15 creators like Ceara O’Sullivan and CJ Eats share their best piece of advice for aspiring creators
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I recently came across this killer tweet from Gumroad.
I loved the short bits of advice—especially:
- Don’t be the person telling yourself “no”
- Promote. If you don't promote, no one will
- Learn the mindset, patterns, habits, and systems of the creators you idolize, and incorporate those into your daily lives
But, these <280 character tweets weren’t enough to fully satiate my curiosity on how creators are thriving.
It made me want to dive deeper.
So, I connected with some of my favorite people to get more advice about how creators can grow, find a niche, connect with brands, and be successful.
Here’s what they had to tell me.
1. Ceara O’Sullivan (cearajane) on being you
I reached out to Ceara because she’s my personal favorite TikTok creator. I found her during the pandemic and her comedy has been such a bright light. Seriously, watch this and try not to bust a gut.
I can’t believe she responded and I’m so star struck, I might die.
Here’s what Ceara told me:
“My advice would be to create content that only you can create. Don't worry too much about whether or not there is an audience for the specific kind of videos you want to create. If your material is true to you and comes from your heart, people will connect with it.
One of the biggest ways to stifle your creativity is to try to think of creating content that ‘everybody will like.’ You don't need everybody to like it! You just need your audience to find you. Content that is so generic that it appeals to ‘everybody’ might not be very unique.
Once you're posting your content, use a couple of very specific hashtags which will help your future audience find you. And, if you're not getting the engagement you're looking for on your posted content, review the first 1 - 7 seconds of your videos. If people are swiping away at the very beginning of your videos, your content isn't getting a fair chance. So, try communicating the premise or conceit of your video early on (text overlays are one way to do this).”
2. Sarah Francati (sar_carolyn) on being genuine
It’s impossible not to fall immediately in love with Sarah, her sister, Emily, and “their” girlfriend, Cindy. And, ~2.8 million other followers agree with me.
Sarah, Emily, and Cindy have an adorable relationship and it’s a total hoot to watch their content.
Here’s the encouraging advice Sarah has for other creators:
"My biggest piece of advice to any new creators is to stay genuine. It's really easy to get caught up in the fame or attention. But ultimately that will be your downfall. Being your honest and true self will always make you successful. Stay true to who you are and what your story is. You don't need to lie or pretend—you're good enough the way you are."
3. Stacie (thestacielife) on consistency
Stacie has been one of my dear friends for 15 years, so she’s contractually obligated to help me when I ask for advice from successful creators.
Stacie is obviously the friend to call about make-up advice and dressing to the nines. She also has a knack for growing a loyal following.
Here’s what Stacie said:
“The best advice I can give to creators is to post every day. If you’re in the fashion or lifestyle niches, you could do a “get ready with me” post, a “this is how I style myself” video or a “here’s how I get ready for bed” video. Post to your Instagram story at least three times a day. And create videos. Videos and IG Reels are the future.”
4. Alessandra Mayr (alemayr) on building a community
Alessandra Mayr is a beautiful—inside and out—content creator and fashion influencer. I fell in love with her account the second she told me it’s okay to still wear skinny jeans. Thank you, Alessandra.
Stop by her account to get fashion tips and win giveaways, and stick around as she engages with the community she’s built.
Here’s the advice Alessandra said to keep in mind as new creators start to partner with brands:
"The best piece of advice I could give a new creator looking to grow and partner with brands is to never lose sight of the most important aspect of content creating, which is building a community.
It's very easy to get sucked into posting ad after ad because, well, we could all use some extra cash, but in time you might find that you crave having a sense of community more than you crave another $500. I compare it to people thinking money will bring them happiness, then becoming rich and realizing they're still not happy.
If all you've been doing with your followers is selling things to them, they'll spot the dollar signs in your eyes from a mile away and will lose trust in you. Make sure you can create enough organic content to overpower the branded content. And if you can't, give the brands a break, and make time to connect with your community. It'll pay off more in the long run."
5. CJ Eats (cj.eats) on finding your passion
I don’t know about you, but my taste buds get bored sometimes. I’m adventurous by nature and this extends to my tastebuds. Sometimes, I need more on my palate than the standard cuisine I already know how to make.
