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It’d be an understatement to say that TikTok’s user base has grown during the pandemic. In fact, it’s absolutely exploded over the past year and a half, catapulting the video-sharing app into the stratosphere. Known for its ultra-creative, funny, and informative array of content, the platform has more than one billion users, around 100 million of whom come from within the U.S. alone. Even more impressive, around 60% of TikTok’s audience is between the ages of 16 to 24, making it a key watering hole for those looking to reach Gen Z. While it can be a little intimidating to get started on the app, so many people have found success from posting, raking in hundreds of thousands—and something millions—of views, followers, and dollars in the process. So, what does it mean to become an influencer on the platform? And how can people make money on TikTok?

Making Money on Social Media

There are a number of ways to make money on social media, even with a modest following of a few thousand people. It all depends on your skill set and the type of content you create.

That said, most influencers make money on social media through a few different revenue streams:

  • Sponsored posts: Ever noticed the hashtag #ad or #sponcon someone’s post? That’s because that person was paid by a company to mention the product on their page, and including these disclosures ensures that the social media account is following FCC guidelines.
  • Brand partnerships: People may partner with a company to do a larger campaign that spans more than a single post. It could include an ongoing video sponsorship deal and other integrated elements besides just getting paid for videos, like doing giveaways or selling merchandise.
  • Merchandise: Sometimes popular social media accounts don’t want to rely on brands to come to them for income, so they create their own by selling merchandise to their followers. This could come in the form of clothing, accessories, or other niche items that a specific community may want.
  • Consulting: Once you become a pro on a certain social media platform, brands and even just other random people might reach out wanting to hear more about your expertise using that app so that they can grow and cultivate their own followings. You can charge them a lot of money for your consulting services.

Making Money on TikTok

Can you make money on TikTok? The answer is a resounding yes—but it takes time and patience. When it comes to making money on TikTok, it’s a lot like many other social media apps. How the platform differentiates itself, however, is that in addition to working with brands, certain users are also eligible to join TikTok’s Creator Fund, where up-and-coming content creators can receive money for the viral videos they publish. The company is still working out the exact criteria for the program and how to make money on the TikTok Creator Fund, but it’s an excellent opportunity nonetheless.

That said, before you can even start thinking about raking in cash or snagging money from TikTok itself, you’ll need to gain a rock-solid understanding of how the app works to regularly create content people want to see and to build a following. How much money you can make on TikTok depends not just on your raw follower numbers but the control you have over those users’ spending.

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How to Get TikTok Followers

Exactly do influencers make money on TikTok and gain TikTok followers? The central building block of any presence on the app is follower count. There are a few key ways to build a following over time and become a TikTok influencer:

  • Post content regularly: Above everything else, post content regularly to not only gain followers but to ensure that they’re loyal supporters who will like, comment, and share whatever you post. The more people who consistently show that they’re passionate about your content, the easier it is to prove to brands that the account is valuable and that it’s worth investing in. You may also be able to make money through features like TikTok Live, so you’ll need to think of that as content too.
  • Use hashtags: TikTokers can add hashtags on any post, so it’s critical to take advantage of that system. Not only do TikTok’s hashtags help organize the site and allow creators to discover cool trends to post about, but they’re also a crucial tool for enabling other users to find your content once it’s created.
  • Engage with other TikTokers: This is an important but oft-missed part of building a following on TikTok. Reaching out to others on the platform and liking, commenting, and sharing their videos is crucial for building lasting connections. TikTok also has special features like Stitch and Duet that allow folks to even further engage with the content that other creators are making, so take advantage of those.

How Do You Become a TikTok Influencer?

How many followers do you need to make money on TikTok? Typically, social media dictates that users on any site that have over 100,000 followers are considered true “influencers” whom brands are most interested in, and TikTok influencers follow a similar trajectory. Once you pass that benchmark, it becomes easier to show brands why you’re valuable by proving that you have a significant audience of people who enjoy your content. How much money you make on TikTok may also be dependent on the number of views your videos get.

More than that, however, real influencers are those who can do just what the title says: They influence people to act, or in the case of brands, they influence people to buy products and services. There are ways to artificially inflate their follower numbers on any social media platform, but just because someone has a high follower count doesn’t mean they’re a true influencer whom companies can rely on to get consumers through the door.

What Is a Microinfluencer?

A “microinfluencer” is any account on social media that has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. It might be discouraging not to have a follower count in the millions, but there are major brand deals to be made with this size of an audience. 

Believe it or not, some of the most effective TikTok accounts for brands to work with when it comes to partnerships are those with smaller numbers of incredibly loyal followers. Many companies, especially those with smaller marketing budgets, would rather work with microinfluencers in the field of their choice than try to reach broad audiences through bigger accounts.

Types of Content to Create

New to TikTok and feel like dancing isn’t really your thing? There are plenty of other types of content on the platform and endless ways to use the app’s plethora of screen effects and sounds to come up with creative videos. 

It may take a little while to get going and fully understand the breadth of what the platform has to offer (talk about overwhelming!), but there’s plenty of content you can create with just your phone camera and TikTok’s app. With the right mindset and a basic gist of what to do, you can get started quickly. No editing software or prior film experience necessary!

Social Media Challenges

Within the “Discover” tab on TikTok’s app, there are thousands of trending and popular hashtags at any given moment to take a look at for inspiration. It’s easy to browse the videos, see what other users are doing, and jump in on the trends yourself.

For example, fast-casual dining chain Chipotle went viral last year with its #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge, which tasked TikTokers with trying to put the lid on their Chipotle burrito bowls creatively. Given that it was easy enough to do and didn’t require much talent or know-how, the campaign received over 321 million views, and it used influencers like creator David Dobrik to go viral.

Song Imitations and Sound Reenactments

If singing and dancing aren’t your favorite activities, good news: Song imitations and reenactments require neither. This type of content involves people lip-syncing over popular music or sounds and creating their own versions. The basic idea is that trends build on themselves over time, with users often becoming more and more random and absurd.

For instance, a popular reenactment trend on the app is called #QuestionsIGetAsked, where people do a series of hand motions to a song while answering three questions they claim people ask them all the time. Some TikTokers respond to actual questions in earnest, while others have put a comedic spin on the trend that’s still fun to follow along.

Calming or Satisfying Videos

TikTok is full of videos that exist with the primary goal of soothing users. This can include basically anything, from smushing sand to mixing nail polish, in a slow and calming manner, and it’s sure to do well views-wise. Hey, people love self-care content nowadays! Why not take advantage of that?

Becoming an influencer and making money on TikTok are both an art and science. It’ll take some time to figure out a niche and build a community who cares about what you post, but it’s fully worth it in the long run. Staying patient and creating high-quality videos are the surest ways to bring that dream to life.

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