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How this financial feminist turned a TikTok into 100k email subscribers

Ready for the ultimate behind-the-scenes look into success on TikTok? Today’s podcast guest turned a single TikTok video into 100,000 email subscribers, and she’s sharing her secrets on today’s episode. Tori Dunlap is a financial expert and the author of the New York Times Bestselling book Financial Feminist. She’s an incredible creator and we’re so excited for you to learn from her success.

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Why a large TikTok following is only the tip of the success iceberg

It’s easy to look at successful entrepreneurs and think, “if I had a large following like theirs, I’d finally be successful.” This way of thinking is a myth and traps you into believing that you can’t grow your following by selling your products or services. 

There is no such thing as overnight success. The right way to grow a successful business is to serve before you sell. You have to put in the time providing value for the community to build trust before you sell them your products and services.

Part of providing services is understanding your value proposition and what makes you different from your competitors. Additionally, cultivating your unique brand and voice is a crucial process to set yourself apart.

You need systems to grow your business

Many online creators believe that virality will help build their success. We have news for you though: Going viral is not the key to success. The only way to take advantage of viral content is by building systems and strategies that will support your growth. 

Social media platforms are “borrowed land” that independent business owners lease but do not own. The rules on social media can change at any point. The algorithm can change, eliminating your reach. The stock price of a platform can tank. You can get banned for no reason. The list goes on and on.

If you want to really set your business up for success, you need to build a strong foundation outside of social media. Your social media audience could disappear tomorrow, so it’s vital that you diversify where your audience is and how they interact with you.

The first place to start is with a client journey. From how your audience discovers you to where you want to drive them and what system have you set up to ensure that action. 

For example, the goal of a TikTok video could be to get viewers to sign up for your email list. You have to create content that guides them to take that action and make it easily accessible to do so. In this scenario, by building an email list, you’re turning your cold audience into a warmer audience while also guiding them to a platform you can control a little more. 

Tori’s viral TikTok got her 100,000 email subscribers

In 2021, Tori created a TikTok about retiring with over $6 million. She spent 15 minutes filming and editing the TikTok, but she made sure that she added a ton of value to the content with a smart, engaging lead capture tool: In her caption, she linked her viewers to a free quiz for personalized resources. 

For months before posting this TikTok, Tori and her team built a Money Personality Quiz as a lead generator. All she asked for in exchange for the quiz was an email address so that she could send her audience resources based on the results of the quiz.

The video went viral and gained four million views in the first week, and top news sites were contacting Tori for interviews. However, the best outcome of the video was that Tori gained 100,000 email subscribers in one week. Two years later, that same TikTok and the free quiz are still bringing leads to Tori’s business.

How to watch and learn from the people you admire

Tori got the idea to do a free quiz from Jenna Kutcher, who she had admired and followed for a long time. If you pay close attention to the people you admire, you can start to understand their strategy. Then, you can conceptualize what they are doing for their business and make it your own. 

You can use your experience as a user and audience member to source inspiration for your business. For example, Tori attended several free webinars before she launched her own, and her learnings have now become a powerful part of her own webinars.

Think about the content that connects with you and ask yourself why you liked it. How did the content creator gain your trust? How did interacting with their content add value to your life? From there, you can iterate on what they did to gain your interest and trust. Ask yourself how your clients can connect with you and how you can gain their trust. 

Money myths that independent business owners need to debunk

  1. Talking about money is taboo and impolite. This myth is meant to keep you underpaid and overworked. Talking about money makes the world more equitable, especially in the workplace. 
  2. The reason you can’t build wealth is because you are a frivolous spender. “Frivolous” is an extremely gendered world because it usually refers to things like lattes, manicures, and handbags. Buying a coffee is not the reason you can’t afford a house, so we need to erase the concept of the frivolous spender.
  3. I will be rich if I just work hard. There are many things that have a much bigger impact on how much you make than how hard you work, and this myth gaslights you into thinking you aren’t doing enough.
  4. As a woman, you have to shrink down to have financial success. The truth is that you can only cut costs so much, but you have infinite earning potential. There is no shame in being successful and making money.

What differentiates the businesses that succeed from the ones that fail

Business owners that succeed have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to be controversial. As Tori says, “trying to be everything to everybody makes you nothing to nobody.” Businesses that succeed are clear on who they are trying to reach and focus on that target demographic instead of trying to please everyone.

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [2:51] The myth of a large following
  • [7:47] Systems you need to have to grow your business
  • [11:41] The TikTok that got Tori 100,000 email subscribers 
  • [20:09] Learning by watching people you admire
  • [28:33] Money myths for independent business owners
  • [39:07] What differentiates the businesses that success from the ones that fail

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