Short videos are dominating social media. Vine lit the match 10 years ago, and now these quick video clips (often in vertical format) are the norm for the biggest social media platforms out there, including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube.
There's no real secret as to why all of these platforms have shifted towards short-form video. Results show that video keeps users on platforms longer, which means these companies make more money from advertisers paying for placements between (and sometimes on) videos.
This ecosystem has also opened up the opportunity for content creators to get a cut of the advertising revenue that platforms earn. But just how to qualify for this money — and how much you make — varies greatly. So let's take a look at three of the biggest platforms and how they pay users.
A Quick Caveat About Making Money From Short Videos
For the purposes of this article, we're only going to focus on how much money a creator gets paid directly from a platform for their content earning views (or perhaps more specifically, watch time). That means we're not considering the myriad other ways you can turn short videos into recurring income.
Instead, this is kind of the most "pure" form of revenue for free video content — all the way back to the advent of television commercials. Pretty much since people have been making video content and letting people watch it for free, they've monetized by letting advertisers run commercials, at first within the programming itself, and eventually as pre-taped commercials between segments. In that regard, not much has changed nearly 80 years later.
So this is just passive income that you make based off of how many people viewed your video. The "type" of person also matters, too. In other words, you'll get paid more for somebody who watched a full 60-second video and lives in a country where more advertisers are paying for ads than you would for somebody who watched half of your video in a country where there aren't as many companies paying for ads.
Of course, there are also tons of other ways, from doing sponsorships, to getting subscribers, to getting tips, to creating gated content — all sorts of things. But this is the money you get paid from these huge companies simply for uploading videos.
Also, these numbers are ballpark ranges for a typical creator in the United States. They absolutely vary from user to user. But if you're looking for a general idea, this will be helpful for you.
How Much TikTok Pays You For Your Short Videos
TikTok first announced its monetization scheme for creators back in 2020. Known as the "Creator Fund," this was a set pool of cash ($2 billion) the app chose to divvy up among "qualified" creators. Besides the fact that it was an invite-only program, the biggest issue was that it paid really, really poorly. Some users say it paid around $.025 per 1,000 views, which means a video that earned a million views may only make $25.
One of the big reasons for such a low payout? The length of views varied wildly.
Earlier this year, TikTok announced the Creativity Program Beta. Recently, the company announced it was officially phasing out the old Creator Fund in favor of the Creativity Program (which is still in beta, but which the company expects to open up to more countries soon). Everybody who was part of the Creator Fund will be moved over to the Creativity Program, effectively making it the standard.
So how does it fare?
Much better. In fact, TikTok users in the Creativity Program Beta earn anywhere from 40-50 times as much as they were in the Creator Fund, in some instances. That means the average "RPM" (amount of money per one thousand video views) is between $1 and $1.10 for many creators. So that same one million views that earned $25 from the Creator Fund now earns closer to $1,000.
The biggest caveat is that videos have to be at least 60 seconds long to make money. And in order to qualify for the Creativity Program, you have to have at least 10,000 followers, be over 18 years old, and earn at least 100,000 views in the past 30 days. Also, as it's currently in beta, you have to be based in the U.S. or another allowed country.
Those are certainly steeper requirements, but they also make TikTok one of the highest-paying platforms for people who qualify. Will payouts go down as the program expands to allow more people? Possibly, but as long as the video length requirement is in place, the number of qualified videos will still likely remain lower and keep rates higher.
How Much YouTube Pays You For Shorts
YouTube's ad revenue scheme for YouTube Shorts is different from its ad revenue scheme for typical YouTube videos. YouTube's standard ad revenue is fairly complex, but YouTube Studio is pretty transparent when it comes to showing you how much your content is making.
With a standard YouTube video, your RPM varies mostly by how long the videos are (assuming people watch them — longer videos means more opportunities to show ads) and what type of audience you have. If you make content about financial planning or financial products, you'll probably make more from ads. Why? Because most ads on these platforms are an "auction." If your audience comes to you for financial information, then a company like a bank probably feels safe advertising on your channel. And because that bank makes a lot of money off a single customer — let's say $2,000 — they're willing to spend more in the "ad auction" to get that customer. So your audience is worth more and you make more money. Maybe as much as $10 per 1,000 views. But if you just had a general lifestyle audience, it could be as low as $1.50 per 1,000 views.
The threshold to become a YouTube Partner (i.e. somebody who makes money from ad revenue) is also fairly high. You have to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of public watch time in the past 365 days. You could also qualify by having at least 10 million YouTube Shorts views in the past 90 days. The annoying thing is that Shorts views don't count towards your public watch time (seriously).
YouTube shorts max out at 60 seconds long, so you already know there's a ceiling on earning money for longer content. Shorts ads are also more in their infancy right now, which means the number of companies running ads to the Shorts feed is probably significantly lower than typical YouTube videos. You also earn money when somebody with YouTube Premium (i.e. no ads) watches your short videos, and YouTube Studio breaks this down for you.
Altogether, most creators earn between $.15 and $.20 per 1,000 views on YouTube Shorts. So, significantly less than a standard YouTube video or the new TikTok Creativity Program, but more than the original Creator Fund. Somebody with a video that hits 1 million views on YouTube Shorts could realistically expect $150-200 from it, if they are a YouTube Partner.
How Much Facebook Pays For Short Videos (Reels)
Facebook has quite a few monetization options as well — though worth noting, Instagram frustratingly offers next to nothing when it comes to monetization. Even though Instagram Reels are quite popular, Meta is lagging behind in testing ads on Instagram Reels. Even with Facebook, the ads on Reels option is invite-only with scant details on what the company is looking for. However, it's safe to say you need to have a fairly active account that has already passed the basic monetization thresholds (500 page followers for 30 consecutive days to first be eligible to earn Stars) to even be considered.
Meta is supposedly testing ads on Instagram Reels, which would be a nice source of additional passive income from those already monetizing elsewhere.
When it comes to ads on Facebook Reels, the company doesn't require a certain length for the videos. That means, similar to YouTube, the payout rates are lower but also more attainable. Users can typically expect between $.20 and $.25 for 1,000 views — making it slightly higher than YouTube, but still significantly less than TikTok. And while views is the typical metric we use to talk about payments, it's important to note that a 3-second video will not be as valuable as a 30-second video, and keeping watch time in mind is very important.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to monetizing short videos on social media. But hopefully now you have a better understanding of what you can expect to earn from these videos once you meet the thresholds on each platform.