Noah is a Tiktok sensation with 1.8 million followers. He earns a full-time income, and he's only 17 years old. But don't let his age fool you. Noah may be young, but as he says, he's used it as his unfair advantage to grow online and grow a business.
In today's episode, we spoke to Noah about how to create engaging short-form content, how to overcome impostor syndrome, and how to build necessary skills like negotiating to unlock your value as a creator and build a business.
00:00 Akta: Today's episode is brought to you by Riverside. We've been using Riverside to record all of our conversations with our creator guests remotely. Remote recordings can be really stressful if you or your guests don't have the best internet connection. But riverside is able to keep high-quality video and audio no matter what your wifi is like thanks to its local recordings. This has made the whole process stress-free and more fun. If you want a high-quality recording studio at your fingertips, visit the link in the show notes and use the code passionfruit2022 to get 15 off any Riverside membership plan.
And now, let's get back on air with our creators!
00:39 Noah: It doesn't matter if you've got, you know, a really high-class master's degree or you haven't even done your GCSEs yet. It doesn't matter because what matters is that you're just one step ahead. You have that little bit of knowledge.
01:01 Akta: Noah is a TikTok creator with 1.8 million followers. He's earning a full-time income, and he's still in school.
Hey, I'm Akta. And in today's episode of Creators on Air, we speak to Noah about his strategy to grow online and build his business.
01:15 Noah: I've been creating on TikTok for just over two years now. Uh, I started back in 2020, and I got into TikTok, uh, when it was, you know, in the middle of lockdown.
And I was just trying out different side hustles because back then I literally—I was in, I was in like overdraft in my bank account. So I needed to start making some money. I was getting into sort of the money-making scene. And then I decided to document that on TikTok. I'd always been creating videos for a while, creating videos on YouTube, kind of just for fun, just cuz I always enjoyed creating videos.
Um, but then I think my third TikTok video got a thousand views in an hour, and that's when it clicked for me. The power of short-form content is crazy, especially like when you can get views in such a short amount of time. And, uh, yeah, I kept on going from there. Long story short, I figured out what works, how to grow your following, what works to make a short-form content video really blow up.
And, um, within about a year, um, just over a year, maybe I managed to get a million followers on TikTok. There were some days I grew like a hundred thousand followers in a day. Um, and now I've got to a point where I'm 17, I'm still in college, but I'm, you know, making—we'll talk about it later—but I'm literally making a full-time income already.
Uh, so I'm really happy. And you know, it's what I've always wanted to do. Be a creator on social media.
02:41 Akta: So I'd love to know what you actually learned about short-form content and how to make it kind of go viral.
02:47 Noah: Yeah. So with regards to short-form content, uh, the key is, for me, I find, you know—I'm in a niche where I educate people. And you can be in a niche where, you know, you make comedy videos, uh, or skits. But for me, it's teaching what school doesn't. So that's stuff to do with money. Finance, investing, and general tips to get ahead in life.
And I have to merge two things. I have to keep it both entertaining and informative. I've gotta give loads of information as well. And the way you need to do that is by including as much information as you can in a short amount of time as possible. You want to get just the most important bits and put them into the video, but do it in a fun engaging way.
Now, there are a few ways to really target your video to make sure you get the best reach. Firstly, you've gotta cut out anything that isn't interesting. When people load up a TikTok video, you've literally got two seconds to engage them. Otherwise, they're just gonna scroll. You've gotta make your video different. You've gotta get a really good hook and hook them in. Then you've gotta take them on a journey that keeps them engaged. So don't let there be a second of silence. Make it fun, active, engaging.
It's different to a YouTube video in the sense that you've got longer in a YouTube video, you can, you know, take the audience from more of a journey here. You've gotta be more engaged, more, you know, high energy. And to be honest, most of my videos are only 20 to 30 seconds cuz that's the sweet spot. That's how you get, you know, the best watch time on TikTok. Um, So really, the skill is just including as much as you can in a short amount of time as possible.
So I'll create a script. Uh, often I'll do kind of like skits, so I'll have one person talking and then another person talking. I'll write out a script for that. And then I'll see how much can I shorten this down by only include the essential information.
