After building up a following of 5 million on TikTok, Ryan Shakes suddenly stopped posting. But, he didn’t sabotage his own success. Instead, Ryan’s hiatus was part of a new business strategy designed to make as much money from the app as possible.
Based in Florida, the 18-year-old has been on TikTok since 2016, when it was called Musical.ly, and quickly became one of the biggest names on the app – without joining a creator collective.
It’s easy to believe that just by getting lots of followers on TikTok alone, you’ll make huge amounts of money. The app’s live feature allows you to take donations from enthusiastic viewers – Ryan told Dexerto that he made more than $100,000 in one year from live donations alone.
After taking part in an exclusive interview with Dexerto, Ryan revealed some of his top tips for creating a TikTok empire.
1 – Grow your followers
Ryan says that the “secret sauce” to gaining followers quickly on TikTok is to get involved in as many trends as possible or popular songs. He told us: “You just go on the For You page refreshing and scrolling through one or two times and find something that you want to recreate.”
Ryan and his younger sister Zayla will often recreate popular TikTok dances together.
@itsryanshakesya mon ? @zaylashakes @itzryanshakes ##fyp ##foryou ##viral ##jamaican ##jamaica♬ original sound – itsryanshakes
Also, he noted to make original content that other people could easily copy. Ryan was the originator of the air freshener trend where he’d spray the bottle in time to a popular song on TikTok at the time.
2 – Make merchandise
Top influencers including Addison Rae, Bryce Hall, and the Lopez Brothers have all jumped on the merch bandwagon alongside collectives such as the Hype House and YouTube’s Team 10 – and for good reason.
Making sales from Merchandise is extremely easy for the app’s biggest stars, but influencers with fewer followers than Addison Rae and Charli D’Amelio shouldn’t be perturbed, because merchandise goes a long way.
@itsryanshakesPOV: He catches you staring at him in class while talking to his friends♬ You got it girl – jordanaudiož
Ryan has created a brand under “Shakey Fam” named after his followers says that it is “passive income” as opposed to something like a brand deal where you need to work out how to seemingly include the product in your content. Within the first month of the site’s operation, Shakeyfam.com racked up over $125,000 in sales.
3 – Educate yourself
Ryan’s new merchandise shop “Shakey fam” is his second attempt at selling branded items in his own name. He says: “I wish somebody sat down with me and talk to me about how to form your own business.”
The first time around, Ryan hired someone to help him design and sell his product and says that the first batch of products was sold without his logo on them accidentally. “He just wanted a quick buck off of me,” Ryan said, revealing that this person took 40% of the profit.
@itsryanshakes15 seconds to get whatever I want ? @zaylashakes @itzryanshakes♬ original sound – itsryanshakes
4 – Don’t compare yourself to other creators
Trends are easy to copy, but it’s also important to find your own voice and originality on the app. Even if someone else is quickly gaining thousands of followers, it doesn’t mean you don’t have great content, Ryan says.
“When you compare yourself to somebody else, you’re only just lowering yourself… you can look up to them and set goals because essentially you can have anything you want.”
With these strategies, Ryan amassed 5 million followers and successfully turned his account into a business opportunity. Follow his advice and it could be you too.
Follow Ryan Shakes on TikTok here.