We’re firmly in a short-form content world. After gaining mainstream popularity with TikTok in recent years, bite-sized videos have become a staple on just about every other platform. Instagram launched Reels, YouTube introduced Shorts, and some other platform out there is probably looking for a way to outshine the rest. When you’re a content creator, it can be tough to determine where to dedicate your time and energy, and know how much money you can make from different platforms.
Let’s go over the top three players in the short-form video game: TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. Read on to learn how each platform is rewarding creators for their work, and figure out which one you should focus on.
Monetization at a glance: TikTok vs. YouTube Shorts vs. Instagram Reels
Here’s a quick overview of the different ways you can make money on each platform through short-form videos.
|Ad revenue sharing
|Yes, through TikTok Pulse.
|Yes, through the YouTube Partner Program.
|Only for some creators, with the Ads on Reels test.
|Yes, through the Creativity Program. The original TikTok Creator Fund was discontinued in late 2023.
|Yes, through LIVE Gifts.
|Yes, through Super Chats, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks.
|Yes, through Instagram Gifts.
|Not exactly, but TikTokers can use Series to put content behind a paywall.
|Yes, available through channel memberships.
|Yes, available through Subscriptions.
|Yes, through TikTok Shop.
|Yes, through YouTube Shopping.
|Yes, with Instagram Shopping.
|Yes, with TikTok Shop affiliate marketing.
|Yes, through the YouTube Shopping affiliate program.
|TikTok Effect Creator Rewards pays creators who make viral-worthy AR effects.
|Creators can earn a piece of YouTube Premium fees paid by their subscribers.
Note that most of these options are monetization tools available specifically for short-form video or live streaming. Each platform also supports branded content in its own way, either through a dedicated creator marketplace — like on TikTok and Instagram — or external partnerships.
How to monetize TikTok
TikTok has single-handedly brought short-form video to the mainstream, with some of its top creators like Charli D’Amelio earning as much as $23 million in 2023. While TikTok historically struggled to help creators monetize their content within the platform itself, it’s recently rolled out several in-app monetization options in an effort to address that.
TikTok Creativity Program
The successor to the now-defunct TikTok Creator Fund, the TikTok Creativity Program pays creators for making great original content just like its predecessor did. This new fund was first announced in February 2023 to address complaints about the Creator Fund’s low payouts.
So, how is the TikTok Creativity Program different from the discontinued Creator Fund?
- It’s more widely available: While the Creator Fund was restricted to only a few regions, the new Creativity Program is open to creators in more countries.
- It rewards longer content: To be eligible for the Creativity Program, your videos have to be over a minute long.
- It’s supposed to pay you more: A TikTok spokesperson said creators could expect to earn 20 times the amount they would have earned with the Creator Fund.
Interested? Here are the eligibility requirements for the Creativity Program:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have at least 10,000 followers.
- Have a minimum of 100,000 valid video views in the last 30 days.
- Must be posting videos of over one minute.
- Have a personal account that’s in good standing. Business accounts are not accepted.
- Abide by TikTok’s Community Guidelines.
- Be located in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the U.K., or Brazil.
If you’re a fan of doing live streams, then LIVE Gifts could be a big deal for you. Whenever you go live on TikTok, your audience can spend “diamonds” (i.e. TikTok’s built-in currency) to send you virtual gifts. You’ll then receive 50% of the net revenue TikTok makes from these gifts.
Remember the NPC TikTok trend from last summer? LIVE Gifts allowed some TikTok creators to make thousands of dollars a month by capitalizing on this trend. While you might not make that much money from the get go, LIVE Gifts are a great way to earn fan donations, making your live streams more lucrative.
With TikTok Series, You can put exclusive collections of videos behind a paywall, i.e. you can charge your audience for accessing them. It’s worth noting that you can include up to 80 videos in a Series, while each video can be up to 20 minutes long — twice the maximum length of regular TikToks.
Creators can charge between $0.99 and $189.99 for access to their Series. If you have a dedicated audience on the platform, this could be a brilliant way to monetize your content.
