There’s no doubt that TikTok is currently one of the world’s most popular platforms. Since its launch in 2016, the social media site has grown to be the place for quick-thinking entrepreneurs looking to reach a large audience.
If you’ve ever wondered how you could make your POD designs go viral using TikTok, then you’re in luck. Diana True Knox, a South Carolina-based TikTok influencer, who found viral fame earlier this year, will show you how. She also shares the highs and lows of going viral and the overnight success it brings.
An Eye For Fashion Becomes A Career
Diana works as a marketing director in the fashion industry for a swim and resort-wear brand. During the early days of the TikTok craze, she noticed it was relatively easy to go viral on the platform, even with a modest follower count. Diana started her TikTok account in 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
“I’ve worked in the fashion industry for a few years and am interested in pop culture. I find it fascinating that celebrities can gain such a cult following and make money from it.
My TikTok account focuses on fashion within pop culture. I post outfits that people might wear if they were on the Disney Channel, Kim Kardashian’s style, and so on. My videos have gained a lot of followers, and from that, I was able to start selling custom face masks during the height of the pandemic. A lot of my early content went viral, so I was able to sell 1,000s of masks.”
Diana learned that with TikTok, she could have success with zero marketing budget. However, she was personally buying and making all of her mask inventory! And as you can imagine, it soon became too much to manage while also keeping up with a full-time job.
Diana was familiar with dropshipping and began researching it more for her business. She soon stumbled upon Printify and began experimenting with clothing designs in her Etsy store, LaModaMerch.
The Courtroom Drama That Went Viral
Finding Printify couldn’t have come at a better time for Diana. Little did she know, a spur-of-the-moment idea for a sweatshirt design was about to bring her overnight success.
“The Depp vs. Heard trial was huge in the USA and also watched by many people internationally. I didn’t particularly pay much attention to the trial itself. Still, I saw how everyone talked about Camille Vasquez, Johnny Depp’s lawyer.
Camille was this beautiful, badass lawyer with an impressive resume. She was iconic. I thought making a Camille is My Lawyer t-shirt or sweatshirt would be a great idea. When I Googled the phrase, there wasn’t any merch with her name. I went on the Printify mockup generator, used the text option to place the phrase on a sweatshirt, and voila! I published the design and made a bunch of TikToks about it. The whole process took around 30 minutes to get up and running.”
To test the water, Diana posted the shirts on her second account. When she woke up the following day, the design had gone viral, and everyone was commenting on where they could get a sweatshirt of their own.
“I didn’t even have 1,000 followers on my second account, so I couldn’t link the product in the bio. I had to answer each person in the comment section using my main account to send as much traffic to the product page as possible. The requests kept coming – people wanted t-shirts, crop tops, hoodies, and many more. I would make the designs on a request and answer the comment with a TikTok video.”
Consumer Driven Requests Flood In
And as the trial raged on, requests flooded in for famous quotes and slogans on clothing.
“I had a request asking for memorable lines like ‘Mega Pint’, ‘Objection, Hearsay’ and more. In the end, I got close to a million views, and even the famous beauty brand Revlon commented on my profile, requesting a red version of a shirt.”
Trends are fun, but they are also fleeting. The merch sold like crazy for three to four weeks, and then the trend peaked. For Diana, the designs were fantastic proof that it was possible to make money from the latest pop culture buzz.
“I quickly realized that if I could regularly get that kind of traction, I could easily make $3-$5k a month. I’m currently figuring out how to achieve that, but I am also about to have a baby, so I haven’t been quite as focused lately.
I have a few designs I’m working on promoting right now, some about pop artists like Harry Styles. He has a huge cult following, so I hope to do well with that theme. I also have a few designs centered around the paparazzi, as I am currently making a series on my channel about celebrity photos.”
Diana's Tiktok Marketing Strategy
Diana’s background in fashion has helped her gain a unique insight into the world of pop culture. However, the way she markets her designs is inspiring.
Rather than trying to go viral by force-feeding products to her audience, she takes a far more subtle approach.
“I love marketing, the idea of viral media, and the psychology behind it. People are much smarter these days, so your sales will definitely fizzle out if you’re too sale-sy. I tend not to push my designs too hard and instead say things such as, ‘if you like these looks, there’s a link in my bio’. I always try to relate everything back to the main subject of pop culture.”