If you were to start a TikTok saying, “Hey guys, it's Noah here. So in today's video, we're gonna be talking about...” Instantly, you've just ruined your video. You need to get straight into the action. Instantly present a problem, then go into, you know, a bit of resolution, maybe a bit of comedy. And then at the end, give the answer, give something that people have been waiting that whole video to find out.
Plus, if you can make it so people will watch the video, again and again, you're gonna do really well. A way to do that could be adding different Easter eggs in—I call them Easter eggs because these are things that you put in your video that make people stop and stare, and they think, “Oh, what's going on?”
So you'll see in a lot of my videos, I might have, uh, one of my characters that I do in my skits, reading a really random book. For example, um, I've had one of my characters read a Peppa Pig book. It's really random. It's out of the ordinary. But it makes people comment, which as well is really important for the algorithm. If you get the comments, it's gonna drive up your videos engagement.
Um, but yeah, it makes people watch again, thinking, “Wait, what did I just see?” Uh, so little things like that, you know, little wigs, little, um, fun things that you do in your videos can make people watch for longer.
Um, but at the end of the day, you know, it's all about “Do people watch the video the whole way through?” Um, and would someone stop and, you know, watch the video for the whole time? If you can do, you're gonna be on a winner.
05:57 Akta: Well, I love how structured you are, even with TikToks. I don't know why—I've never really thought of TikTok as being something that you script and plan. What do you think makes a good hook for people to want to not scroll to the next video?
06:09 Noah: Oh, what makes a good hook? Um, Keeping it simple but engaging.
Um, so, for example, in a lot of my videos, there'll be conversations, and I'll start it like mid-conversation. Um, like, you know, I—I won't, I won't say how to get a job as a teenager. I might start it saying, “Dad, I've got no money. I need a job.” Or, you know, I might not say, “This is how you make money as a teenager.” I'd go, um, “I've just ran outta money. What am I gonna do?”
Instantly I've just put someone into a conversation. And when you make it a conversational style video—Now, not all my videos anymore are conversational. Back in the—back in the early days, all of them are conversation videos because, you know, it makes people feel like they're eavesdropping in on a conversation when you do a kind of conversation video.
And if you don't know if listeners listening now don't understand conversation videos, uh, look up the videos by Mark Tilbury on TikTok. He was the kind of the first guy to really get into it. Um, @humphreytalks and my channel as well. NoraExplorer on TikTok, and you'll see what these conversation videos are like.
Um, but as well, you know, you can do a good hook just with—with a normal video. Um, so, you know, I—for example, I did a video recently about vaping and the health risks associated with it and when you're legally allowed to vape. And, uh, I started the video by shoving a vape in front of the camera and, uh, saying, uh, “Vaping, everyone at school seems to be doing it.” Instantly you're thinking, “Okay, what—what's he gonna say about vaping?” And then I go, “But what age can you legally vape?”
Um, you know, that high-energy introduction is really gonna get people going. Um, so you've just gotta be enthusiastic. You've gotta make it fun, uh, and really present a problem. Present—present something at the start that people wanna find a solution to.
Uh, if you can create that problem early on in the video, they're gonna wanna stay to the solution.
08:06 Akta: Yeah, definitely. That sounds great. And you've already got so much energy, even just talking to you now, I can feel your energy coming through this screen.
I find it really interesting that your whole kind of like tagline is “what school doesn't teach you,” yet you're 17 years old. Like, that's crazy to me. How have you learned so much outside of school and like, how do you feel talking to people who are your age about things like this?
08:27 Noah: Yeah. So with regards to social media, the key is you just need to be one step ahead. If you show that willingness to learn, it doesn't matter if you've got, you know, a really high-class master's degree or you haven't even done your GCSEs yet. It doesn't matter because what matters is that you're just one step ahead. You have that little bit of knowledge.
And if you're constantly educating yourself, stuff in society is always changing. And, you know, often nowadays it goes back to the—to the old saying that “the youth actually know quite a lot, that older people don't know anymore.” And it's come to kind of part of my job now where I teach older people in businesses how to do TikTok. I consult. I make videos for them because they're going to the younger generation now at their expertise.
Um, but the key is, you know, don't—don't let the fact that you're not an expert holds you back. Because, really, I'm not the ex—I'm not an expert with money, but I have educated myself. I have looked into it.
