Fired From My Old Job And Gained 1 Million Followers On Tiktok In One Month.

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January 30, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi, my name is Isabella Avila, I go by onlyjayus online, I am 20 years old and I live in the central valley of California, but I plan on moving to LA in June. I am a full-time student studying computer engineering and I am also a full-time content creator. I started making videos on YouTube in high school, and got a decent sized following.

I started Tik Tok in October of 2018 and posted my first video in March of 2019. I didn't start uploading constantly until August of 2019, by September I had reached 100,000 followers and by October I hit 1,000,000 followers. For the most part, I do everything, coming up with video ideas, recording, editing, promoting, branding, all by myself.

Sometimes I get help from my family, like the time I decided to sell merch and need help packaging the product. Other than that though everything you see online is me. The word Jayus is an Indonesian word for “something so unfunny you can't help but laugh” or “someone who tries too hard to be funny”. While I was looking for a name online that was short and easy to remember I came across this and thought that it fit my personality well. It took me about a week to find and stick with this name. I've done such a good job of promoting this name that people are surprised to find out that my real name is actually Isabella.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!

The first ever “content” that I remember creating was on my DSi. There was this app called Flipnote, where you could make little post it note animations and upload it for everyone on the app to see. My parents, after noticing how much I liked to be in front of the family's home video camera, bought me my own video camera. My little sisters and I would use this to make funny skits to show our parents.

When I entered high school, I was put in foster care and as a creative outlet, I used my foster parent's computer to make “life story videos” on YouTube. The main reason why I decided to pursue content creation as a full-time job was when I was fired from my sales job at Best Buy. When I first started out on Tik Tok, I would go home after work and still be in my uniform while I made videos. Someone online saw this, sent it to corporate and they fired me over it. I was at 200k followers at the time and I saw this as my chance to do something that I loved rather than go and find another “normal” job that I could be just as replaceable as I was with Best Buy. It was a huge risk that ended up working out for the better.

There is a quote that my dad has always said for years and even had written above our garage door when I was a kid. “Much is never dared because it seems hard, much seems hard because it is never dared “. My dad always valued hard work over not trying and that really stuck with me.

One content creator that I look up to is Philip DeFranco. He is a news personality on YouTube that I have been watching since I was a junior in Highschool. He started out on YouTube when it was this new thing and he turned himself into this huge brand, that pushes out daily content and he's able to support himself and his business with this and it's just really inspiring.

The main thing that drives me to succeed and keeps me motivated day today is my younger sibling. I have 11 siblings in total, 9 of which are younger than me. I am the oldest sister so I feel like it's necessary for me to do something big and to be a role model for them.  

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

I don't know if my inspiration necessarily comes from a specific place, but I do know that some of my best ideas come when I'm laying in bed awake at 2am or when I'm in the middle of one of my classes. Some of the worst possible times I know, but when an idea gets into my head I can't get it out until I've finished that video. If I ever have a mental block I force myself to sit with a notebook for at least 15 minutes and I just write down as many ideas as I can. No matter what the idea is I write it down and I just go from there.

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

For Tik Tok, for the most part, I use the editing software that is built into the app. Sometimes if I want to get a little more creative I use this app called video shop but it's rare that I use that. For my youtube videos, I use sony vegas 14 to edit my videos, but I've been wanting to switch to Adobe Premiere because I’ve heard good things from my content creator friends about it. I use audacity to record my voice and photoshop for my thumbnails. It wasn't too hard to figure out how to use all of these different softwares and with youtube, if I ever had a question about how to do something the answer was just a click away.

I’m on Youtube, Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Discord and Reddit. I've done a pretty good job at translating all of my followers across all platforms besides twitter. Instead of my name being “only jayus” it's “notjayus” and I think that confuses a lot of people, unfortunately, the original name is taken so there isn't much I can do.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

I fear failure. I’m afraid that this slightly longer “15 minutes of fame” will go away and I won't have any control over it. It's not so much about what other people think about me, but that I’m afraid of letting myself down. I've wanted to be these famous people I see on my Tv and computer screens all my life and if I somehow mess up my chance at it I think I would just be really disappointed in myself. I love making content, so I don't think I’d ever stop doing that, but making content is a lot more fun when you have an audience watching.

I used to have a bad habit of reading every comment. When you do this, the few negative comments stick with you way more the thousands of positive ones. It hurts a bit when someone says something, but there's a quote that I saw Gary Vaynerchuk post that said something along the lines of “Those people booing aren't the ones in your position, they aren't playing the game. They paid to watch” and that really stuck with me. I've always been comfortable in front of a camera, but I think the more I did it the more and more comfortable. I didn't notice it at the time, but going back and looking at my old videos it's hard to watch because I just see this awkward and stiff girl trying to be funny.  

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

In the beginning, my posting schedule was inconsistent. I didn't go into Tik Tok with the intent to be famous, so I didn't really see a point to try and upload like 5 times a day. It was whenever I felt like it. I wasn't worried about the algorithm or posting times yet, it was just fun and silly. I think once I lost my job at Best Buy though I kinda got myself into gear and decided to take it more seriously. I still have a ton of fun with it and I love what I do, but it's alot more organised and planned out now.

