TikTok Tips for Creatives
Before we dive into all-things-TikTok, I want to have a little heart to heart. We live in a digital age where social media is very much at the forefront of everyone's lives. With so much time spent on the apps, it's easy to develop unhealthy relationships with them. So let's talk about a few disclaimers real quick!!
When I first started my business Instagram, I found myself constantly chasing numbers, more followers, and higher performing posts. I compared myself and my progress to people who started their social media journey long before me, or to people who were on a completely different level from me. What I finally learned to accept is what everyone was saying all along: the numbers on your social media don’t matter. I stopped chasing vanity metrics, and started seeking out true connections. Funnily enough, the other things started to follow, but it didn’t matter (and still doesn’t). Before you do anything with social media, I would encourage you to make sure you have a good relationship with it. If you’re using social media as a form of validation of your worth, you will never leave the apps feeling like you’ve filled your cup. You’ll drain your mental energy, your creative juices, and your spirits. Take it from someone who’s been there.
Most people who have grown a social media following won’t admit this, but a huge portion of gaining a large audience is luck. Yes, I said it, and no, I’m not saying that because I’m bitter, jealous, or trying to blame external factors on my slower growth. I’m saying this because I’ve experienced it.
Yes, consistency, quality and content matter. They DO. But I truly believe at least one-fourth (if not half) of the social media game is luck: your content getting shared by the right person, using your audio in just the right way that it makes the metrics follow, accidentally creating something that goes viral. (Luck is especially the case on TikTok.)
Here’s what I mean: I’ve been consistent and intentional on Instagram for about a year now. In that time, I’ve had two things go semi-viral on Instagram, and it was because the posts got shared by accounts with large followings. Those two posts resulted in about 1300 of my 2600 Instagram followers. 1300 followers that essentially showed up overnight. The quality wasn’t any better than things I’d done before; the posts just happened to get shared by the right accounts with bigger followings and it led to growth.
On TikTok, I’ve had a bit more luck in terms of viral content. One video with over 3 million views, and three that have gained 50k-250k views. Those four videos have all been posted within the last 5 weeks, the first of which was the 3 million views video. In the span of 5 weeks, I went from 65 followers to 30,000. (And because of the way TikTok’s algorithm functions, I’m still gaining at least a hundred followers daily.)
I didn’t do many special things on those videos that made them go viral; I made them the exact same way as other videos that have flopped. But here’s why I was able to grow my following with those four videos: I got lucky BUT THEN, because I was (semi)consistent and intentional on my TikTok before that, many people followed as a result; they could tell what my niche was by scrolling through my page, and they decided to stick around for one reason or another.
I don’t say this to discourage you; honestly, I hope it serves as encouragement. The hope that “my turn would come” always kept me showing up consistently as my best possible self on all the platforms I use, and I still do that. (TBH– I’ve worked so hard on my Instagram and put so many hours into it, it’s almost a bit frustrating that my TikTok has blown up the way it did instead of my Instagram.) I also always do my best to make social media fun for me in general; the moment things start to feel like a full-on job in the social media realm, I take a step back.
My point: do not get discouraged if it feels like you’re putting in all the work and never seeing any payoff. If you are doing your best, that alone is enough. There is a factor of luck that results in more traction for pages, and that’s something that no one ever talks about. (And it makes sense – it’s easy to want to give yourself all the credit instead of thinking there were some outside factors too.) Be consistent, do your best, and trust the process. I promise it will pay off!
Now for the fun part. I’ve had my TikTok since April of last year, but didn’t start using it consistently until December of last year. I posted maybe one video every other week before then. I do not claim to be an expert in any way, shape or form. I just thought these might be some good tips for people starting out! (And BTW– all these tips can be applied to Reels too. Don’t feel guilting for posting your videos in both places; you put too much work into your craft to not do that!)
1. First things first: get a phone stand! It will open up so many opportunities for filming, and it frees up your hands. Plus, it can help with a lot of transitions that require a steady camera.
2. Don’t edit in the app! Whether you’re making a TikTok or Reels, editing in the app is so difficult, and it’s so easy to undo all your work. Personally, I use the app InShot – it’s free for iPhones, and has everything you need. (Also – if you’re trying to make your video line up with the music, using a different app is super helpful. More on that later!)
3. Make it fun or make it satisfying! This is a pretty vague/open-ended tip, but videos that are fun (upbeat audios, fun transitions) or satisfying (oddly satisfying things/noises, or showing a process from start to finish) tend to perform better. Simply put: people want to be entertained! Include things in your video that keep them watching. (Transitions can be super helpful in taking a video to the next level; there’s a whole section about them at the bottom of this post if you’re interested in them!
4. Let go of perfection!! My favorite part of TikTok is that the veil of perfection is completely removed. Everyone is just showing up as their true self and finding their people; it’s pretty amazing if you ask me! So as it relates to the creative world, show your messy middle, make videos about things that didn’t go to plan, and just be YOU.
5. Diversify your content. Just like with Instagram, you don’t want to be posting the same thing over and over again. No one wants to see a “day in the life” video 30 days in a row, especially if your days tend to be repetitive. Possible content ideas include: showing off your final products, showing packing or process videos, doing a day in the life video, responding to a comment, or sharing about something else related to your niche! Of course, feel free to recycle your ideas, but try to keep it fresh enough that it’s not redundant.
