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Ricci (@thepuppyacademy): Creator Coffee Chat

Welcome to our Creator Coffee Chat: Presented By the TrendTok App where you get to learn about the very best tips, tricks and advice for growing your TikTok account from viral creators! We know that growing your TikTok account can feel overwhelming at times, so we’re breaking down the strategy that these creators used to help you through the process! Whether you’re a new creator on the platform that hasn’t chosen their username yet or a creator with a huge following behind you, we believe that this series will provide you with some new insights that you can apply to your TikTok strategy!

Today’s coffee chat is with Ricci Mills! Ricci (@thepuppyacademy). Ricci is the co-founder/owner of The Puppy Academy. They help make puppyhood easy for new puppy parents through education, training, and community both online and at their brick-and-mortar puppy training school in Hermosa Beach, CA.

After hearing Gary Vaynerchuck preach about it for months, they finally opened an account for their business and started creating content, while also trying to get a feel for the app and what people were doing on there.

We asked Ricci to share advice, tips and thoughts with us that could help creators with their TikTok journey!

What is your TikTok handle and did you have a strategy behind choosing your handle username?

TikTok handle: @thepuppyacademy

We wanted to stick with the handle we use across our other social accounts for consistency, plus it’s the name of our business so makes it easily identifiable!

What was the process behind creating your first video on the platform? How did it feel?

Super awkward!!! Lol. We really didn’t know where to start when creating our first video for the platform, so we took a clip we’d normally post to our IG Stories (showcasing one of our puppies in training), and tried to match it to a trending song, while testing out TikTok’s editing features. We had no idea what we were doing, but we knew trying something and just getting it out there to test the waters was more important than overthinking it for the next few months and not posting anything!

How did your first video perform? What was your reaction to it’s performance?

Our first video performed terribly and was totally disappointing lol. We had heard there was so much organic traffic on TikTok and so many accounts going viral off their first post that we were extremely hopeful we’d be one of those stories, but that was not the case -- at all. I think our first video got around 15 views. Looking back at it now though, I completely understand why it didn’t do better!

How did you decide what kind of content you wanted to post on your platform or what audience you wanted to reach?

We knew because of our business we’d be posting puppy content, so that part was easy. But then it came down to what exactly did we want to show? Are we doing trends? Providing more puppy-education driven content? Just showing cute puppy videos? We weren’t really sure of our strategy at first and what people wanted to see, so we tested out different options. Honestly, because our puppy graduations were such a hit with our clients and on Instagram we were hoping it would be a hit on TikTok. But when we posted a couple of them, they didn’t really take off as we were hoping they would. Eventually though, it was one of our grad walks that went viral, along with a couple others that followed.

What advice do you have for creators that are still trying to find their niche on TikTok?

Definitely pick something that interests you, that you can easily create more content around. If it’s super-niche, that completely works on TikTok too! Eventually you will find your people! Don’t be afraid to try anything and everything. But also, focus the majority of your content on that one thing that makes your brand special and sets you apart. Then sprinkle that content with everything else you’d like to try that supports your brand! Tip from our experience: if the “thing” you wish to be known for doesn’t take off at first, try different ways to share that part that you love most.

How many videos did you post before you had your first “viral video”? What did it feel like?

Our viral video was our 65th! (And the 4th grad walk we had posted!)

What happens when one of your videos does not perform how you expected? Do you ever recreate or repost the video?

It’s definitely disappointing when a video doesn’t perform how we expected, especially when you can spend so much time creating the “perfect” TikTok and think you nailed it. But even when our videos don’t do as well, we just leave them up. Before going viral we were tempted to delete our poorly performing ones. Actually, the video we posted right before our first viral one only received 11 views after 24 hours, and we seriously considering taking it down. But when our next video struck gold, we just figured we may as well leave it cause you never know, and now that video is one of our most viewed videos!

What advice do you have for creators on creating the TikTok videos? Any there any tools or softwares that you use?

Try anything and everything just to get familiar, especially in the beginning -- and don’t expect a viral hit to happen. Get really good at failing. I think that’s what we did well. After posting 60+ videos with minimal views, we had let go of trying to go viral and just committed to just trying to create content and have fun with it instead. At that point we had figured we’d never go viral, then 5 videos later we got the surprise! Another tip is you don’t necessarily have to do a popular trend to go viral, so find different ways to share what you love. Also, the App InShot has been super helpful as a secondary way to edit outside the TikTok app, plus it’s free!

Do you ever get nervous posting on TikTok? If so, how do you deal with it?

In the very beginning, yes, then it got easier. But after going viral, there’s a lot of pressure to make the ones that follow huge successes too so out nerves definitely kicked back in. Now that we’ve posted so much and are used to seeing the diverse content on TikTok, there’s nothing to be nervous about anymore cause just about anything goes there!

Also what makes this a bit easier as well is we’re posting as a brand instead of as an individual, so it’s not as scary as an individual putting something out there they will be judged for on a personal level.

Are there any tricks/tips that you have used to boost your posts that you’d like to share with creators?

If we have used any, we’ve been completely oblivious to them! So, none that we are aware of! We’re completely open to trying tricks and tips to boost out posts – we just haven’t heard of any.

How do you keep your community/followers engaged with you and your content on TikTok?

We currently post new content 3-4 times a week and try to respond to or at least heart every comment we get. Probably the biggest way for us to keep engagement going has been responding to our followers’ comments via video with the puppy they’ve requested to see, and we’ve based all our graduation walks following our viral one on what our audience has asked for!

How do you handle the negative comments on the platform?

We’re super fortunate that we mostly have extremely supportive and positive comments. What we’ve loved seeing on other accounts on TikTok is how your community can really have your back and support you if a negative comment comes in, and they often reply to it in support for you before you can yourself!

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were first starting out on the platform?

Not to overthink things and just create and post more!

Who are some of your favorite TikTokers/accounts to follow?

Basically anyone who makes us laugh, shares awesome tips, or are so creative they’re an inspiration for creating more content!

@dudeperfect @jasonderulo @brodywellmaker @thisisvirginiakerr @thefoldinglady

What is next for you on the platform, anything we should be on the lookout for?

We’ll be continuing to post our puppy graduations, but also including more puppyhood tips from our trainers to help new puppy parents, along with doing current trends, and of course posting tons more adorable “puppies being puppies” content 

Where can our readers connect with you?

All social: @thepuppyacademy

We loved chatting with Ricci and if you enjoyed his coffee chat, make sure that you check out the pupple academy on TikTok! And drop a comment on his video that you saw him here on the TrendTok Coffee Chat series!!

This series is presented by the TrendTok App, the platform for TikTok Analytics that helps creators go viral! Check it out here!

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