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I first heard about TikTok in 2020. It seemed to be a place where people made short videos (not in my skill set) where they danced (so not me!) or make-up tutorials (interesting but how many can you watch?). I had ZERO interest to start an account or even watch more than one or two cute animal videos that friends sent to me.
I had a lot of concerns about the format:
- Did I REALLY need to be on yet another social media platform?? Especially one that seemed to rely heavily on putting your face out there? Sure there are accounts where people managed to make entertaining content while not showing their face, but did they get the same following? Probably not.
- Did you see the part about “entertaining content”? I’m a writer, not an actress, producer, or sound editor. There’s a reason I live mostly behind a keyboard.
- The format seemed to be similar to tumblr, which I hated. A constant flow of bite sized posts with little way of tracking the ones you liked (or so I thought).
- I have a LOT of reasons for not wanting my face on social media. I’ve had a stalker. I’m concerned my place of employment would take exception to the fact I’ve written a few racy romances (even though most of mine are fairly tame).
- I kept hearing concerns about the security of your information, given that TT is a subsidiary of a Chinese-based company.
- I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to come up with more than 1-2 videos before running out of ideas.
- Almost everyone I saw on TikTok was gorgeous, and I’m not. I’m old, frumpy, and at least 40 pounds overweight. I grew up hearing how homely I was, and that the worst thing a woman could do was show her age and gain weight, so naturally, I did both. I absolutely loathe looking in the mirror. I’m not kidding.
So I resisted the urge to join. I kept hearing what a great place BookTok was, however, and the FOMO was strong. Then too, I kept seeing these hysterically funny videos by Alisha Rai showing up on my Twitter and Instagram feeds, where she depicts little conversations between Satan and one of his minions. They are utterly brilliant. Still, I held out. TikTok wasn’t for me.
But then authors kept saying what an AMAZING place TikTok was for discoverability, especially for smaller authors or your backlist. And I was mightily tempted. Maybe I could make some vids without showing my face? Mark Dawson did a five day challenge in his Self-Publishing Formula group, and I decided to create an account and make a few videos. Shabby efforts at first. I had no idea what I was doing.
But then I got snowed in for a 3-day weekend, and I watched a LOT of TikTok. I tried out recipes, started Tai Chi, laughed over cute animal vids, considered side hustles that would let me quit the day job, began watching makeup tutorials aimed at my age group (so frustrating that makeup tends to look TERRIBLE on me now), and got really, really frustrated with the poor quality of my videos. It reminded me of when I first joined livejournal and I didn’t know how to code or embed images and I wanted to play SO BADLY that I taught myself.
So I began watching a crap-ton of TT tutorials. And then I discovered that Canva had a mobile app that allowed you to upload your creations directly to TT! I learned out to change the font, color, and size of my text, and how to make it appear at exactly the right time in the video.
And then, God help me. I discovered the filters. I began playing with filters, wigs, makeup, and transitions I saved sound clips to use, got ideas from watching others, and became the queen of lip-syncing. I learned how to do the clever transitions, and have had a blast making short vids. Me, who rarely took videos and hadn’t the foggiest idea how to edit ANYTHING before TT. I was doing something I haven’t done in a very long time–probably not since the beginning of the pandemic–I was having fun. Okay, so not TikTok famous, and haven’t make a single sale as far as I can tell. And my friends were quick to point out that the filters and wigs weren’t disguising me–anyone who knew me would recognize me. I discovered then that I’d truly run out of f*cks to give. I didn’t care. Might my coworkers run across my videos? Yeah. Could I get fired? Maybe. But the thought of that doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to. I used to believe I was trapped, that I didn’t have the skill set to do much of anything else if I lost my job and jobs in this area are few and far between. A few weeks on TikTok, and suddenly I’m not afraid of that anymore.
I haven’t written more than 100 words in the last two weeks. I’ve drafted over 30 TikTok videos, however. Sounds good, right? Only that’s about 10 days worth of content, according to the algorithms for getting notice on TT. I had the day off yesterday, and instead of writing, I made TT videos all morning long. I wasn’t sleeping well before I joined TT, but I was at least attempting to go to bed at a reasonable time. Now I’m often up past 1 am when I have work the next day. I’m hearing 15 second sound clips in my head all the time. My ability to focus, a little shaky already, has gone in the GUTTER. I also find myself picking up my phone and checking TT every couple of minutes. It feels like an addiction, peeps.
I suspect it’s like anything else when I first discover it–I dive in headfirst and become completely absorbed until I master the skills I want to use, and then my obsession will settle down. Moving forward, I’ll have to practice a little self-control. I’m doing a lot of things wrong, too. My posts don’t have any call to action, and I’m not staying in my niche/lane. I probably have more writers following me than readers. I’ve gained over 700 followers in 2 weeks, but at least half (if not more) of those are bots or men looking for a good time (seriously, you think TT is a dating app??). And sadly, I am not TikTok famous. Yet.
But that’s okay because, for now, I’m having fun.