For Sal Farzin, the side hustle of a lifetime almost never happened.
“’You’re too old for TikTok, dad!“They told me,” says Farzin, 43. By day, the father of four works for a tech company in Austin, Texas; by night, he’s the face and voice of @SimplySalFinds, a hugely popular TikTok account that finds and shares great products on Amazon. The social media account, which is only two years old, recently surpassed two million followers.
When COVID-19 hit, Farzin was hit with a temporary pay cut at work and needed an outside source of income to help bridge the gap. Taking on the TikTok challenge has sent the family on an unprecedented wild ride, resulting in a side hustle that leverages two revenue streams – affiliate link commissions and referral deals with brands like Kodak, Panasonic, The Container Store and, of course, Amazon itself.
Here’s how the family works together to launch one viral video after another, how they make money on TikTok, and where they put it to help cultivate financial independence.
An all-too-familiar pandemic ordeal
Farzin’s motivation to launch a parallel agitation came from the financial difficulties associated with the pandemic.
“Our company at the time took a pay cut for all full-time employees,” he says. “So for someone like me, where I’m the only person working with a wife and four kids, I needed to do something on the side to complete.” Farzin overheard his kids talking about TikTok, an app still in its infancy, and asked about it. His family laughed at him.
“They said, ‘Dad, what would you do on TikTok? ‘” he says, noting that the challenge actually inspired him. Farzin and his wife spent a few weeks researching the app and, like many of us, were initially puzzled. “I struggled a bit at first”
The couple came up with different ideas before having an epiphany: As people who love shopping for gadgets and have been using Amazon for 15 years, they could launch a nearly faceless product recommendation channel and take advantage of monetized links to the help from the Amazon Associates program, which anyone can sign up for. The first post on @SimplySalFinds was published on July 1, 2020.
The posts immediately started going viral. As of July 3, the account already had 50,000 followers. That’s when Farzin and his wife realized TikTok had the potential to be a money-making machine.
The rise of TikTok
Launched by parent company Bytedance in September 2016, TikTok’s explosive growth didn’t really take off until the fall of 2018. After acquiring lip-syncing app Musical.ly the previous year, the Chinese streaming giant technology has combined the apps into a single short. form the vertical video experience we know today.
Often seen as a superficial app only good for dance challenges and score videos, TikTok has increasingly found its stride as the first big tech disruptor. The app is now the most visited website in the world, dethroning Google, which held the top spot for more than 15 years, and left rivals like Instagram and YouTube scrambling to create copy features like Reels and Shorts, respectively. Bytedance recorded $58 billion in revenue in 2021, just under half of Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook)’s reported $119 billion in revenue for the same period.
The earning potential on TikTok is amazing – if you have the right strategy with your videos. Once the Farzin family dialed in their winning formula for production, things took off.
How They Produce Viral Videos, Step by Step
The videos on @SimplySalFinds are short, quick and well-planned, a process that Farzin says boils down to three main steps.
Step 1: Research and Brainstorm
When planning content, the Farzin family scour Amazon for unique and seasonal products to showcase. They also use this time to think of cool ways to showcase products and showcase features in a very short time.
“Who is the director? Who’s the producer? We decide that first,” says Farzin, noting that his eldest daughter Neela usually does the planning because she has the most experience shooting the actual video footage.
“When we started making these videos in 2020, it took us between an hour and two per video, like finding the script and recording everything, knowing what we were going to do,” explains Neela, 17. “But now we’ve compressed that time to maybe 10-20 minutes per video. It’s become a lot more efficient in my opinion. We do a lot more in that time frame, maybe we can save a few videos in a [time block of] one to two hours. »
Every new social media platform has a learning curve. Stick with it, and the time it takes to produce and publish will gradually decrease.
Step 2: Voice over and video production
The family then adopts a divide-and-conquer approach. Farzin scripts and records a short voice-over that serves as audio and beats for the videos, and his daughter records and edits all of the video footage on an iPhone. Farzin’s other kids sometimes help by holding up products or showing them off to the camera. Storyboarding videos beforehand helps speed up the editing process.
“We try to keep the total time for the video and script under 20 seconds,” he says. Farzin notes that speed and quality of visuals are key for fast-paced platforms like TikTok. “Good lighting is a non-negotiable.”
@simplysalfinds Cabinet organization made easy 🙌 #amazonfinds #tiktokmademebuyit #organizedhome #organizeit #salfinds ♬ original sound – Simply Sal Finds
Step 3: Download and engage
@SimplySalFinds posts new videos daily, and Farzin says engagement with followers has helped build community interest and word-of-mouth.
“One of the things that I think sets me apart from a lot of other content creators is that I connect with my audience,” he says. “Whether through direct messages or comments, I try to stay as active as possible for the first 24-48 hours, responding to positive comments and turning negative comments into positives to keep it fun. .”
How @SimplySalFinds Generates Revenue
The family derives two revenue streams from its presence on TikTok: affiliate links and branded offers.
Since TikTok’s interface only allows one profile link at a time, Farzin uses a tool called c8ke to create a tree of links to his various Amazon shopping lists. The links have Farzin’s Amazon affiliate code, so if someone buys a product using their link, they get a commission.
The account’s audience has also sparked interest from companies looking to sponsor videos and showcase their products. Farzin says unsolicited inbound referral requests have increased as his audience has grown, but he continues to do proactive outreach with businesses that primarily sell on Amazon.
“Seasonal products are what matter to me right now,” he says. “Mosquito Repellents, [products for] trying to stay cool in hot weather is the things people are looking for right now.
@simplysalfinds Time for fun in the sun ☀️#amazonfinds #tiktokmademebuyit #gadgets #summervibes #salfinds ♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists
where does the money go
The Farzin family uses their TikTok earnings to pay off their debts and instill good financial habits in their children.
Her children receive a portion of the income based on their contribution to running the account that month, with Neela receiving around 70% and her other children sharing the rest. The family also contributes income to their children’s savings accounts and has used the remaining income to pay off their vehicles and some other debts.
“We also save some of it for certain holidays to make sure we have goals we want to work on,” says Sal. “Debt reduction was one of the first things we tried to do.” Farzin notes that the profit margins are strong because all of their marketing and advertising is through word of mouth and organic reach on the platform, and the only side hustle expense is the products themselves, a few widgets. software and premium subscriptions to graphic design tools like Canvas.
“We are monitoring [the kids’ saving and spending] from the parent’s perspective, we monitor growth and ensure that the appropriate percentage goes into their account each month,” he says. “Neela is preparing to apply to colleges. Helping him save for college was also a focus of our attention. Farzin says money from the college fund is being funneled into a savings account for now because the extra income was so sudden, rather than an investment vehicle like a 529 plan or a custodial Roth IRA.
To keep more of your money, create a trade formation
In the fall of 2021, the Farzins realized that the money coming in was going to be constant, so they registered their efforts on TikTok as a business. Starting a business for your side hustle, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), is inexpensive and can help you keep a lot more money you earn outside of your day job when the season comes. taxes is approaching.
The Farzins set up an LLC and elected to have it taxed as an S corporation. S corporation elections have their pros and cons depending on the nature of your hustle or business, and it’s best to consult a financial adviser or a business creation expert to ensure that your classification is financially well suited.
For the Farzins, building a community and making money on TikTok continues to be a family affair. And maybe dad isn’t too old for TikTok after all.
“One of Neela’s friends recently called me ‘the man, the myth, the legend’,” he says. “They’re like, ‘we gotta meet his dad, we gotta meet this guy!’ It’s a cool feeling.