[This is a sponsored article with TikTok.]
We know and enjoy using TikTok for its 15-second short videos. Since its launch in 2016 though, the app has grown to be more than just pure entertainment.
Recently, we wrote about TikTok Shop, the brand’s livestream shopping platform where online sellers can leverage TikTok’s existing traffic to increase their visibility and sales greatly.
But that’s not the only way TikTok is helping users grow their income.
TikTok LIVE (LIVE), the app’s livestreaming service, is where top creators can make up to RM20,000 on average per month, or RM60,000 on good months, for consistently livestreaming for up to 2.8 hours daily.
This data was shared by Melissa Yuen, TikTok’s Country Manager for Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan, in an interview with Vulcan Post.
TikTok declined to show us a reference for these figures. However, an article published by SEO Design Chicago (a US-based digital agency) stated that TikTokers with a minimum of one million followers can earn an average of US$5,000 per month. Converting those numbers to Ringgit, they add up.
Instead of making their income through brand partnerships or advertising deals, LIVE hosts earn through TikTok’s LIVE Gifts, and Diamonds.
Cashing in on tokens of appreciation
Similar to how you’d tip a good busker performing at a mall, LIVE Gifts is TikTok’s way of letting viewers show their appreciation for a host’s content.
Viewers can send as many Gifts as they please during the host’s livestream duration. In return, TikTok’s “Gifter Level Up” programme rewards generous Gifters with perks such as a livestream shoutout by the host.
LIVE Gifts are purchased using Coins (TikTok’s virtual currency), which are bought with real money. At the time of writing, a single Coin costs RM0.05, but this fluctuates, as it’s tied to the US dollar. LIVE Gifts can cost anywhere from 1 Coin up to 28,888 Coins.
Once a host receives enough Gifts, they can collect Diamonds to convert into real money to transfer to their bank accounts. Diamonds are awarded by TikTok to recognise the popularity of creators and their content.
The conversion rate of Diamonds is based on the market’s exchange rate, where 200 Diamonds are worth US$1 (around RM4). If a host earns 100,000 Diamonds for a livestream session, that’s US$500 (around RM2,215).
Some LIVE hosts have become so successful that they’ve left their jobs, with others even setting up a TikTok LIVE agency to build up more creators.
From life struggles to livestreaming success
Zuhamizam Mohd Azami, who goes by the stage name, “Papi” is a Malaysian LIVE host who founded Sakapapi Empire Agency (Sakapapi), in November 2021.
For context, Sakapapi is a TikTok Agency, which is the platform’s way of working with hosts, and supporting their livestreaming careers.
Papi began his TikTok LIVE journey to combat his mental health issues, and as a way to kill time amidst a job loss during the pandemic. By streaming for an average of three hours consistently during his downtime, coupled with the support from his followers, Papi grew to become a top-ranking host in Malaysia.
Did you know: Top-ranking hosts are chosen by TikTok each week, based on the number of Diamonds they receive.
Papi was later offered another job, but took a leap of faith to pursue TikTok livestreaming as his full-time career.
“Today, I can happily say that this is the best decision in my life,” he mused. With TikTok Agency’s support in guiding Sakapapi’s growth, the agency now houses over 360 Malaysian hosts.
One LIVE host working with Sakapapi is Erina (baby_erinaa), who started livestreaming in mid-2021 while struggling with insomnia.
Erina consistently streamed lifestyle, “day in the life” based content for an average of six hours daily while up at night, allowing her account to grow big enough for her to be scouted by Sakapapi.
Of course, Erina did face some pushback from her family in pursuing this career path, but her persistence and passion managed to convince them otherwise.
Thus, what began as a livestreaming hobby became her full-time job.
According to TikTok’s team, LIVE creators get to withdraw all their earnings directly through the app itself. Agencies, on the other hand, are paid a commission directly from TikTok, which are calculated based on their hosts’ monthly performance.
To add, Erina and other LIVE hosts under Sakapapi receive benefits too.
For example, LIVE hosts get weekly virtual training classes to improve their content-creating skills such as idea development and video editing, all conducted by Papi.
Sakapapi also provides livestreaming equipment like ring lights and microphones to elevate their streams. In terms of monetary benefits, hosts are given physical gold bars.
Part of an ecosystem of creatives
According to Melissa, TikTok LIVE’s goal in the next six months is to cement its positioning as the “livestreaming entertainment app for all”.
Hence, TikTok wants to attract and grow existing and aspiring creators to become full-fledged hosts that make an income from livestreaming.
“We intend to achieve this by increasing our efforts in partnering with the right agencies and hosts, while also continuing to elevate TikTok LIVE’s brand image and visibility in Malaysia,” she said.
Other than being a viable career choice for creators, TikTok LIVE hosts can also help brands connect and resonate with audiences while selling on TikTok Shop.
The relevance of livestreaming can’t be dismissed as it will continue to grow, with a forecasted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.14% from 2022 to 2028.
And though there’s still the stigma that content creation jobs are “not real” and that one cannot make a living from them, platforms like TikTok LIVE and its success stories may just be catalysts for change.
As Erina pointed out, “With consistent quality content comes consistent income.”
Featured Image Credit: TikTok LIVE hosts under the Sakapapi agency