TikTok is awash in cash that can end up in your bank account if you use the platform well. I made six figures [from TikTok] for 2021 and the first part of 2022, says Sal Farzin, an Austin-based tech pro whose TikTok sideline @SimplySalFinds has 1.7 million followers. Farzin’s first TikTok post was on July 1, 2020, and his primary TikTok monetization strategy is to review Amazon products and redirect viewers to affiliate links. I realized this is a platform with immense reach, he says. Affiliate links are just one of many ways to make money on TikTok, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to dance or point at things to get a foothold on the platform. We turned to experts who use TikTok on a daily basis to get informed and generate additional income. Here’s what they had to say.
How many TikTok followers or likes do you need to make money?
Having a lot of followers or likes on TikTok doesn’t guarantee a big financial payoff. In most cases, the more lucrative approach is to focus on engagement and, over time, connecting with users who are excited about what you post. As with other social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, making money on TikTok can generally be broken down into one of three main areas: In-Platform Monetization: Create content on TikTok and then let the app itself pay you through creator fund payouts. Note that TikTok does not give its creators any revenue share from ads; this is different from other social media platforms. Paid partnerships and sponsorships: Prove your TikTok content is getting engagement, then expose your results to brands to consider sponsorships. Off-platform sales: Use TikTok to reach new people, then invite them out of the app to visit your site, or click and buy an item using your affiliate link. What makes TikTok unique is that it has a lot of them. As a website, TikTok recently dethroned Google to become the world’s most popular web property, according to a 2021 report by Cloudflare, a global cloud platform powering millions of websites. It’s not uncommon for a post on TikTok to get thousands or even tens of thousands of views, even if you’re just starting out.
“TikTok is an emerging platform with an unusually high reach. Focus on consistently engaging and entertaining your audience, and your fan base will grow over time.”
The secret of TikTok is knowing what types of content the app wants to prioritize. A good rule of thumb is to make your content native: create videos that look and feel like TikTok and can be consumed and enjoyed while staying in the app.
TikTok rewards users who take an entertainment-first approach, says Tiffany Rivers, senior director of social media at Media Cause, a creative agency that helps nonprofits grow and accelerate their impact. Users want to stay [in-platform] on TikTok even more than on other platforms. Creators can still be very profitable using paid partnerships, but we’ve found that having influencers trying to drive traffic to landing pages or ecommerce sites isn’t as effective as it is on other platforms.
It takes a careful strategy to drive TikTok users to another platform, says Humphrey Yang, an entrepreneur and former financial advisor whose TikTok @humphreytalks has 3.3 million followers. Off-platform conversion rates are generally not great in my experience, 1% or less, says Yang. You need a strong video with a strong call-to-action at the end. Some of the best conversions I’ve seen anecdotally are really great videos that leave you wanting more; They then promote going to another platform or newsletter to get the full view.
How much do TikTokers make?
How much you make on TikTok is highly dependent on how you use the app and incorporate the above strategies. A common denominator of these strategies is building an enthusiastic, engaged audience; When you do this, Brand Partners are more likely to take the first step and reach out to you.
I’ve developed some really good brand partnerships with Amazon, Kodak, Panasonic and Container Store, says Farzin. The majority of these brands have reached out to me, which is exciting, you know? Usually,
when we see TikToker generating huge sales numbers, branded deals and paid partnerships are a major contributor.
Top Grossing TikTokers A Forbes report lists six TikTokers who generated $4.75 million or more from their channels in 2021. They are:
Charli DAmelio, $17.5M (140.3M followers),
Dixie DAmelio, $10M (57.4M followers),
Addison Rae, $8.5M (87.5M followers)
Bella Poarch , $5 million (89.4 million followers)
Josh Richards, $5 million (25.6 million followers)
Kris Collins, $4.75 million (43.7 million followers)
It matters to yourself to remind that this list only considers influencers who got their start on TikTok. Celebrities who have adopted the app may demand higher sponsorship deals or prices, but they’ve arrived on TikTok with an already established personal brand or following. You can make money on TikTok even if you start from scratch by investing time and energy in learning the platform.
Now let’s dive deeper into three strategies you can use to turn TikTok posts into tangible dollars.
Strategy #1: Direct users off-platform
Click through rates on TikTok seem low compared to other platforms, but Farzin, whose strategy relies mostly on affiliate link commissions, believes this has more to do with the app still is new and has an unusually high post reach.
My conversion rate is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent, he says. If they watch the video, go to my bio and click the link, it takes three or four clicks to get to this product. It’s phenomenal that they’re pulling this off.
Farzin emphasizes that valuable content is key. It’s about that value-based content. When people land on my page, they can say, okay, this guy makes products, but there are a few other categories as well. Maybe I should follow him.
TikTok profiles only allow one hyperlink, but there are several free services that can turn one link into many links. LinkTree, Lnk.bio, and Milkshake are popular options.
Strategy #2: Look for brand partnerships or sponsorship deals
Brand partners and sponsors know that TikTok is a high-reach platform; Expect awareness and quality storytelling to be two of your most important outcomes.
Paid partnership contributions that raise awareness and focus on storytelling and entertainment are more likely to gain traction, Rivers notes. Micro-influencers, broadly defined as creators who have fewer than 10,000 followers, can land brand deals, but to do so they need to show a brand that they’re genuinely interested in representing the product and can do so effectively.
Strategy #3: Get paid by TikTok itself
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance launched a $200 million creator fund in the summer of 2020, but payouts from that fund are modest. Industry consensus is that TikTok pays you two to four cents per 1,000 video views.
It never looks good for your app when a popular creator releases a video saying you suck, like Hank Green did in January 2022 with a YouTube post titled So TikTok Sucks. As TikTok grows like wildfire, more users means more videos, and more videos means more competition for the same pool of money. Consider combining this strategy with any of the other approaches mentioned earlier to diversify your money-making efforts.
Additionally, if you have a knack for creating videos that go viral, you might want to apply those same skills to a platform that has allowed greater rewards for such skills as YouTube or Instagram.
Whatever strategy you choose, long-term success on TikTok depends on posting week-in-week-out content that you actually want to try and be like someone else who’s already on the platform, says Farzin. That’s rule number one.
Talk about the issues that really matter to you, be authentic and be yourself.
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