It’s in these moments of deep culinary boredom that I find myself typing “CJ” in my TikTok search. And, CJ always delivers. Want to learn how to make spicy garlic fried mandu, furikake salmon, and Korean cucumber salad? CJ is your guy.
Here’s what CJ says about growing a following:
"If there's one piece of advice I would give to a new creator who is looking to grow their following, it would be to find a specific niche you are passionate about and be as consistent as possible when posting your content.
For me, my passion is cooking and I love making easy, approachable recipes that I can share with the world. It brings me so much joy to see others trying my recipes, and I want to keep inspiring people to cook at home and continue connecting people through food. I believe that your followers will come naturally if your content is consistently bringing value to whichever niche you pursue."
6. Chris Illuminati (messagewithabottle) on turning your life into content
If you’re a parent, you may have come across one of Chris’s hilarious parenting post-it notes. These hand-written notes are often dry, sometimes sarcastic, but always so completely on-point. Every parent relates.
Here’s what I mean:
Chris gave me one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful responses. He said:
“Success will come based on the amount of work you put into your account,
but the most essential thing for every new creator to remember is something I wish I knew from the start.
Everything is content. Everything. Your entire day is open to creator content—from your morning routine to your rituals, workouts, your workspace, how you work, what you eat, where you go after you’re done working, who you hang out with, what you’re wearing, what book you’re reading, the list goes on and on.
Everything you do doesn’t always make it out to the masses, but turning your life into content helps do a few things.
First, all content leads to more content. Let’s say you do a quick video on what you’re having for lunch. Let’s say it’s grilled cheese, and you make a short video saying, ‘Hey, I just made grilled cheese for lunch. There’s nothing that takes me back to being a kid than eating grilled cheese.’
To you, it’s a video about making grilled cheese, but to another person, they’ll watch the video and go, ‘Hey, why did he put butter on the outside of the bread too? I’ve never seen that before.’ And they ask you why and you’re like, ‘wow, I thought everyone did it like that.’ Then you start exploring the different ways to make grilled cheese (did you know some people put mayo on the outside of the bread?!?), and now you’ve got like twenty other content ideas just from one simple video about lunch.
Second, video all day long keeps the creative muscles in your head sharp. It reminds you to keep creating. I’ll use my account as an example. My post-it notes are essentially just jokes. How does every great comedian get better? They sit down and write jokes every day, whether they want to or not. Not all the jokes might make it into an act, but it’s more about the habit of writing jokes than the jokes themselves. I sit down every day and write down ten jokes or observations. Maybe 2-3 actually become a note, but if I didn’t sit down daily to flex and instead just waited for inspiration to strike, I’d probably be waiting a long time.
Finally, I’d like to give all creators this little nugget of wisdom that popped into my head during a trail run the other day. I was running through the woods, and for some reason, I was compelled to look up. I looked up to the treetops and thought about how people take the longevity of a tree for granted. Immediately, this weird Buddha-like thought popped into my head, ‘The top of every tree was once the bottom.’
We all start from the same place.
Don’t get wrapped up in perfectionism and compare yourself to other creators or feel that nothing is working. Eventually, you’ll be one of the tallest trees. You just have to grow.”
7. Bryan Maniotakis (minimalgoods_ and mindofastoic) on sticking to your niche
I wanted to include Bryan in this article because his content is wildly different from other creators in this article, yet his audience is abundant and broad. It goes to show that there are so many niches where creators can be successful—social media isn’t only about lifestyle content.
Bryan is the creator behind minimalgoods.co and Mind of a Stoic. His content is visually appealing, insightful, philosophical, and you can’t get enough of it.
Here’s what Bryan told me about growing accounts, sticking with a niche, and using all social tools available. He said:
“Consistency is absolutely key when growing accounts. I found the best results posting 2 times a day. I post the first one at peak engagement time (check your Instagram insights for this number) and the other one about 5 hours after that. If I went a period of time without posting anything, I noticed my engagement would drop until I got back on schedule.
I also picked a niche for my main accounts, and haven’t deviated from it since. My growth would be much higher if I cast a wider net, but the monetization opportunities that come with a niche audience tend to be of much higher value.
