Instagram Reels and TikTok are some of the most popular video-sharing platforms right now. And they really show the true power of short-form content. While 20-minute deep dives on YouTube are timeless, there is also always going to be a place for sub-60-second videos that anyone can never-endingly scroll through on their phone.
These vertical videos are an art and a science, and today we’re sharing the best ways to make money from short-form content, whether you’re a business or a social media influencer.
How to Dominate Short-Form Content
You never really know what’s going to go viral. Sticking to a niche is generally a good strategy. TikTok and Instagram reels promote doing the same kind of content over and over, as different people will see any given video, and returning viewers will love seeing more.
Take Milad Mirg for example. He just started posting videos of making sandwiches at his job at Subway. At first glance this doesn’t seem like something that would garner millions of views, and yet it does! He achieved a ton of success when Subway officially sponsored him, which proves that you never really know what could happen!
Build an Audience
Building an audience is easier said than done, but there are ways to do it. These are the keys to building an audience:
- Upload content consistently (short-form content should be uploaded more frequently than long-form content)
- Find your niche and stick to it
- Seek out sponsorship opportunities to expand your audience
- Collaborate with other creators to expand your audience
- Use appropriate hashtags to expand reach
Building an audience won’t happen overnight. Or, maybe it will! Going viral can rarely be planned for, but it can happen unexpectedly and on a video that you never thought would go viral.
Posting Tips for Growth
Short-form content is unique when it comes to posting. Posting four or more times per day is recommended (especially on Tik Tok) in order to maximize the possibility of people seeing your content.
Whenever a new feature comes out on Tik Tok or Instagram, use it! For example, YouTube recently unveiled Shorts, which is basically Tik Tok and Reels for YouTube. Creators should jump on the chance to use new features, because often the platforms will push them hard when they first come out. Take advantage of this early push and get familiar with the new tools.
Following trends is a good short-term way to get a lot of views and followers. Trends can bring in a new audience to your content, and maybe those people will follow you for your other content.
You should also supplement your content with some live videos. Streaming live lets an audience feel more connected to a creator, and can provide a unique unedited perspective.
Lastly, you can separate longer content into a multi-part series of short-form videos. This means that the viewers need to watch more than one of your videos in order to see the rest of the story.
Monetization isn’t always going to be an option, but some creators can apply. TikTok has a program but is vague about it. People have guessed that you need anywhere from 10,000 to 1,000,000 followers in order to be accepted, but TikTok hasn’t confirmed this. Creators can apply through their profile if they meet the minimum requirements, and this application will be sent to the creator’s notifications.
Instagram does not offer any built-in monetization.
While traditional monetization is not available to every TikTok creator, there are donations that unlock at 1000 followers. Users can purchase coins and use those to purchase various virtual gifts. They can then donate them to creators when they’re live. The creator receives these gifts in the form of diamonds and redeems those on PayPal as cash. It’s an overly complex process, but the math is fairly simple. Coins can be purchased in various amounts, and it comes out around $1.43 per 100 coins. These coins can then be redeemed for various gifts. Diamonds (what the creators gets) come out to 50% the value of coins, as TikTok takes a 50% commission on these donations. The most expensive gift costs 5000 coins, which is about $71.42 of real money. The creator will receive around $35.71 of that. But most gifts cost less than a hundred coins. A gift of a hundred coins would earn the creator about $0.71. These small gifts aren’t worth a lot, but a creator that goes live a lot and has a legion of fans can start really stacking up the gifts over time.
Sponsorships aren’t just for blogs or longer videos. Sponsors are happy to reach out about your short-form videos. There are a multitude of ways this can manifest itself, and each has a unique set of rules and situations.
Many sponsorships from brands will come in the form of a pretty normal-looking sponsorship. This will be a video dedicated to promoting a brand or product. These can be obvious ads, or maybe they’ll be made to look a bit more natural. Either way, you’ll always need to indicate that the post is sponsored, like by adding #ad to the description.
When it comes to sponsorships, there is no one-size-fits-all explanation. You can reach out to brands, or they may reach out to you. These brands may be a good fit, or they may not be. It will be a better experience for both the creator and the sponsor if the brand is related to your content or is something that you would love to personally endorse.
To learn more, read our guide on how to generate more sponsorship income.
Lil Nas X is famous due to his own marketing efforts. He used TikTok and other platforms to make “Old Town Road” go viral. Part of this was paying TikTok influencers to use the audio from his song in their video. You can’t count on this as a surefire source of income, but there will probably be a good number of artists out there trying to copy Lil Nas X’s viral strategy.
3. Selling Products
As with any platform, you can use your popularity to make money elsewhere. Official merchandise is one way to go. You can use a service like TeeSpring to make and sell custom-designed clothing. You can also use your viewership to promote dropshipping by making videos of some of the products you offer. If you have the capacity to go viral, you can sell a lot of products in a short period of time. You never know what might become a new trend or meme on the platform.
Affiliate marketing is also a popular money-making method. With affiliate marketing, you refer sales to another company (like Amazon) and get a percentage of the sale as a commission. You’re not directly selling the products in this case. All you have to do is promote them. Affiliate marketing doesn’t require a negotiation like a sponsorship – you can just sign up online then start making money.
4. Selling Accounts
If you don’t have anything to sell, yourself, you can invest time into growing TikTok or Instagram accounts and then selling them to brands. This is a popular tactic, and it starts by building and growing an account around a niche topic. You can grow an audience of interested people through this niche content, then reach out to relevant brands offering to sell it. These brands will be happy to throw money at an account that already has a large and engaged audience. And the best part is, once you sell the account you can turn around and create a new account for a new niche, and repeat the process.