TikTok influencer opens up on what it takes to repeatedly go viral and make a living from making videos
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Nathan Armstrong, 25, has racked up tens of millions of views of his videos on TikTok and has made a steady income through posting frequent clips of him dancing and ranking music tracks.
He is now gearing up to take part in a charity boxing match against another social media influencer – an increasingly more common event. Nathan, who lives in Leeds, got into TikTok like so many people his age during the coronavirus lockdown when he found himself scrolling through short videos to while away the endless hours.
He said: “Everyone around my age saw TikTok as this app for kids but then when lockdown came it was like ‘alright, let’s give it a try seeing as we’ve got nothing better to do! Everyone got glued to it, including me.”
Nathan explained to our sister title the Yorkshire Evening Post that he had grown up enjoying acting – landing roles as an extra on Coronation Street and Emmerdale – and wanted to be a content creator, so after he was placed on furlough from his job at travel company Tui, it seemed the perfect opportunity to start making videos for the platform.
He said: “Since then I’ve been uploading TikToks and trying to keep consistent with the posts, which has seen my following grow over time.”
Nathan, who was living in his hometown of Huddersfield at the time, took a job at Amazon as he continued to make videos that he hoped would crack the code of getting an onslaught of views and followers on the platform.
He explained that due to the nature of the TikTok algorithm it becomes imperative for creators to make similar videos to those that have worked for them before. He said: “You can try different things but then when you make one video that blows up then you have to make similar ones to that afterwards. It only happens on TikTok. I tried doing stuff on football but then I did one video on music tests that got picked up so I’ve done them constantly since.”
Nathan’s videos follow a very similar theme, as he mimes songs from years gone by and ranks them on the clips, which tend to last just under a minute.
"There’s a lot of music nostalgia in there”, he said. “For the kids watching it reminds them of their childhood.”
He said he was able to earn money when he started receiving a certain number of views and that he has also managed to make brand deals with record labels and artists to help promote their music.
Nathan explained: “There’s cases where an artist is about to release an album and they’ll send it me before it comes out so I can rank the songs and post the video in the hope it’ll gee up interest. You don’t get paid straight away though, so you have to enjoy making content.”
He explained that while making the videos was easy, the demand from the platform to keep the content coming did take away from some of the fun. He said: “It gets to a point when you’re making three to four videos a day so it does take away some of the enjoyment at times but then it always comes back.
"Even though it’s one of the easiest jobs in the world, it does take up a lot of time in that as well as making the videos you’ll find yourself up late at night answering comments.”
Nathan explained that a good month will see him take home around £2,000 from his work on the platform, which works as a handy boost on top of the salary he gets from his 9-5 job as an IT technician at a firm in Leeds.
He added: “But you do still have really quiet months where you struggle to get views or followers. Some months you’ll get 30,000 extra followers and the next you’ll only get 2,000. Especially at the start when you are trying to grow things up. TikTok needs to learn what your niche is and who to send the videos to which can prove exhausting.”
Nathan, who currently has 158,000 followers on the site, is joining many other influencers by going down the route of boxing as he prepares to fight fellow influencer Ashley Keno in London on November 4.
The event, which is called "Outcasts Boxing", is raising money for the men's mental health charity ‘MANUP?’ and will see Nathan step into the ring for the first time, though he said he has been interested in boxing for a few years.
"I thought I’d give it a go and see whether my fight or flight kicks in”, he said. “I’ve always wanted to get into my fitness and get in the best shape I can be. It’s for a great cause as will so well be worth it no matter what.”
Nathan, who has been training at a gym in Leeds, said that as well as watching professional boxing he became drawn into boxing through the high-profile match between influencers KSI and Logan Paul in 2019. He said: “I never really watched TV growing up. For people my age YouTube was the place to watch things so the match was interesting for our generation.
"My parents never understood why I was watching videos of people playing video games but it’s funny because a few years later Gogglebox came out and that’s pretty much the same thing!”