Every day all across social media, people are seeing the financial benefit of gaining a presence online. Working the skills required to maintain that presence is what keeps you on top and how you further your career in the ever-changing digital world. Many businesses find themselves hiring social media managers to help keep up with the fast-paced world of social networking sites. Building their online presence, with the guidance of a professional, garners substantial community benefits. Many socialites earn money on social networks because of their audience. Facebook, Instagram, even Twitter have brands willing to pay top dollar for the eyes of your audience. Now TikTok is in the game (known in China as Douyin (抖音 dǒuyīn)), a company owned by Bytedance. Alongside revenue streams like affiliate marketing, brand deals, and ad campaigns, TikTok, because of its remix culture, allows for some pretty exciting ways to make money and build off trends.
The TikTok app, with its previously minute-long time limit (now up to three minutes), was mainly popularized through dances to short clips of songs like the app musical.ly with lip-sync videos and dance routines populating the platform. TikTok stars like Addison Rae and Charli D'Amelio (both mentioned on Forbes top-earning TikTokers) got their start from posting short videos dancing along to some of today's top songs on the social network, earning them well over a million followers each. One reason why TikTok is so successful is the positive feedback loop TikTokers are able to generate when TikTok videos go viral. Audience members can take the audio from a video and remix it or add their own spin to it. Utilizing algorithmic trends in what sounds are popular to gain followers and added attention outside of their regular following. A somewhat problematic side of TikTok, and that of the internet, is that the more sensational or salacious your video was, the more views and attention it would gain. Keeping people's eyes on the video for longer would encourage its suggestion to others.
Let's walk through each of the possible ways TikTokers have earned real money on the app, and some having made it their full-time job.
The first option, and ironically the most popular option, is to simply have a lot of followers. This, coupled with an engaged community, gets TikTok influencers brand deals. These brand deals often include sponsored posts for influencer campaigns. Promoting products or services turning your feed into ad spots for your audience. TikTok creators often times will use an influencer agency to help find them monetization routes. To sign up for these services, you have to have above a certain number of followers. More and more businesses and brands are seeing the utilization of influencer marketing, using TikTok followers. With brand deals, you get paid for the exposure you're giving to a product. Through a sponsorship, you might be doing the same alongside a specific hashtag. More prominent TikTok stars can quickly partner with big brands, but smaller communities might struggle to get the same attention. TikTok allows a feature to pin a comment from a previous video to the screen of a new one as a sort of video reply, and this is how smaller communities can prove above average engagement on their posts. Another way TikTok creators can make money is by having lesser-known musicians pay to have a dance routine or TikTok meme concocted around their song or sound. Depending on whom you go to, whether a creator is comedic or can really pop it and lock it can have resounding effects for both parties in this type of transaction.
A second option didn't come out right when TikTok launched but was added on later, not only the ability to Livestream (unlocked to users with a thousand followers) but the ability to give virtual gifts to some of your favorite content creators during their live streaming on the platform. Similar to gifting Reddit gold or Instagram's Live Badges. TikTok users can make micro-donations from micro-transactions within their TikTok account, buying coins to then dish out to their favorite creators as tips. Stream enough engaging content reasonably regularly, and this is a moderate revenue stream comparable to Twitch's donation-based revenues.
On the flip side to influencer marketing, where you're selling eyes and clicks to third-party brands, let's say you have your own ventures and your own products. Maybe you're a consultant using BookVid to schedule, meet, and charge clientele all online seamlessly. BookVid emerged on the scene earlier this year as one of the top monetization platforms for Creators. At a high level, the BookVid tool is like Calendly + Zoom + Venmo, all in one. It allows your followers to pay you for 1-on-1 video calls efficiently. You set the prices, sync with your calendar, and instantly get Venmo'd at the end of the visit. While other companies take 20-30% fees, BookVid is entirely free for Creators. Sign up on bookvid.com today. You could be selling merch or simply linking to your PayPal because of the high-quality free content you're producing on TikTok. Maybe simply moving people off-site to your other social media platforms like your Snapchat or YouTube channel where you have a more mainstream way of earning an income.
One of the ways TikTokers make money is by becoming an affiliate with certain products. If you're a musician and you use a specific software or a particular type of pedal, then you can reach out to these brands and get yourself a referral link. If you entice someone enough to buy the product themselves, then you can get a small percentage of that sale to go directly to you. If you're a gamer and you play a specific game or use a particular piece of hardware like a mouse or keyboard or maybe even a bit of hardware inside your PC build, you can do the same thing. Reach out to the brand a get a referral link to earn a small commission on each sale of that product. There's a high chance you could be making money every time one of your followers makes a purchase of one of those products. Amazon has one of the lowest bars of entry into becoming an affiliate marketer. You simply sign up for their affiliate program and copy the desired link to a product that you are promoting. Being an affiliate marketer is a lot like working with brand promotion, but instead of getting paid a fixed amount usually per post, you're earning a commission on each sale made using your link. If you're an affiliate to a product, then you might want to hashtag the product so people searching around for information on the product can more easily find your post.
Secret option number five is something not a lot of people know about. If you can prove you can make high-quality TikToks that garner a lot of video views, that you have figured out what keeps people watching and clicking, then you can use that as a selling point to businesses. Try approaching a company with the proposition that you can help them gain a certain amount of followers in a specific time frame, garnering them more business and more eyes to their products. Maybe their TikTok profile focuses on personal finance, and you would be their TikTok consultant helping them brainstorm topics and keeping an eye out for trends on the rise. Assisting people to get to the milestones laid out by the TikTok creator fund or helping a business get more looks by directing their content streams.
Some smaller tips to help boost engagement and cross-platform pollination. You'll want to link to your other social media in your TikTok bio. TikTok allows for quick links to an Instagram account and allows a quick link to a YouTube channel. Take advantage of these ways to lead people to your other content!
A big move for creators is being able to view the analytics or data surrounding their posts. YouTube, being the content monster that it is, has allowed creators to see this sort of data for a long time now, and it has only gotten more essential to building the online empire we all strive to have. Instagram allows users to label their pages as businesses and gives similar data, where people are coming from, what posts are people like the most, what's getting the most engagement, and you use your human brain to figure out why. TikTok is now in the mix with its Pro account. On your settings page, you can enable to become a Pro account and get analytics as to why posts are doing well, how long people are watching, and other data about your account that is growing more and more necessary to grow and build your presence.
TikTok, with its now three-minute-long video length, will merit an entirely new wave of content, and creators who once limited by the time constraint will feel liberated to make new content. Some users fear that this might be the death of the platform as its original purpose was under minute-long videos and that the increased length will taint the overarching community.