All of the authors on TikTok kept telling me BookTok was a thing I should care about. And I believed them; I just didn’t know if I cared enough to get over my fear of video.
Here’s some background: I’ve worked professionally in social media since 2008. I’ve been an early adopter of all new platforms, trying out things like Google+ and other failed social platform experiments. TikTok was different, though. It scared me. It made me feel about a thousand years old. I had no doubts about my technical capabilities, but the content, the users… it was oddly intimidating for me. Instagram was my happy place.
Last month, I decided to try it. I started making some videos. And holy cow. It was nothing like starting a new Instagram brand, a new Facebook page, or a new Twitter account. Here are the things that surprised me a bit about authors on TikTok.
The FYP (For You Page) is the primary way people scroll TikTok, similar to your feed on Insta. This means that you don’t necessarily have to have a million followers to get people to see your videos. If you hashtag well and get good engagement, your video will pop up in other people’s feeds. My first video got like 600 views, and I had less than 100 followers at the time. It helps you stay motivated, I think.
As an author, there were so many people there waiting to embrace other authors on TikTok. I was kind of blown away, honestly. It took me a year to grow my Instagram account to 2k. In 2 weeks, I broke 1k followers on TikTok, and it was a LOT less work.
The content was not as scary as I thought
Video, in general, scares me. I have to put on make up and brush my hair and generally not look like a troll for a few minutes. Which, as a WAHM with a 1 and 4 year old and a whole bunch of animals, is a challenge. Once I got going, though, it wasn’t so bad! And I learned that sometimes the off the cuff thoughts I had that I captured on video were some of my highest viewed videos.
Here are some tips
Okay, but HOOOW? I can hear you. Seriously. This was me. So much of this is personal. You have to know yourself and what your brand is, and that will inform what kind of content you want to focus on. For me, I know myself. I know that I function best when I’m authentically me. I’m very ADHD, I thrive in chaos, and I tend to stress people out. It often results in funny stories others can also relate to.
So I tell them! It’s that easy and that hard.
Here are some actual, concrete things you can do:
- Don’t get in your head. This is a hard one. I spent literal months working myself up, wondering if anyone would actually care what I had to say. Am I too old? I’m not funny enough. I’m not pretty enough. Whatever it is, the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Be you. Be real. You can do it. Start small – you don’t have to do a 3 minute DIY video with multiple angles.
- Use the right hashtags. I’m assuming you’re reading this because you’re a writer and you want use TikTok to join the writing community, but this applies to whichever community you want to be a part of: Use the hashtags appropriately! You want to make sure you’re reaching the right people with your content. So build a bank, save it in your phone, and copy it. I tend to use #writertok #authortok and other similar tags a lot. But if I’m posting ADHD content or mom content or plants (I have a problem) I use a different set. Because authors may not care about my plants. But #planttok does. See what I mean?
- Take advantage of TikTok’s features. There is so much you can do with editing in platform! You don’t have to be an expert. Save sounds from other videos that you like, edit clips, add text, do anything else you want to do in the platform.
- Don’t stress about followers. They do not matter nearly as much as they do on other platforms. I know, it sounds strange. But content goes viral for people with small numbers of followers all the time (Thanks FYP!) Focus on creating content that resonates. If you do that, the views will come.
- Consistency matters. Like, a lot. Don’t post and then go weeks without posting, Try to get one up a day, or at least 3-4 a week minimum. If you disappear, it will hurt your reach.
- Read this guide. It’s insane and has information on basically anything you may need to know about discovering, creating, and posting on TikTok.
Have fun with it!
The most important part is that you’re enjoying it. Nothing is mandatory if you’re an author. You have to choose which marketing platforms fit your personality best and play to your strengths. You don’t have to be one of the thousands of authors on TikTok. But you may just love it.