Her technique has undoubtedly worked. The viral Camille design has now made over $10,000 in sales and netted the TikTok influencer over $3,500 during the first two days of its launch. So what is Diana’s secret to success?
“Because it’s what my entire niche is based around, I pay close attention to pop culture. It’s important to find out what people are excited about and build products from that. For instance, I have no interest in Top Gun, but I recognize it’s a huge pop culture phenomenon. So I’ve made a couple of designs around that theme.”
The natural question at this point is how Diana avoids copyright infringement and deals with other merchants copying her designs when they become popular.
“I’d say life is too short to waste your time trying to get them taken down. It’s best to get in early and move on to the next viral trend. As for copyright infringement, I never use full names or direct quotes, so I don’t have to worry about that. Obviously, my ‘Camille is my Lawyer’ shirt is inspired by the Kim Kardashian version, but it’s not a direct copy. I’m not even sure there’s a whole lot of originality in pop culture these days – though I will say I think my Harry Styles designs are a good idea.”
Keeping Things Simple
One thing that fascinates us about Diana’s success is that her designs don’t rely on complex graphics or images. They are simple text-based pieces. It proves that you don’t need to be an accomplished artist to start making money online.
“I didn’t use any software or upload images. I made the designs in the Printify Mockup Generator, by simply choosing a font and typing everything out. I connected my Printify account to my Etsy store, so everything was published automatically, and my products were ready in 5 minutes.
The process is really quick and easy, with no stress and no investment up front. I love the idea that you can do this without having a bunch of inventory in your house.”
Don’t over-think it. Get your ideas out in the real world and start looking for marketing angles as soon as possible.
Tips For Tiktok Viral Success With Pop-Culture
As many merchants start their early preparations for the Black Friday and holiday season sales, what marketing inspiration can they draw from Diana? What is the secret to achieving viral fame on TikTok? Here are a few essential tips to help get you started.
Hop On The Latest Trends
TikTok is arguably entirely driven by the latest trends. If you want to go viral on the platform, you need to take a page out of Diana’s book and keep up with the latest pop culture news. You can get a good idea of what’s trending on the platform from sounds, dances, music, and cultural references.
Avoid Peaking Too Early
TikTok viral trends often explode in popularity for a week before being quickly forgotten. So when attempting to build interest for a Black Friday or holiday-themed sale, find the right timing. When in doubt– use sounds or trends that keep reappearing.
Use The Right Hashtags
One of the great things about the TikTok algorithm is that it gives equal exposure to users’ videos, whether they have 100 followers or 100,000. However, it’s tough to rank on the site without using proper hashtags, as they’re one of the primary ways the search robots categorize and display your content.
You can browse hashtags by entering a keyword or phrase into the search bar and tapping on the hashtag column once the results have loaded. The trick is to strike a balance: don’t overdo the number of hashtags you add to a video, and avoid overly generic keywords with too much competition. TikTok is the only platform where you can use trending hashtags even when your content is completely unrelated.
Post On A Regular Schedule
One great thing about TikTok is that the platform doesn’t compare the performance of current videos with ones you’ve created in the past. That effectively means you can become successful simply by publishing regular and consistent content, working on the principle that eventually, you’ll hit the jackpot.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to hone your video skills.
As for the best time to post each day? There are plenty of theories, and it will depend upon the time zones you are targeting. However, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings have been found to have the highest engagement rates by researchers at Influencer Marketing Hub.
Interact With Your Followers
Suppose you’re serious about going viral on TikTok, or you simply want to drive more traffic to your POD designs for Black Friday or the Holidays. In that case, you will need to do more than simply post videos regularly.
At the height of Diana’s viral sweatshirt fame, she interacted consistently in the comment section of her videos and even made response videos responding to specific product requests. Replying to comments helps to add a sense of community to your channel and is a great way to ask your followers for their opinion.
Appeasing The Algorithm Gods
Now that Diana has tasted the passive income lifestyle, she’s keen to unearth the next pop culture trend. But what her favorite part of the experience has been so far?
“I’ve had lots of TikTok videos go viral in the past, but now I can monetize them, and it’s completely passive income. It was amazing to wake up in the mornings and have extra money that wasn’t there the day before. I hope I can replicate my success in the future!”
We certainly hope so too, Diana.
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