How This 18-Year-Old TikTok Star Built a Business With 5 Million Followers

TikToker Ryan Shakes shares how he built a devoted and engaged following.

A listing of the highest-earning TikTokers reveals several 20-somethings who are making north of $5 million a year off the short-form video app most widely known for lip-syncing and dance videos.

How did they accomplish that status?

Influencers will need to have it easy. They need to have won the same as a social media lottery with a few winners selected randomly. That there’s no predictable method or strategy. It must drop to luck.

The truth is different. If you need to build an audience of millions it doesn’t happen unintentionally. There exists a process you must proceed through.

Not long ago i had an in-depth conversation upon this topic with Ryan Shakes.

Ryan can be an 18-year old TikToker from South Florida with over 5 million followers. He’s on the right track to market over $1 million dollars of his own branded merchandise this season. He regularly gets brand deals in the thousands of dollars. He earned $5,000 in two hours of live-streaming on TikTok due to all of the digital gifts (that can be redeemed for cash) his fans send him.

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Ryan didn’t win some social media lottery. He didn’t get lucky.

He was raised without a lot of cash. In middle school, he saved up what little allowance he previously and visited Walmart. He bought gummy worms in bulk and spent his entire 8th-grade year selling candy to his classmates at a little markup. By the finish of the entire year, he’d saved enough to get an iPad. Initially, he used it to create YouTube videos. Then in 2015, he found (the app that was acquired by Bytedance and became TikTok).

He jumped on the platform and began posting religiously. Methodically he grew to the 5 million fans he’s got today. According to Ryan, anyone may become an influencer if they’re ready to put in your time and effort.

It boils down to three core strategies:1. Create, Create, Create2. Ride the trends3. Collab

There’s a saying amongst prominent YouTubers you need to make 100 bad youtube videos before any are good. The same pertains to TikTok. You don’t emerge from the gates with a fully-formed notion of what your account will probably be and expect it to explode.

When Ryan first started posting on Musically (now TikTok) he posted 20-30 videos a day. He wished to get as much ‘at-bats’ in as he could.

He wished to hone his craft, and he knew the simplest way to learn was through repetition.

Each evening he’d analyze what he posted. He’d write down the insights he learned, what his audience liked and apply them to his next videos. Making small improvements as time passes was key.

In the event that you look back at his early posts you can observe how Ryan’s content evolved. Initially, these were lipsync videos (such as this). As time passes he began tinkering with the format and developed his own comedic flare.

We’re all acquainted with trending topics on Twitter. It’s similar with TikTok, except there are sound files and hashtags rather than topics. And they are vital for community growth.

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According to Ryan, if you’re never using trending audio (also to a smaller extent hashtags) you’re not adding to the broader conversations on the platform. You isolate yourself. You don’t wish to be screaming out in to the void alone.

Before Ryan even arises with a concept for a TikTok he sits with the app. He swipes searching for emerging sound files by searching for TikTok’s with a whole lot of engagement and keeps a tally of what sound files they are employing. Once he’s identified a pattern of several videos using the same track with a whole lot of engagement he begins formulating a concept around it.

By senior year of senior high school, Ryan had over half of a million followers. He moved to a fresh school where there have been a small number of other kids with TikTok and YouTube followings. They congregated at lunch and on weekends to gather and film as much TikTok’s because they could. Sometimes filming may have meant ditching class.

It paid. Most of that band of friends who only had a few thousand followers in the beginning now have thousands if not millions. His compatriots Tony Paul (1 million followers), Tyler Leon (400K followers), and Victoria Lex (400K followers) are also making enough from TikTok to accomplish it as a full-time job. Despite the fact that Ryan’s following was the biggest in the beginning, the cross-promotion benefited him. He was exposing himself to new audiences and that propelled his growth.

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According to Ryan collaboration is, and can always be, an instrument to build an audience online. Influencer A has X audience and Influencer B has Y audience. Both promote one another to fully capture both X & Y audiences. For this reason we’ve seen a proliferation of TikTok ‘collab houses’ just like the Hype House emerge. Creators are relocating together to live and collaborate to cross-pollinate audiences, pool resources, and grow their followings faster.

Ryan’s journey is similar to any entrepreneur’s journey. You delay security and safety for a while to be able to reward your own future self.

Everyone starts from zero. The largest influencers posted content for a long time before anyone cared. These were ready to face ridicule and scrutiny. They pursued their passion without job security or any assurance they’d ever succeed.

Ryan’s tireless quest for his dream paid. He’s gone from a youngster selling gummy worms to presenting an incredible number of fans and a 7 figure a year business. Ryan knows a lot of people won’t have the discipline to accomplish what he did. As simple as his tactics are, the procedure itself is incredibly difficult.

As Warren Buffett’s business partner, and billionaire, Charlie Munger says "Have a simple idea and take it seriously."

I came across Ryan’s story to be so inspirational I’ve made a decision to take his simple ideas seriously. I’ve decided I’m likely to enter front of the camera and apply Ryan’s lessons. I would like to see easily can replicate (even on a little scale) the success that he’s had.

With the expert’s advice what could fail?

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