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How do TikTok creators make money?

Everyone knows that Instagram influencers earn a ton of money through sponsorships and agencies, and it seems TikTok is following along a similar path.

Making original, funny content and getting paid to do so is probably the dream job for anyone under the age of 25.

Ever since YouTube became an actual thing, tens of thousands of Gen Zers and young millennials have tried to crack a career in social media content. It’s become harder and harder to do so on the big platforms – Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat – as they’ve become increasingly more saturated with personalities over the years. TikTok, meanwhile, is still in relevant infancy. There’s plenty of cash to be made.

2020 will be the year that TikTok reaches the same brand friendly levels as the biggest social media apps, but how do creators earn a living? We’ve put together a handy summary of all the details, just in case you’ve got your eye on becoming the next TikTok sensation. We can’t help you actually make anything decent, mind.

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How does making money work?

It can be a little confusing to get your head around just how anybody could make a decent living from TikTok, given that it’s an endless feed of free videos. The obvious first point of call is advertisement, which has become a huge business model for many modern day companies.

Facebook makes billions every year through advertisement data, with varying degrees of controversy, and most other apps are the same – including TikTok. This is one way creators can earn a small amount, but it’s not where the bigger bucks roll in.

Right now, TikTok creators are most likely to get sponsorship or brand deals through agencies. As the BBC mentions, one of the app’s most well used ones is Fanbyte, created in 2017 to get creators and brands together. There are a few others popping up and all of them are growing. Sponsored content and posts with #ad on are nothing new, and TikTok’s following on from the standard social media model.

All of these types of videos have to follow ASA guidelines and anyone who isn’t could get in trouble. Which does happen. TikTok hasn’t gotten everything properly in place and the structures currently on other sites aren’t yet present, but as the app moves more into the mainstream the rules will tighten further.

Many creators are given songs to promote, a trend that’s seen the mainstream charts shift as a result. Some of the top songs of the year first found ears on TikTok, including Old Town Road by Lil Nas and Roddy Ricch’s The Box. Record labels reach out to creators big and small to try and get their songs onto the ‘For Me’ part of the app – increasing listens, streams, and revenue.

Who’s making money right now?

TikTok has been pushing for mainstream success for about a year or so. Celebrities are now pumping out content for younger viewers and companies such as Amazon are putting advertisement onto the app for exposure.

Some of TikTok’s biggest creators can make six figure yearly sums through their profiles. Most are still teenagers, including its biggest star Loren Gray. Other names at the top of the app are Baby Ariel, Riyaz Afreen, Kristen Hancher, Charli D’Amelio, Gilmher Croes, and Jacob Sartorious.

All of these profiles have over 20 million followers, and have transferred some of their popularity to other platforms alongside TikTok – most notably Spotify and YouTube. That’s not to say advertisement isn’t available for smaller profiles. Many creators with followers in the tens of thousands still find promotional work to help top up their bank balances, though the app still has a little way to go before these types of profiles can be self-sustaining.

If you’re a Gen Z creative it might be worth giving TikTok a go, though – you could wind up being better off financially.