TikTok Shop affiliate program
Affiliate programs are one of the most popular ways for creators to make money online. How it works is that you’d promote a brand’s products to your audience and get a commission for every sale. Easy peasy. With the TikTok Shop affiliate program, you can plug links to the products you’re promoting right in your TikTok videos — no need to direct your audience to your link in bio or a separate website.
TikTok Effect Creator Rewards
You know those fun effects that people love to use in their TikTok videos? Someone actually designed those filters. And with TikTok’s $6 million Effect Creator Rewards, you can get paid for creating an effect that goes viral.
Your earnings from the Effect Creator Rewards are based on unique video publishes (i.e. unique videos published by TikTok users in a day) that feature your effects. Here’s an estimate of how much you could earn from a single effect, according to TikTok:
- $700 from 500,000 unique video publishes in the first 90 days.
- $140 for each additional 100,000 unique publishes within that same 90-day period.
TikTok Creator Marketplace
If you want to create branded content, the TikTok Creator Marketplace is the place to be. It’s a full suite of tools for creators that matches you with brands, gives you support for creating branded campaigns, and provides tips for creating the best content you can.
Of course, being part of the Creator Marketplace doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get brand deals, but it’s a first step.
TikTok Pulse is an ad revenue-sharing program that rewards creators for making top-performing content. Here’s how it works: once you’re signed up, TikTok will put branded content next to your videos if they’re in the top 4% of all TikTok videos. You’ll then get 50% of the ad revenue that your content generated.
Here’s what you need to be eligible for TikTok Pulse:
- Have 100,000 followers.
- Post at least five videos in the last 30 days.
- Be at least 18 years old.
Want more tips for getting paid on TikTok? Get our free How To Make Money on TikTok guide!
How to monetize YouTube Shorts
Many YouTube creators use a two-pronged approach to make money on the platform. First, you’d grow your channel until it’s eligible for the YouTube Partner Program’s monetization features, like ad revenue sharing. Then, once your channel has some momentum, you’d partner with brands to create sponsored content and rake in some cash that way.
So, how does YouTube Shorts fit into this process? Let’s take a look at the different ways you can earn with YouTube Shorts.
YouTube Shorts ad revenue sharing
During the Made on YouTube live event in September 2022, YouTube announced that it would allow creators to begin monetizing Shorts through ad revenue sharing.
Ads play between Shorts on a user’s feed, meaning the onus isn’t on creators to introduce branded segments into their 60-second — or shorter — videos. Revenue made from these ads is then lumped together, then distributed to creators, who get to keep 45% of the revenue. How much money a creator receives depend on how many views their Shorts get.
To start monetizing Shorts, you’ll first need to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). There are two tiers to the program; one is easier to reach but offers fewer monetization options.
To be eligible for the full-access tier, you’ll need 1,000 subscribers and either 4,000 public watch hours or 10 million public Shorts views. This tier will give you access to all monetization options of the YPP, including:
- Watch page ads
- Shorts Feed ads
- Channel memberships
- Super Chat and Super Stickers
- Super Thanks
- YouTube Shopping
- YouTube Premium
For the more accessible tier, you’ll need 500 subscribers, three public uploads over the last 90 days, and either 3,000 public watch hours or 3 million public Shorts views. Note that you’ll only have access to select YPP monetization options, namely:
- Channel memberships
- Super Chat and Super Stickers
- Super Thanks
- YouTube Shopping (but only for products you sell)
No matter which tier of the program you’re eligible for, joining the YouTube Partner Program is essential to start monetizing your Shorts.
YouTube channel memberships
YouTube channel memberships are a great way for your subscribers to show their support with recurring monthly payments. Here’s what your channel needs in order to be eligible for memberships:
- Be part of the YouTube Partner Program (either tier).
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be based in one of the places where channel memberships are available.
- Don’t have a significant number of ineligible videos (e.g. made for kids, or with music copyright claims).
- Your channel isn’t set as “made for kids.”
With all that in place, you can create Shorts that contribute to your channel’s overall growth, and bring in revenue through memberships.
Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks
Besides channel memberships, YouTube offers a number of other fan-funding features, including Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Super Thanks.
Super Chat and Super Stickers are designed to help you earn fan donations during live streams. For a couple dollars, a viewer can highlight their comment or get an animated image to appear in a live chat, letting their message stand out from everyone else’s.
