TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there. In fact, in fall 2021, TikTok released a statement saying that over one billion people globally come to TikTok each month.
The good news is that TikTok can be a great way to earn money for your business, no matter your audience size.
In this post, I’m covering 10 ways to earn money on TikTok, ranked from the lowest to highest earning potential. Along the way, I’m sharing tips and tricks to help you navigate which options are best for you and your business – no matter your audience size.
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Direct vs indirect monetization strategies
There are two main types of monetization strategies to be aware of when it comes to earning money on TikTok or other online platforms: direct and indirect monetization.
Direct monetization means that you’re paid directly because of your content in that space.
For example, you create content for your TikTok profile, and you get paid directly from a follower or a brand.
Indirect monetization means that something other than your TikTok content is the product.
Indirect monetization opens the doors to many lucrative options, which I’ll discuss below.
Are you an influencer or a business?
It’s important to determine whether you want to approach monetization (whether direct or indirect) as an influencer or a business. Neither option is “wrong”; it just depends on your goals and strategies.
The main difference lies in audience size.
An influencer needs a large following in order to maximize their earnings on TikTok or another platform.
Business owners don’t rely on the size of their audience for revenue.
What is TikTok Creator Next?
Throughout this blog post, you’ll see me reference something called “TikTok Creator Next” when it comes to some of the best ways to earn money on TikTok.
Creator Next is a suite of monetization opportunities creators and influencers can use to create a revenue stream on TikTok. Many of the items I will be talking to you about can be found under this “umbrella” of Creator Next.
To be eligible for Creator Next, you do need to meet a few requirements:
To be eligible to participate in TikTok Creator Next, creators must be 18 years of age or older, meet minimum follower requirements (which can differ depending on region), have at least 1,000 video views in the last 30 days, have at least three posts in the last 30 days, have an account that is in good standing with Community Guidelines and be based in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain (Canada and Australia will also have access in the coming months). Business Accounts are ineligible to participate.
Now that we’ve covered those important pieces, let’s get into the top 10 best ways to earn money on TikTok, no matter your audience size.
Top 10 Ways to Earn Money on TikTok
10. TikTok Creator Fund
In 2020, TikTok launched the Creator Fund (found under Creator Next) to encourage and help creators use their voices and creativity to start careers. Since then, TikTok has pledged one billion dollars by 2023 towards this fund.
It is important to note here that the Creator Fund does have eligibility requirements, on top of the requirements for joining Creator Next.
So, if you meet the eligibility requirements for both, how much can you make with the Creator Fund?
TikTok has, not surprisingly, kept this amount private. However, many TikTok influencers have been very transparent about their earnings and most say that, on average, they earn $.02 – $.04 (USD) per 1000 views.
This money-making option is at the bottom of the list due to the fact that it takes a lot of time and effort to not only create content, but to grow a following.
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Another Creator Next option to earn money on TikTok is tips. Tips are a way to earn money on TikTok, by providing the opportunity for your followers to give you $5, $10, $15 or a custom amount up to $150.
Tips is my favorite tool within Creator Next because people are paying you directly with real money (you get the full amount, minus a small transaction fee). It can be a good option if you have a strong community, or create value that you think people would be willing to pay for.
While I like the option of allowing your followers to pay you directly, this tip ranks at number nine on my list because in my experience, people are more willing to pay for something when they receive something in return.
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8. TikTok video gifts
Another strategy to earn money on TikTok is through video gifts. Video gifts is another tool under the Creator Next umbrella, and, in my opinion, it’s the most confusing.
Let me explain:
To begin, users purchase gifts to give to their favorite creators during live streams, or as virtual tips during regular videos. It’s important to point out that when you receive a gift, TikTok keeps 50% of those earnings.
However, unlike the actual tipping option, people can’t use credit cards to pay for gifts. Instead, TikTok has created their own economy of virtual items.
Users have to purchase coins (price varies based on your country’s currency). From there, you buy a virtual gift, which gets sent to the creator of your choice.
As a creator, TikTok doesn’t pay you in coins. Instead, TikTok has created a “diamond” system, where you get paid back in virtual diamonds, which has a global value translated into USD.
My main takeaway with this option is similar to the TikTok Creator Fund: you have to receive a high volume of gifts in order to make a meaningful revenue (remember that TikTok takes 50% of the amount of the gift).
If you want to see me break down the math in-depth, you can watch this YouTube video.
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7. Selling Merchandise
For the right creators, merchandise could be a fun option to earn money on TikTok. Not only can it be a way to make money on TikTok (although likely not your main revenue stream), but it can also be valuable marketing for your business.
It’s a marketing move because when your audience buys merchandise – let’s say a tote bag – other people might see it and be curious to learn about your business.
That being said, I encourage you to go beyond simply putting your logo onto an item. Think creatively about slogans or identities people might be excited to show off that represent your business.
Merchandise falls at #7 on the list because it can be a fun marketing opportunity and a great way to build brand loyalty, but likely wouldn’t become your main source of income.
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With sponsorships, brands will pay up front for the opportunity to advertise their products or services in front of your TikTok audience.
As your audience grows, you’ll receive more and more sponsorship requests. But this doesn’t mean that all of them will be a good fit for your business and audience.
My advice is to be incredibly picky about the sponsors you work with.
Even though you’re talking about another brand, anything you share and talk about is a big endorsement from you.
You want to make sure the company fits the following for you and your business:
- Is a brand you believe in
- Has matching values
- One that you are proud to align with
- Is one that your audience would expect to hear that kind of recommendation from you
Not sure where to find sponsors? TikTok does have a creator marketplace inside Creator Next, where you can connect with brands in two primary ways:
- Brands will reach out directly through TikTok
- You can search through campaigns that brands have posted to pitch yourself
If you aren’t eligible for Creator Next, or just looking for other options, you can find brands outside of TikTok as well.
