How Cringe Creators Make a Living on TikTok

In a three-part special investigating the crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, which aired last November on Dr. Martin. Phil,” said daytime talk show host Phil McGraw. TikTok video The testimony of a 27-year-old woman named Stanzi Potenza provided evidence that true crime fans had gone too far. In the video, Potenza was so engrossed in Netflix’s “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” that she took time off from work to stay home in diapers and munch on the series without interruption, she said. Told.

After all, Mr. Potenza had made a video that satirized a real-life crime maniac, but Dr. Phil mistakenly thought it was sincere.

Potenza says boring cartoonist and actor He calls himself a “hell sketch comedian”. She has amassed millions of followers on TikTok and YouTube by posting mansplaining public service announcements, sarcastic imitations of Satan, and acerbic parodies of the horror movie The Purge.

“I personally think that some of the best comedies are a little bit painful,” she said. “It hurts a lot.”

Cringe as a concept is deceptively difficult to explain. Offense as a content category is vast, outdated cultural norms, Strategies adopted by music artists Reach out to real fans. Discomfort is not a single thing, but you can tell when you see it. On TikTok, you can make a career out of intentionally showing offensiveness in a niche area of ​​the platform known as CrngeTok (my older brother, a former lawyer, posted a offensive video from his Spring 2020 I know this because I make my living making ).

Potenza has a degree in theater and completed a six-week acting program at William Esper Studios in New York City, making her a natural fit for the camera. She took the plunge and posted cringe comedy videos during her pandemic as a way to keep working on her own work while her venues were closed. Her early TikTok videos of her crying while wearing clown makeup garnered hundreds of thousands of views, prompting her to post more.

She now has over 3.8 million TikTok followers, and her followers are big enough to drive big deals, bonuses, and merchandise for brands. She said her videos earn more than $200,000 a year.

Popular TikTok creators can make a living in all sorts of niches on the platform. make up, dealing with watches, aging, and even drinking flavored water. But CrngeTok is like putting on a show.

To create the perfect CringeTok video, creators dig deep into the internet and their own experiences, looking for traits they can exaggerate. It takes an ironic introspection to identify behaviors that hold us back, such as narcissism and forgetfulness. Creators of boring comedies often build time into their schedules to draw sketches. The shoot can be completed in as little as 1 hour. It often takes place in the creator’s comfortable bedroom.

These videos differ from unintentionally offensive videos that combine over-seriousness and lack of self-awareness to make viewers uncomfortable.

In such cases, “we are not laughing with you,” said Ms. Potenza. “We are laughing at you.”

Lili Bikri started posting cringe tock videos Joining the company in 2020, by April she had quit her job as an electrical engineer to focus on content production full time. She has amassed 800,000 subscribers by using 2000s romantic her comedy tropes, fans her fiction, and her own obnoxious behavior as inspiration.

“If I’m not ashamed of what I did yesterday, if I’m not disgusted with what I did yesterday, I’m not growing,” Bikri said.

Brad Podley, 40, is a Des Moines orthodontist whose TikTok account is the worst dad, was originally a riff on the work of another TikTok creator, Nick Cho.known online as korean dadMr. Cho plays a wholesome father-like figure who treats the viewer as if he were his beloved child.

“A lot of my primary comedy is based on identifying a trend and deconstructing it from its original inspiration until it becomes unrecognizable,” Podley said.

His POV-style videos include a series of short sketches in which a mean father subjects his fictional child to progressively precarious situations. Early in season one of the parody, Mr. Podley steals a child’s prescription painkillers, and by season six, the child will be helping to assassinate a drug dealer.

“Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the series because TikTok banned me multiple times,” Podley said. TikTok bans appearance videos Youth Exploitation and AbuseAccording to Community Guidelines, Podley continues to make other types of parody videos, fictional or not. He said he was making about $150,000 a year from his TikTok and YouTube content.

In July 2020, TikTok creator fund Reward popular accounts and encourage content creation. It initially promised to distribute $200 million, but now expects the fund to grow beyond $1 billion. However, the amount each creator receives may vary.

“Payouts from the Creator Fund are based on a variety of factors,” said Maria Jung, global product communications manager at TikTok. “These factors include where the video is viewed, the engagement with the video, and how well the video complies with the community’s guidelines and terms of service.”

Eligible creators are widely reported to typically receive a few cents for every 1,000 views of their videos, but Jung declined to confirm the figure.

Creators with millions of followers and views per video can earn thousands of dollars a month from the Creator Fund. With her devoted TikTok audience, creators can extend their reach to other social her platforms. Meta discontinued his Reels Play bonus program in March, but creators can still earn from Facebook Ad Reels. The program works similarly to YouTube’s revenue sharing model.

Cross-posting content for additional revenue streams is a common practice among creators.

“It wasn’t until I started making money on YouTube that I really started making money,” Potenza said. “In order to make a living out of this, we have to use different methods to make it sustainable.”

YouTube’s business model differs from TikTok in that it shares 50% of advertising revenue with creators.

Combined revenue from social platforms can generate significant revenue, but the most lucrative opportunities come from brand partnerships.

Ms. Potenza recently created a sketch in which she acted. john wick therapist To promote the latest film in the John Wick franchise. Podley’s sponsors include camera company Insta360 and sex toy online store Lovehoney.

As your follower count increases and the average number of views per video increases, so does your viewership. Potenza signed her first brand deal in 2020, shooting a branded video for $150. The following year, as her account grew and she hired an agent to help her negotiate, her fees rose to her $5,000 per video. These days, she doesn’t accept amounts less than $10,000 for sponsored posts.

Vikri said she has brand deals with companies like CashApp, Bubble Skincare and Pluto TV, but doesn’t know how much she makes because her agency doesn’t pay her for her work.

A nationwide TikTok ban, proposed by Congress on the basis of TikTok’s Chinese ownership, would call into question the source of income, not to mention the effort, of all creators.

“It was really embarrassing to see so many lawmakers talking to the TikTok CEO about things they didn’t understand,” Potenza said. “At this point, I’m going to be super pro-Chinese.”

Even if you are not bored today, you may be bored tomorrow. Like death and taxes, boredom comes to everyone at some point. So it’s no surprise that brands are interested in participating. What’s really embarrassing is that it’s real.

Wendell Scott, 32, is a production coordinator in Atlanta who teaches Delta how to create effective social media content.He uses his break time to do creative activities. TikTok video There, in duets and stitched-together videos with other creators, he provides a nasty side of conversation.of one video With nearly two million views, he plays the Founding Father who discovers John Hancock’s large signature on the Declaration of Independence.

“To me, cringe is something we’ve all experienced, but I don’t like talking about it,” Scott said. “Everyone has had some kind of weird, bizarre moment or an unexpected event, but it’s actually very real. And I love making it happen. “

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