Ashley Renee is a digital content creator and keto food blogger with a decade-long experience in social media management.
Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2020 when she went on the ketogenic diet and shared pictures of her delicious meals on Facebook. People loved her yummy content and so in January 2021 she decided to start filming cooking TikTok videos with her phone. Eventually, this led to TikTok stardom with a following of over 560K+ and an Instagram food blog called Messy Eats with a following of 443K, and growing.
Now, she runs a full-time business creating viral food content and selling thousands of keto eBook copies on her Sellfy store. Ashley found Sellfy through her business coach who recommended it after selling his own eBooks on the platform. She couldn’t be happier with her choice and she loves being able to finance her lifestyle with income from Sellfy.
Read on to learn more about Ashley’s inspirational story and how she went from unemployed to TikTok famous.
What do you do and how do you define yourself as a creator?
I’m a digital strategist and I’ve been doing social media for a decade. I’m also a content creator, I’ve been passionate about it for a long time. Now, I create keto food videos on TikTok, and I have a keto food blog on Instagram.
I first got into social media management and content creation with the rise of Instagram in 2012. Me and a close friend of mine were into beauty and fashion, so we started taking pictures online and building a following. By the end of 2012, I had 10K followers.
Then, I moved to California and ended up partnering with a group of beauty influencers from 2013 to 2015. I’d take their pictures and record all of my friends’ Vines—one of them even went viral overnight!
A little later on, I became a preschool teacher. And, throughout that period, I was able to express my creativity by creating dramatic plays for the kids.
But while I was doing that, I was also posting on Instagram. I attempted to do YouTube, it wasn’t well; I attempted to do a full blog prior to the one I have, did not go well; I attempted to do a beauty blog, did not go well.
Then, fast forward to the pandemic, we had to shut down all the schools. So, I got laid off and became a nanny. During that time, I started exploring TikTok and made a few dance videos.
At what point did you start posting your recipes on social media?
I started in November 2020 while working my full-time job as a nanny. My family members had been on the keto journey for a while, and I thought I’d give it a try to lose some weight.
I didn’t want to feel like I was on a diet, so I came up with creative ways to cook different keto meals and posted them on Facebook. I wasn’t recording videos at the time, but when I saw that people loved food pictures, I decided to start a TikTok.
I’ve always had a passion for creating content with my phone. At first, I had my doubts whether I should do this at all. But, a friend motivated me to keep going. Plus, I was determined to learn TikTok. As a millenial, I didn’t want to stay behind GenZ.
I started doing TikToks of my keto cooking in January 2021. I made like 30 food videos from mid-January till the end of February. I was cooking and filming every day.
I never thought I’d get on TikTok, but I noticed something unique about it—creators were blowing up overnight. So, I started learning about viral sounds and how many times you’re supposed to post. Then, I created my first keto TikTok. It went viral and I got 15K followers. It was crazy how fast I blew up.
After that, in April or March, I started my Instagram food blog. I used Soulja Boy’s song Make It Clap, which took my Instagram page from 15K to 40K followers within three weeks.
Why do you think your following blew up so fast? What drew people to your content?
Honestly, it happened organically. I wasn’t trying to go viral. I was just filming my lifestyle and people liked it. I think these things gave people a personal experience and made them feel like they were in my kitchen. You don’t even see my face, but people feel connected to me because my personality is shown through my videos.
I was also strategic and disciplined about it. And, I knew how to work my phone because I had been doing social media for around 10 years. I learned the strategy behind doing successful TikTok videos. So, I have it down to a tee now.
I also put in a lot of work. When I started out, I had a full-time job as a nanny and I would take the food with me to the kids’ house and record before the kids went to school. I posted at 8.30 AM and then did work, and then later during the day, I would cook and film again. That was every day for, like, three months straight.
Content-wise, I show aesthetically pleasing diet food. And, I use 3 things in almost every video: cool music, really good food, and clear content, so you can see it well.
I think it’s also an inspirational thing—I’m a black woman in America who’s motivating African Americans to eat low carb and sugar. I’m inspiring people to have healthier lifestyles.
How did you come up with your eBook idea?
I started thinking about writing my Messy Eats Cookbooks during summer 2021 after I got fired from my job. That happened right at the pinnacle of me going from 15K to 40K followers on Instagram.
I’m also faith-based and at that time uncertain time, I was praying to God to know what to do next. And I felt that I need to keep doing what I’ve started.
Everybody around me said I should write an eBook because there was a very high demand for my recipes. I had almost 150 recipe requests from people, and comments under every video.
So, my eBook was made in two weeks with the help of a business strategist who knew how to do it. And, it sold like crazy! By the end of the month, I had sold around 1500 eBook copies for $10 each.
I see that you’ve been selling your eBooks with Sellfy. How did you choose our platform?
My business coach just told me we were going to use Sellfy because he had sold a few eBooks there. So, it was referred to me and I agreed to create an account.
Now, there’s a team of us using Sellfy: my business coach, my sister who is now an admin, and me. My sister manages the customer service—she’s pretty much the backbone of my Sellfy store right now. And, I just check in every once in a while to see the sales and analytics.
What do you enjoy the most about Sellfy? Do you have a favourite feature?
I really enjoy the analytics and knowing specific things like where the eBook sales are coming from—whether it’s from Instagram or a website click.
And, I can also see where in the world the eBooks are being sold. It’s amazing to know that my product is being sold in different parts of the world like Canada, or Africa.
What keeps you motivated as an entrepreneur and content creator?
I have two purposes behind what I’m doing. First, I care about how much money I’m going to make because I want to build wealth. I’m young, I’m not married and there’s a certain lifestyle I want to live. And, I want to be wealthy so my family can be wealthy, and I can help my parents. That’s one of my biggest desires.
My thinking is “views equal money” and if I can find a way to make them work together, then they work for me.
Second, I want to inspire people to have healthier lifestyles. Also, I get inspired from reading comments where people feel happier because they’ve watched my video. The videos are really short, but those few seconds can literally affect someone’s entire day.
What impact has Sellfy had on your life and business?
Sellfy pushed me into full-time entrepreneurship. I went from being unemployed to being able to finance my lifestyle.
Plus, having an automated system is awesome. I mean, all I do is cook and get money. But, of course, I do have to do the content and video creation as well, which takes a lot of work.
What are some of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur?
A lot of people say that they want to be an entrepreneur, but they don’t realize that every day is not a great day. You can go months without making any money.
No one’s clocking you, or reminding you that you’re late, and that’s hard. And, so is keeping up with hundreds of emails, buying an LCC, getting web domains and websites. So, it’s not just fun and games like people think it is.
You have to wake up every day and make a choice to make money for yourself. We don’t just grow a following because we want numbers, we grow a following to finance our lives.
What advice would you give to someone dreaming of creating a similar business and lifestyle?
Most of us know that we’re good at something. But, the real question is whether or not we believe we can do it. I think the scariest thing about the internet is that it’s a place where you can compare yourself with so many people.
I think comparison kills creativity. So, the biggest advice I would give is to picture yourself where you want to be, and not compare yourself to others.
If there’s a desire to be an entrepreneur, then you have to think about the problem you’re going to solve with your gift. We’re always going to be growing, but we don’t want to be so caught up in other people’s lives that we miss moments of our own.
I’ve also learned that it’s important to have a content strategy. You can have great content, and nobody cares about it. But, if you can come up with a strategy like the way I’ve done for my clients, you can figure it all out and grow your following.
In the spotlight
In the spotlight