Corporate employee turned social media star: how Emma’s growth mindset and Excel expertise led her to business success
Emma is an ambitious educational influencer who discovered her passion for content creation in her college days. She started off with fashion influencing on social media and, eventually, took a break from her hobby to begin her actuary career.
It wasn’t until she ran into a hurdle at work—advanced Excel projects—that she went back to putting out social media content. Emma’s strong determination to learn Excel led her to mastering the software.
As her expertise grew, so did her TikTok and Instagram following—from zero to almost 2.5M in just six months. Now, she sells Excel guides on her Sellfy store, helping thousands of people become proficient in using the software.
Emma chose Sellfy for its ease of use and the variety of products you can sell. Read on to learn more about Emma’s journey to success and the positive impact Sellfy has had on her business.
How do you define yourself as a creator? What do you do?
I like to think of myself as an educational influencer and content creator. I create short social media videos teaching people Microsoft Excel formulas and tricks that can help them out with schoolwork or job tasks.
How did you come up with this niche idea?
It goes back to a hobby I had in college. My friends and I enjoyed going out to take pictures and posting them on social media. Eventually, I started to grow my Instagram account, and brands began to reach out for collaborations. They’d send us free clothes to take pictures in, and I really enjoyed that.
But, then two years ago when I started my career as an actuary, I didn’t have time to post as much anymore as I was working 40 hours a week. So, I moved away from fashion influencing.
I really missed being creative and connecting with others through social media. And so, I began thinking of ways to combine my actuary skills with my social media skill set.
Excel was the first thing that popped into my mind because I know a ton of people struggle with it. I struggled with it, too, when I got a new remote job at the beginning of the pandemic—I was given these Excel projects and I didn’t know what to do.
I was stressed out because I hardly knew anyone at the company. And, bothering my colleagues about Excel formulas just wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing. So, I made it a goal to teach myself. I started googling everything about Excel. And, once I realized that this is what other people are also struggling with, I came up with my Excel Dictionary (eBook) to help them out.
At what point did you start creating your social media accounts? And when did you decide to create your eBook?
I came up with the idea at the beginning of 2021 when I noticed that my little sister who was into TikTok started gaining a lot of followers. I didn’t know what TikTok was and I never thought I’d use the app, but when I saw her growth, I thought about creating an account just to see what would happen. So, I made an account in May 2021 and I started showing some tips for Excel. At that point, I had no plan on writing any eBooks.
But then, during my second week on TikTok, one of my videos almost got a million views, and I realized that this could turn into something. So, I kept posting and it kept growing fast. I never expected it to blow up.
After that, I created an Instagram account. It took me longer to figure out how to grow on there.
But, as my social media following started to grow, people began telling me they’d pay me for Excel shortcut guides.
Tell me more about the eBook creation process. How did you manage that alongside a full-time job?
I always knew that I wanted to do more than my corporate job. I’m very goal-driven, and I enjoy being busy. I’ve also had to prepare for really difficult actuary exams on top of my schoolwork and job, so I’ve kind of already had a sense of discipline.
But, when I came up with the eBook idea, I wasn’t taking any exams, so I had some free time.
I spent many weeknights and weekends writing my first eBook, and then organizing it in Excel. I think it took me three months.
The difficult part was not knowing how to design my eBook in Canva. That was definitely a struggle. When I finished my first guide, I hated it because I didn’t like the way it looked. I’m very picky, and I like things to look a certain way sometimes, so I literally re-designed the whole thing.
That took me an extra three weeks. When I finally posted it, the results were so positive and I wanted to do more. So, I came up with my Ultimate Excel Function eBook and then the Excel Dictionary bundle.
People really seem to like my products. And, now, after just six months, I’m almost at two million followers on TikTok and a half million on Instagram, which is crazy.
How did you come across Sellfy?
I began looking for an eCommerce platform when I finished the eBook. I did a lot of reading on Google about what platform is the best and why. Some sites were just for selling eBooks, and some were strictly for online courses or subscriptions. Then, I came across a blog that mentioned Sellfy.
Sellfy stood out to me because it has a variety of products you can create—something I didn’t see on other platforms. Sellfy brought everything together and checked all the boxes for me.
