Dot asks Founder of Small Business Tips TEDx Speaker & TikTok guru, Sandy Lin, 12 questions about her successful design career, creative life, work, travel, and more! Let’s chat more with Sandy about work life in this #DesignwithDot interview!
Meet Sandy Lin: Founder of Small Business Tips, TEDx Speaker, & TikTok guru. She started her entrepreneurial career at 19 and is killing it! She now empowers online creatives and entrepreneurs.
It’s such a pleasure to have you on the #DESIGNWITHDOT blog Sandy!
1. How are you Sandy? Please introduce yourself to all the little dragons in the house and let us know who you are.
Thank you guys so much for having me. I am Sandy and I’m the founder of small business tips. I started out my entrepreneur journey at 19, started a pet boutique company, and then jumped on TikTok last year of May, like everyone in quarantine. Then I got on there, start sharing my entrepreneur journey and then start seeing that there’s a gap between small business owner who wants to start a business and also who wants to scale a business, but they lack the authenticity and also people who guide them and trailblaze them to leading them to a way. I’m never seen myself as a mentor, but I see myself a peer for them. I was just gone there and started sharing my journey and then was able to grow over 350,000 people, I think. This started my second business, which is small business tips.
2. I just saw that you launched a whole online program for small business owners. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, for sure. It’s a e-learning platform for a small business owner. When I first started out in my business, I really feel like there wasn’t a community where I can talk to my friends and my family because people in your life may not be going through the same exact thing that you are, especially when you’re starting out as a business owner. Selfishly, I wanted to create a community I want to be in as well. I created a community that is small business owner oriented. Through that, we have training videos from e-commerce all the way to research and development, how to scale your business, how to launch your business, social media.
We have make a combination of that, but because I’m not an expert in all of the different fields. I gather all my different friends in different expertise and bring them onto that platform to teach people.
3. But today I actually wanted to really dig in how you’re able to scale your TikTok following to over 350 followers. I want to know exactly what your process is because you have like the most rockstar, amazing TikToks that are just filled with value, but also super awesome and engaging. Do you mind sharing with us, what some of your like main pointers are for somebody like me who is trying to like start to learn how to do Instagram reels and TikTok?
Absolutely. Like I think last time when we were on the panel, you actually hit it in the nail. TikTok is all about education. If you can combine education, entertaining in the same place. Also relatability. In three different aspect in one video. I can almost guarantee you that you do just find it on TikTok. TikTok’s trend is always evolving, right? You either want to be looped in those trends, or you want to find your own presentation style.
When I say presentation style I am referring to for example… if you are you good at acting? Are you good at dancing? Are you good at talking straight onto the camera? Or are you good at just, you know doing like duet and things like that. There’s so many different ways that you can incorporate your presentations on TikTok. I want you to find your first presentation style.
What makes you the most comfortable? For me when I got onto TikTok, the most comfortable I was doing was pointing at things pointing like text overlay and putting text overlay on it, because I wasn’t comfortable with speaking onto the camera at first. Finding that, your presentation style first, then you want to study your competitors or a similar creator in your similar niche. Then I always look at their comment sections. Because their comment section is where the goal live. People are already asking what type of content they want to see, what type of question they have. I kind of pull from their popular video comment section and see what are they asking about and I create video based off of those questions.
TikTok is all about learning from consuming. The more you consume on TikTok, the easier it will be for you when you’re creating.
would say it’s very relevant if you’re just starting out, because sometimes creators, like songwriter, they pay to get these songs into the charts. They paid to blast these songs and make it famous. So TikTok, if you use these certain type of song, it usually will boost it up. Because these songs are still trendies, the algorithm pick it up more often as well.
4. What’s a step-by-step to get to your level of producing TikTok content?
My suggestion is consumption of TikTok for one week and follow accounts that are similar, right? When I got on TikTok, I didn’t go on there and just like straight create content because I don’t know what to create as well. I don’t know what my niche, who’s my audience. I will look at different facet of TikTok. I’ll look at the fashion facet. I’ll look at the small business one, the stirrup TikTok. Then determine which facet do I like better and where do I feel like I can talk about my information for a long time. Now you first want to identify your niche. Once you identify your niche, you want to find about 10 to 15 creator interact with their contents, like, and then comment and then go into whoever followed them and the like, and comment on their followers account as well.
