I started on TikTok mid-peak of the pandemic (not the greatest time to start a travel page lol). I had previously worked a real estate office job but when I got laid off I ventured to NYC and made some of my first videos. I knew about the potential of TikTok and wanted to branch outside the “dance” concept so I made 5 separate videos of “3 things to do in NYC.”
That day was so long for me, I was exhausted and tired! I didn’t want to continue but I did keep going: I went on the red tram to Roosevelt Island and when I posted the video it just blew up. I got 6m views and had a sort of overwhelming overnight success that really launched me to where I am today.
I had some ideas for content creation as a business before I started so that made it easier because I was following a plan for that idea. I think it’s important to remember that you always have to give your followers value so every video I create, I focus on providing that value.
In the beginning, people took advantage of me and didn’t pay for content, and I didn’t know better. I was getting 300k views for a restaurant and then they’re booked for a month but instead of getting paid for that I got 1 free meal. When you undervalue yourself, it undervalues your followers too for their investment in you, and their time and energy, so I think it’s really important to get paid what you’re worth for them too.
I am super blessed to do this full time! Actually, Willa helped me pay my rent recently because I had a big deal that was paying out later but I needed that money for rent immediately so I’m really excited to have Willa in my life now!
My streams of income break down somewhat like this: I would say maybe 50% of my income comes from brand deals. Then Instagram Reels payments have actually been a big help to me lately and have contributed a lot. I make a bit more from private tour guiding and travel planning, and then I might make a tiny amount from the TikTok Creator Fund or affiliate linking.
If I were to advise someone first starting out, I would say to just do something you love. It sounds cliche but I really believe in the energy of passion. I love what I decided to do and that energy and passion has driven so much success, I really believe that.
Once I got past that initial success, later on as I was monetizing more and becoming more professional it just started to feel very corporate and not as authentic as I used to when I first started. So I would also say, don’t lose that genuine love and stay humble–especially on TikTok, you can be the king on top and then the next day you get no views, it’s like a slot machine so just try to stay level.
A lot of people think creators are all using their parents’ money. I’m Hispanic, and I am proudly, fully self-made, there’s no safety net for me and it is actually really hard. I mean, some people do have their parents’ money and no hard feelings there, it’s just not everyone and it’s not me.
I have actually gotten way more comfortable talking about this, especially with other creators. In the beginning I was only charging $50-$100 and free food for posts and videos, and a creator friend of mine set me straight about that being way too low. Now for those posts I can get more like $5,000. It’s up to us to educate each other and share this information, because people at the top set the market rate. Look to those above you and price yourself accordingly, but if you’re the one at the top pay attention because everyone under you will be making less than that. So you need to get the most you can to benefit others as it trickles down!
Follow Anthony for more at @saint_travels