Similarly, by giving you a donation through Super Thanks, viewers can get a one-time animation that appears on your video, and a colorful, customizable comment that goes under your video.
YouTube Premium doesn’t just allow viewers to get more out of the platform, it actually helps creators make money, too. When you’re part of the YouTube Partner Program, you’ll get a share of the payments that go towards YouTube Premium. It works a little like ad revenue — the amount you get paid depends on how many views you get.
As soon as you qualify to earn from this monetization method, you’ll start receiving payments at the beginning of each month. So, if you want to make more money with your YouTube Shorts, encourage your viewers to get YouTube Premium!
YouTube Shopping (and the affiliate program)
YouTube Shopping lets you tag products directly in your Shorts, whether they’re your own products or products from other brands. That gives you the ability to sell your products or solidify brand deals within the YouTube app itself.
What’s more, the YouTube Shopping affiliate program allows you to earn money from promoting a brand’s product. The amount you’ll earn depends on the commission rates set by individual brands, and you can also expect to earn performance bonuses for reaching specific sales targets.
Want to make bank on YouTube Shorts? Get our YouTube Shorts Monetization Guide for ways you can start earning today!
How to monetize Instagram Reels
Instagram is coming for TikTok’s spot as short-form video king. A recent report even suggested that Instagram Reels’ global video views are outperforming TikTok’s. So, as a creator, how can you make money off your Reels?
Until March 2023, the Instagram Reels Play bonus program was one of the best ways to monetize short-form videos on Instagram. However, since Meta discontinued the program, that’s no longer an option.
But there are still a few ways you can make some money from Instagram Reels. Let’s dive in!
With Instagram Gifts, your followers can show their appreciation for you and your most fun-to-watch Reels with cold hard cash. When you enable Instagram Gifts for your account, your audience can send you virtual gifts that’ll earn you up to a couple of dollars a pop.
To send these Gifts, followers have to spend a certain amount of Stars (i.e. Meta’s in-app currency). The amount you’ll get paid is based on the number of Stars each Gift is worth, with each Star netting you $0.01 USD. In other words, a Gift worth 10 Stars will earn you $0.10, a Gift worth 100 Stars will earn you $1, and so on.
Currently, Instagram Gifts are only available for Reels. If Reels play a huge role in your content strategy, consider trying out this new monetization tool to make some extra bucks.
To enable Instagram Gifts, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Have a Business or Creator account.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- U.S. creators need to have at least 500 followers, while non-U.S. creators need to have at least 5,000 followers.
- Live in a region where Instagram Gifts are available.
- Meet Instagram’s Partner Monetization Policies, Community Guidelines, and Content Monetization Policies.
With Instagram subscriptions, your followers can pay extra to access exclusive content. They even get a sweet purple badge to show off their subscriber status! As a creator, this is a great source of recurring income as you’ll receive payments monthly.
To start monetizing with Instagram subscriptions, you need to brainstorm exclusive content your subscribers will pay for. If you’re a beauty creator, for example, you might want to create more advanced makeup tutorials, or give your unfiltered, honest opinion on beauty products in a subscriber live. While it certainly requires putting in extra time of content creation, having your own subscription will help you unlock a new revenue stream on Instagram.
You probably know this by now, but posting branded content is one of the best ways to make money on Instagram. And because all video content on Instagram now falls under the “Reels” umbrella, you’ll likely find more opportunities to earn from branded content through Instagram Reels than on platforms where short-form video is secondary — like YouTube.
Launched in July 2022, Instagram’s Creator Marketplace is dubbed a one-stop-shop for creators who want to make a living by partnering with brands. It’s designed to make you more visible to brands who want to work with creators, and it keeps all messages for potential partnerships in one place.
However, a report by Insider suggested a few weaknesses of the Creator Marketplace. A number of Instagram creators interviewed by the publication said the marketplace has few big-name brands and not enough quality brand deals. Some were also disappointed by the low pay rates of offers available on the marketplace.
For instance, two creators shared with Insider that a brand asked for five Reels, two posts, and 50 Stories for a total compensation of just $100.
Besides, it’s worth noting that Instagram’s Creator Marketplace is still invite-only. But considering the experience of creators who already have access to the feature, you might be better off making deals directly with brands.