So, I felt like Sellfy was the best decision because if I ever end up creating a subscription, I know that I have the option to do it on the same platform.
What are your favorite aspects about Sellfy?
It’s been really easy because Sellfy is very user-friendly. I had no experience with creating a website, but setting up a Sellfy store and adding eBooks was super simple. I enjoy that I don’t have to worry about getting products onto my site as a hurdle.
I like using Sellfy’s coupon codes. I’ve had a lot of success with that. It’s so easy to just go in and create discounts and coupons.
(Here’s how to add a coupon code to your own products on Sellfy.com)
And, also, if the customer ever has a question or problem, they can just email me. It’s very easy to communicate with them through the Sellfy platform. I also like the Sellfy app. I always check it because I can get all my sales stats on my phone, and it updates very quickly.
How has Sellfy impacted your life and business?
In the beginning, it wasn’t my goal to monetize my following. But, that has changed with how fast I’ve grown, and how many people need my help. I never would’ve pictured myself selling two eBooks, or starting YouTube.
But, I realized that having a website with products makes posting on social media more meaningful because when you go viral, people will go to your page, and buy your product.
And, I’d say the financial aspect of it has been a huge relief for me. I’m more comfortable now. I’m not stressing out about things like buying gifts for my family around the holidays. And I’m very thankful for it.
What has helped you succeed on social media? Do you use any marketing strategies?
It’s definitely consistency—I make sure to post new content at least three times a week on TikTok and four on Instagram. I think that’s a huge part of why I grew so fast.
I also try to stay on top of using TikTok trends and popular songs. I think that’s important—realizing what people want to see and incorporating that into your videos.
And, lastly, it’s important to post quality versions of the TikTok videos to Instagram. When you upload, it’s not as simple as just taking the video from TikTok and putting it on Instagram. The two platforms have completely different video qualities and sizes.
So, if you want to grow on Instagram, you need to make sure that the sizing and the quality are correct, otherwise, it’ll end up looking blurry.
I also had no idea that you’re not supposed to put TikTok watermarks on Instagram. One day, I was so frustrated with not growing on the app. So, I googled it and the number one thing that came up was that you can’t post a TikTok watermark on Instagram, and I had been doing this for months. I wish I had known that sooner.
My Instagram only started growing after I took the TikTok watermark off and made really good quality videos. I’ve been doing that for two months now. And, within two months, I was able to grow to 500K just by doing those small improvements.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a creator?
I really enjoy helping others. Seeing the positive comments that people leave on my TikToks, and how much they appreciate my videos, is very rewarding. The way people react has made me want to do more. It’s a good feeling and, I think, the growth perspective with the following is also one of my favorite parts.
My least favorite part was figuring out how to create TikTok videos and grow my Instagram. Overcoming all the technical difficulties was very frustrating.
What tips would you give to other creators starting their journey?
I’d say that any idea can grow and go somewhere. People think that Excel is boring, but for me, just by following through with my idea, it has grown like crazy over the past six months. So, don’t let anything hold you back.
Also, I wouldn’t give up if you don’t see results right away. I know it can be frustrating when you’re putting time into creating content and not seeing any growth. But, don’t give up—remember that you’re helping at least one person with your idea, and that’s all that matters.
In terms of learning new things, there are barriers to editing videos with different platforms and programs. But, the good news is that anything is available on Google and YouTube. You can easily teach yourself with free resources on the web, so I wouldn’t let that hold you back either.
What are your future business goals? What do you see yourself doing next?
I have a lot of different products ideas, so I’m excited to see where I can take it next. I want to start posting more YouTube videos, and not just limit myself to TikTok and Instagram. I also know a lot of people monetize their videos by doing collab deals. I haven’t been able to do that due to time constraints, but I’ve started to reach out to brands on Instagram. So, hopefully, I’ll land some deals soon.
Aside from that, I’ve always had the idea of creating a subscription for people to pay if they need my help.
A big hurdle of mine was figuring out how to edit social media videos. So, now that I finally have a good hang of these technicalities, I want to document everything I’ve learned and help people get started. I’m hoping to put all of that together in 2022 through an online course.
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