despite its international launch in 2017, tiktok (along with its chinese market counterpart, douyin) was the seventh most downloaded app of the 2010s. for entrepreneurs and marketers, that’s a lot of potential of marketing.
If you’re looking to take advantage of tiktok’s huge user base to build your audience, here’s a look at strategies from the social media platform’s top creators and marketers.
how to make money on tiktok
- Join the fund for tiktok creators
- sell merchandise to your fans
- live and collect virtual gifts
- partner with influencers or other brands in the tiktok creator marketplace
- create in-feed ads with tiktok ads manager
- crowdfunding projects raising donations from fans
- collect “tips” from your audience
- start a patreon and offer fan subscriptions
to start earning money on tiktok:
- must be at least 18 years old
- You must reside in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, or Italy.
- You must have a minimum of 10,000 followers
- your videos must have 100,000 views in the last 30 days
- your account must comply with tiktok community guidelines and terms of service
- pick the right time. You’ll want to go live when most of your followers are online. Check your audience information by going to your profile settings and selecting the analytics tab to see when your audience is most active.
- stay live longer. Not all users will stay for the entire duration of your live stream, but staying live longer will give more users the opportunity to log in and take a look at your stream.
- post during your live stream. When you post a short video while live, TikTok prompts users who view the video on your stream with a link to your live stream, which helps to increase your live audience.
- use tiktok hashtags. As with other social networks, users frequently browse hashtag pages looking for new accounts to follow. use tiktok hashtags to increase the reach of your videos.
- test your internet connection and other equipment. Don’t overlook the technical aspects of commissioning. make sure your internet connection, lighting and sound equipment can be used for extended periods of time.
- stay safe. remember that tiktok gives you the ability to filter comments, mute users and block viewers. Don’t be afraid to use these features with users who don’t contribute in good faith to the conversation. no one should have to endure bullying or harassment.
- kickstarter. kickstarter is the most widely used crowdfunding platform on the web, so its greatest asset is the volume of followers and knowledge of the brand.
- indiegogo. If you don’t have a set funding goal, you may prefer indiegogo, which offers a more flexible fundraising goal, allowing you to receive funds after your deadline .
- fundable. fundable allows startups to offer capital in exchange for funding, making it a great tool for finding investors. Currently, however, Fundable is only available to users in the United States.
- crowdcube. crowdcube offers companies that succeed in their fundraising goals exclusive benefits from their partner organizations through their crowdcube-funded club.
- crowdfunder. crowdfunder enables companies to raise capital through accredited investors, with a network of over 12,000 venture capitalists and angel investors to connect with .
- mighty cause. With no fees or waiting period for approvals before launching your campaign, mighty cause’s easy-to-use platform is ideal for quickly building a campaign page. funding to collect donations.
- seedinvest. seedinvest allows laypeople who are not accredited investors to invest in companies on their sites. At seedinvest, your backers are investors, rather than supporters, so funds are given in exchange for shares.
- tipeee. tipeee does not offer subscriptions, but its strength is in its simplicity. On tipeee, creators can set up a page for their fans to directly “tip” the amount they want, whenever they want.
- Buy Me a Coffee. Buy Me a Coffee prides itself on being designed for creators, as opposed to businesses. like tipeee, its strength is its simplicity. followers are sent to a page where they can buy as many “coffees” for the creator as they like. “coffees”, in this case, are payments of $1 that are transferred to the creator through paypal or online banking.
- ko-fi. ko-fi offers tips, memberships, and ways to offer users commissions for personalized content, like a personalized tutorial or video chat.
- be transparent. success on patreon involves building a high level of trust with your audience, so be transparent about how much you’re earning and how your funds are being spent.
- attract your fans with rewards. People are likely to increase their donations if they get something worthwhile. reward your biggest fans with attractive benefits like exclusive content and free products.
- Thank your followers directly. Make your followers feel appreciated and they will be more likely to continue supporting your work. reply to comments, tag users, and send thank you messages to your followers as often as possible.