My last bit of advice is to use all of the tools available to you. When I started, I got in the bad habit of only posting to my feed on some accounts, instead of utilizing stories. After a while, I noticed that overall views were much lower on those accounts that I had neglected. Prioritize posting with all of the tools IG provides (e.g., Feed, Story, Reels) to try to capture as much engagement as possible.”
8. Alex Shebar (alexshebar) on finding your niche
I kind of want to hire Alex to follow me and photograph my life. Look how beautiful he makes everything look.
Alex is a complete joy and a fun creator to follow. If you quickly browse through his content, you’ll feel like you’re on the ride with him, experiencing NYC events, eats, and drinks. Makes sense considering he’s an event planner.
Alex is another creator who stressed the importance of not doing what others are doing but finding a niche instead. He said:
"Find. Your. Niche. That's your first step, discover what is unique about your work and play into it. This may not come easily, and it may not come right away. But, with time and patience, and trial and error, you'll see what works best and best for you.
Truthfully, it's easy—too easy—to do what everyone else is doing and expect results. But, one of the primary reasons those accounts are so popular is that either they were doing it first and have built up the following over years or they are so unique that they have a spin that no one else does. Do the latter.
Love doing food photography? Great! Maybe you focus only on desserts, or close-up shots of those amazing meals, or the best fast-casual eats in your city. Whatever you do, do it well and make it your own. Otherwise, you'll just be another account in a sea of similar accounts. Nah, don't do that to yourself. It won't help you at all in the long run."
9. Dotan (dotanleyv) on authenticity
I’ve interviewed several creators, agency owners, DTC brands, and professionals working to grow the creator economy this year, and there’s been one common theme. Almost everyone has told me how authenticity is the key to growth in 2022.
Dotan, an awesome fitness, health, and lifestyle influencer I follow told me the same thing. He said:
“The number one piece of advice I would give to a creator looking to grow their influence today is to be authentic. From an aesthetic point of view, gone are the days of overly filtered, or face-tuned content. From a thematic point of view, today your audience wants to see your real life. Don’t try to hide the ugly, or pretend you are something you aren’t. Stick to what you know, who you really are, and what you can speak to, especially since Reels are trending in the direction of educational content right now.
Speak to what you are actually an expert on, and stick consistently to that. You can add entertaining aspects and edits, but be careful not to try to make yourself something you aren’t. Some trends aren’t going to fit directly to you and your niche. Instead of just hopping on a trend anyway, and seeing a low engagement response from your audience, ask yourself, ‘how can I use aspects of this trend and make it speak more directly to me and my audience?’
The other piece of advice is don’t be afraid to try and fail. There is no failure here. If you try something, make sure you are learning something from the process. If you spend hours on a Reel and it flops, can you learn something from that to help improve your next post? At the end of the day, consider this: did you enjoy creating the content? Because everyone watching can tell.”
10. Nushin Roodgari (houstonfoodiegirls) on honoring your passion
Nushin has incredibly fun TikTik and IG accounts dedicated to my two favorite things—traveling and eating. I, for one, know I won’t be going to Houston without food recommendations from Nushin bookmarked and close at hand.
Nushin’s passion as an avid traveler and foodie shines through in her content. It’s also the main subject of her advice for creators. Here’s what she said:
“I would say to a new creator to go into their page with passion. Only through passion will you stay consistent with something. Patience and consistency are key to growing followers.
It takes time but if you’re putting out content people like or resonate with followers will come. Always stay true to who you are as people will love you for you.
Finally, I would say research other influencers. There are lots of helpful YouTubes and Tik Toks to help creators. There’s also tons of information on how to monetize your page and what you need to do to work with brands.
It’s also important to note that there are lots of brands that are willing to give you products if you post. You can start that way and then get comfortable working towards paid partnerships. Just remember to stay consistent. Posting constantly, in the beginning, helps a lot.”
11. Andrea Bosoni (theandreboso) on engaging Twitter followers
So far, I’ve highlighted TikTok and Instagram creators exclusively. But, we all know that Instagram and TikTok aren’t the only social media platforms for creators to share helpful content.
As such, I wanted some advice from Andrea Bosoni, founder of Zero to Marketing, on how people can create stellar Twitter content and grow a following there.