Had some savings in the bank that allowed me to take the time to focus on making videos. I told myself that if I wasn't making enough money from Tik Tok to pay the bills in one month then I would go and find another retail job. Luckily, Tik Tok ended up working in my favor. I didn't really have much help in terms of a sense of direction which were to go and how to start.  A lot of it was trial and error, watching what other successful people are doing and reading articles online. I went all-in with my research for this, but that was because that's the kind of person I am.

The biggest challenge in the beginning and even now was managing work and school. I still struggle with it. It's alot more fun to spend 12 hours editing a YouTube video than it is to study for my next Differential Equations or Circuit Analysis class. Making videos comes so naturally to me and going to school lately has been like pulling teeth. It took me about a month after getting fired to hit 1 million followers. Which is insane. Very few people grow at that rate on TikTok and it completely flipped my life around. I was from some semi-popular creator to a recognisable face almost overnight. It's hard to comprehend the sheer size of it all.  

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

For someone that wants to get into content creation the best advice that I could give you is to make yourself stand out from everyone else.

Find a niche and make it yours. There are millions of people trying to make it big, but they're never going to get there doing the same things that have already been done before.

If I could go back, I think I would have pushed myself a little bit more in the beginning when Tik Tok was easier and smaller. I got lucky and was on the app while it was still “cringe” before it was super popular. I think if I posted more back then I would be WAY bigger now. I don't say this because I think that followers mean everything, because they don't, but if this is my job now, I wish I would have given myself more of a head start.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was not censoring myself enough. I used to get so many videos of mine taken down, I had my live stream banned, Tik Tok even deleted my entire account once. I obviously and thankfully got it back but it was all because I thought that I could post whatever without any consequences. It sucks that I have to censor myself more now to be more “brand-friendly” but it's just the price you have to pay.

Also, there's a difference between kid friendly and brand friendly. You have to know your audience, and my audience isn't children, so I'm not going to cater to children, but I do use less swear words now than I did before. If you're already making videos but struggling to improve your content, I would recommend getting a few outside opinions on what to change and do specifically for you.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

The first milestone that I can remember was when I was 17 and I hit 5,000 subscribers on my first youtube channel. I remember I was waiting for me to hit it all day. I was sitting by my computer with a live subscriber counter on, I left the room for a minute to grab some pizza and when I came back I had passed it and screamed which scared my roommate at the time.

My next big milestone was my first few viral videos on Tik Tok. My first was my first video, which was my car star ceiling mod that I did, my next was a video telling people about slug books, a website that can help save you money for college, and my really big one that left people calling me the “bill Gates girl” for weeks was a video where I showed you how much Bill Gates could theoretically buy with his massive net worth.

After that I hit 100k followers which blew me away. I made a video on psychology tricks a little while later, which led to people calling me “psychology girl” even though I've only ever taken 1 class on the subject. That video was the first to hit over 1 million likes and that series is what got me to my first 1 million followers. I've had so many big videos and I have so many followers now that it's gotten to the point that every time I go out in public, whether it's to Target, the movies, Disneyland, I always have someone come up and say hi or ask to take a picture.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

The really cool thing about getting a viral video, is that people share it, which leads to big accounts sharing it, and companies sharing it, which just means more eyes on you and what you're saying or doing. A big part as to why I'm in the position that I am in right now is because I've had some huge Instagram and Facebook brands repost my videos. I can't remember all of them, but the most recent of which was Buzzfeed. They asked to post my video, I said of course, and it became one of their most popular videos in a while and it gained me over 20k Instagram followers overnight.

Collabing with other creators is also huge. Not too many live in my area, but whenever I go to LA, I always make sure to set up collaborations. I've collabed with other creators like, Ethan Trace, Avery Cyrus, Zach Pincince, one-minute talk show, Josette Pimenta, Dominic Ditanna, the life of Kanye, and I've worked with groups like Flighthouse and famous birthdays.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships? 

Sometimes I reach out to certain brand and sometimes other brands come to me. It really just depends. If I like a product I will hit that company up and say something like “Hey, I'm a big fan of X product, I was wondering if you guys would be interested in doing some sort of promo deal with me on Instagram or Tik Tok :)” and most of the time they want to work with me. If a company messages me I take the time to research them a bit before accepting any type of promotional content.

I think the biggest brand to want to work with me was Netflix. I didn't think it was real at first. Netflix actually slid into my DMs and was like “hey we would love to work with you”. It absolutely blew me away and changed my life. Some tips I would give to working with brands is to act like you've done this before, even if you haven't, and to make sure you're not underselling yourself. Most of the time these companies will ask you what your rate is, and they'll negotiate from there. It's smart to ask for a little more than you want that way when they talk you down you get the number you actually were hoping for.

Also if you have no idea how much your worth, take the time to read up on CPM rates or maybe message a bigger creator and ask them what they think. I help a lot of smaller creator friends out with this stuff. It's hard for me to talk about money personally, but it gets easier with practice and confidence.

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