- promote your patreon profile. fans can’t donate if they don’t know you’re accepting donations. Link to your patreon page from your tiktok profile and mention it in your tiktok videos, especially if you recently gained a lot of new followers.
- Keep subscription costs low. It’s easier to get $1 from 50 followers than it is to get $50 from one. keep your subscription costs low and focus on increasing your number of subscribers.
- Constantly create new content. Paying audiences have higher expectations when it comes to how often you post new content. keep a content calendar and post new content regularly.
deciding how to monetize tiktok users becomes easier once you have gained a deeper understanding of your target audience. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to monetization, but higher earners typically maintain a number of complementary income streams. From sponsored content to organic marketing, the opportunities with tiktok are virtually endless.
let’s go over some of the most common ways users make money on tiktok.
1. join tiktok creators fund
Users who have amassed a large following might want to consider making money through the tiktok creator fund.
Creator Fund income can vary from user to user and is calculated based on factors such as the size of your audience, the quality of user engagement, and the frequency of your tiktok posts.
The creator fund is a great idea if you already have a following, but it can be very exclusive and a consistent payout isn’t always guaranteed.
If you’re just getting started, there are many other ways to monetize your account. And even if you’ve joined the creator fund, it’s still a good idea to have additional income streams.
2. sell merchandise to your fans
selling your own products on tiktok is great for monetizing almost any type of content. any creator, be it a dancer, singer or comedian can create and sell merchandise to their most loyal fans.
and with a wide variety of print-on-demand companies, there are plenty of products to choose from. You can sell t-shirts, tote bags, pillowcases, hats, coffee mugs, stickers, notebooks or any combination of products.
selling print-on-demand products even has benefits beyond revenue. Owning branded merchandise gives your fans a more personal connection to your work, and every fan who wears your merchandise spreads the word about your business.
get inspired: unexpected
the clothing brand unxpectd was originally conceived as a school project by six high school students. but when the group used tiktok to promote the clothes they were making by hand in their parents’ basements, their lives were changed forever.
unxpectd’s tiktok account had its first viral hit in December 2020 and, in just a few months, the number of followers had skyrocketed. since graduating, the team has moved to Los Angeles, where they still dye and embroider their own products, when they’re not creating new tiktok content.
what works with unxpectd’s tiktok account is that it’s rarely used to directly promote their products. instead, unxpectd invites fans to meet the brand’s founders on a more personal level, taking them on their brand-building journey.
3. go live and collect virtual gifts
live giveaways are one of tiktok’s most useful features for creators looking to monetize their content through live streaming.
most social networks have a live streaming feature, but what makes tiktok unique is that it allows followers to show their appreciation in real time by sending virtual gifts, which can be exchanged for payments
here are some tips to help make the most of live streaming on tiktok:
interacting with users in real time is great for building valuable relationships with your fans. Audiences that have a strong connection to a creator tend to develop a personal stake in their success, which means live streaming can help drive other monetization streams as well.
get inspired: habits 365
habits 365, founded by teenage brothers eli and spencer zied, is a new york-based clothing company centered on the mantra that success is built by fostering positive habits, with the brand’s optimistic young founders acting as the perfect ambassadors of this philosophy.
The success of habits 365 lies in the willingness of its founders to allow users to get to know them personally. They make frequent use of TikTok’s live feature, often posting short videos of themselves working on their brand late into the night, which has helped them become one of the most popular TikTok accounts in the world.
4. partner with influencers or other brands in the tiktok creator market
one of the most innovative ways that tiktok allows its creators to earn money is through its creator marketplace.
The creator marketplace helps connect the right brands with the right influencers, making partnerships quick and easy for both parties. tiktok makes it incredibly easy to create valuable sponsored content.
Brands looking to run an affiliate marketing campaign can quickly scan the market and shuffle through content created by creators they can be sure are willing to collaborate with brands.