Not sure what to charge? Check out this TikTok money calculator from Influencer Marketing Hub.
While this can be a great way to earn money on TikTok by endorsing (and getting paid for) a product you use and love, it still is the most lucrative for creators that have a large following.
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5. Affiliate marketing on TikTok
Affiliate marketing is one of my personal favorite strategies (and one I highly recommend) as a way to earn money on TikTok and other social media platforms. They are a great way to earn commission on your favorite products and services to your followers.
While this option can be similar in some ways to sponsorship, it scores higher on the list because with a sponsored post on TikTok, you get a one-time payout. But with affiliate marketing, your earnings are evergreen.
Plus, it has other major benefits including:
- being easy to implement
- doesn’t require you to have any of your own products
- doesn’t cost your followers extra to support you
- you can start with any audience size
At this point, you may be wondering how it works, which is a great question.
Usually, you get a unique tracking link or a coupon code to share after applying to a company’s affiliate program. If anyone makes a purchase, you receive a percentage of the sale as a commission.
The Amazon affiliate program is probably the most well-known, and could work well if you promote a lot of books or other physical products.
Pro tip: the most profitable approach to affiliate marketing is to notice which products and businesses you already love and talk about, and then seek out affiliate programs to get paid for your endorsements.
So, how do you find a company’s affiliate program? Believe it or not, if you go to a company’s website and scroll down to the links in the footer, you may find a link to their affiliate program.
Another way is to do a Google search for the company and “affiliate”.
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4. Freelancing services
Almost all of the previous strategies were dependent on your audience size (affiliate marketing being the exception). With freelancing, you’re able to earn more money per customer on TikTok and other platforms, and you don’t need a large following before you can start selling.
There are two tracts you can follow when it comes to freelancing:
- You can use TikTok to build authority in your niche to sell services in any industry
- You can use your TikTok profile as a resume if you’re able to build up a following (think offering brand partnership tips, social media services, content creation)
One of the limitations to freelancing is the amount of time you have available to serve clients. The less time you have, the less clients you’re able to take on.
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3. Coaching and consulting
Very similar to freelancing is coaching and consulting. I’m differentiating the two for the sake of this list based on who is doing the work. Let me explain.
When you’re freelancing, you may be creating and posting TikTok content on behalf of a client that has hired you.
But as a coach or consultant, you’re not doing the actual content creation work. Your main role is to offer advice and strategies to your client to help them reach their goals faster.
I love this option because your ability to earn money isn’t limited to your audience size or anything else. If you have a way for someone to pay you, that’s all you need!
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2. Selling physical products
TikTok is a great way for small business owners to sell and promote their own products as a way to make money.
I personally think physical products have a small advantage over knowledge-based products because you have something you can easily show in your videos!
Other benefits of physical products include:
- Being able to show your product in use
- Provide sneak peeks to behind the scenes creation
- Build personal relationships with followers and customers (potential or previous)
The ease of creating content around your product in use and behind the scenes to any sized audience makes this option #2 on the list.
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1. Selling digital products
Wit & Wire online courses are the number one way I make money online. If you are on TikTok to build a following around a skill or passion, and you’re helping others, then creating and selling an online course could be a great fit for you.
But courses aren’t the only successful way to make money on TikTok.
Other digital product options are:
- Templates or patterns
- Activity Books
- And more!
Like physical products, you can use TikTok to build brand relationships (and then serve them through your actual product), provide sneak peeks behind the product creation, show the product in use, and more.
If you’re curious to learn more, here’s a free download with all my favorite tools to create & sell your own online courses.
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Bonus tip #1: Make your business platform independent
Remember Vine (the video platform)? Yeah, it doesn’t exist any more.
This bonus tip is an important reminder to not rely on one single platform to make money. For example, by putting all of your content into TikTok, you’re essentially helping TikTok build their own platform – something you have no control over.
And remember, TikTok’s goal is to keep people within their own app, so it’s important to keep that in mind when creating your content.
When it comes to your business, I want you to think of the big picture. Email marketing is still my number one source of sales. And even though I’m on a lot of social media platforms like TikTok, I know the value of being able to have control over something like an email list, which is something I own.
Bonus tip #2: Leverage your authority
If you’ve ever dreamed of writing your own book, upping your speaking gigs, or other goals, TikTok can be a great way to realize those dreams while earning money. By creating content related to your business, you’re also showcasing your authority within your niche in an indirect way!
Before you start
I wouldn’t recommend trying to utilize all of these strategies at once. Remember, you can always implement more as your audience grows. Instead, start with one that you think fits you and your business the best, and go from there.
There are a number of different ways to make money on TikTok. While some do require a bigger audience, there are many (including my top three money earning tips) that don’t. Some of my favorite options (selling digital or physical products, and services like freelancing or coaching) are ones you can implement with a small audience at any time.
And I’ll see you over on TikTok @witandwire, where I share course creation and online business tips:
@witandwire I wish more people knew about mistake #4. And if you want a full list of the tools & platforms I recommend for course creators, you’ll find a free Course Creation toolkit on my profile ✨ #coursecreators #coursecreation #onlinecoursecreators #coursecreationexpert #onlinecoursecreation #coursecreationtips ♬ original sound – Melissa | Course Creation ✨
Melissa Guller is the founder of Wit & Wire, where we help everyday experts become profitable course creators. She previously worked full-time for Ramit Sethi, Teachable, and General Assembly. Today, she shares simplified tech tutorials and modern marketing strategies through our blog, YouTube, and Wit & Wire Weekly newsletter