Love it or hate it, TikTok is here to stay. And thanks to that, many talented content creators have developed large audiences to make TikTok their main job, particularly working alongside brands to create sponsored content.
Because TikTok as a platform is still developing, its influencer marketing differs from Instagram’s. Florence Williams, an Atlanta-based influencer coach, explained to HuffPost how TikTok influencer campaigns differ from Instagram ones. “For TikTok campaigns, my clients often only need to use their phone, for a more laid-back vibe. It’s found that TikTok is more about relatability and giving your community the most honest and authentic information to your community,” she said. Instagram tends to be more about aesthetics, and usually, a DSLR is needed, she added.
Influencer coach Lissette Calvero also talked about authenticity. “TikTok campaigns come with more creative freedom as brands understand this platform heavily values authenticity,” Calvero said. “If something looks too much ‘like an ad,’ it won’t perform as well. I think that’s great and hope it spreads across to how brands work with creators on other platforms.”
In terms of payment, many creators may get paid less on TikTok than on Instagram. Calvero explained that due to TikTok being a newer space, creators undervalue themselves. “As such, it’s driving the market cost for TikTok down and you’ll find brands are expecting to pay less for video than other platforms. But the reality is that brands will pay for creators they really want to cast and work with, so it’s not a reason to discount their rate just because others are,” Calvero said.
Williams’ clients normally propose a package deal that combines TikTok and Instagram content, especially for people with larger Instagram followings. Adding links on TikTok can be tricky, so connecting those posts to Instagram can help show a brand the traffic brought to its site.
Contrary to the way Instagram tends to work, a lower TikTok following doesn’t mean brands won’t notice you. Williams said creators are the ones making the viral trends, so brands are generally giving them more creative freedom.
Finally, Williams has some tips for creators regardless of the platform: “Think of yourself as a business. You could go viral out of nowhere with brands filling your inbox and I think it’s best for creators to now educate themselves on the industry. Negotiation isn’t fun, but it’s a necessary skill. Start to value yourself more and the content you create so brands don’t take advantage.”
We spoke to four TikTok beauty creators to see what their experience has been with paid campaigns on the platform.
Sarah Palmyra (@sarahpalmyra)
Palmyra is a Los Angeles-based beauty creator who discusses skin care and tests products and trends on her platform. Palmyra previously worked as a skin care specialist and color associate in Seattle while finishing her master’s program. The pandemic brought her back to LA, and she started posting online to help people build their skin care routines. She started posting on YouTube for a few months before starting her TikTok in May 2020. Her first paid campaign was in August 2020, when she had about 15,000 followers. She currently has a TikTok following of more than 838,000.
Deliverables: One 30- to 60-second TikTok to be posted on her TikTok channel, a 60-second TikTok video for the brand’s TikTok channel using a trending song, one “before” and one “after” photo with the newest launch for the brand’s use.
What she was paid: $1,000
Usage: To be used in paid ads for 18 months
Turnaround: Palmyra asked for three weeks to test out the new launch and the content was due 20 days from the campaign offer.
How long the content needed to stay live: In perpetuity; for as long as her TikTok exists.
What she was initially offered: $1,000
Associated expenses: 25 hours of work on producing and editing the content, lighting, camera equipment, editing software
Her two cents: “TikTok is amazing because it allows content creators of all followings to monetize their following while having fun making the content they’re passionate about. That being said, content creators need to be wary of taking on sponsorships that benefit the brand more than they benefit the creator because that ends up hurting all of us. At the time of this campaign, I was so excited because it was my first paid partnership. I jumped at the opportunity to get paid to promote a brand I already used and loved. When I first saw that I would be paid $1,000, I was so thrilled that I didn’t even think to negotiate. Had I understood what I was giving in return — my likeness and image associated with the brand and my content for 18 months — I know I would have hesitated. Now that I’ve been a full-time content creator for almost two years, I would never agree to more than four months of usage. Remember, a brand can always ask to renew for a new negotiated rate! A lot can change for your platform in that time and you never know how much added value your content and your image can amount to if your following and presence increase.