There are tons of people on TikTok that know way more about—about money. They’re financial advisors. All of my stuff—none of it's financial advice—is just suggestions, tips, hints.
Um, but—but really, yeah, I know, I know enough about the algorithm. That means, you know, I'm able to do 10 times better than someone that might have 10 times more knowledge than me. The key is being able to understand the algorithm. I present stuff, uh, to your target audience in a way that will appeal to them. And I think, you know, a lot of the stuff that I talk about as well is ways to get ahead in life. And some of that stuff is aimed towards younger people.
I might talk about, you know, “When can you legally vape?” All right. That's one that people wanna know, but what are the health risks involved with vaping? Or when can you get a car? How do you get a car? People sometimes do prefer to hear it from someone who's their own age who can relate to them.
Um, always think about with social media, what—everyone has a USP, a unique selling point, that can make them different. For example, uh, I'm friends with a guy called Mark Tilbury. He's got like 7 million followers on TikTok. Uh, and he's yeah, he's killing it, right. His USP is the fact that he's a—he's an older guy. He's like nearly 60 probably. And, um, for him, it's his expertise. He's—he's been in the game for a long time now. Um, so that's his USP. It makes people stop.
For me, it's that I'm young. So I play that to my advantage. Everyone has—has, you know, an unfair advantage. That's what you call it. Use your unfair advantage. Get out there and present your unfair advantage on social.
11:01 Akta: No, I love that. I love how you've made your age your unfair advantage. And it just goes to show how accessible social media is for everyone as well, and how you can overcome imposter syndrome to do amazing things. I'm really interested. What was the reaction of your friends, your teachers, and even your parents of you blowing up on—on TikTok?
11:21 Noah: Yeah. So, uh, it's been—it's been interesting in the fact that my parents at first when I started creating TikTok, I don't really know what they thought. Um, especially when I hadn't really had much success, uh, you know, they themselves, um, are not really entrepreneurs in the way that I'm an entrepreneur.
For me, my social media is like a business for me. Um, you know, as much as I enjoy it, it's a business. The best thing is it's a business that I enjoy. And I think they saw that, you know, I was doing something that, you know, it fulfills me. Even if I didn't make money through social media, I'd probably still be making videos cuz that's what I've done from an early age, and I've continued to do all my life.
Um, I think when I started actually making money from it, they began to take it more seriously, like a career. Before I actually had the results, I don't think they really took it more as a career. They saw it more as a side thing that I did. Um, but soon as like proper opportunities came out from it, they realized times are changing now.
The jobs that exist today will be completely different in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, time jobs—jobs of tomorrow do not exist today. And you know, the world is changing so much now. Um, we'll probably get into it later, but my plan isn't to go to university now. It’s to continue doing what I'm doing. Um, I've got a longer-term game plan.
Um, so once I started making money, I think that's when they realized, you know, maybe I'm not the type of guy that—that—that uni would be suited for. It's actually time for me to just go out into the world and do what I do.
13:00 Akta: Absolutely. I've got so many of opportunities to take, grab hold of, like right now. Let's talk about money since you've already brought it up. At what point were you starting to make money on TikTok?
13:00 Noah: Um, literally straight away. Uh, anyone can really make money straight away on TikTok. Um, you know, when you don't—when you're not, uh, able to get the brand deals straight away, uh, look into different affiliate marketing things.
I started with a company called Curve Card. Uh, it was a card that I'd been using for a while. And I noticed on the app they had affiliate thing where for every person I got to have get a Curve Card, they got five pounds for free, and I got five pounds for free. So I signed up some people from a video. I think in total, I probably made like 500 pounds. And at the time, I was maybe 15 or 16.Uh, for me, that was crazy money. Um, it was—it was awesome. On the app, I just kept on getting referrals every day from, you know, one or two videos that I made that paid me for a very, very long time after and just passive income, um, because the videos did well.
So really, it's all early on. You can just do things through affiliates. I did get a brand deal probably when I was on about 2000, um, followers, but it was only, I think I got about 20 pounds from it. So, you know, now it's a diff—completely different game. But I was glad I took it because, you know, I learned—I learned—I learned from it. And, but yeah, early on, it was like pocket money here and there. I never really did it to make money. I did it cuz I enjoyed it. Um, and I saw the reach I was getting.
