TikTok’s history of low Creator Fund payouts has some leaving the platform for good

Creators are becoming increasingly frustrated at the platform that supposedly pledged $1 billion in payouts, is shelling out mere pennies for video views.

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Creators on TikTok, disappointed about how much they’re being paid from its Creator Fund, are leaving the platform claiming mental health blows and burnout.

A pattern of unhappy creators. There have been several creators that have criticized TikTok for low payouts since the platform pledged to pay out a total of $1 billion over a three-year period. In reality, creators like Hank Green claim they’re paid between $0.02 – $0.03 per one thousand video views. To put that into perspective, YouTube creators claim that they are paid roughly $1 per every one thousand views. 

  • In 2021 Kevin Yatsushiro created a video on TikTok that went viral with over 3 million views. He was paid only $12.50. 
  • Alicia Trautwein posted a video in 2021 that gained 1.8 million views. She was paid about $10. 
  • Nikki Apostolou is a TikToker with 145,000 followers. She posts about 3 videos a day, each getting about 2-3 million views. She makes about $20-$30 per month on average.
  • Jimmy Donaldson is one of TikTok’s top creators with over 32 million fans on the platform. In January he earned just $25.10.

What’s the solution? Creators Trautwein and Yatsushiro have both suggested that TikTok needs to create a standardized payout program, much like how YouTube’s model works. This would make the TikTok Creator Fund a more competitive and secure program. 

The YouTube model. Last year, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote in a blog post that the company had shelled out $30 billion to creators between 2018 and 2021. “We can’t compare overall revenues for the two apps — TikTok is owned by a private company — but we do know that YouTube has roughly twice as many users as TikTok, not 30 times as many.”

Taking on brand sponsorship deals. Another option for TikTok creators is to work directly with large brands for sponsorship deals. Creators like Vi Luong who has 1 million followers have earned up to $32,000 per month through sponsorships. 

According to Business Insider, Deanna Giulietti is a lifestyle creator with around 1.7 million followers on TikTok. Giuletti now creates content on both TikTok and Instagram Reels, which she uses to make money. The creator told Insider that she signs an average of 10 to 15 sponsored deals a month, depending on the time of the year, and last year she made $535,000 from brand deals alone, including $126,000 in November thanks to the holiday push.

TikTok’s claims. TikTok claims that they pay their creators based on a variety of factors including video views, engagement, the locations seen, and total participants in the Creator Fund. “Authenticity of a view” is also a considered factor, though there is no data on how that is calculated. 

Why we care. TikTok’s claims that they want to be a source of consistent and reliable income for creators is laughable at best. We’re not saying that all creators participating in the Creator Fund are being underpaid, but the data isn’t telling us much otherwise. However, this could be good news for brands looking to hop on the influencer bandwagon, as the pool of creators looking for deals may be higher.

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About the author

Nicole Farley
Nicole Farley is the founder of Web Sprout, an inbound marketing agency. She formerly was PPC Editor for Search Engine Land (from 2022-2023), covering paid search, paid social, Google Analytics and more. In addition to being a Marine Corps veteran, she has an extensive background in digital marketing, an MBA and a penchant for true crime, podcasts, travel, and snacks.

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