I would advise all creators to charge for usage per month and to be careful when any brand asks to use your content. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they plan on using the content for, for how long, and on which platforms. And of course the golden rule is never to allow a brand to use your content in perpetuity. I once agreed to create a set of stories when I was just starting out for $100 and agreed that the brand could use that in paid ads in perpetuity because I didn’t understand what I was signing. To this day, the brand benefits from using my content as paid ads and I haven’t made a single extra dollar off of my endorsement. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something in a campaign contract and if you can find a manager to represent you, that’s even better!”
Mykaila Mitchell (@glambymykaila)
Mitchell is a part-time beauty content creator based in Alabama, creating fun, colorful makeup looks. She will soon be full time and has been creating content on Instagram since 2017. She currently has 55,600-plus followers on TikTok and started posting on the platform in mid-2019. Her first campaign was in September 2020, when she had between 20,000 and 30,000 followers.
Deliverables: Five TikTok Videos and reposting TikToks on Instagram
What she was paid: $3,500
Turnaround: Five videos within four to six weeks
How long the content needed to stay live: At least three months
What she was initially offered: It was initially a product in exchange for the videos, but she declined, then they came back and offered $3,000 and she was able to negotiate and add $500 more.
Her two cents: “TikTok is a very profitable app that can change your life overnight. When it comes to sponsorships in general, it’s very important to know your worth and not let brands take advantage of you. Learn from my mistake to not take offers way below your rate just because you need the money. I highly recommend turning down or at least negotiating better offers that work within your rates. As a Black creator, it can be very challenging getting paid opportunities let alone at the rate we deserve. Please read your contracts and have an understanding of what everything means. I booked a consultation to learn more about the true meaning of certain key terms and to understand my value as a creator and ever since then I’ve been able to understand and negotiate way better offers for myself.”
Karla Vega Kazemi (@karlakazemi)
Kazemi is a beauty content creator based just outside Toronto, Canada, and a mom to three kids born within four years. She mainly posts about hair and makeup, as well as style and confidence. Despite setting up her YouTube and Instagram accounts years ago, due to her kids she wasn’t able to be consistent with those platforms. After having her third child, she decided in November 2020 to give TikTok a go. That’s when she posted her concealer hack and gained over 1 million views in a few days and 24,000 followers in a week. TikTok became her career, as it gave her the time to create while caring for her kids. She currently has 629,000-plus TikTok followers and had her first campaign in February 2021 when she had under 60,000 followers.
Deliverables: 1 TikTok reposted to Reels and 1 Instagram story set
What she was paid: $5,500
Usage: 30 days
Turnaround: Two weeks
How long the content needed to stay live: One year
What she was initially offered: $3,500
Associated expenses: None
Her two cents: “I love that I get to make content for some of my favorite brands. Being able to make sponsored content has changed my life. I get to share my creativity, opinion and expertise with a wonderful community on a great platform. The work that goes into making high-quality and engaging video content is hard, and I’m grateful that brands are acknowledging and valuing us. We aren’t quite there, but brands are utilizing more and more the incredible reach TikTok offers. I’m very grateful for all the wonderful opportunities sponsored content has given me this past year.”
Evelyn Gonzalez (@evyxobby)
Gonzalez is a beauty content creator based in Los Angeles, creating amazing makeup looks. Gonzalez started her TikTok page in early 2020, after having her Instagram since 2018 where she showcased her makeup looks to her 215,000 followers. On TikTok, she currently has 183,000-plus followers and landed her first sponsored campaign after five months of being on the platform. At the time, she had about 30,000 followers.
Deliverables: One TikTok video
What she was paid: $350
Exclusivity: She couldn’t work with competitors for one week
Usage: Three months of video rights to be used on the brand’s social pages
Turnaround: Two weeks
How long the content needed to stay live: Six months
What she was initially offered: $150
Her two cents: “Content on TikTok has grown tremendously since 2020. I can honestly say I didn’t feel confident giving brands what I thought I deserved to be paid because the platform was so new at the time. It can be extremely easy to be taken advantage of when it comes to working on sponsored content and I encourage all creators to advocate for themselves and properly negotiate a contract that benefits both the brand and creator. Communicating with peers in the same space has allowed many content creators to navigate their business and be compensated a fair amount.”