Um, but yeah, so that's when I started making money, but then I think the real money came in when I actually, uh, “blew up.” There was a, like a month where my following went from about maybe 50,000 followers to couple hundred thousand. And that's when brands started reaching out.Um, and even—even when I got to a—a million followers, the thought in my mind wasn't, “Oh, I'm gonna make a ton of money.” The thought was, “Oh, this is great. I've made—I've got a million followers.” I didn't—I didn't expect that when you get to a certain level, brands are just gonna reach out to you.
Um, but again, there are so many opportunities, particularly with short-form content now. People and brands do sometimes like having the smaller creator make videos for them, especially with something called user-generator content, which is a way that anyone can get into making short-form videos.
User-generated content is where, you know, you can go to a shop, pick an item off the shelf and make a video with it. You can send that to the company and say, “Hey, I made this video about your product. Would you like to buy the licensing from me? You can run that as a social media ad.”
And, um, you know, if you do it to enough companies and you build up a portfolio, build up a media kit. Even before you've got a substantial following of a couple hundred thousand followers, you know, you can still be making a good amount through just user-generated content. Uh, I do do use user-generator content now. Um, that is really where I'll create a video for a brand, and they'll use that through their advertising on their own social media page, but it won't go onto my page. Um, and that's another great way to make money before you've even done anything like that.
Um, so there—there's so many ways. If you put your mind to it, you will be able to make ways, and just don't be afraid to email companies. Some of my biggest deals I've landed have been just through emailing a company, being consistent with it. Um, there's money out there to be made, and the amount of money now that they're investing into the creative economy, particularly companies, uh, with substantial marketing budgets, is crazy. There's not a lot of guidance around how much to price short-form content. So some companies will rip you off, but some companies have absolute budget to spend.
16:36 Akta: Would you be happy sharing exact figures? So especially comparing sponsored ads to user-generated videos, like what are the different amounts that you're charging brands?
16:45 Noah: So when you charge brands, you have to consider many factors. Early on, I very much underpriced my content. Um, but then again, you know, you build up the repertoire of different companies you've worked with.
And essentially, what I'm doing is I'm getting the results. I'm getting them views, I'm getting them signups. And, um, there's many things that they're buying off you. It could be the exclusivity. “Oh, you're only gonna talk about this stock, app or this bank, and you're not allowed to talk about any others.”
That's very expensive because the exclusivity, you know, that limits you. So you've gotta like really, really believe with it in this company, uh, before you do anything like that. So that's kind of like one thing to consider.
And then you wanted to think about advertising rights. So they're gonna put this as a paid ad on their own platform. Um, are they just gonna want this just on my page?
So those are the things that I consider when it comes to that. Um, and yeah, so the—the—the money through brand deals has been pr—pretty good, to be fair. Um, I—I—I can't complain like every month is different when it comes to—to making money through brand deals, which is the main way that I make money. Um, but I do do affiliate as well. And you know, that still earns me a good amount too. Um, but you know, every month is different, so yeah.
18:03 Akta: So what's been like a recent high-paying month for you and like, what's that consisted of
18:09 Noah: Uh, it's interesting. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So some months, uh, and this is just what it's like when you're self-employed, and you're a content creator, uh, I will literally make no money, like genuinely no money.
Yeah. Every month, every month is different. Um, because it's just the way things work. And you'll find a lot of companies, you don't realize this, but they actually take like two months to pay after the video's launched. And even then, companies are so late at paying.
Um, so, you know, I might secure a load of brand deal one month. But I not—might not actually get paid till three months later because it might take, you know, it depends on the company. Some companies I work with will pay me even before I've done the video. Some will pay me three months after cuz it's a month to get it out because they're really picky about what goes in the video. Then once that video's out, then they're gonna pay me two months after that.
Uh, so it really varies. Um, and I can never quite predict how a month's gonna go. I've had five-figure months, and I've had months probably where I've lost money. You know, I'm investing in gear, I'm investing in stuff on my business, and I'm not making as much money. The key is I've still got those big months to support me.