"If you’re just starting out on Twitter my number one recommendation to grow an audience would be to spend more time engaging with others than tweeting.
In practice, this means building genuine relationships with other people in your niche through comments and DMs.
The reason is simple. The more your content gets likes, comments and retweets, the more the algorithm will show it to new people who might then decide to follow you.
But to kickstart your initial engagement when you have a small following you’ll have to engage with others first.”
I’ve only started focusing on growing my Twitter following in the last few months, and I can second what Andrea recommends. My most meaningful follows have come from people I’ve built real relationships with.
12. Jason Bradwell on building a targeted audience—even if it’s small
Jason Bradwell comes to us with his expertise from the writing, podcasting, and Twitter worlds. If you tune into Jason’s well-executed articles and episodes, you’ll learn almost everything you need to learn about marketing to the right audience.
I wanted to include Jason’s advice to creators because it highlights a significant trend in the Creator Economy.
Brands are finding that content from micro-influencers and niche creators are often outperforming content from macro-influencers. In fact, research from Linqia in 2021 shows that 77% of marketers say micro-influencers are their ideal influencers to work with.
Here’s what Jason so expertly adds to the conversation:
“Power comes from specialism, especially if you’re looking to monetize your following. Brands are savvier than ever on where to get the biggest bang for their influencer bucks and often it’s not from the creators with huge followings. Invest your time in building a targeted audience, whether that’s around a shared interest or profession. You will be able to charge much more and sooner if you go narrow versus broad."
13. Marie Denee (mariedenee) on knowing your why and building a community
I’ve been following Marie Denne, the creator of The Curvy Fashionista, for a while. I love her style and her tips for leveling up your fashion game.
She also posts helpful updates about when certain brands add plus-size options. It’s awesome.
Marie offered some advice that’s perfect for creators to remember when they are starting out. Marie said:
“I have two pieces of advice. One? Know your why. Why are you doing this? Why is it important? Who are you serving? Holding on to this will help guide you through moments of doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty. It will help you remain grounded and connected to the audience you build.
The second piece of advice I'd give is for any influencer to focus on creating and building community. Create a connection with your audience to build and foster trust and engagement. Focus on that at the onset of your career and this will help you grow an engaged community that the brands will respect and appreciate, leading to growth and eventually more revenue.”
14. Mallory Rowan (malloryrowan) on being you and valuing your work
Mallory is truly a Jill of all Trades and someone you must follow. She is an Instagram influencer, an entrepreneur, a finance YouTuber, a real estate investor, and an avid blogger—she’s everything!
She’s also great at offering advice to others who want to build a creative community. Here’s what Mallory said:
“Showing up as yourself online is the easiest way to grow a sustainable community. Don’t try to be something you’re not because it will exhaust you before you make it out of your first year. Hashtag strategies and trying to beat the algorithm can give you growth, but the way to grow in the long term is to zero in on what makes you different, or even weird, and let it shine.
There’s no room to negotiate if you start by undervaluing your work. Always assume you are not charging enough, and start by upping your price with every collaboration as your experience grows. It’s just like a salary negotiation: you want to come in with your ‘holy, yes!’ number, not your ‘okay, yeah I’ll do it’ number. You’d be surprised how often they meet it with zero hesitation and you triple what you would have made if you let your hesitations win.”
15. Josh “Caru” Glodoveza (Fanjoy) on patience
Josh “Caru” is the VP of Talent at Fanjoy and an 18-year-old trailblazer in the digital, esports, and gaming industries.
He was also named as Business Insider’s Top 16 talent managers and agents when it comes to helping gaming YouTubers, streamers, and esports players build their careers.
I wanted to end the article with Caru’s advice because it might be one of the most important things to remember when trying to navigate this space. It takes patience and authenticity to thrive. Here’s what Caru said:
“Patience is everything. Build a brand and story that's authentically you first. Be able to create something consistent that when something enters such as a brand, new creator, or even a narrative it doesn't disrupt it.”
And there you have it, creators!
There’s no better way to get started as a creator than to take the advice of those that are already making it work.
Write down and internalize what these creators have said. Use their advice to guide you in your journey as you create dynamite content, find a niche, and start partnering with brands.