6. On the other end of the spectrum, try not to be all over the place. Just like with other social platforms, the quicker someone can understand what your page is all about, the more likely they are to follow/click your link/complete desired action. If you’re just sharing about your business content, you’re good! I often share DIYs and other projects too, but it’s completely up to you.
7. On a related note: serve your audience in some shape or form. Most of the videos that I’ve had do well are business tutorials or DIY projects. More than ever, people are using TikTok as a resource. If you have information to share within your niche, and are willing to do so, make a video about it! (Side note: do not feel pressured to share everything about your business. Personally, the information I choose to share depends on where I learned it from, how much time it took to learn, and how much money I spent figuring things out.)
8. Record every. thing. You can literally make anythingggggg into a TikTok! The beauty of the app is that pretty much anything can go viral; I put this video together in less than 5 minutes with videos from the previous week, and it resulted in 700 sales of the shirt. And I expected it to flop! There’s no reason to edit as you’re recording. I just record what I can and go back and edit later.
9. On that note: BATCH EDIT YOUR VIDEOS. I’m not going to lie, depending on the complexity of your video, editing can be a real pain sometimes! (If you want to avoid this, feel free to post process time lapses with music that pairs well.) What I’ve ended up doing is recording everything, then waiting until Thursdays to make a whole bunch of videos at once. You can even add them to TikTok and save as a draft until you’re ready to post. (Side note; recycle your videos! If you want to use a clip in more than one video, feel free!)
10. Finally – do your very best. Like I mentioned, social media is 50% effort, consistency, and quality, and 50% luck. (And sometimes you just need the luck portion on TikTok, IMO) TikTok is an amazing social platform with SO much potential. I ignored everyone who said “get on TikTok, get on TikTok” and I’m kicking myself because I truly wish I would’ve started sooner. Give it a shot, and see what happens. You’ll never know until you try!
Make your videos work with your music selection, or vice versa. Just scroll through your fyp for a bit, and it can be easy to see how the music of a video can make or break a video! There are a few ways to make your audio selection work with your video:
1. Sometimes when I’m choosing to record content, I’ll have a sound in my head already, so I’ll make sure I do recordings that match the music. This TikTok is a good example of that.
2. Most of the time, I’m not sure how I want to edit a video until I find a sound I like. What I do in these cases is 1) screen record an audio I like from TikTok, then 2) extract the audio from the screen recording in the InShot app and set it as my sound, then 3) create and edit my video to match the music in the InShot app. When I’m done, I remove the sound and use the actual TikTok audio when I upload it; this is because using the screen recorded audio may result in copyright issues, and also: people can discover your video just by clicking on the sound of another video! This TikTok is a great example of how I lined my clips up with the sound.
3. Of course, using no audio is an option, and it’s a great choice when you’re doing something that has oddly satisfying sounds to it. This video is a great example of what I’m talking about. Adding music to the background would take away from the ASMR-like sounds that comes with screen printing.
4. In general, I would just say: match the music’s vibe! If you pick a chill song, but then your video is filled with fast-paced content, it likely won’t perform well. In this video, I wasn’t too concerned with matching any audio, cause it was a laid back video, and I wanted it to feel that way.
TRANSITIONS. Man oh man – you either love them or you hate them, but sometimes they really can make or break a video. I couldn’t stand doing transitions at first; I was so bad at them! I’ve slowly gained the hang of them, so here’s a few of my favorites, ordered from easiest to most difficult. Keep in mind that each type of transition will get easier with practice, and this list definitely isn't exhaustive.
1. Hand over the camera, then removing it. Super easy! Take a before video of what you’re working with, then bring your hand up to the camera. Once you’ve reached the end, take another video, this time with your hand covering the camera. Then remove it and reveal your final product! This video has one at the end.
2. The classic zoom-in, room-out. Similar to the transition above, start out with your before video, then zoom in to a single point on the item. For the next clip, start with the camera on a point that’s a similar color and zoom your camera out. This video shows a few examples of that.
3. The snap-and-tada! The difficulty of this one depends on whether your camera is mounted or not, as well as how comfortable you are with editing. (Editing this transition becomes 1000x easier if you’re editing outside the apps.) If you can keep your camera mounted in the same spot, it’s much easier. Place the before piece under the camera, then snap; once you have the after piece, do the same thing (making sure to snap in the same part of the frame) and edit the clips together to make it look like the snap completed the change. If your camera isn’t mounted, it’s the same concept, but you’ll have to make sure your environment is lined up as well the the focal point of the video. It’s harder than it sounds; Instagram reels has an “align” feature that can help with this, so it may be helpful to record that part in Instagram then see it to your camera roll. This video has a good snapping transition in it; in this case, the camera was mounted and I had the “after” product laying off to the side, so it was easy to get everything line up properly.
4. Anything with clothes – I’ve only done one video with these transitions, because they’re honestly so difficult for me! The concept is that you do some kind of action (jump, spin, tap your shirt, throw the clothes onto you), and then the clothes end up on you. They’re super fun when they’re done right, but you have to be sure to keep your environment lined up, as well as your posture and position in the frame. (Since you add changing clothes into the equation, this concept is more difficult than it sounds. Again, the align feature on Instagram may be helpful with this.) This video is the only one I’ve done with clothing transitions.
I hope this blog post was helpful in some shape or form. TikTok is unlike any other social media platform out there, and it truly holds so. much. potential. If you aren't on the platform yet, I hope this gave you the extra nudge to get you on there. It has literally changed lives for so many business owners and creatives. As always – don't stress, do your best. Cheering you on!!