Um, but overall I'm in—I'm in the plus. I'm—I'm—I'm making money. But it—it is the thing to consider like, you know, some months you won't make it any money. Some months you're gonna make loads of money. Um, but I do try and supplement the months when I don't have, you know, as much of the brand deal money coming in, even though I've got them in the works where I'll put out a few affiliate things.
Um, and it's always nice to have those affiliate things that I can go back to. Um, I work with a few companies, uh, on affiliate deals, uh, and I'm working on more in the future. Um, some such as, you know, the classics. You've got your Audibles, uh, or Amazon stuff, uh, but as well, uh, Morning Brew. It's a newsletter, which you can sign up to all about business. So that's one that I promote as well. I believe in it. I read it every day, and, uh, they pay per email that you can give them.
20:08 Akta: Amazing. And so you're suddenly earning loads of money for a 17-year-old. How did you navigate kind of the business and financial aspects of being a creator, considering you've never done anything like this before? How have you suddenly like, learned how to do all of these things?
20:20 Noah: Well, I think really life is about putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Um, you know, I never really thought, “Oh, how am I gonna manage all this?”
Um, and even with everything with emails, with managing money, you've just gotta go—go in with these things, like pretend, you know what you're doing. You probably don't.
Um, I'd say just for anyone just when—when you start making money, put money aside, um, cuz you need money for taxes. Try and get an accountant or something like that. Um, and uh, start reinvesting a lot of your money back into your business. I found that worked very well with TikTok. I recently just got this new setup. Uh, it was a big financial cost, but you know, I feel like the—the—the outcome of that is 10 times greater, if not more.
Um, so yeah, put money away. Um, I'd say earlier on you wanna be reinvesting. Get your—get your content kind of to a level where you're happy. So now I've got this nice setup. I'm happy. And then you can start, you know, putting your income in different places as well. Like I could go into budgeting cuz it's what I talk about a lot. You know, you need an emergency fund, uh, and all stuff like that.
But also just have some money aside just cuz you know, you know, like me, I might go two months without making any money. So don't—don't go and spend it all crazy. Um, you've gotta—like particularly early on when I wasn't earning too much money, I'd like spend a load of it and, and not have much money left at the end of the month. That was like very early on. Now it's fine. Um, But yeah, you learn, you learn.
21:53 Akta: No, that's smart. And what about negotiating? How have you—
21:56 Noah: I'm still learning.
Akta: —You're still learning, but are you quite confident with negotiating with brands or is it something you've had to get more confident about doing?
22:05 Noah: Yeah. Negotiating with brands is crazy because some brands have loads of money, but they never tell you that. And, uh, unless you really push back, um, they're not gonna—they're not gonna give you that money. Um, so the—the key is with negotiating, ask for a price that you are uncomfortable with asking. If you're not asking for the price that you're uncomfortable with asking, then you're not asking for enough.
Uh, time and time again, creators will devalue what they're worth. Never devalue what you're worth, always try and charge more than you think you can get. Cuz a lot of the time, particularly early on, I didn't know how much I could get. And, um, particularly when I consider—
You know, I work with a lot of financial companies, and for a financial company, one person signed up to their service is often worth around, increases their company worth by around a thousand dollars or $500 between that mark. So, you know, if—if I'm getting, let's say I have a really good video and it gets a thousand signups, that's a hundred thousand dollars potentially they've increased their net worth buys. So, you know, you can do the maths and think actually it is, you know, it is actually quite powerful. The form of the—the—the way that you can do marketing on TikTok.
And I've got a mate. He made a video talking about a company, and he wasn't even sponsored. And, uh, this video went mega mega viral. The company that night, when the video came out, saw the amount of signups they got, which was unprecedented. It increased it by mul—the whole company's net worth by multiple millions. And that was from one TikTok video. So the potential that you can do with TikTok is, is crazy.
23:46 Akta: That's insane. I can't believe that. You guys are just killing TikTok. I need to go into TikTok ASAP. That's amazing.
What other business advice would you give to other creators starting out? Do you think that you should start off as a creator with a strategy in mind? Or do you think that should come if you are only seeing the numbers?
24:04 Noah: Um, the—the key is, um, you need to make this sustainable. So talk about something that you really, really are passionate about. If it's not sustainable, you're gonna run out of momentum and then eventually quit.