That way it’s going to teach TikTok algorithm, what type of niche are you going into. That’s going to teach them who is your ideal audience? Who are you targeting basically? When you are creating your contents, after that, TikTok already know who they’re trying to target. They know exactly where to place your contents into the right audience base. Their algorithm is always learning your behavior. Once you start engaging in the right niche, you’ll start seeing your pages change. You’ll see everything that you want to see either business related or anything that you have engaged in.
Once you see that you know that TikTok’s learned your algorithm. They know what type of people, what type of contents you want to see. That’s why I train my algorithm. If I want to see cooking video, I’ll look at cooking video and all the day, cooking video. Once you do that, then you can start creating drafts. I just do drafts at first and then see, pick and choose. Your first 50 TikTok is going to suck. I’m almost guaranteeing. You’re 50 TikTok is not going to be the most perfect. And that’s okay because you just starting to learn and you want to put yourself out there as long as possible. I started creating two, three times per day, but that was back when quarantine happened. I was able to do so, but now I create like two, three times per week, sometimes depending on my schedule. You also want to make sure that you know, how flexible is your content creation process. That way you can feed into your schedule.
5. How long does it take you to craft one TikTok that could be, you know, 15 seconds or 30 seconds. What’s a good amount of investment that you should do in it.
I would say creating TikTok is fast. Like it takes me five, 10 minutes to create a TikTok, but understanding what type of tech talk to create, that’s where it takes time. Before I started to go into creation of TikTok, I will go to a trendy creator, like Issa Rae, Charli D’amelio and their account to see what type of trend is like trendy. What type of song to use.
I also go to this tool called tokboard. Tokboard literally outlines the top new songs of like this week that is up and coming. It can link it. They link the song and then their trend, you can see a chart. Is it going up or going down? Then I usually go back to that place or I would have Charli’s or Addison’s see which song is popping up, so I can know what to use.
6. Once you find out what trending music it is, and then what’s the next step after that? You pick the music. Let’s say, you know your niche and you want to be an expert, for example, in social media. First you find the question that you’re going to answer, then you find the song. Then, how do you plan out when you point out the words? Do you actually make a storyboard, like what’s your personal process?
My process is either, that’s why I say determining your presentation style is super important. By defining what is your presentation style? You know what to fit into each videos. Say that if you are just strictly talking to the camera, that’s all you need to do. You need an insanely great hook because the first three seconds of TikTok is what it’s crucial. If you don’t hook them up, they’re not going to watch the rest of your video. Having a good hook, I usually say you, something that’s relatable because people are innately selfish. They want to see how can this benefit them. I always say you at first, a few, two second, or the first sentence to gauge their interests. Then I will usually get keywords that are a little more bold or in your head, in your mind, money, side hustle, social media, Instagram growth. These kinds of word in you first two or three sentence that can help you grow.
Identify what’s your presentation style. If you’re just talking, talk to the camera and then just put a song on to the video and then lower the volume. That way, the song is still in the background. The algorithm still pick up that you’re using trendy song, but you are just talking to the camera.
That is one way that you can do it. But if you decided, you know what I love dancing, then dance your dance. You do the dance. Then after that you finish the dance. Go ahead and edit your video. I will say that, for example, I was like top four trends on TikTok right now. Then as I dance every single beat, I will usually have a text overlay to it for different tips and the text overlay for different times, and then a call to action. Follow me or like for more at the end. That’s another way. There’s so many different ways that you can do if you find your presentation style.
7. As you were saying. Can you explain a little bit about what your strategy is with your business on how you use TikTok as a top of your funnel, or, you know, how do you use that content on the different platforms. How do you repurpose it, give us a little bit of insight of what your strategy of that is.
Yeah, absolutely. We usually do it based off of campaign, right? This month in May is all about social media. This month in May, I’m probably going to be all talking about social media on my TikTok. Also I’m going to repurpose that TikTok into IG Reel. We have been pinned in on Instagram reels and also Pinterest story. Now we’re going to start using YouTube short as well, because think have this as a multicultural, like basically like one piece of content, you can blast it everywhere. The best part is, nowadays if you pay attention to your Facebook ads, your Instagram ads they’re all from TikTok. The format that they are utilizing are not perfect anymore. They’re raw, authentic from TikTok. Sometimes we will even provide these informations for a company and they sell it as app ads for them. It’s not only top of funnel for your business. It’s also acting as another, income stream. Because if you build up a great audience, you not only have an audience, not only have a community to funnel into your business, but another way for people to partner up with you.