The creator marketplace acts like an influencer agency, allowing both parties to signal their willingness to work with each other, alleviating some of the discomfort of approaching influencers that marketers can experience with influencer marketing. on other platforms.
get inspired: peace out skincare
Like many great businesses, peace out skincare brand was created when its founder ran into a problem that had no solution until he created one.
after battling acne and hyperpigmentation, among other skin issues, enrico frezza began researching the skincare product development process and building his own skincare brand
want to know more about how peace out partners with tiktok influencers to grow their brand? Check out our interview with founder Enrico Frezza on the Shopify Masters podcast.
5. create feed ads with tiktok ads manager
tiktok has a ton of great organic marketing opportunities, but if you’re willing to spend a little to broaden the reach of your content, you might consider creating your own feed ads with tiktok’s ads manager.
tiktok ads appear in users’ “for you” feeds and autoplay like any other tiktok video. With paid ads, you can ensure that your videos reach the audiences that are most interested in your products.
but the best part? tiktok ads manager seamlessly integrates with shopify. That means you can create tiktok ads, select a target audience, and track your ad performance all from your Shopify store. tiktok really can be one of the best online marketing tools at your disposal.
get inspired: luxury bus
Luxe Collective is a Liverpool-based luxury fashion store offering pre-owned and updated luxury items for a fraction of the price you’d find at other retailers. it was on instagram, not tiktok, where the luxury collective originally saw huge success growing their social media audience.
over the past few years, luxe collective has nurtured a massive following on tiktok and seen the brand’s following on instagram grow to almost triple.
luxe collective’s tiktok account is packed with fashion tips, tutorials and the latest news on top luxury fashion brands. By allowing the character of your audience to dictate your content, luxe creates a social media account that functions as a news feed for the exact audience that would be interested in buying your products.
6. crowdfunding projects collecting donations from fans
Crowdfunding is one of the most accessible ways to make money for creators. You spend a lot of time and effort creating content for your fans so offering an easy, pressure-free way for them to return is great for ensuring a regular revenue stream.
Crowdfunding can take many forms, depending on the type of funding you are seeking. If you’re looking for seed money for a specific project, you can rally your supporters by setting a funding goal and hosting live fundraising events.
if you’re looking to fund a specific project, here are some crowdfunding sites to explore:
7. collect “tips” from your audience
If you don’t have a specific project in mind or aren’t ready to offer shares to investors, crowdfunding platforms may not be the ideal avenue. For a quick and easy way to accept donations, consider using a tipping platform.
Tip platforms are a more personal finance option. They work just like a real life tip jar. the option is available to fans, but not required, and they can donate the amount they want at any time they want.
if this sounds more appealing to you, here are some great suggestion platforms to check out:
8. start a patreon and offer fan subscriptions
Crowdfunding works for big projects, and tips are the easiest way to raise funds quickly. But what if you’re looking to secure a more regular stream of passive income? in that case, you might consider using a creator-based subscription platform, like patreon.
subscription-based revenue models work great for content creators, because they can keep individual subscription costs low and focus on growing their subscriber count.
A low-cost subscription of, say, a dollar a month is easy to sell to a single dedicated fan. if you have a lot of dedicated fans, those dollars start to add up.
patreon was the first major platform built to allow creators and influencers to generate income through paid memberships from their most loyal supporters. On patreon, you can set up membership levels that allow you to offer exclusive content to your biggest followers.
