What is A TikTok Influencer Anyway? A Quick Overview…

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform on the planet. But what exactly is a TikTok influencer? Here’s everything you need to know…

Regardless of your thoughts about TikTok, the social media platform is now arguably the biggest and most popular of its kind in the USA, UK, and many other parts of the world – especially with younger users (the average age for users is 16 to 24).

Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the social media platform has been involved in its fair share of controversies over the years from concerns about addiction to the fact that it is owned, at least partially, by the Chinese Communist Party.

Still, that hasn’t stopped over 100 million people in the UK and USA from checking into the app once a month. Most users are using the platform for hours a day too which is why plenty of parents are concerned about the app. And that’s before you even get to half of the questionable stuff you’ll find on there…

The app is basically a video-sharing social media platform; users can watch or upload videos, either of themselves or anything else they like. There are lifestyle channels on TikTok, music channels, sports channels, and even life coaching. Basically, any topic you can think of will be available to consume on TikTok.

OK, But What Is A TikTok Influencer?

A TikTok influencer is someone that creates content on TikTok, has a large following, and by proxy can quickly raise awareness about something – be it a new product, a service, or a humane cause. Most influencer marketing, however, is focused on promoting products and services.

TikTok InfluencerPin

Once you have an audience (on any social media platform, or the web for that matter), brands will start wanting to work with you to advertise their products and services. Retail brands are always looking for new sales and customers and a TikTok influencer’s engaged audience is the perfect target.

But in order to get access to that audience, the brand has to pay the influencer to do it – this is how most influencers make money. Once terms are agreed upon between the brand and the influencer, a post or other type of content will be worked out and then uploaded to TikTok.

How Do TikTok Influencers Make Money?

The main way TikTok influencers make money is through paid promotions. A brand or service will reach out to them, the influencer will tell the brand their fee, and then a piece of content will be produced. This is called influencer marketing and it is literally EVERYWHERE.

Many TikTok influencers also sell their own products, these can be physical products like clothes or digital products like courses. If you have a large audience, selling courses and/or physical products can earn you huge amounts of money if the product is marketed right.

TikTok Pulse

In May 2022, TikTok announced plans to start doing ad revenue sharing with its top content creators. Similar to YouTube, ads are served on certain videos, and the creators, providing they have over 100,000 followers, will get paid per impression.

If a video makes it into TikTok’s top 4% of viewed content, the content creator will get a 50% share of the ad revenue generated by it. Again, TikTok Pulse is ONLY available to content creators that have over 100,000 subscribers.

Most influencers, however, make the vast majority of their money from sponsored posts. How much you charge will depend on the size of your audience. If you have 10,000,000 followers, you can basically name your price – anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 per post. If you have fewer than 50K followers, it’ll be closer to $100 to $300 a post.

For instance, say you run a home improvement TikTok channel, where you make short clips about improvements you’re making to your home. Once you start to get tens of thousands of engaged followers, brands in that niche – so, anything related to homeware and home improvement – will want to start working with you.

What do I mean by “working with you”? Simple: consumer brands use influencers to advertise their products to an influencer’s engaged audience. The brand will send the influencer free stuff or pay them to make a post about their product or service.

This is why BIG influencers, those with audiences in the millions, can earn six or seven figures a month from their social media channels.

But it is advertising, pure and simple. In fact, this kind of “influencer marketing” became so insidious on Instagram a few years back that Instagram’s owners, META, had to change some of the rules on the platform. All paid-for posts and influencer marketing had to be tagged as such because paid promotions and actual posts were getting confused.

Can Anyone Be A TikTok Influencer?

With apps and social platforms like TikTok, talent is not required to be successful. Anyone can be a TikTok influencer. Literally anyone. All you have to do is make videos, do it regularly, and find yourself a good niche to work in. Tens of thousands of people you’ve never heard of are making $100,000+ a month from TikTok. And the vast majority have little to no talent, no special skills, and nothing unique about them.

The subject doesn’t matter either. In fact, the weirder the better. Just look at The Liver King. He’s a man that eats raw liver and other organ meat exclusively, and this is how he became a TikTok influencer. The Liver King has millions of followers, a supplement company (of course), and he claims to make over $100 million a year. And he did it all by eating raw liver. And people say OnlyFans is bad

As I said, talent is not essential if you want to become a TikTok influencer nor is any sort of medical or professional training. You can just open an account, start talking nonsense and build up your audience. This is the way millions of new accounts start life but very few content creators ever become true TikTok influencers. But every single TikTok influencer started life with ZERO followers, so it can be done – you just have to put the hours in.

The 10 Biggest TikTok Influencers Right Now

  1. Loren Gray – 53.6 million
  2. Rodrigo Contreras – 34.5 million
  3. Taylor Cassidy J – 2.1 million
  4. Naim Darrechi – 26.8 million
  5. Savannah Labrant – 28.3 million
  6. Gil Croes – 33.6 million
  7. Kyle Thomas – 29 million
  8. Garima Chaurasia – 21.3 million
  9. Brent Rivera – 40.1 million
  10. Baby Ariel – 35.5 million

TikTok’s Role In Music

TikTok merged with musical.ly in 2018, bringing the platform to way more eyeballs than ever before. Prior to the merge, plenty of big-name musicians and performers “got big” via musical.ly. After the merge, TONS of new artists have used TikTok to quickly build out audiences for their music and new releases which, in turn, helps to drive sales of their records and streams on platforms like Spotify and TIDAL.

Essentially, if you’re a musician, TikTok is a great place to get your music out to potentially millions of people. You can upload a song, or a video or you performing it, and tag it up so it appears where you want it to appear. Do this often enough and you’ll quickly build a following which you can then leverage to sell records, get a record deal, and even sell tickets to your shows.

One notable TikTok trend is the “hit or miss” meme, which began from a snippet of iLOVEFRiDAY’s song “Mia Khalifa.” The song has been used in over four million TikTok videos and helped introduce the app to a larger Western audience. TikTok also played a major part in making “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X one of the biggest songs of 2019 and the longest running number-one song in the history of the US Billboard Hot 100.


Beyond music and eating raw meat, TikTok is responsible for starting trends, popularising ideas and concepts (usually to do with food, clothing, and drinks) and propelling them into the mainstream, and for launching the careers of tens of thousands of influencers that you’ll start to see and hear more about as they secure lucrative book deals and Netflix shows.

So, yeah, that’s basically how being a TikTok influencer works…

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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