Uh, so before you even make money, think how can I give value? How can this be a sustainable business? For me, um, because you know, you are—you are having fun, you're making videos, but it kind of might turn into a business if it goes well.
Um, so, but don't—don't overthink it, to be honest, just start creating content. Um, I didn't really think about the money at first. I just thought about, “Let's make some videos. Let's see how it goes from there.”
Um, you know, if you create good content, the money will come, but I think it's about the—if you can really do this, if you can be consistent, not worry too much about views, the money will come because if you're providing value. That's—that's what matters, the—the engagement between you and your following.
25:00 Akta: No, that's great advice. And speaking of sustainability, how are you making sure that you are gonna be in this the long-term game? What are your future plans? What are you planning to do with your content?
25:10 Noah: So, um, I think the more social media platforms you can diversify to, the more secure you'll be. Um, I'm quite aware that it's possible at any time, my TikTok or my Instagram could get banned. It happens to creators all the time. So you—um, luckily, I've now managed to build my Instagram up to a level where I'm happy with it.
Uh, and it's now got a bit more of a substantial following than it did have. I was on like 5,000 followers for a while. Um, but now I saw over a hundred thousand, which is better.
Uh, so that kind of secures it a bit more. Um, as well, just having, having the network of—of different brands that you can work with. So, you know, I've got brands that I work on user-generator content with. Let's say my TikTok gets banned. I can just go to them and make videos directly for them while I build up my following again. Could—could work.
Um, but with regards to my longer-term plans, I'm the type of guy that likes to not talk about what I'm gonna do and just do it. Um, but you know, because I'm on this podcast, I will say I'm—I'm looking to—well, I'm in the process of—of doing it properly and getting into the—to—to the different game of content completely with longer-form content, longer form videos. Hence why I've got this property set up.
Um, and yeah, I've—I've gone into, to business with a few things. Uh, you know, I—I don't wanna talk too much, but I'm the type of guy that can't sit still.
So for me, it's—it's a natural progression of—I've got the TikTok going now. While—while that's running and it's doing well, I'm gonna move somewhere else and—and expand off it. Because TikTok, for me, is more of a networking tool than anything else. It's infinitely more valuable for networking than—than the money I get from it. And through relationships with people, you can start making even more money. And—and the new stuff that I'm setting up is with new people, uh, that I've met exclusively through TikTok. Um, so just keep an eye on my page, guys. That's—that's all I'll say.
27:12 Akta: Yeah, definitely. And we'll link all of your pages in the show notes and everything, but that's really exciting. And I can't wait to see what you're gonna get up to and who with us as well.Um, so we'll wrap up this podcast with a quickfire around where I'll just ask you five quick questions, and you just have to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
So what's your favorite thing about being a creator?
27:30 Noah: The freedom, because you can do whatever you want, work whenever you want. And, uh, you know, you work on your own schedule.
27:38 Akta: And what's your favorite tool to help you get things done?
27:41 Noah: My favorite tool is probably Notion.
27:44 Akta: Yeah, mine too. And what's one thing that gives you the most inspiration for your own content?
27:50 Noah: Definitely reading and watching other videos.
27:55 Akta: Nice. And one thing that helps with your work-creator-life balance?
27:59 Noah: Just taking time off. You've just gotta chill, um, and have routines where you don't get sucked in all the time to your work.
28:08 Akta: Yeah, absolutely. And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to other creators?
28:12 Noah: Try to be as consistent as you can. I need to work on it myself, being more consistent. And, uh, think about what value can you bring and how can you bring it in the best way that's gonna reach the most amount of people.
28:25 Akta: Amazing. This has been so insightful, Noah. Thank you so much for coming on. I—I know you probably get this all the time, but I can't believe you're 17 years old. It's just crazy. It's making me feel so behind. I need to watch more of your videos and learn what's school didn't teach me.
28:40 Noah: I appreciate it so much. Thank you for inviting me on it's. It's been a pleasure.
28:44 Akta: Noah really shows that you don't have to be an expert to grow online. You just have to use your unfair advantage. You can find Noah on TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter, where he shares what school doesn't teach you.
If you are a creator trying to move your business forward, check us out @GetPassionfroot on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or subscribe to our weekly newsletter Filtered Fridays. Stay passionate, and I'll see you in the next one.