Clarke Peoples is a Columbia University student who makes money through sponsored content about her life — and she’s making a good living.
In an article she penned for Business Insider, the Black female content creator explains how she wound up making six figures in 2022 via TikTok at age 21.
There does not seem to be a definitive average amount for TikTok earners. Some data researchers claim a TikToker can rake in up to $150,000, depending on branding deals. Others place the earnings around $200 to $20,000 per branded video.
How Peoples Did it
Peoples has more than 400,000 followers and several brand deals.
“Today I work with brands like JCPenney, Walmart, and DSW,” she wrote. “Although TikTok is the reason I receive such lucrative brand deals, I’m not a part of the Creator Fund, which is TikTok’s official fund that pays creators based on their video views and engagement. I make no money from posting videos that aren’t sponsored by a specific brand.”
Under the Creator Fund, creators earn money based on a variety of factors from their videos, according to the TikTok website.
But Peoples, who manages to take on 18 credit courses at the Ivy League school where she is majoring in American studies, took a different route and it happened by chance.
“I put in a lot of work to earn enough scholarships to get into Columbia. I spent months writing my application essay and did whatever I could to make myself a more competitive applicant. It was the only school I applied to, and soon I was in New York living out my dreams,” she wrote.
Her road to TikTok fame started when she got accepted into Columbia and moved to New York City. Living in Manhattan can be expensive, and it was a challenge for Peoples, who plans to attend law school. Like most college students, she shared an apartment with others and worked more than one job, in her case, two.
According to RentCafe, the average rent for an apartment in Manhattan is $4,265 for 702 square feet, depending on several factors, including location, size and quality.
Peoples made a little money while working for a start-up as well as interning for the jeweler David Yurman Enterprises. “Neither job paid a lot, but it was enough for me to move into my own apartment after a few months,” she shared.
Then Came Her TikTok Fame
“Then, in May 2021, just for fun, I posted my first day-in-the-life video to TikTok showing my apartment and talking about my life — and it went viral. The comments were filled with people wanting to know how I was able to afford living alone in New York as a student,” she said.
Peoples’ videos contain content of her “doing mostly common things like laundry and paying my rent before I ended the night with a date with a millionaire,” she said, explaining that users are interested in her daily life living in New York.
Soon enough, her popular videos secured Peoples sponsorships with big and small brands, including brands like JCPenney, Walmart and DSW.
Her first deal was just worth $250, but the amounts and sponsorships continue to grow. She is on pace to close the year out making $200,000 in under five months, she claims, although there is no way to verify this information.
Peoples boasted that she signed brand contracts worth thousands of dollars to advertise home decor, hair-care products and dating apps.
Expanded Her ‘Brand’
She started a podcast called Pajama Pod in December, and Peoples signed with a digital management firm, Digital Brand Architects, to help her produce content.
“For a while, I held off on signing with a management company. I thought, ‘Why would I give a percentage of all this money to someone else?’ I was so wrong,” she said. “Signing with Digital Brand Architects took my brand to the next level. Having an agency backing me and sifting through 20-page contracts has helped me tremendously as a creator.”
She also created a digital planner in January 2022 that she says did “really well” and she’s planning for the launch of a 2023 planner to be available in digital and physical forms.
And she moved again. In March, she moved into a $ 4,000-a-month apartment in Manhattan — and her followers went on the journey with her, of course.