TikTok is paying a small army of creator coaches to help influencers make money from livestreams

  • TikTok is paying outside agencies to coach creators on how to succeed on TikTok Live.
  • The company is giving these agents and networks a cut of its own earnings from livestream gifts.
  • TikTok Live has become an important non-advertising revenue source for the company.

TikTok is collaborating with a group of external creator agencies and networks in the United States and the United Kingdom to coach aspiring livestream creators on how to drive engagement and revenue from Live.

TikTok hopes to boost the success of its livestream feature by delegating training work to partner agencies, a source of revenue that has historically grown faster in the UK than its ads business, according to recent company filings.

TikTok creators profit from livestreams by receiving virtual items from fans, which can then be converted into real money. Influencers do a variety of things to earn gifts during livestreams, such as filming themselves sleeping or playing a character in the NPC trend.

Third-party agents and networks are compensated based on how much revenue the creators with whom they work generate from gifts. TikTok pays the agencies a percentage of the net revenue generated by the gifts.

Influencers can join the program for free, and creators keep their full 50% share of revenue from virtual items after deducting fees from app stores, payment processors, and “any other adjustment required under our terms and policies,” according to a TikTok spokesperson.

The goal is to provide hands-on support to livestream creators at scale, a task that TikTok would be unable to complete on its own given the platform’s global audience of more than 1 billion users.

According to two sources, dozens of agencies have joined the TikTok Live partner program. The number of Live partners with which TikTok collaborates was not disclosed by the company’s spokesperson.

How agents are assisting creators in improving livestream performance

Unsurprisingly, no single growth strategy works for all TikTok Live creators.

“Even if a creator is really good in terms of their content that they have on the platform, it’s a completely different thing to be good at livestreaming,” said Salome Khazaradze, a TikTok Live program lead at creator agency Grail Talent.

While some creators use livestreams to get personal and talk about their lives, others use them to stage theatrical-style performances, she explained. A number of other factors also contribute to the success of a livestream.

As an example, “it makes a huge difference how your background looks,” Khazaradze said. “How does the lighting look in the background?” Do you have any interesting props for your livestream?”

Khazaradze said her company runs a Discord server for the roughly 50 to 60 creators it coaches on Live strategies in order to stay in touch with them. The company also hosts webinars and Google Meets with creators, and Khazaradze said she messages individual talent directly via WhatsApp.

Jack Healy, a UK creator who grew a TikTok livestream audience before launching TikTok Spartans, also runs a Discord server and said he holds weekly calls with creators to discuss how to grow as a Live host and offer tips and tricks to help creators get their content seen by more people. TikTok Spartans advertises on its website that it can assist creators with appeals if their accounts are suspended.

Bill Herndon, founder of TikTok Live firm ATRX Agency, advises creators to choose a niche for their livestreams.

“What’s great about TikTok Live is that we get to see the data in real-time,” Herndon explained. “By watching the data and our creators, we can help them navigate what works and what doesn’t.”

According to Joseph Sottile, cofounder of partner agency Diffraction, his company organizes challenges with cash prizes for creators who go live on a regular basis and receive the most engagement, in order to incentivize them to use the feature consistently.

TikTok told Insider in an email that it considers several factors before partnering with individuals or organizations for the Live program. The company considers whether a prospective partner is aware of livestream trends, can think creatively, is dedicated to assisting creators in solving problems and showcasing their talents, and is growth-oriented with a focus on results.

In addition to the agency program, TikTok provides a “accelerator program” to help individual creators who have already found success with livestreams scale even further. This is currently only available in the United Kingdom, but it is expected to expand to other European markets in the near future.

According to a TikTok spokesperson, some individual creators may be assigned a direct manager from the company and receive support, guidance, and access to exclusive opportunities.

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