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Nic Kaufmann (18.2M, TikTok) started performing online when he moved from Singapore to Germany to study computer science.
“Since I didn’t have much to do, not knowing a lot of people being in a new country, I just started making videos,” Kaufmann, 21, said. “And that led to my first two videos blowing up. And from then on, I decided I would post daily and I have since then.”
Kaufmann said his niche as an influencer centers around his personality, and he posts videos of his travels, outfits, and hair styling. He is drawn to fashion and also feels passionately about tackling gender stereotypes. Kaufmann, who is half Indian and half German, also tries to promote multiculturalism on his platform.
“I’m very interested in trying to break gender norms on social media and toxic masculinity,” he said. “That’s something that I definitely have a lot of impact on.”
Kaufmann’s followers hail from all around the world including the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Latin America. He also said he has a lot of Indian followers because of his background. Initially, Kaufmann’s follower base was 97% female, but it has since diversified.
Kaufmann’s revenue streams
Kaufmann, who is based in Munich, makes most of his money through promoting different brands on his platform, working with fashion companies like Prada and Louis Vuitton that pay him to promote their clothing. He also generates income through TikTok’s creator fund, which he described as a small, but consistent revenue stream. TikTok users can pay creators when they livestream on the platform, but Kaufmann urges his followers not to.
“I tell my following not to donate because I feel like it’s fine for me to take money from large brands, but I don’t want my followers, some of who are very young and impressionable, just to be giving me 10 bucks when they only have 20,” he said.
Kaufmann said he also has money invested in cryptocurrency and NFTs and a stock portfolio. He also hopes to get involved in real estate investing this year.
Building his own brands
In addition to promoting other brands, Kaufmann is working on launching two of his own. He wants to start a hair care line with products mainly targeted towards men since a lot of the content he makes revolve around his hair performs well.
“One of my most successful formats on social media has been hair tutorials on TikTok, most of which get upwards of 30 million views,” he said. “I definitely think that I have expertise on the topic of hair stylings. So I would definitely like to combine that with my own brand.”
He’s also working on starting an e-commerce fashion company focused on affordable but ethically sourced clothing.
For many creators, working with companies is a primary source of income. Sometimes, fans will get frustrated when creators they follow promote brands in a way that seems contrived or inauthentic. But Kaufmann said creators often do not have a lot of autonomy when it comes to working with brands
“I think a lot of people don’t know how restricted the creator is sometimes,” he said. “So sometimes you get a really good brand deal from a really good company or partner to work with, but they force you to do it in a very specific way.”=
When Kaufmann started on TikTok, he said a lot of his content was centered around promoting his appearance, which is what attracted many of his followers. But he’s been working on expanding his content to become more meaningful by posting videos that are more personality-based.
“There’s definitely a very high pressure,” he said. “Although the pressure was much higher when my content was purely revolved around the fact that my followers or friends think I look good.”
Advice for creators
Kaufmann advised aspiring creators to hone in on a specific quality or niche that will attract followers: “At the beginning, you’re a nobody just like everyone else in the sense that you don’t have any public image, you don’t have any public persona,” he said. “So you first need to build that up.”
This interview was originally published in The Creators, a newsletter about the people powering the creator economy. Get it in your inbox before it’s online.