Ads on Reels
In 2023, Meta introduced Ads on Reels, which allowed creators to earn income from the ads placed on or after their reels. At first, the program was only available for Facebook. However, Meta has recently expanded this program to Instagram, meaning that some creators will be able to earn ad revenue from their Instagram Reels.
That’s right, only some creators. Currently, only a small group of creators from select markets have been invited to participate in what Meta calls a “test.”
So, this may not be the most reliable way to earn income through Reels, but just know that it’s out there — and it might become more widely available soon.
Which platform should you focus on?
Like many of life’s great questions, like whether you should get bangs or not, it depends. If you’re a content creator, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions before you make that call.
Is short-form video your best form of content?
Not all creators are created equal. If you love keeping up with TikTok trends and can put out quality content that capitalizes on them quickly, then you’ll probably be better served by that platform. However, if your niche is long YouTube video essays, you might not want to go all-in on TikTok.
What are your goals?
Is content creation your main game, or does it contribute to a larger business model? If you’re a photographer, for example, a platform that’s purely focused on short-form videos might not be your best bet. But if you’re a content creator through and through, then you’re free to pursue the platform that pays the best for what you do.
What revenue streams do you have?
Ask any YouTuber, and they’ll tell you that YouTube’s Partner Program isn’t exactly reliable. Videos can get demonetized, false copyright strikes are a plague, and ad revenue can sometimes be laughable. If you’re making a career out of content creation, then you’re probably already on the lookout for additional revenue streams. So ask yourself which platform has the best opportunities for building these diversified sources of income.
Monetize short-form content with The Leap!
While TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels all offer ways for creators to monetize their content, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on these platforms’ monetization tools. Why? Although making money through ad revenue or creator funds feels great, they aren’t necessarily the most reliable or lucrative income streams.
The Leap is a free, AI-powered tool designed to help you create and sell bite-sized digital products — like tutorials, guides, and mini-courses — in a snap. It helps you brainstorm digital product ideas and bring them to life in just a few clicks. Once you’ve created your products, you can list them in your own customizable link-in-bio storefront, also powered by the Leap.
Try The Leap free today to create and sell your own digital product!
Between TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, which one is best for making money?
The short answer? Whichever platform best supports your highest-earning revenue streams. If you’re big on live streaming, for example, then YouTube might be better for you than Instagram or TikTok. But if you’re skilled at creating viral-worthy videos, then you might want to go with TikTok.
Additionally, if you’re naturally drawn to one platform over others — or your audience has a preference for it — then that’ll probably be the one that makes you the most money.
Can you monetize YouTube Shorts without 1,000 subscribers?
You absolutely can! YouTube has introduced a more accessible tier for the YouTube Partner Program that allows creators with fewer than 1,000 subscribers to start monetizing their content. Here are the eligibility requirements for this lower tier:
- You must have at least 500 subscribers.
- Have 3 valid uploads in the past 90 days.
- Have either 3,000 public watch hours in the past year, or 3 million public Shorts views in the last 90 days.
Note that with this lower tier, you’ll only have access to select monetization options of the YouTube Partner Program.
How much does YouTube pay for 1,000 Shorts views?
There’s no single amount that YouTube pays for 1,000 views across all channels. That’s because the amount a creator gets paid for views is calculated using RPM (revenue per mille), a metric that’s unique to each creator. It’s determined by multiple factors, including location, video length, and subscriber count.
You can calculate your RPM with this formula:
(Monthly Ad Revenue Income / Number of Monetized Views) x 1,000
So, for example, if you had made $100 in the last month and brought in 40,000 views, YouTube would have paid you $2.5 per 1,000 views.
- How To Make Money on TikTok in 2024: 9 Effective Ways
- TikTok Creativity Program: How To Join the New Creator Fund
- TikTok Money Calculator: Estimate How Much You Can Earn as a Creator
- YouTube Shorts Monetization: How To Start Earning (Even Without 1,000 Subscribers)
- YouTube Money Calculator: Estimate How Much You Can Make on YouTube
- How To Make Money on Instagram: 6 Ways To Start Earning
- Instagram Money Calculator: Estimate How Much You Can Earn as an Influencer