Hawaii Web Group

How to Make Money on TikTok

Can you make money on TikTok?  How much money do TikTokers make?

This is what we intend to find out.  BUT FIRST, let’s grow an audience.

We share our experiments, successes and failures as we learn how to grow a TikTok audience and try to monetize future posts.  If you’re new to this article, begin here.  If you’re coming back, read our TikTok update.  And, please follow our Maui TikTok account!


January 30th, 2020 (SKIP AHEAD for the update)

Some stats from our first 100 posts (we began posting in the last quarter of 2019.)

  • 1st post on 9/23/19 – 36 likes, 849 views.  Views on all subsequent videos declined.  We began averaging around 50 views per video.
  • Got one viral tiktok of a dog watching a shark in Kihei. https://www.tiktok.com/@mauiguide with 92,000 views, 783 likes, 18 comments.  Slight uptick in followers and views.
  • 100th video published on January 30th, 2020.  Currently at 501 followers, 3,800 likes, and following 43 people.
  • Shared maybe 10 on Twitter.  That’s the only promotion we did.

Is TikTok worth a damn to marketers?  Like every other social platform before it, I’ve put time in to see what it was worth.  When beginning, the only other TikToker I knew was my 10 year old niece, so it was a little challenging getting my following rolling.

How we’ve been posting: For the first 100 videos, I chose mostly vertical videos shot on my iPhone over the last 2 years.  Most of the content was from Maui, but I also shared some of the other islands and a few shots from recent trips to Tahiti.  I’m trying to keep this account a travel profile primarily around Maui, using my brand of Maui Guide.

I’ve used niche as well as broad hashtag keywords to reach new audiences (all relevant.) I’ve also not used any kind of graphics or writing overlaid on videos.  Most videos are around 15 seconds because I’d originally shot them for Instagram and Facebook Stories.  And though I’ve had a few videos pop with 10’s of thousands of views, nothing has really moved the needle significantly as far as follower growth is concerned.

The Future of TikTok

There are stories of businesses having pretty massive success with creative videos sharing their product on TikTok then being inundated with orders.  None of my videos so far have been all that creative, just beautiful scenery and activities.  I’ve also not used sex to sell (pretty prevalent on TikTok.)  Going forward, I’ll probably experiment with both and update you again after then next 100 (or if things change significantly.)  So far, I’ve not tried to sell anything, though a few of my clients have been present in videos.

I’ve applied for TikTok ads, so we’ll see how that goes soon.  Mahalo for reading about my progress with TikTok as a marketer!


February 14th 2020

We’ve learned more about the algorithm, which is pretty simple and very smart.  When you publish a post, it shows it to a set number of people (say 10.)  If those 10 ignore it, your post will likely only be shown to your followers in their “Following” feed.  If all 10 like and comment on it, you’ll be shown to more non-followers (say 100.) Again, if a majority begin liking and commenting, it’ll show to an exponential amount of users (say 1000.) The amount of engagement a video gets to start off really sets the tone of how many people see it.  This makes Tiktok unique in that anyone with very few followers can very quickly reach millions of people with the right video.

A recent example: our photographer, Natalie Brown, took a kayak off Olowalu 2 days ago and shot a whale encounter with her iPhone.  I posted it that night, and we’ve already had over 1,700,000 views in less than 48 hours.  It’s had over 457,400 likes, 3,409 comments, and is growing by the second.  The most important effect is that our 1,000 followers has grown instantly by an additional 21,500 followers!  This is the biggest deal.  Once you get a solid follower base, you’re far more likely to get the kind of initial engagement necessary for new videos.

Our current TikTok Numbers (as of 2/14/20 3pm HST):

  • 22,507 followers (89.8% Female, 85% USA)
  • 480,720 likes across all videos

It’s pretty exciting to watch this happen.  I’ll have to be careful on how I post in the future, and hope the follower counts continue.  So far, what we’re seeing is that truly remarkable videos and creativity are key in getting the engagement necessary to reach lots of people.

That being said, is this TikTok’s goal to give everyone 15 minutes of fame to chase the dopamine rush found in that 1 epic video?  It’s a really good question.  Since we had this big hit, I’ve been obsessed with Tiktok. And, to throw more conspiracy into play, I’m consistently served videos about how people need to post a bunch to keep the “fame” train moving.  They’ve been incredibly good about serving up songs I’d want to use for clips AND they’ve very quickly acclimated to my desires in the feed (less boobs, more home improvement, art and travel). 

I’m sure they’ve foreseen the value in blowing someone up, giving them a taste of real volume viewership, then moving on to the next.  Time will tell.  I have a few more videos from her whale encounter I’m going to test.

I’ve been researching all day.  I’ve found many users like myself with BIG videos.  They have a following now, and yes they get more exposure on new videos.  But it’s nothing like that big hit.  I’ve been speaking with another Maui TikToker that had a video hit 8 million views.  He’s got similar followers as us now, and his videos continue to get more views than most, but again:  NOTHING close to what he had.


March 3rd, 2020

We just posted our 200th video!  A few things have happened since our last update:

  • Our TikTok famous video, the one with us on a kayak over and next to whales, continues to rack up views, likes, and comments.  We’re at 3.2 million views, 829,500 likes, and 5382 comments.
  • I think due to this video, along with some other videos that did well, we continue to build a following of around 500-1,000 new followers per day without having to post.
  • We’ve been approached by tons of “media representative” agents of sorts.  People that want to sell the video to media for a price.  Pretty garbage rates, but we may try still just to see how it goes.
  • TikTok has opened up and allowed for some users to have an external website link on their profile.   It took a bit, but we got it.  I’m not sure if it’s only available for accounts with a strong following or not.   Looking into it.
  • We’ve begun using Influence Grid to reach out to Influencers and ask them to comment, share, and like our Tiktoks.  These relationships can be gold.

  Our Successful Viral TikTok Video


This just happened to us less than an hour ago just south of #lahaina #maui #hawaii!!!! #whales #kayaking #shotoniphone #travelbucketlist

♬ original sound - mauiguide

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