An interesting thing happens once something graduates from a potential passing fad to household name that even your grandparents know. There has been a shift from naysayers’ proclamations of these formats and platforms being ‘just for the kids’, to every major brand including them as a crucial part of their social strategy. As the late-great Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility…” and when it comes to TikTok, that great responsibility is figuring out how to monetize.
Join the TikTok Creator Fund
For creators that are familiar with Youtube’s successful monetization strategy for its creators, you would think TikTok’s fund would follow suit. First we’ll outline the basics and then discuss how it has become a source of controversy.
TikTok has committed to $1 billion (over the next three years) that is to be distributed amongst those who apply and qualify. Creators that are at least 18 years old, have at least 10k followers, have at least 100k video views in the last 30 days, and “post self-created authentic content that speaks to [TikTok’s] mission of inspiring joy and creativity,” can split this bountiful pot.
While the idea of having a fund with $1 billion for creators sounds great on the surface, the execution is not without its major criticisms. The key distinction between the two major video platforms is that Youtube’s strategy (aptly named Youtube Partner Program) treats its creators as its name suggests, partners. Partners keep 55% of the revenue gained from ads played on their videos, meaning youtubers keep more money than Youtube — go figure! And to put TikTok’s $1 billion payout into perspective, Youtube has paid its partners over $30 billion over the last three years.
Still not seeing the issue? Youtuber Hank Green has laid out in a viral video that TikTok’s fund only really benefits TikTok. The more creators that are eligible and join the fund, the less each creator makes. This strategy essentially leaves creators to fight over crumbs while TikTok reaps the benefits of an increasing user base.
Fear not though, there are plenty of alternative ways to monetize TikTok.
Collect Live Virtual Gifts
Livestreaming has skyrocketed in popularity during the last few years of the pandemic. Many popular content creators have even shifted their entire strategies to livestreaming on popular platforms like Twitch.
While most platforms allow for viewers to donate to the streamer, TikTok has created its own take with Virtual Gifts. Viewers spend their hard-earned cash to buy coins, which in turn can be used to buy gifts for their favorite streamers when they go live.
A multitude of factors will contribue to your success with live gifting, including, streaming at the right time, streaming for a long time, and having cultivated a loyal following to begin with. In the end, these gifts can be traded in for payment from TikTok.
This strategy will be a familiar path for creators across all platforms. Anyone that has partnered with brands or even other influencers will be happy to know that this is also a viable way to monetize on TikTok.
Tiktok has actually made it a seamless process by designing a creator marketplace that connects the brands with compatible influencers. This can be a breath of fresh air for some, given that being an expert content creator doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re good at approaching brands or navigating those conversations.
The next two strategies focus on using TikTok as a tool as opposed to making money directly on the platform.
This particular approach typically comes after you have built somewhat of a following and have a loyal fanbase that has come to appreciate the content you produce. There are many platforms to choose from, the most popular being Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Each of these allow you to appeal to followers and strangers alike to help fund a project or venture. Perhaps you want to take your content creation to the next level and need to fund a studio build – crowdfunding could be an excellent route.
Another source of crowdfunding comes in the form of sites like Patreon. This route allows followers or “patrons” to pledge a dollar amount to you monthly. There are different levels that patrons can pledge to, with corresponding rewards that you promise to deliver. This strategy also allows you to monetize TikTok in a way that gives you more stability on a monthly basis than many other paths could offer.
Link to Your Other Ventures
Like crowdfunding, your strategy to monetize TikTok doesn’t necessarily have to be focused solely on the platform. If TikTok is only one arm of your social media strategy, it may be beneficial to use it as a lead-in to your other business ventures on another platform.
Maybe you make stellar makeup tutorials and you’ve utilized TikTok to make quick and stylish clips. But maybe your real following resides on Youtube, where as we previously discussed, you may have a greater potential for earnings.
Or perhaps you offer one-on-one services like vocal coaching, guitar lessons, or fitness training. You can use your TikTok as a mini advertising platform for your bigger business IRL.
The possibilities are endless, and as long as you keep an open mind to it, you can discover many other ways to monetize TikTok that work best for you.