TikTok creators are raking in sales commissions from its new e-commerce program, TikTok Shop.The feature offers a new revenue source for shopping influencers and may boost video views.Some creators wonder whether big paydays will persist as the program expands and matures.When Shayna Farnan decided to turn her videos about coupons and bargain-hunting into a full-time job, her friends were skeptical.”Most people just don’t understand,” said the Pennsylvania native, whose TikTok account @SavingwithShayna shouts out deals from retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Target to around 300,000 followers. “It’s like a fake job to them.”But as companies across the social and e-commerce space chase after social-shopping dollars, the role of “shopping creator” may soon shift from niche hobby to lucrative career.Social apps like TikTok and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon are hunting for new ways to incorporate influencers into the buying process.TikTok’s new e-commerce product, TikTok Shop, which rolled out in the UK, Indonesia, and other markets starting in 2021 before coming to the US last year, is already generating thousands in commission earnings for creators like Farnan, who has posted videos featuring Shop products like a beverage tumbler, a skincare cream, and a curling iron. Many are excited by the early payouts, but aware that earnings could fluctuate based on how TikTok incorporates shopping-related videos into its content-recommendation algorithm.”It’s not stable, it goes up and down,” Farnan said.Jeneen Sahtout, who posts beauty and shopping haul videos to around 650,000 TikTok fans, earned just under $6,000 in commissions in April after driving around $40,000 in product sales, per her talent manager Shawn Jacobson. Insider viewed documentation to verify her earnings and sales rate.”I think that anybody should just try it because you’re not really going to lose much, but the gain could be an extra $5,000 in your account,” Jacobson said.TikTok has some requirements for who can join its TikTok Shop program. In the US, creators must have at least 5,000 followers and be over the age of 18, according to the company’s website. In the UK, the bar is lower. Creators need at least 1,000 followers and a minimum of 50 video views in the past 28 days, per its website.Creators who want to earn commissions from TikTok Shop can tag products in videos or livestreams. They can also showcase items from various sellers on a dedicated page at the top of their profile, as they would do with Amazon storefronts. Some users work directly with brands on TikTok Shop promotions, while others simply choose eligible products from TikTok Shop sellers at a standard commission rate.
TikToker Jeneen Sahtout has promoted hair products and skincare creams on TikTok Shop.
Jeneen Sahtout/Grail Talent.
Affiliate marketing is a common source of revenue for influencers, who can often garner commissions between 1% and 20% for driving sales.On TikTok Shop, commission rates tend to land much higher, in the 10% to 20% range, Nicole Rechtszaid, cofounder at the livestream shopping and creative firm Ghost Agency, told Insider. That difference may narrow if sellers, who set commission rates, pull back on how much revenue they share with creators.For creators, getting involved with TikTok Shop while rates are high, and the platform is subsidizing shipping and shelling out discounts, has proven to be lucrative.Arlene Resendiz, a creator who posts about math and other educational content to 1.5 million followers on the account @SilentMath, created a separate account to promote a brain-teaser game called Kanoodle, earning a low four-figure commission from TikTop Shop sales for the product. Insider verified her earnings via documentation.”The commission helps a lot,” Resendiz said. “It adds up. Especially if one of your videos does very well.”TikToker Sharon Jayy, who posts beauty, fashion, and lifestyle content to around 270,000 followers, has generated over $18,000 in sales for a variety of TikTok Shop sellers and over $2,000 in commissions since May, figures that Insider verified through documentation.”That’s a lot of money for just posting two, three videos and those going viral,” she said. “It’s really passive if you think about it.”Micro and nano influencers can also score big TikTok Shop paydaysCreators don’t need to have millions or even hundreds of thousands of followers to make good money from TikTok Shop commissions.Grace Secrist, a TikTok creator with 11,000 followers who posts about beauty, books, fitness, and “Amazon finds,” earned over $1,600 in TikTok Shop commissions after posting videos featuring tank tops from a boutique clothing shop called Alexander Jane. Insider verified her earnings with documentation provided by the creator.Secrist’s tank top posts far outperformed her non-TikTok Shop videos, leading her to wonder whether TikTok or the brand were boosting her videos. Companies can pay to push influencer videos to more viewers on TikTok.”The first two days that it was up, it got maybe like 10,000 views, which was very weird because normally the most I would get is like 2,000, 3,000,” she said. “By the third, fourth, fifth day, I was already up to almost a million views and I was like, ‘Does everybody really care that much about these tank tops?'”A TikTok spokesperson did not respond to Insider when asked about whether the company was boosting views for Shop videos.Natalie Park, a fashion, lifestyle, and college content creator with around 32,000 TikTok followers, also had a TikTok Shop video featuring a phone stand go viral. The video ended up sparking hundreds of dollars in daily commission earnings. Insider verified Park’s payments from the program through documentation.”I’m definitely going to keep using it and playing around with it and trying different products out,” Park said. “It’s just a matter of sorting through the TikTok Shop and finding what’s actually on there that’s worth my time.”Will TikTok Shop be a sustainable source of revenue for creators down the road?In the first few months since TikTok Shop’s affiliate program launched in the US, creators have raked in thousands in earnings. But will the good times last? One place to look for an answer is the UK, where the program has been up and running for longer.UK creators told Insider that TikTok Shop has remained a lucrative way to earn passive income — and to build long-lasting relationships with brands.Successfully promoting a company’s products in videos can serve as an entry point to establish deeper relationships with companies, they said. Two influencers told Insider that brands had offered them paid partnerships after they noticed the creators promoting their products via TikTok Shop’s affiliate program. One said they’d had brands offer them a performance-based commission that would increase in line with sales they helped generate.Unlike in the US, where mainstream brands have been sluggish to test out TikTok Shop, more blue-chip brands in the UK have gotten on board, particularly in the beauty and fashion space, like L’Oréal, NYX, Maybelline, and Boohoo.Several creators told Insider they’re hopeful that TikTok Shop could eventually turn into a dependable source of income after other attempts by the company to pay influencers, such as TikTok’s Creator Fund or Pulse program, have come up short.”Definitely 152,000% better than the Creator Fund,” Farnan said.