Yeah, it’s one of those posts. I get that this is a vanity metric. By itself, it doesn’t mean much. But it’s a reflection of hard work. So, allow me to explain what I did to grow from nothing to 10,000 TikTok followers in a reasonably short period of time.
(NOTE: All while not selling my soul or worrying about trends).
I hit 10,000 TikTok followers today. Normally, I don’t make a big deal out of this stuff. But, this feels like quite an accomplishment given the dramatic shift I’ve made.
It would be safe to say that six months ago, this would have been laughable. I wasn’t active on TikTok, and I detested everything about it (and short-form video generally). But, by the end of September, I put my old man shoes away and realized that this was something I needed to do.
When I committed to it, I made a conscious decision to become the most followed account related to the topic of Facebook ads on TikTok. I’m obviously not there yet, but this is a nice milestone.
What I did was simple and complicated at the same time. It really comes down to two things…
Have questions about short-form videos? Ask my AI-powered bot!
Some Ads Early
The toughest part of getting started is publishing videos into the void. Maybe it was to give me a psychological boost or to make my profile look a bit more desirable in the early going, but I ran a low level of TikTok ads during the first couple of months.
From the time I committed to creating videos on TikTok in October through the middle of December, I collected 3,253 followers via ads. It was a nice foundation.
This was good and bad.
The bad: I tried really hard to target precisely to build my This is the group of people who can potentially see your ads. You help influence this by adjusting age, gender, location, detailed targeting (interests and behaviors), custom audiences, and more. More with relevant people. All indications are that this wasn’t successful. It was mostly numbers padding (the relevant followers would come organically).
The good: We can knock vanity metrics all we want, but it does mean something on TikTok if someone has a following. It surely helped convince some relevant people that I was worth following.
Did this lead to a significant spike in engagement during those first few months? Not really. But I do think that it helped me Reach measures the number of Accounts Center Accounts (formerly users) that saw your ads at least once. You can have one account reached with multiple impressions. More the next step.
A Dedicated Commitment to Create
Look, I could run ads forever on TikTok, but unless I was actually creating good content, it would not matter. I dedicated myself early.
I would create bad videos in the beginning, there was no avoiding that. But the goal was to get myself out of that phase as quickly as possible. I created 70 videos in October. It was a difficult, challenging, and inefficient month of video creation.
But it was worth it. I started to figure out my process. I found a workflow. Needs like software and lighting became clearer to me.
I dedicated myself to publishing at least one video per day in 2023. Truthfully, I missed very few days once I started in October, but I wanted to avoid any days off going forward.
I’ve kept to that commitment and I’ve published more than 260 videos on TikTok. Consistency, volume, and quality. More than anything else, I’d say that these were the keys to my growth.
What I Didn’t Do
I didn’t try to go viral. I didn’t worry about trends or popular sounds. Trust me, you’re going to hear a lot of advice around that stuff.
But it’s wrong.
If all you care about is being popular, sure. Chase that stuff. But you’re going to attract a very general, random audience. And that’s not how you build an engaged following around a specialty.
While I haven’t completely niched down on TikTok (I talk about Facebook ads, video creation, and entrepreneurship), it’s at least a similar category. I don’t want to attract randos who don’t care about any of these things.
The result: Engagement is growing with the audience size.
TikTok only offers analytics back 60 days, as far as I can tell. But even within the past two months, the improvement really jumps out.
Here’s the growth of my audience during that time…
Those spikes are when some videos took off. I have three recent videos that received more than 30,000 views (all organic).
Those three videos alone resulted in 2,942 new followers.
But it’s not just those three. Here’s a look at the trend of views during the past 60 days…
Even during the end of January, most days I’d receive very few views. But then something started to change. The floor raised.
Engagement is no longer focused on a few videos. I can now expect that my recent videos will almost always get at least 1,000 views. That was definitely not the case before.
If I were to push back just a few more days, it looks like this…
That doesn’t mean that this new engagement level will continue forever, but it’s certainly a good sign.
What you don’t see here is the truly difficult times. I recorded, edited, and published a video every day, knowing that it may not result in much impact at all.
These might be the most important times.
These are the times when people quit. And I totally understand why they do. But you have to push through.
This is why it’s so important to have some overarching reason and motivation for doing what you are doing. I knew that I did not have a choice. This is what I was going to do now. And once I committed to a video per day, excuses were meaningless.
If you want to grow your audience — whether it’s social media, website traffic, a podcast, or your email list — it’s important to have this sense of purpose. It’s nice to be reassured by the positive metrics. But you can’t let the lack of progress suck the energy out of you.
Making Light of It
I recorded this video today about reaching 10,000 followers. Check out the acting as I have a conversation with “someone else” (also me).
I’m ready to share everything I’ve learned so far. I created a 37-lesson training with details about my experience, workflow, equipment, software, and more — not just about TikTok, but about the short-form video format itself.
Have you gotten started on TikTok or short-form video yet? What do you think?
Let me know in the comments below!