owner, Thomas Shapiro, sells Tika-branded clothing online. Makeup brands like Fenty Beauty and Cocokind are also killing the merch game.
Strategy 4: Apply to TikTok’s Creator Fund
This is the app-sanctioned moneymaking method we were talking about earlier. On July 22, 2020, TikTok announced their new Creator Fund, pledging to give $200M U.S. to “encourage those who dream of using their voices and creativity to spark inspirational careers.”
The internet—and the world—ate it up, and only a week later, they announced that the fund would grow to $1B U.S. by 2023. So how do you get your hands on that sweet creator cash? The app has a few boxes you have to tick before you can apply:
- Be located in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain or Italy
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have at least 10,000 followers
- Have at least 100,000 video views in the last 30 days
- Have an account that abides by TikTok Community Guidelines and terms of service
You can apply for the Creator Fund through the app—as long as you have TikTok Pro (the best things in life are not free).
Tips for getting paid on TikTok
If the big book on social media had a moral, this would be it. And as hard as it is to believe that authenticity is important in our highly filtered world, internet users crave genuine content.
In this 2019 study, 90% of the 1,590 adults surveyed said that authenticity is important online, but 51% said that they believe less than half of brands create work that resonates as authentic.
So whether you’re hopping on a dancing trend or showing off your crochet frogs, stay true to you. It’s the surest way to gain followers you’ll keep—and hopefully, earn some real money.
This goes hand in hand with authenticity. The rules around marking sponsored content and divulging when you get free stuff are pretty foggy, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
TikTok’s branded content toggle adds a disclosure for you (#Ad), so make sure you use it when appropriate.
Look to your favorite creators for guidance
If you’re not sure where to start, start scrolling. Odds are, some of your favorite creators are making money from TikTok. Check out what they are doing—brand deals, promoting T-shirts, spelling their Venmo in alphabet soup—and try to put those same strategies into action.
Don’t ditch your regular content
If every single one of your TikToks is sponsored content or promoting something, your followers will lose interest. You gotta play it cool.
Makeup artist Bretman Rock posts partnerships with Yves Saint Laurent, but also funny video outtakes, his favorite Filipino foods, and of course, the makeup and fashion content that earned him all of his followers in the first place.
Even big brands like Ben & Jerry’s post TikToks presenting their office dogs’ Halloween costumes. Don’t always make it about money.
Don’t give up
Making money on this social network isn’t easy. If it was, we’d all be Addison Rae. (It’s cool to joke about that—she herself acknowledges how many folks don’t think she has a real job. And she does it with the self-assurance of a 20-year-old who makes 5 million dollars a year.)
If you get shut down by one brand or influencer, keep trying. Hard work pays off—literally.