Hank Green doesn’t think creators on TikTok are getting paid well enough, and he doesn’t think the majority of the people on TikTok even realize it, the vlogger explained in a YouTube video on Thursday.
“Along with the many innovations of TikTok, there have been some creator monetization innovations that I think are really worrying and bad for creators,” he said in the video. “It’s a bit of a giant hole in the creator economy.”
Green has a huge presence on the video-sharing platform: He’s racked up over 6 million followers and has been making TikToks since 2019. He’s been creating videos for far longer than that; in 2007, Green and his brother started a video blog, and he’s branched out to several platforms like YouTube since then.
The creator said there’s a flaw in the way people make money on TikTok: As the platform continues to grow, creators will start to make less money. That’s because creators who get enough views to be paid make money through TikTok’s Creator Fund, which is a set amount of money the platform reserves each year, is static, whereas TikTok is growing. As TikTok gets bigger and the pool of money for the fund stays the same, those who can get paid won’t make as much. “When TikTok becomes more successful, TikTokers become less successful … What?” Green pointed out.
He said he experienced this issue himself. At one point, he was making 5 cents per 1,000 views on TikTok. Now, he said he makes about 2.5 cents per 1,000 views on the platform.
The platform has grown the amount allocated for its Creator Fund over the past few years. In 2020, TikTok set aside $200 million for the fund, and the platform had planned for it to grow to $1 billion in the U.S. over the following three years. At the same time, the number of users exploded from 700 million in 2020 to 1 billion monthly active users last year.
A TikTok spokesperson said the Creator Fund is one of many ways creators can make money off the platform; users can connect with brands through the Creator Marketplace, give tips and more "We continue to listen to and seek feedback from our creator community and evolve our features to improve the experience for those in the program," the spokesperson told Protocol.
But Green argued that creators will always make less than, say, YouTube, because they’re paid from a static pool of cash instead of the platform’s revenue. On YouTube, creators take about half of the money from an ad posted to their video, and YouTube takes the other half. TikTok doesn’t pay creators from ads, which Green said could be because ads are posted as individual, separate clips rather than a leading segment at the beginning of a creator’s video.
Green asked his 6 million followers how many ads they see per TikTok on average, and found that most people were getting one ad per 10 or so TikToks. He said the platform could take the money made from those ads and give paid creators some of the cut, similar to the partnership YouTube has with its creators.
“Every creator who thinks to themselves, ‘Wow, $1,000 a month, that’s $12,000 a year,'” he said. “That person could be a full-time creator. They could be thinking about expanding, about hiring, about creating a business in their community for their audience. This is the economic engine that drove YouTube forward, and TikTok is just letting it leak out of the tub, into their bottom line.”
Green said creators need to work together and speak out about the issue. He said competing platforms for creators, like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, could prompt some action from TikTok, adding that he currently makes more from Instagram Reels than he does on TikTok even though he gets more views on TikTok.
“So what are we going to do? I don’t know,” he said. “That depends on what the three populations here do: the creators, the audience and the platform. If I learned anything from 15 years, doing this, when those three groups get aligned, really amazing things happen. So I want those three groups to be aligned.”
This story was updated with a comment from TikTok.