TikTok is on fire as a marketing tool for authors. BookTok especially has assisted romance, young adult, and other genre authors in furthering their reach in snaring attention for books. But what about freelance writers? How can a freelancer, without a book, use this tool to aid their profession?
Colleen Welsh of The Freelance Writer’s Guide uses her TikTok page to reach one of her favorite markets, other freelance writers. Her 125,800 readers range from college students to people in their 40s, but she admits her sweet spot range is writers 25 to 30. They’ve already worked the nine-to-five job for a few years and crave something different. Being curious about career options, they head to social media hunting for advice, and TikTok is a popular resource for that age range.
As Colleen has discovered, TikTok possesses a different environment than other visual media. She uses YouTube for longer, more lesson-like presentations about becoming a freelance professional. However, on TikTok, people expect more personal presentations, more lifestyle interest, and more succinct, if not comical, expression. Whatever you express on TikTok must hit home fast in making a point.
Watchers feel they are allowed into the life of the presenter on a more personal level, but Colleen also uses the short time period to drill down into real specifics of freelancing, like what tools she uses to deliver products to clients, how to identify recession-proof niches, and how to create a rate sheet for her services. No 30-minute Zoom presentations or YouTube speeches, though. The pace is fast and addictive.
Alex Fasulo is the Freelance Fairy, with 686,000 followers. She talks the reality of leaving the day job and freelancing, offering real-time guidance on what she does so other writers can as well, such as how her clients place an order for a 500-1,000 blog order, her team of writers do the writing, then she delivers the order, charging up to $200. She ghostwrites.
She has earned up to $1,000 per day in her freelance profession. She talks to others about the steps, ideas, and logic to being successful by side-hustling. There’s charisma and a self-assertiveness in her presentations, and you get to see her brag about what she gets to do on her off-time as a result of being a freelance writer who has her act together.
Mia Salas has 19,000 followers, and her approach is straight common sense. Basically, watch me do this as she researches or writes a piece, giving step-by-step guidance on her tricks of the trade. She also enlightens her followers of calls for submissions or freelance jobs while giving her two cents on their worth. She is in her 20s and loves writing celebrity articles, though in flipping through her TikTok page, you see she is capable of writing anything for just about anyone. She oozes with confidence.
TikTok is available in 154 countries and has a billion active monthly users, with 138 million in the United States. In comparison, from high to low, Facebook has 2.9 billion users, YouTube 2.2 billion, Instagram 1.4 billion, Snapchat 500 million, Pinterest 480 million, and Twitter 397 million. So you see, TikTok holds a strong, respectable position in terms of reach.
But TikTok has a younger following. Sixty-two percent of its users are under age 30. Ninety-two percent are under age 40. The average user spends 95 minutes a day on just that platform, those users consisting of followers, other writers, and potential customers. That is the environment TikTok strongly occupies. The people who follow you, learn from you, admire you, and want to hire you, will fall into that age range, or have products that cater to them.
At first blush, it appears that these writers mostly appeal to other writers, but that’s the beauty of TikTok. They speak about how they do what they do, and how they are good at it. Their confidence shines through, and their follower numbers show they have something that works. To a customer seeking to use these people, this TikTok presence demonstrates they walk the walk and talk the talk, offering said potential customer the assurance that the writer is solid and worthy of hiring.
Colleen Welsh believes TikTok an opportune place to showcase your knowledge of the industry you work in, or the niche you tout. For example, if you work in the beauty industry, you make videos about skincare and haircare, maybe on a separate TikTok account. You make content that speaks directly to your target audience (clients in your industry). For example, beauty copywriters could make videos about how to market beauty products. The same concept applies to food writing, travel writing, technical writing, and so on.
Just like Twitter learned that 140 characters needed to be 280, TikTok just increased the max video length from three minutes to 10, giving you tons of time to teach, promote, show off who you are as a person (i.e., dance, sing, drink coffee), or just connect. Ample time for you to show off what you’ve done as a freelancer or demonstrate how much you know (i.e., food writing).
Making videos may feel intimidating at first, but the learning curve is a matter of watching successful videos in a realm close to yours, then making a dozen or so of your own to iron out the bugs, then voila. You can even film them on your phone. TikTok isn’t about being polished. It’s about being almost impromptu, as if the watcher just dropped in for a visit, more up close and personal.
Of course if you are already familiar with TikTok, or even if you fall in love with the medium, you can sell yourself as a TikTok Marketer. A lot of people, companies, and services aren’t savvy enough to set up their own TikTok site, hunt for influencers, and create videos. However, they are more than willing to hire someone to take care of that arm of the business. Upwork lists dozens of TikTok Marketers, making as much as $50-$75/hour. Every freelance hire site now has a category for TikTok Marketers, proving how hot this medium is.
TikTok is here to stay. It’s niche friendly, and if you are willing to put yourself out there and show those pearly whites, teach with a touch of class, display humor, or splash a taste of personality, you have the potential to develop a following. Or you can stick to the background and do TikTok work for others. But the best of all worlds would be to show yourself and work for others. Each promotes the other, and there are quite a few people out there beginning to prove that this corner of social media has incredible potential.