TikTok is the world's latest social media obsession. Since its release in 2017 by the Chinese company ByteDance, the app has garnered over 37 million users in the U.S. and seen an increase in its value to a staggering $75 billion. Due to concerns that the Chinese government would be able to access private user data, the former Trump administration attempted to ban TikTok in the U.S., but they eventually converged on a proposal that entails the sale of a portion of the app's business to American companies like Oracle and Walmart. Currently, that deal is on hold while the Biden administration conducts its own review of the app's security risks.
For now, Americans can still enjoy TikTok and all its features. While most people rely on it for their day-to-day entertainment, others are content creators who actively post funny or educational videos in order to make money from the platform. It may not seem like 15- to 60-second videos would be profitable, but all it takes is one viral video to land you a massive following and, subsequently, the millions of views that bring in the dollars.
In fact, the most profitable TikTok accounts make as much as $5 million a year. These content creators make a full-time living off of the app and capitalize on the fact that the average user spends over eight hours on the platform every month. Generally speaking, the videos that get the highest engagement are the ones that feature entertainment, whether through dance, music, or comedy. That being said, accounts that focus on niche topics such as personal finance or relationship advice also get a lot of views and have monetizing potential.
Currently, here are the five highest-earning TikTok Stars:
1. Addison Rae
Addison Rae Easterling is one of the first online stars to have been born out of TikTok. With an annual income of $5 million a year, she is the highest-earning TikToker to date. She became famous after her short dance clips went viral. Today, she has nearly 80 million followers and 5 billion likes across all of her videos.
2. Charlie D'Amelio
Charlie D'Amelio is the second-highest earning TikToker, with an annual income of $4 million from the app. Similar to Addison, short dance clips were Charli's claim to fame. Though she makes less than Addison, she has many more followers—110.5 million, to be exact. Since her TikTok success, she has received several sponsorships, including a brand deal with Dunkin' Donuts in which a drink has been named after her.
3. Dixie D'Amelio
Dixie D'Amelio is Charli's sister, and she essentially rose to fame by making appearances on her account. She later gained her own following through her singing and managed to amass an impressive 50 million followers. Though she has less than half the number of followers as Charli, she still makes $2.9 million a year, putting her in third place on this list.
4. Loren Gray
Loren Gray is a professional singer who signed with Virgin Records in 2018. She was a popular social media personality before and already had a large following on Instagram before she blew up on TikTok. To date, Loren has 51.7 million followers and typically garners as many as two million likes per video. Thanks to brand deals with companies such as Revlon, Burger King, and Sketchers, Loren makes as much as $2.6 million per year.
5. Josh Richards
Josh Richards is TikTok's highest-earning male content creator to date. His videos often feature him lipsyncing or dancing to popular music, and he has gained 24.3 million followers because of them. Thanks to sponsorships, Josh earns $1.5 million per year, but he also created another revenue stream with his energy drink company called Ani Energy.