Since it was released on iOS and Android in 2017, TikTok’s video-sharing app has made huge strides in popularity. “Tok is the world’s leading target for short-form mobile videos,” she added. “The idea behind TikTok is to enable people to produce short videos with their smartphones easily and quickly, allowing everyone to be a creator of media. As of July 2019, over 500 million active monthly users are active and become one of the world’s leading contenders in video creation.
Like all Internet-based trends, TikTok quickly raised the question: can you make money on this thing?
The answer is yes, surely you can.
While TikTok is not explicitly designed to monetize creators and deliver income flows, the app is highly commercial-friendly and creatively leverages the platform. TikTok does not share ad revenues with creators as of this writing (July 2020). Still, there are imminent rumours that this is about to change and that the app takes a more YouTube-like approach to enable successful creators to generate revenues from their videos directly.
In this post, I’ll talk about how to make money from TikTok. There is no “magic formula” or “rich-fast scheme”; there is no secret technique that allows you to post a TikTok video every day and retire in a month to your Tuscan villa to travel around the Mediterranean by speedboats. If there were, I would use it, not tell you. Instead, I will talk about the fundamentals and give you suggestions for thinking about platform monetization, so you can decide how to proceed.
Making money at TikTok is like making money elsewhere–work, creativity, luck and –most importantly–creating value so other people want to be part of what you do. You don’t make money if you don’t create value.
Method One: Be An “Influencer”
Being an “influencer” online is, in fact, a legitimate way of curbing your online presence, although in recent months the term “influencer” has received many bad terms. This is because it sometimes seems that every half-attractive youth decides to be an “influencer,” purchases 50,000 followers on Instagram, and then seeks to convey the actual goods and services in exchange for reviews and exposure.
However, it is tough to be influential and famous by merely affirming your influence and fame unless you are Kim Kardashian. There are many real influencers in the world, large and small in scale. Your friend, whom you trust implicitly in music–the person is an influencer, whether he has three other “fans” like you or three million.
Food criticisms for primary (or even minor) newspapers are usually influential, as are film critics. Martha Stewart was once a powerful influencer on a bigger scale and still has a lot of influence. Oprah Winfrey was probably the most influential; the simple mention of a book on his show had sufficed to make him a bestseller of #1 and the author himself a media figure. Today the trend seems to be smaller, but still significantly affected people.
Notice something familiar to all the influencers I mentioned? With their opinions, they all add value. You don’t listen to your friend because she’s got a cool website or because your friends told you she was excellent, you listen to her, so if she recommends an album, you know it’s going to be good. Every time she opens her mouth, she saves you time and money, and that’s why you pay attention to her.
Food critics and film reviewers are driving people away from crappy restaurants and bad movies and into good ones. You add value to the world by having an opinion that proves to be a usually trustworthy judge as to whether or not something is worth your time and money.
Martha Stewart manufactures fantastic recipes and crafts that people can aspire to. Almost always Oprah Winfrey recommended books and authors, which were excellent.
So, while “influencers” are real and you might be one, you must be aware that if your opinion does not add value, you do nothing worthwhile on the line of influence. You will not gain or maintain popularity other than through flukes of luck or manipulation. You have to say something useful.
When you have something worth saying, and real people pay attention to your views, then TikTok gives you a straightforward method to monetize your video appearance in the app. You recommend products and services that you genuinely use and think is right; those brands, shops, artists or anyone delighted to redeem your advocacy of their product or service. You need to have a massive and committed follow-up–a bunch of pretenders you’ve shot on Tinder just won’t cut it. However, you can easily earn thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in a shot with a real influence to boost the product of someone else.
Please note that many influencers have found it challenging to accept brand deals and not tell their followers the deal. Although it slightly reduces the value of your opinion to many people, I think that you have to say, in the long run, that you accept such deals because the consequences of the agreement that is shown that you DIDN’T unveil is a massive scandal that will damage your reputation, which in the first place undermines the very thing that makes you an influence.
Method Two: Live Streaming
Live streaming on TikTok used to take place via the.ly live URL mainly aimed at the musical performance (whether it’s lip-syncing or live). The current exchange rates vary over time, but the basic system is simple: TikTok users can buy “coins” via in-application purchases using real money.
Then you can use your coins (and other derivative currencies) to advise creators of TikTok and necessarily give them little real money to thank them for creating good live content. It is generally not a fortune, but it can be an income stream, although you must take payment in the form of digital gifts rather than money; that is not too hard to translate into cold hard money.
TikTok spends 80 percent of the value of the tip on the person making the live stream, building his account (and not incidentally signing to a brand that he or she is gaining influence).
Method Three: Promoting / Selling Your Own Ventures
This is probably the most realistic way to make money for most people via TikTok, without accumulating a large number of people and becoming a national influencer. The secret is to use TikTok as a completely free way to promote and sell your products or services or to promote your existing businesses. The great thing is that all (legal) business or service, be it nerdy, crafty, techy or crazy, can be.
For example, you may have a rafting service that takes people every summer on rafting trips along the Colorado River. Well, every raft trip you make can be videoed, and you can make 15 seconds clips to show how unbelievably fun people are. Post it on TikTok, together with a few promotional frames showing where you are and how you can contact, what you charge and when your next trip is. TikTok doesn’t pay you for anything directly, but now your company makes thousands of dollars for referrals and new customers that you draw with your videos.
Another example is someone that has the craft business–say you make cool glass sculptures with melted glass. (And, of course, you may put videos on your Facebook page, your YouTube channel etc.) You can make super-fast videos of How-I-It showing your techniques and how good you are at them, highlighting your best and most beautiful work and, incidentally, mention that you can also sell these sculptures on your website. You can not only sell products directly from your videos but also attract people who like your work, which TikTok covers for you instead of paying for the bandwidth.
Finally, in essence, you can advertise any business even if it doesn’t work well for video. By placing a fun, funny, creative or musically great video you’re going to draw attention–then you can pitch your product or service with a few frames at the end.
Method Four: Amazon Referral Links
You can make a lot of money from Amazon referral links if you do, but some people may feel confused with proposing you can do it at TikTok. How will you promote anything if your video and bio have no links?
You cannot expect your viewers to write the link and then type it by hand in a browser, and even if they did, it might cost you your Amazon account! The rules of Amazon prevent any linked system that obscures or spoils them from telling where a particular link originated. You want your viewers to click and tap, not write down and retype. A manual link entry does that.
So how are we doing that?
Your bio is the first place for writing TikTok information. (You can add text to the videos, but the video itself is often distracted). However, there are no links on your bio page, either–you can have text, but it can’t be clicked/taped. Users can’t even copy it and paste it later into a browser. So, what can you do? What can you do? You want to focus your bio on a short text string: a shortened URL to your affiliate marketing page if the primary URL is unworkable, uncatchy or only the single URL is short.