Making videos on TikTok is not cheap. In the wallet of one creator

For some people, social media is a necessary distraction from their work day. For others it is working day. The creator’s economy is estimated at $20 billion to $100 billionand how influencer friendly business models become mainstream and the pandemic returns to normal online workthis number is likely to continue to grow.

Hollywood artist who trying to succeed on TikTokSam Poker told The Times that he “would like to get to the point where [he] can make TikTok a full-fledged concert.”

But despite going viral on numerous occasions, Poker’s fast food-themed comedic videos are so resource-intensive that his TikTok account is currently losing money. From bribing a 7-Eleven employee $5 for extra pizza boxes to spending an estimated $3,000 on gas last year, his viral fame comes at a cost.

A man holds packages with various sauces.

A bag of assorted Chick-fil-A sauces will cost Sam Poker $5 before taxes, one of the many expenses he can incur during a day’s work.

(Brian Contreras/Los Angeles Times)

In October, Poker tracked TikTok-related weekly spending for The Times. The following is a record of that period:


  • $17.41 at Taco Bell for two videos of him crushing hard tacos with his hands (1640 views and 95 likes)




  • $41 from Jack in the Box for supplies to create five videos — two of him assembling an oversized sandwich (1,742 views and 113 likes) and three poking fun at popular TikTok foodie Emily Mariko (1,649 views and 114 likes).


  • $3.29 in Jack in the Box for video of him pouring different sauces on tacos (616 views and 16 likes)
  • $4.50 at Taco Bell for two more videos of sauces thrown on tacos (4113 views and 108 likes)
  • $5.45 at Burger King for two videos of him shooting a syringe while dipping sauce in and on chicken nuggets (2015 views and 75 likes).
Sam Poker is trying to make it big as a concept artist on TikTok.

Watching one of Poker’s TikTok videos, it’s easy to forget that it probably cost him money – potentially quite a lot.

(Brian Contreras/Los Angeles Times)



  • $8.75 at Burger King for a video of him covering a hamburger with sauces (941 views and 55 likes)


  • $9 at Smart & Final for mayonnaise packets (video not filmed)
  • $10.21 at 7-Eleven and $3 at ampm for creating five videos for #OneSliceChallenge, a 7-Eleven-sponsored TikTok trend (15,480 views and 1,271 likes)

In total, Poker spent $134.71 in those eight days. The videos he made received 1,926 likes and 29,882 views for a total cost of about seven cents per like and just under half a cent per view.

The day before he started writing this journal, 10 Oct. 1 Poker received a $160.71 payout from the TikTok Creator Fund. His next payment won’t come until November. 1 – He only has $26 left to fund three more weeks of video production.