At the moment, TikTok is arguably the hottest app on social media. It’s a platform that allows creators to create and share short videos of themselves lip-syncing, dancing, performing music, doing comedy skits, and so much more. And it’s taken the world by storm.

Launched by ByteDance in 2017, TikTok has experienced a massive surge in popularity in recent years. In fact, TikTok was the most downloaded in the U.S. last year and currently has more than 500 million active users who affectionately call themselves ‘TikTokers’.

young woman blowing glitter into a camera lens

Last year, a study by GlobalWebIndex found that 41% of TikTok users were between the ages of 16 and 24. This generation, also known as the upper range of Generation Z, is a highly profitable audience that tends to offer high engagement on content across social media.

TikTok money calculators allow influencers to calculate estimated earnings from their TikTok account activity. How do TikToker’s determine their potential earnings? And how much do they make?

How Much Do TikTokers Make?

This question is multi-faceted, so there is no cut and dry answer. Earnings are strongly dependent upon the creators’ location (country) and the location of their followers. The country where purchasing power is less, you may not get a chance to earn a good amount of money like TikTokers in Tier1 country.

But to get a basic idea, we can evaluate the landscape and see that top TikTok stars are landing brand deals with prestigious marketers, including brands like Ralph Lauren, MAC, and NARS.

TikTok’s top stars are already commanding substantial fees for their services — to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000 for a sponsored post, according to sources. While those may sound like astronomical figures to some, they’re not really unprecedented. Mainstream celebrities like Will Smith, who boasts over 12.5 million TikTok followers, are making up to six figures per brand deal.

During its heyday, stars on Vine— the video-looping app that many see as the spiritual predecessor to TikTok — could make between $20,000 to $50,000 per ad campaign, Rob Fishman told Complex in 2014. Of course, Vine eventually fizzled out before officially shutting down in early 2017. But it has returned in recent months and rebranded into Byte. With the rapid surge of popularity witnessed with TikTok in recent years—as well as the marketing dollars that have followed as a result of brand deals—it should come as no surprise that Dom Hoffman and Byte have decided to dip their toes back into the world of social media platform creation. But we digress…

TikTok has various products in place to facilitate these brand deals, including the ability for some creators to make their videos shoppable. The company also recently released its TikTok Creator Marketplace, a hub that enables approved brands and agencies to search for potential creators to partner with based on follower count, subject matter, and other audience analytic points.

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What Determines Potential Earnings?

Let’s take a look at how users make money on the platform, and what determines the potential earnings of a TikTok influencer.

Ability to Cash in on a Key Demographic

Gen-Z consumers differ from their Millennials and Baby Boomer counterparts. Generation Z is unique in the sense that they grew up in a time where smartphones and social media began dominating every form of communication. On the flip side, Millennials grew up in a time when mobile devices had not yet consumed our attention spans, and connecting with others wasn’t instantaneous. When it comes to TikTok, Gen-Z accounts for the largest active demographic on the platform.

The number of followers you have on TikTok directly affects your potential earnings, much like it does on platforms like Instagram. Both Instagram and TikTok operate with a metric of engagement; Instagram, of course, using ‘likes’ and follows, and TikTok using ‘hearts’ and fans.

However, TikTok is different than a lot of applications due to its ability for users to gift creators who make content. As creators live stream on TikTok, the audience has the ability to gift them coins if they like their content. Users can purchase coins and gift them as a way to say thank you and express support for the creator. When a creator has accumulated enough coins, they can redeem those coins and exchange them for real cash, up to $1,000 a day. Creators with large audiences can make a substantial income off of gifted coins alone.

The Potential of Going Viral

TikTok is a platform ripe with virality. The app is all but designed to have content on the platform created with the intent of going viral. A small portion of creators are casual users, who will make a video to share it with friends and family, while the majority of users have the goal of going viral and attaining their 15 seconds of fame.

A unique feature of TikTok is that there are often challenges that pop up, inspiring users across the world to offer their rendition. The Yee-Yee-Haw Challenge, the Haribo Challenge, and the Fake Travel Challenge are all shining examples of the virality that challenge-based content has to offer. These were all ideas that originated from a single creator and eventually spread across the platform, attracting thousands (and sometimes millions) of likes and comments. While many of them are comedic in nature, they still present a great opportunity for brands, regardless of the intended context of an influencer activation.

Simply put, the more likely a creator is to make content that will go viral, the more likely a brand is to want to work with them, thus increasing their potential earnings.

High User Engagement

TikTok is a unique platform in that it operates solely through posted video content. Couple this with the fact that the interface is a highly navigable vertical timeline, and you have the recipe for a highly-engaged user base.

Creators who post the type of content that viewers are more likely to heart and share with others are more likely to see their potential earnings increase. But there are other factors when it comes to engagement that determines the potential earnings for TikTok users.

If a TikTok video accumulates a ton of hearts, and the creator has a large fanbase, then the video is much more likely to be suggested to other users. In turn, viewers will watch it and potentially gift the creator. Users with high engagement are more likely to have brands looking to partner with them for marketing campaigns. It’s for these reasons that high user engagement across fans, hearts, and views influence engagement and potential earnings for TikTok creators.

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