Making money on TikTok vs. Instagram and YouTube

How to make money with TikTok?

With nearly 100 million monthly active users and two billion downloads worldwide, it’s an understatement to say that TikTok has seen a meteoric rise since its global release in 2018. Its popularity has been seen even in the U.S. government, with President Trump threatening to ban the platform in the U.S. due to national security threats.

As more and more attention is focused on the platform, it’s natural to wonder if content creators can make money with TikTok? If you’re building a TikTok community and want to make money from your audience, here’s what you need to know.

How to make money with TikTok?
How to make money with TikTok?

Why making money with TikTok is getting easier


Monetizing your TikTok has not always been the norm. In the early days of TikTok, there were few branded posts. As more and more brands have entered the space, the opportunities to sell sponsored content on social platforms are becoming easier for creators.

The amount of money you can make with TikTok varies, but like any social media platform, if your content goes viral, it can be lucrative.

Plus, it’s easier for viewers to monetize their audience without the help of brand partnerships. With TikTok’s integration with Teespring, announced in late August 2020, creators can now sell merchandise directly to their fans.

As TikTok’s popularity continues to grow, more and more brands are flocking to the app, bringing with them money-making opportunities for creators who can build a TikTok community.

How to monetize your TikTok

How to monetize your TikTok
How to monetize your TikTok


Monetizing your TikTok is one of the newest ways to make money on the internet. Here are some of the options available to you.

Audio sponsorship


TikTok is a platform that focuses on audio, with songs and audio clips often going viral on the platform – take Lil Nas X’s song, “Old Town Road,” as an example.

Artists trying to replicate Lil Nas X’s success has begun paying TikTok influencers to include their song in their posts. Creator Skylar Krupa, who posts videos of his grandparents, has used this method to monetize his growing audience. He charges $25 per 25,000 subscribers.

There is no way to arrange audio sponsorships, so teens who want to monetize their audience in this way, or even the grandparents in the example above, must approach the artists directly or through the artists’ management teams.

Selling Products


Creators who want to make money from their audience directly, without relying on advertising dollars from a brand, can turn to sell merchandise and products. TikTok’s partnership with Teespring means that creators can sell merchandise directly within the app. The integration allows TikTok creators to customize a design from 180 different products.

To test the integration, TikTok and Teespring launched the app with an initial cohort of 7,000 creators in September 2020. They are expected to announce how other creators can begin using the integration.

Creators can also add links in their bios to a personal website or another merchandise platform where fans can purchase products. For example, TikTok user @thedottist has a tracking link to purchase his artwork directly embedded in his bio.

Promote a company or brand


Audio sponsorship isn’t the only way to make money with branded content on TikTok. Creators can also leverage their videos to help brands or businesses launch and promote products.

One of the first examples of influencer marketing on TikTok was Mucinex, the cold and flu medicine. Mucinex worked with creators to promote its products during cold and flu season. The brand launched a challenge called #BeatTheZombieFunk, and TikTok influencers, like brother-sister duo OurFire, participated in the challenge.

Creators who want to get into brand sponsorship and aren’t represented can reach out to brands and companies themselves or find opportunities through TikTok’s official Creator Marketplace.

Getting paid by TikTok

Getting paid by TikTok
Getting paid by TikTok


TikTok wants to help its biggest creators succeed and make money solely through the platform. To accomplish this, it has launched a $200 million creator fund, with the hope of growing it to $1 billion by 2023. Through this program, TikTok will pay creators directly for making videos.

TikTok has remained vague on how much creators can earn and how many will receive funding, including the minimum number of followers required to qualify. Some TikTok experts have said that you need at least 10,000 followers and 10,000 views on your profile in the last 30 days, but the platform has not confirmed this.

Creators can apply via their TikTok profile. In the “notifications” section of your posts, you will receive an invitation to apply directly to TikTok if you meet the minimum requirements.

Convert gifts into diamonds


A popular way to earn money on TikTok is to make live videos where fans send gifts purchased with virtual coins bought on the platform. Creators can then convert these gifts into “diamonds” (TikTok’s virtual credits) that can be cashed out.

To purchase coins, fans must be at least 18 years old.

Creators who are 18 years of age or older can redeem diamonds at any time for a cash value determined by TikTok. Payment is made to a Paypal account of the creator’s choice. TikTok imposes daily withdrawal limits, which are displayed during the withdrawal process.

How much money can you earn with TikTok?

How much money can you earn with TikTok?
How much money can you earn with TikTok?


The amount of money you can earn with TikTok varies, but as with any social media platform, it could be lucrative if your content goes viral. No third-party sources have objectively defined how much money TikTok creators make yet.

Like the wildly successful Lea Eli, even popular creators don’t publish their earnings. Instead, we can estimate how much money you can earn on TikTok by making assumptions.

For example, London-based economist Tom Hartmann estimated in a Medium article that TikTok creators with 100,000 followers earn about $500 to $2,000 for sponsored videos. Doing the math, this could mean that the top TikTok creators earn between $50,000 and $150,000 for sponsored posts. GQ provides other figures.

Another way to estimate earnings is to look at the figures published by marketing agencies. TalentX Entertainment, an influencer agency, estimates that they charge brands between $0.01 and $0.02 per video view on TikTok.

Then there’s the TikTok Creators Fund – which they hope will encourage creators to produce content full-time on the platform. No information has been released on what a full-time income might be, but the idea is that it would be large enough that creators wouldn’t have to work other jobs.

Making money on TikTok vs. Instagram and YouTube

Making money on TikTok vs. Instagram and YouTube
Making money on TikTok vs. Instagram and YouTube


YouTube pays creators a fee based on the platform’s advertising revenue from creators’ videos. However, TikTok does not have an equivalent process for producing creators, making it more like Instagram. Both TikTok and Instagram allow creators to be paid by brands for creating sponsored content.

This can be a barrier to getting paid for some creators: you need to build a relationship with brands and convince them that your content is worth their money. If you need to make money quickly, the process of monetizing your audience by building an audience and establishing a relationship with brands may be too time-consuming for you.

Other creators find that this strategy opens doors for them, allowing them to maximize their earnings over time with any interested companies.

TikTokInstagramYoutube
Monetization opportunities
Sale of products TikTok brand partnerships
Sale of products

Brand partnerships
Earning Money as a YouTube Partner

Product Sales

Brand Partnerships
Active Monthly Users (Worldwide)
nearly 700 millionover a billionOver 2 billion
Barriers to entry
Need a smartphone

Need brand relationships
Need a smartphone

Relationship with brands

May require knowledge of graphic design or photo editing to succeed
Need a smartphone

High quality videos usually perform better.

You may need audio or lighting equipment.

Using TikTok as a secondary revenue source


TikTok is gaining popularity and will continue to have more lucrative monetization opportunities as the app evolves. If you’re willing to invest in building your audience, you could reap the financial rewards.

This could be the best platform for creatives who want to make money on social media without investing the time and high production value that platforms like YouTube and Instagram typically require. That said, to succeed on TikTok, you’ll need to fully understand the nuances of the forum and its culture, which can also be a significant time investment.

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