How Do Top Creator Programs Stack Up?

Linsey Knerl
February 24, 2023
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Short-form video is gaining traction online, and people of all ages are turning to this content form for recipes, book recommendations, and to watch practical jokes. If you're talented at making these videos, there's an opportunity to get some cash, but choosing the right platform may be key.

YouTube Shorts

As of June 2022, YouTube shorts reached 1.5 billion monthly logged-in users and saw 30 billion daily views worldwide. Hosted on the same platform as standard YouTube videos, it allows creators to make videos of no more than 60 seconds to be shared across the YouTube ecosystem.

To become eligible for revenue generation, creators must gain 1,000 subscribers and 10 million valid public Shorts views over the prior 90 days. Creators can get access to ads on their Shorts and long-form YouTube videos once accepted. Creators can also qualify for earnings with 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours viewed in the previous 12 months of long-form YouTube content.

Pros of the YouTube Shorts program

If you’ve been struggling to meet the monetization thresholds for the traditional long-form YouTube content, the Shorts program may be a way in. The YouTube environment is highly searchable, gets great SEO, and often brings in visitors from outside the platform. If you create Shorts that people are specifically looking for, you can benefit from YouTube being a powerhouse search authority and get discovered quite easily. It’s also quite new, so there’s less competition for this type of video content on YouTube at the moment; you’ll still be competing with the long-form content, however.

Downsides of the YouTube Shorts program

The program is rather new and isn’t yet as popular as TikTok or Reels for short-form video. Creators who make excellent short-form video may not get the same audience they would from more notable apps.


This tech company also features short-form videos, although the demographic is largely younger. It’s estimated that 54.1% of females globally use the app, with 113.25 million U.S. users visiting it regularly. When a new trend hits the internet, there’s a good chance it started on TikTok, and the app was downloaded 672 million times in 2022 alone.

To become a TikTok creator, you just have to download the app and make your first TikTok. Granted, it can take time to get noticed, but the virality of the app makes it easier for newbies to hit it big with a video, even without a large following.

TikTok’s monetization program is complicated. Most influencers make money with sponsored content, brand mentions, and affiliate partnerships, but there is a Creator Fund for creators with 10,000 followers that splits the money with top creators paid directly from the platform. Just this week, TikTok announced a Creativity Program for top creators. This invite-only program is in Beta, so not a lot is known at the moment; there's speculation that you would need 100,000 followers to get in.

Pros of TikTok's program

TikTok is a household name, and almost everyone has downloaded the app. If your content reaches a younger audience, there’s no limit on the ways to monetize. TikTok’s algorithm makes it possible for even those with small followings to go viral from time to time.

Downsides of TikTok's program

There’s been some concern about its security implications. Government agencies and some businesses have banned the use of TikTok on company or government devices, and some have wondered if it’s headed for a collapse as tensions with China build. TikTok has also gotten a bad rap for inspiring dangerous trends; while it may not be any more harmful than any other app, it’s one that parents and government officials like to blame the most. Its future is somewhat uncertain.

It's also hard for creators to figure out how to monetize when a single TikTok goes viral but there's not a strong following overall. Unlike other paid platforms with a per-view earnings model, small creators may not be able to retroactively monetize their best work.

Meta (Reels)

Finally, we have Instagram’s version of the short video, Reels. If you looked at your Instagram feed lately, you would see almost entirely Reels, and that’s by design. The platform favors video content over static posts, so creators can see more traction if they move to this format.

These videos look a lot like TikToks, and it's not uncommon to see creators reuse their content from one platform to the other. Reels invites accounts to earn money through its Bonus program, which runs from month to month and pays out based on views. The exact formula isn't known, but earlier views of a Reel earn more per view than later views of the same Reel.

You don't have to have tens of thousands of followers to earn from this bonus program, however. Creators with just a few thousand followers have been able to make some extra cash through the program, in addition to sponsored content and affiliate sales.

Pros of Reels for creators

The entry is low for this program, making it easy for new creators to get started. The bonus program pays out right away on views, with a low threshold of just $100 before getting a payout.

Downsides of Reels for creators

The bonus program is invite-only, and its unpredictable earnings formula may be hard for serious creators to depend on. Also, the Bonus program changes often, and while it's assumed it will stick around, creators get a notice each month as it's running, with no real certainty it will return in the same form the following month.

Bottom line: If there’s anything to learn from these short-form video platforms, it’s that the rules are always changing, and that program you can’t get into now may be available to you soon. By figuring out how each platform varies and what the requirements for each platform are, you can make sure your content is adaptable so you can put it up everywhere if needed. Diversifying is how the top creators stay afloat, so include this in your strategy, too!

Linsey Knerl

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