Can you get paid for posting on TikTok? Not in Canada

TikTok pays some creators on the platform for their videos that are one minute or longer, but Canadians have always been left out. 

Canada is not one of the countries that qualifies for the Creator Rewards Program, which was introduced this year, replacing the Creator Fund that TikTok originally launched in 2020. 

To be eligible, a creator must have a personal TikTok account in good standing in one of the countries where the program is available. Currently, that’s the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, South Korea, France and Brazil. 

They also must be at least 18 years old and have at least 10,000 followers, as well as 100,000 views in the last 30 days. 

WATCH | Canadian TikTok creators share their experience on the platform: 

Canadian TikTok creators can’t make money from this program

Can you get paid just for posting on TikTok? Not if you’re in Canada. TikTok’s Creator Rewards Program allows eligible creators to earn money for videos that are longer than one minute, but it’s not available in this country. So what, if anything, is being done about it? We reached out to the federal government and TikTok to find out, and spoke to six TikTok creators about their experiences on the platform.

CBC News reached out to TikTok to ask why Canadian creators are left out of the rewards program. TikTok declined a request for an interview and did not answer that question. A spokesperson pointed to its tools that are available to Canadian creators.

That includes Creative Exchange, a platform that connects creators with advertisers to help produce TikTok ad campaigns, and Creator Marketplace, which connects them with brands to collaborate on paid campaigns.

 But some TikTok creators believe the policy is unfair. 

 “We should have access to all of the features that our U.S. counterparts have,” said Tyra Blizzard, a Canadian TikTok creator with more than 900,000 followers.

Monetizing TikTok content in Canada

Tess Barclay is a Toronto-based TikTok creator who also owns a business helping other creators build their content. 

She says while it would be nice to have “extra income” from the rewards program, creators can make more money from brand partnerships. 

“When I had about 50,000 followers on TikTok, I would charge about $3,000 for a TikTok,” Barclay said. 

“Everyone I’ve worked with makes the most from brand deals rather than the Creator Fund.”

Other Canadian creators say they’re frustrated seeing high views and engagement on their videos, but receiving no compensation from TikTok. 

Markus Harwood-Jones is one of them. While he’s able to use his account to promote his work as an author, he says he’s missing out on monetization that could help support his family amid a cost of living crisis. 

“I have a video that has 1.5 million views … [and] almost 200,000 likes,” Harwood-Jones said. “I’m not seeing anything for it.”

On the left, Markus Harwood-Jones wearing a black t-shirt and glasses. On the right, a screenshot of the stats for one of his TikTok videos.
Markus Harwood-Jones has more than 140,000 followers on his TikTok account. Some of his videos reach millions of views, but he doesn’t have access to the rewards program because he’s based in Canada. (Katia Taylor Photography, Submitted by Markus Harwood-Jones)

The amount of money that qualifying creators can make from the rewards program varies based on their RPM, or revenue per thousand impressions.

According to a TikTok spokesperson, RPM can fluctuate depending on different factors — such as video engagement, the quality of the content and the region where the video is watched. Creators in the U.S. have shared rates ranging from a few cents to a few dollars.  

‘TikTok could fix this’

Last year, NDP MP Brian Masse asked the federal government about why Canadians are left out of this funding program. 

“TikTok could fix this right away if they wanted to,” Masse said. “That’s why I believe it takes some political intervention and pressure.”

Masse received a response from Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge last November. According to the email, which Masse shared with CBC News, TikTok told the government “the funding model is imperfect and will be revisited before a formal launch to the Canadian market.”

On the left is an email from Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge. On the right is a photo of the minister.
Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge (right) responded to NDP MP Brian Masse in an email (left) on Nov. 14, 2023, after Masse wrote to the minister about getting Canadians access to TikTok’s Creator Fund. (Submitted by Brian Masse, Ivanoh Demers/CBC/Radio-Canada)

The email also stated that Canadian creators can still monetize their content “through sponsorships, the sale of digital products and affiliate marketing.”

“It’s still not the same as the United States,” Masse said. “We probably have to do some more work here on Parliament Hill to put pressure on TikTok.”

Using TikTok’s other monetization tools

Naomi Leanage is a Canadian creator who credits TikTok Canada with helping her earn money, even without the rewards program. 

“Through TikTok, they provided a couple brand deals and that came through the Creator Marketplace. So it was with brands like Spotify,” she said.

“Other times, it’s little junk brands that kind of try to reach out to you through [the Creator Marketplace].”

However, Leanage has since relocated to Los Angeles. The account she started in Canada is still not attached to the rewards program, but after moving, she decided to create a new account in February. 

On the left, a photo of Naomi Leanage wearing a black leather jacket and hoop earrings. On the right, a screenshot showing she's earned $182.61 from the Creator Rewards Program.
Canadian TikTok creator Naomi Leanage relocated to Los Angeles and started a new account in February that has been attached to the Creator Rewards Program since March. She’s earned $182.61 US as of June 12. (Submitted by Naomi Leanage)

“It went from zero to, I’m at 20K [followers] now, in a couple months,” Leanage said. “That is actually attached to the Creator Fund.”

As of June 12, she has earned $182.61 US for about 420,400 qualified views. 

“It’s better than $0, which is what I’ve made for my views in Canada.”

‘Some people have left Canada’

Neil Shyminsky, an English professor at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., who researches pop culture, says more Canadian creators may choose to relocate to the U.S., though there isn’t enough data to confirm such an exodus. 

“That’s certainly possible, that it could pick up steam,” Shyminsky said. “Some people have left Canada and moved especially to L.A., where there’s a large social media creator community.”

It speaks to the issue of brain drain, when a country’s talented workers emigrate en masse, which Canada has struggled with in industries spanning health care to tech

CBC News reached out to the office of Heritage Minister St-Onge to ask whether the federal government plans to intervene to make the rewards program available in Canada. 

The office did not answer the question and said it was working to “cultivate a fair market where our creators can be successful.”

Shyminsky says the government might want to consider expanding arts funding to accommodate social media creators. 

“We have Canadian voices on these apps that so many people are spending so much time on. I think it should be a no-brainer.”

For Harwood-Jones, he plans to continue to make videos regardless of whether the Creator Rewards Program becomes available in Canada or not. 

“It genuinely makes me happy to do it,” Harwood-Jones said. “I would just once in a while also like to be able to buy groceries.”

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