TikTok Influencers Seek Alternate Revenue Streams Amid Looming U.S. Ban Concerns

Charli D’Amelio, the second-most followed creator on TikTok, alongside her sister Dixie, has amassed significant wealth through their viral content on the platform. Their combined efforts have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in earnings.

However, D’Amelio finds herself facing uncertainty regarding the longevity of her TikTok career, given the looming possibility of the platform being banned. This concern stems from a bill advocating for such action, which has gained momentum and the endorsement of President Joe Biden.

With the future of TikTok hanging in the balance, D’Amelio is proactively diversifying her online presence. Her latest venture involves partnering with Shopify to expand her family’s online shoe brand into physical retail spaces.

In a recent interview held at Shopify’s D’Amelio Footwear Pop-Up in New York, D’Amelio reflected on the transient nature of social media platforms.

She emphasized the importance of adapting to new apps, emerging influencers, and evolving trends, recognizing that being at the forefront is not always guaranteed.

TikTok Influencers Seek Alternate Revenue Streams Amid Looming U.S. Ban Concerns
The House Committee votes unanimously on the bill, potentially forcing ByteDance to divest TikTok. (Credits: Pexels)

D’Amelio, along with other family members, discussed their strategy with CNBC during the opening of their retail store. Given the political and security concerns associated with TikTok, creators like D’Amelio are exploring alternative avenues to promote and sell their brands.

“Starting a brand… gets you out of it,” remarked Marc D’Amelio, CEO of D’Amelio Brands and father of Charli. “It’s a hamster wheel, and it gets you out of that. And you’re less dependent on the platform.”

Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party recently introduced a bill that would compel ByteDance to divest TikTok or face a U.S. ban.

The committee’s unanimous 50-0 vote on Thursday propelled the bill to the House floor. President Biden, signaling his support, stated on Friday that he would sign the legislation if Congress approved it.

Despite TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s denial of any ties between the app and the CCP, U.S. regulators and lawmakers remain wary of the company’s Chinese ownership and the potential for government access to user data.

“There’s definitely a little bit of fear when it comes to social media, just because you never know what’s coming next,” acknowledged Charli D’Amelio.

D’Amelio rose to prominence on TikTok in 2019 and was subsequently named the platform’s highest-paid creator by Forbes two years later. Alongside her sister, they earned a combined $27.5 million in that year.

TikTok offers various avenues for creators to generate income, including its Creativity Program, brand partnerships, affiliate sales on TikTok Shop, and virtual gifts from followers during livestreams.

Following their ascent to fame, the D’Amelio family has ventured into television with the Hulu reality show “The D’Amelio Show,” now in its third season. Additionally, the sisters have collaborated with prestigious fashion brands such as Prada, Burberry, and Puma.

In September 2022, the family launched D’Amelio Brands, featuring products like D’Amelio Footwear and Be Happy Snacks popcorn.

TikTok Influencers Seek Alternate Revenue Streams Amid Looming U.S. Ban Concerns
TikTok creators diversify income amid U.S. ban fears: exploring new revenue streams. (Credits: Pexels)

The venture secured a $6 million seed round in 2022 from notable investors including Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Services. Last year, it garnered another $5 million from the Fifth Growth Fund.

Teaming up with Shopify, the D’Amelio family organized pop-up events in Los Angeles and New York to showcase their footwear collection, utilizing Shopify’s point-of-sale system to power the stores.

Shopify revealed a fivefold increase in offline sales since 2019, indicating a significant shift in consumer behavior.

“Fans really want to come and feel the brand and meet the creators and touch and feel the products,” emphasized Jessica Williams, Shopify’s Director of Brand Partnerships.

In 2023, offline sales contributed $441 million to Shopify’s $7.1 billion in revenue, representing over 6% of the total, inclusive of revenue from payments, subscriptions, and point-of-sale hardware.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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