8. Here is a question from one of my dragons… How important is the music choice or can you use any song?
I would say it’s very relevant if you’re just starting out, because sometimes creators, like songwriter, they pay to get these songs into the charts. They paid to blast these songs and make it famous. So TikTok, if you use these certain type of song, it usually will boost it up. Because these songs are still trendies, the algorithm pick it up more often as well.
But the strategy I go about is that I pick a song before it gets famous. I like to use songs that are second tier, but I think it will become famous later on. Now we are already hopping on the trend before them. You can definitely not use popular song as well, but your hook and your meat and bone of the video need to be extremely strong.
TikTok and Instagram are very different in that sense. In the beginning of your TikTok career, I guess hashtag is important. You need to be very niched out, targeted between your niche and your age.
9. Do hashtags still work on TikTok? What’s more important hashtags or TikTok songs?
TikTok and Instagram are very different in that sense. In the beginning of your TikTok career, I guess hashtag is important. You need to be very niched out, targeted between your niche and your age. That way you can teach the algorithm who are you trying to target. The audience on TikTok is very young. If you want to target a millennial, you want to use the hashtag millennials use, right? I don’t think TikTok matters that much on the hashtag anymore.
10.Now, what do you think about hashtags on Instagram? Is that relevant? How do you go about your Instagram hashtags?
Yeah, I think hashtag is still pretty relevant on Instagram as I could see. I definitely test it out before, when I use no hashtag on my IG reels or just like 10 to 20 very generic on researchers hashtag, compared to 34 hashtag that I choose with four different banks that I’ve utilized and that the comparison is insane. I still think that Instagram hashtag is still relevant, but you just need to know how to use these hashtags. It’s not like you just go ahead and generate it on like a tool or something like that. You need to really research and maybe from different creator, seeing what type of hashtag they use and actually researching which hashtags are relevant to what are you talking about between different pillars of your contents.
11. What are the KPIs that are relevant that we should care about on TikTok?
You want to focus on the view, the watch time. What is your watch time? You want to make sure your watch time is over seven seconds. I would say seven to 15 seconds. Seven to 12 seconds is a pretty good indicator for you to have a good growth on your TikTok. That way it means that your retention is much better.
Dragon – because I could make myself a fire if I was cold.
12. How did you decide oh, I’m going to share small business tips… how did that come?
I think, that the best things happen when they are least expected and least planned. I went on there. I was the last one in my group to download TikTok. Because I don’t think that’s for me. I’m the last one to download in May. Then I started my first account. My private account, like doing just like funny lip-sync and things like that. Then I started my second account. Out of nowhere, like nowhere in my life, I think I will be a content creator or a influencer. I don’t even know what that means. I know what it means but I didn’t know what, like what to do with it. I just started out nowhere. I named it small business tips. I don’t even know why, but I just have this gut in my feeling that I’ve always wanted to share my voice because I really think that there isn’t enough people out there talking about business at that time that are super transparent.
Even talk about how much money you get, you know, what are your strategies? Honestly, just sharing inside and out of everything. I was like wondering why no one do that. I just go on TikTok, my other account, my second account and I was like looking through TikTok, business TikTok seeing if there’s people out there that aren’t doing what I’m doing, what I want to do. I saw this guy follow Mario, who is the head of marketing on NHM and he was talking about his journey, how did he go from zero as an intern, then became the head of marketing. He had a huge impact on where I wanted to go. I was like, wow, this guy who are really high profile and like, he’s doing TikTok. Why is that?
I was like, you know what, if he’s doing it I think I could too. He inspired me, definitely. People on TikTok can inspire and can spark your interest. By saying that you want to consume contents. When you’re scrolling through your, for you page, when scrolling through any piece of content, you have a piece of content that you’re more drawn towards. That’s how you figure out your niche. What are you more drawn to more? Fashions? What it is, right. Figure that out first. He was our trigger point of my start on my TikTok. When I started out, he followed me and I was freaking out. What? This guy that inspired me just followed me and we end up, became friends and it was awesome.