There are alternatives (notably ko-fi, which also includes a tipping feature), but patreon has the added benefit of brand awareness, which adds a level of trust from potential supporters.
if you’re thinking that a subscription service might be the best way to monetize your tiktok account, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
who makes more money on tiktok?
according to hopper hq, these are the highest earners on tiktok in 2022:
- charli d’amelio, $105,770 per post (147.6 million followers)
- khabane lame, $92,270 per post (150.2 million followers)
- bella poarch, $66,829 per post (91.1 million followers)
- addison rae, $65,194 per post (88.7 million followers)
- will smith, $53,741 per post (72.1 million followers)
each of these users made over a million dollars in 12 months, but how did they do it? Let’s go over some ways top earning users make money on tiktok.
do you get paid to upload videos to tiktok?
tiktok does not directly pay creators for producing and uploading videos. tiktok offers creator backgrounds in the form of tiktok creator background (more on that above). Still, the payout varies based on factors like the number of video views, engagement rates, and the authenticity of the users interacting with the post.
in some cases, brands may pay a popular micro-influencer to create videos, but tiktok’s highest-paid users typically monetize their accounts through multiple sources of income.
multiple sources of income provide more security, but your audience is the most important factor when deciding how to make real money on tiktok.
understand your audience
on tiktok, your audience is likely to be younger. the majority of users (62%) are under the age of 30 and a whopping 32.5% of active users are under the age of 20. many people think that tiktok’s popularity among generation z is its defining characteristic, but this could change quickly.
recent surveys by fortune magazine show that an increasing number of millennials are joining the platform, and social media tends to be more popular with teens in its early days, so starting to cater to users tiktok majors could give you a big head start in a few years.
content on tiktok varies widely. what works for one audience may not work for another. The type of content you post should be guided by the interests of your audience, but there are some common features of tiktok content that your user base is likely to be more receptive to:
- authenticity. The most popular tiktokers may range in their talents from dancers to comedians to philosophers but what they all have in common is their willingness to be authentic.
- audience interaction. tiktok offers lots of unique ways to interact with your audience, like its Q&A feature, duet, and video responses to comments. tiktok users expect a more “personal” touch, so use these features often.
- post frequently. a constant stream of content will keep you at the forefront of your followers’ minds, add value to your content in the eyes of tiktok’s algorithm, and give you more opportunities to go viral and broaden the reach of your audience.
There is no single approach to tiktok, but having a solid understanding of your audience will put you in a better position to find the best ways to monetize your followers.
how to “sell” without upsetting your audience
The tricky part of using social media to sell products is not going overboard with the amount of promotional material. Your fans understand that you need funding to keep creating the content they love, but no one wants to follow an account that seems to be constantly advertising.
this is especially true with tiktok, as the platform itself is very much geared towards forming personal connections with your audience.
Users appreciate good content, so it might help to take a “content first” approach. Instead of starting with your sales pitch and building content around it, create the content first and let it inspire the best ways to monetize your account.
get inspired: partly sunny projects
Partly Sunny Projects is an online plant distributor that ships stunning California plants nationwide. Founder Sonja Detrinidad started the business as a distraction from the stresses of her daily work as a mortgage professional.
When he quit his job and decided to work at his small business full-time, he began thinking of ways to drive traffic to his store. and that’s when sonja turned to tiktok.
it didn’t take long for tiktok audiences to fall in love with her captivating personality. Sonja’s no-nonsense approach to gardening is the kind of authentic content that resonates perfectly with tiktok audiences.
what makes sonja’s use of tiktok for her business so successful is that she focuses on creating content that she knows her viewers enjoy. Sonja covers gardening-related topics, effectively capturing the attention of the exact type of fan who may become a customer.
join the tiktok creator economy
rarely are creators driven by the prospect of making money. creators are artists and as such their satisfaction in creating comes not from the money they earn, but from the creation itself.
but being a creator in 2022 means much more than before. creators are no longer just artists. they are artists, entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople, accountants, founders, CEOs—and everything in between.
in the builder economy, stars make themselves: their great achievements are born not out of the pockets of wealthy gatekeepers, but out of their own creativity, passion, and desire to build something unique.
time is money, and making more money from your art gives you more time to create art. if the money itself isn’t rewarding enough, the extra time it buys will be.
if you enjoyed this guide, check out our tips on how to make money on youtube and how to make money on instagram!
Illustration by Eugenia Mello