Forbes have gathered the highest-paid TikTok-ers in 2021, collectively pulling in over $55 million from sponsorships and other brand deals.
In September last year, TikTok announced they had crossed one billion active users. Forbes just published their list of the top earning stars on TikTok. These estimates are based on those who originated first on TikTok, thus leaving out celebrities on the app like Will Smith and Jason Derulo. Forbes calculated earnings between January 1st and December 31st 2021.
While their fame extends far beyond TikTok, these top seven creators typically earn around 30% to 50% of their money from sponsored content on TikTok, where a corporation pays for a post advertising goods on social media. Those working with content creators include some of the most valuable businesses in the world, such as Amazon, Louis Vuitton and McDonald’s. TikTok stars can charge as much as half a million dollars for a single post, though they generally earn an average of between $100,000 and $250,000 per post. This is more than double the rates reported in 2020.
TikTok-ers understand the audience these brands want to reach, with them being around the same age as their viewers. All of those below are under 25, however stardom and money on TikTok can come and go quickly, with three newcomers on the list: Bella Poarch, Avani Gregg and Kris Collins.
The bios below are from Forbes.
133 million followers
No one is bigger than Charli, who has the app’s largest following (133 million subscribe to her videos) and a ballooning amount of business interests. She’s got the basics covered—advertising sponsorships from Invisalign, Morphe cosmetics and a newer one with Dunkin’ Donuts —and then considerably more. In early 2021, Hollister launched its joint venture with Charli and her sister Dixie, Social Tourist. (Teens seem to like the stuff. Fran Horowitz, the CEO of Hollister’s parent company, has pointed to Social Tourist as a major contributor to Hollister’s nearly 10% sales increase through September 2021.) Along with the Hulu series, Charli and Dixie debuted a show on Snap, too, in November. Charli vs. Dixie features 10 mini-TV episodes. In those, the pair compete over something—baking in one, board games in another—continuing to live even life’s simpler moments in front of a camera.
56 million followers
Dixie may be the older sister, but much of her fame and earnings, including the Hollister, Hulu and Snap deals, still intertwine with her more popular sister Charli. (Dixie has 57 million followers, Charli 133 million.) For some distance, Dixie has sought to carve out her own career as a pop singer, a deliberate effort to counter the squeaky-clean girls-next-door vibe powering the D’Amelio marketing machine. In 2021, she released two songs, “Psycho,” which featured rapper Rubi Rose and hit No. 25 on Billboard’s U.S. pop chart, and “F—kBoy,” borrowing a Gen Z term for a philandering young man. At Christmastime, Dixie toured as part of the Jingle Ball concert series, hitting the stage in Dallas, Boston and Chicago. From home, she has given her fans access not only to her family life but her love life, too, plastering her Twitter with lovey-dovey exchanges between herself and her boyfriend Noah Beck, another high-profile TikTok star, who seems poised to become another sponsorship partner.
86 million followers
The biggest thing in Rae Land this past year was her time on Netflix. She had a lead role in He’s All That, a part that couldn’t have required much research. In the movie, Rae plays a high schooler with a growing social media profile who makes over a nerdy guy in time for prom. (It is a remake of She’s All That, a Freddie Prinze Jr. flick plotted as complexly as a TikTok video.) When He’s All That debuted in August, it briefly ranked No. 1 on Netflix in 78 countries. A month later, Netflix announced a new deal with Rae for several more movies but didn’t disclose any other details. Away from Hollywood, Rae has a lucrative sponsorship with American Eagle, a top competitor to Hollister, the company backing the D’Amelios. And she has her Item Beauty line—a joint venture with makeup startup Madeby Collective—that sells its Lash Snack mascara and other products at stores like Sephora.
87 million followers
In little more than a year, Poarch’s standing has skyrocketed, making her now the third-most-followed person on the app (87 million people subscribe to her account). Her start came in August 2020 when she posted a silly lip-sync video to “M to B,” a song by a British rapper; it became the most-viewed TikTok in 2020. Born in the Philippines and later raised in Texas, she enjoyed performing and singing as a kid, but her parents didn’t want her to pursue show business. So after high school, Poarch served in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter mechanic. Her folks needn’t have worried. Sponsors love her, and in the past year she’s done ads for Google, Prada and Tinder. In May, Poarch released her first single, “Build a Bitch”—it reached No. 56 on Billboard’s pop chart—signaling what she hopes is her next phase as a musician.
25 million followers
Brands don’t mind the bro antics that fill Richards’ TikTok feed: He’s gotten sponsorship deals from Amazon, CashApp and others. His schtick makes for perfect fodder in his Barstool Sports podcast, BFFs, that he cohosts with an older version of himself, Barstool founder Dave Portnoy. (Past topics: NFTs, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, gambling, Leonardo DeCaprio.) Richards has gladly applied that party animal aura to the rest of his commercial domain. There’s his Ani energy drinks, which are now sold in chains as large as Walmart, and the venture capital firm, Animal Capital, he cofounded. The VC outfit has raised $15 million and put the money into everything from PearPop, an app where influencers can find collaborators, to Colossal, a genetic-engineering lab aiming to resurrect woolly mammoths.
42 million followers
Like Poarch, Collins is another example of how fast someone can accumulate fame and money off TikTok. Before the pandemic, Collins was a hairdresser in Vancouver. When Covid made working impossible for a time, she downloaded TikTok—largely on her brother’s suggestion—and has since put together something akin to an ongoing sketch comedy show. She plays a number of recurring characters, many of them based on family members, including her immigrant mom. It’s won her 41 million followers on TikTok, most of them amassed in the last year, and those funny routines also play well on YouTube, where she has 4.5 million subscribers. (That’s a considerable point. The usual TikTok stuff—lip syncs, dances—doesn’t transfer successfully to YouTube, which rewards longer videos with a little more depth.) Collins’ humor is family-friendly, catnip for brands such as Hershey, Lionsgate and Pantene, which have showered her with sponsorships.
39 million followers
In summer 2019, Gregg became TikTok famous as Clown Girl, posting makeup tutorials, many of which showed her as a brightly colored Harley Quinn—white contact lenses, red and blue stars covering her face. That same year, she quit her job as a lifeguard, then moved from rural Indiana to Los Angeles. In California, she was one of the original members of Hype House, the collective of influencers whose formation in December 2019 marked the beginning of TikTok’s ascension in pop culture. More recently, Gregg has snagged a role in a later season of Chicken Girls, a Web series about in which she stars as a bossy high school cheerleading captain, and starred in her own Snap show. The world cannot seem to get enough of Gregg and these other young TikTok stars: In fact, the venerable publisher Simon & Schuster has already commissioned an autobiography from Gregg. The book, which came out last February, is titled Backstory: My Life So Far.