TikTok might not be the platform you think of when you are thinking about building your writing business or your brand. However it is more than teens showing off the latest dance moves. TikTok is being taken seriously by large corporations and authors who want to connect with an audience and show a little more of their unique personalities. Writers on TikTok have found some unique ways to use this platform to provide short snippets and glimpses into their world and work. If you are trying to promote your writing and build an audience, it might be time to see how this platform can help you achieve your goals.
Is TikTok for writers?
If you want to build your personal brand, you have to find a way to connect with your audience in a personal way. As of February 2020, TikTok had approximately 1.65 billion downloads worldwide. About 41% of all users are between 16-24 years old, and the number of adult TikTok users has grown by 5.5% over the last 18 months. The average TikTok user spends about 52 minutes every day on the platform, and 90% of all users access it more than once per day.
These are not just numbers. If you know how to read them right, this data can be transformed into a strategy for building your blog and reader base. For instance, if you write young adult novels, this platform can give you access to an incredible number of eyeballs. The number of adults on TikTok translates into the ability to reach them with quality content and build a base of regular viewers, and the algorithm will make sure that your content is relevant to them. Now, let’s see how other writers are using TikTok as a way to build their audience.
Successful writers on TikTok
Using TikTok might stretch your creativity when it comes to what you can do because of its short format. The video length is 15 seconds, but you can string four of them together for a 60-second message. Currently, they are experimenting with extending the length to 3 minutes. If you want some inspiration on how to use this platform, you might want to check out these TikTok authors.
- Great Valley High School Library @gvhslibrary. Ms. B is a librarian who makes hilarious TikTok content using an account for the school. She pokes fun at librarians and at students, but always in the name of fun and building community.
- Moon Girl Reads (Selene) @moongirlreads_. Selene does funny memes, focusing on young adult novels and inclusive books. She gives book recommendations and reviews on her popular channel.
- Cait’s books @caitsbooks. Cait is another one that focuses on book recommendations. She reviews individual titles and groups of books. She also runs an online book club.
- John Green @literallyjohngreen. This 40-something author has written several best-selling novels, including “Paper Towns” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” His videos are clever and give fans some insight into his personality.
- Penguin Teen @penguin_teen. Penguin Publishing Group is encouraging its authors to get on TikTok to promote themselves.  They have a few examples to show you how it is done right, with one of their videos getting 11.4 million views.
Strategy for authors
Now that you have a few ideas, the next thing we want to talk about is some strategies that you can use to promote your work. As you can see from the examples in the last section, you can always create book review videos, but to get people’s attention, you need to have a clear strategy. You also need to be willing to think outside the box. Here are five tips to help you develop a successful TikTok strategy.
- Be consistent with your brand on other platforms
- Because the videos are short, think about the single point that you want to convey
- Develop a content plan that coincides with your other marketing strategies on other platforms
- Be consistent and develop a signature style
- Make high-quality videos, but show your personality and let it shine
How writers on TikTok can make money
The next question you probably have is whether you can monetize TikTok. The answer is yes, and many writers have found creative ways to do so. Here are a few monetizing tips for writers on TikTok.
- The Creator fund can pay about $0.02-0.04 per 1,000 views
- Creator marketplace and paid content by advertisers
- Gifts for live views, similar to YouTube Superchat
- TikTok ads
- Influencer platforms
- Shopping platforms
Create your own account
Learning how to use TikTok is easy. Here are the steps.
- Download the app. Go to your app store or Google Play and download the TikTok app.
- Sign up. When you first open the app, you will be on the TikTok homepage, which is called “For You.” Tap the “Me” tab on the lower right side of the screen. You will then be asked to enter your phone number, email, and any social media accounts you already have.
- Edit your profile. Next go to the “Edit Profile” section to update your username, bio, and profile picture. When doing this, make sure to be consistent with your brand.
- Film your first video. To begin recording, press the “+” button at the bottom of the screen to open the camera. Play around with it to get familiar with the self-timer, sound, recording speed, and filters. You can also add these in when you are finished recording. Press the big red button, and start creating!
- Edit your video. Once you have finished using the in-app tools to edit your video and get it the way you want, it is time to upload. Don’t worry too much about quality because TikTok is known for “real” raw video with all of its imperfections.
- Upload your video. When you are ready to upload the video, you simply hit “Post” and it will be live. You can also preschedule and plan video upload times for later, such as during peak times when your audience is typically watching.
- Connect with other creators. Now that you have the basics down, it is time to start liking and connecting with other creators to start growing your audience.
Video content ideas
Now the planning and setup are complete, and it is time to start creating engaging content. This can be the most challenging part of the process. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Repurpose content created for other platforms, like YouTube
- Repurpose writing and add sounds or actionable tips
- Give away your main idea of the piece and point them to more in-depth knowledge in the article or blog
- Give highlights of upcoming podcasts, articles, and blogs
- Share your opinion or do a short editorial piece
- Do an author challenge
- Share a single fact or piece of knowledge
TikTok can be lucrative for building your audience as much as any other social media platform. Now that you are familiar with writers on TikTok, you might want to check out YouTube for writers to see how these two platforms might be combined to increase your readers even more. As you can see, TikTok is more than about teens doing the Harlem Shake, it has some potential for free advertising that is easy to do.