By Sumer Sen
I spoke with Tejas Hullur (@tejashullur), a student content creator on TikTok with around 400K followers and 2M likes. Tejas’s content is mainly centered around the creator economy, with additional commentary on topics such as business and entrepreneurship.
After discovering a passion for storytelling through past film projects, Tejas joined TikTok and his first ever video was titled “Can You Still Build a Following On TikTok In August 2020?” After seeing this initial TikTok lead to a small group of followers, Tejas began to open Adobe Premiere Pro daily and film a story around his most well crafted thought of the day. As a student at Indiana University Bloomington, Tejas treated creating content as going to another class and used his platform to talk about the things that he is truly passionate about. This consistency over the past year on TikTok has helped Tejas generate millions of views, build his own community around the creator economy, and collaborate with brands such as Venmo and Index Ventures.
Tejas offered insight into the first steps of becoming a creator, growing on TikTok, what it takes to build a brand, why students should get involved, and the future of the creator economy.
A lot of new creators struggle with figuring out what type of content they want to start making. For Tejas, the answer here is simple: just ask yourself what you are truly passionate about and simply do what you enjoy, because you’ll end up finding a niche in it without having to dig deep or follow trends. What do you end up talking about with your friends during your free time? It doesn’t have to be educational. If it’s entertaining for you and you find yourself laughing at something, take a step back and look for patterns. Whether it’s your favorite map on Call of Duty or a new Kpop group, understand what you talk about naturally, and replicate it on TikTok.
Passion Leads to Authenticity:
Your TikTok content should be on topics you are passionate about, and if your passions change, it’s ok for your content to change as well. If you start posting about topics you are truly passionate about, your content becomes high quality due to authenticity. People can read through authenticity, and the only way to sustain TikTok growth is to create a brand around yourself. Tejas thinks that the most successful creators are the exact same people off-camera. When talking to Tejas, his passion for the creator economy shines through and it feels like talking to the same person I see on TikTok. In addition, when you are passionate about the type of content you make, coming up with new forms of content suddenly becomes easier! Think about what you would be researching anyway if there were no cameras on you and use those ideas for your next post.
Passion Also Leads to Consistency:
Creating content is hard, and it can take a lot out of you to spend an hour or more daily. You need consistency to grow a following and staying consistent isn’t possible without passion. For Tejas, the first thing he often thinks about after waking up is the creator economy, which makes grinding out content far more enjoyable. Back at school, some of Tejas’s friends saw the success he gained through startups/creator economy content and jumped on the trend as well. Ultimately, they weren’t able to take off since they couldn’t stay consistent due to the lack of inherent interest in the subject matter.
Why Staying Consistent Matters
All it takes is for one TikTok to blow up, but it takes time to perfect that one TikTok. Tejas has filmed over a hundred TikToks before a single video hit a million views. Tejas notes that slow and steady growth is better than viral spikes. If half your followers followed you from one video, automatically half of your following is expecting that same exact kind of content again, which limits you long term. The goal is to have people follow you because they like your brand as a whole. This is why TikTok accounts with millions of followers but poor engagement exists.
Choosing TikTok as Your Main Platform
As a new creator you are competing in the attention economy. As it stands, TikTok is probably the best platform right now for finding undervalued attention. Understand that there’s a ton of volatility and don’t let it get to your head. Tejas views TikTok as more of a game; it’s the only platform where you can have hundreds of thousands of views for only several thousand followers and vice versa. Tejas also thinks that TikTok is a great platform for building brand awareness, especially after they released 3 minute videos. If you can build a story on TikTok, you can build one anywhere.
Growing Your Following on TikTok
If you want to optimize your content, think about what TikTok wants. TikTok makes money through attention on their app, so inherently one of the most important metrics is average watch time. If your videos have a high average watch time, you will see that they typically are pushed out. With this in mind, if you create content with value and stay consistent, you’re on the right track to building a following.
Follow: A + B = C
A = Finding a cool idea that you really like and are passionate about
B = Writing your content in a way that is optimized for average watch time
C = A Great TikTok Post
Thoughts On Students as Content Creators:
It’s true that as a student, you probably have less time, money, and equipment than full time creators. On the flip side, understand that being a student automatically makes you a really relatable figure. There are millions of students around the world and many of them want to become creators. Joe Bartolozzi (@joe.bartolozzi) is a great example of someone who can crank out tons of TikTok’s in just an hour. It works because Joe is incredibly relatable, which makes his content funny.
The Benefits of Building a Personal Brand
A personal brand gives you leverage. If you can grow a following, that shows you have something special. Regardless of following size, it also shows relentlessness because building a personal brand is a hard job. With the brand Tejas has built on TikTok, he’s been able to meet incredible people, do what he loves, and even recently got offered a high paying job from the CEO of a company (without a college degree!). Tejas mentioned that if you are serious about building for tomorrow and not today the work required in building a personal brand is all worth it.
Where the Future of Content and Community is Headed:
Everyone in the world is going to be involved in the creator economy at some point, because every non-creative (routine) job in the world will be taken over by technology. Ultimately, the only jobs left in the world will be creative ones. While that sounds bad, long term that’s great for humanity as humans should be critical thinkers. Of course, the creator economy isn’t limited to Youtubers and writers. Jobs that require creative thinking such as software development and strategy are joining to be more meaningful and fun. Right now there aren’t a lot of eyes on the creator economy. Tejas is building in this space right now so he can be a leader in the future.
All the advice and tips that Tejas provided on best ways to build a brand can be done through the Jemi platform! Creatives such as Nina Sung, DJ Ramen, and CuteC3 are all using Jemi to build their personal brands!
If you’re interested in more tips or creator highlights, feel free to check out our blog where we post more informational articles on how to earn money as a creator!
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions specific to the Jemi platform.