Last August I signed with an MCN (multi-channel network) in Beijing and became a Tik Tok (known as Douyin in China) influencer — teaching English to the Chinese audience. I invested in a vlog camera and studio lights and was posting 3–4 times a week.
Within two months I hit 10k followers. Then another 10k in the next two months. This February I reached 34k followers and was approached by business partners. I moved to a studio and thought I should monetize this thing.
In our MCN, a lot of the influencers from the same company were making 5 figures a month(in USD) with fewer than 100k followers. The top ones were having 7-figure months. It’s not surprising, given that the platform had over 600 million daily active users back in 2020.
Within a month following my move, I quit. I gave the MCN a heads up and quietly stopped posting. To be honest, I didn’t expect I would quit this way. But I knew from my guts it was the right decision.
I Stopped Learning & Growing
I am a lifelong learner and I cannot live a life without learning and growth. But that was what it was like on Douyin for 6 months — I was learning to cater to my follower’s needs with no reward to myself. The only reward was the growing follower number, which started to feel like an illusion.
I felt empty, unfulfilled, even resentful at one moment. I found myself thinking that I was wasting my life. That thought gave me a wake-up call.
I Was Not Energized
This symptom was probably an extension of the last one. On top of that, I couldn’t find the connection that was necessary to energize an introvert. I felt I was not vibrating on the same level as my audience — not to mention the constant, sometimes even irrelevant criticism I got from them.
I realized it became a one-way street.
My energies were sapped, and there was no way to recharge except for fleeing the platform. My posting frequency got lower and lower until at one point, I realized I was much happier without it.
The Platform Was not Friendly to Users Abroad
While content creators in mainland China can start going live to sell products when they reach 1k followers, those living abroad need to hit 500k. Yep, 1 VS 500.
Although Douyin revised its rules later and lowered the follower standards for overseas users (especially for those signed with MCNs), 200k was the “magic number” I needed to hit.
That was a rule I didn’t understand, and I couldn’t see the end of it. Again, it brought me back to the thought: “I was wasting my life.”
I Wasn’t Passionate About What I Would be Selling
To monetize your Tik Tok hustle, you need to go live and sell. While I had no problem going live, I couldn’t imagine selling things I didn’t feel passionate about. “300 Sentences of Conversational English”? Meh. Not to mention I had to do it at least a few days a week.
The funny thing is, I’m an actor and I do commercials all the time. I feel very different about selling in commercials than selling on Tik Tok. Why?
When I book a commercial as a talent, I work for the company. I know how much I get paid, with all the terms and conditions written in black and white. I do my work, and I get a paycheck. That’s it.
Going live to sell on Tik Tok, on the other hand, is working for yourself. That requires a lot of intrinsic motivation. As you can see, I had almost none.
I Didn’t Like Who I was Being
Isn’t this also why people leave relationships? Because they don’t like who they’ve become, or who they are becoming?
That was what happened to me. I lost the motivation because I wasn’t inspired anymore. And I didn’t like that version of me being uninspired, lethargic, and reluctant.
Oh trust me, that also showed up in my content as well. When you stop liking who you were being, when your contents stop representing you, that is a sign that you need to evaluate.
Luckily, my evaluation led me to the first two points, which already gave me the answer I needed.
This Experience Helped Me Find Where I Belong
My 6-month Tik Tok influencer journey can be summarized into three words: “ I didn’t belong”. That’s why I could quit with no regret or bitterness because I was taking 100% responsibility for that decision.
Reflecting on that experience, I found where I belong: I am booking many more acting jobs than before, my writings got published, my plays and screenplays got produced, I hired a mindset coach and starting my own coaching business — which is not just another stream of income, but requires me to live in the breakthroughs.
These three things — acting, writing, and coaching, give me synergy that I can’t imagine I can get anywhere else. My learnings in these three areas are inter-applicable, and I’ve been seeing miracles along the way — one thing leads to the next, then another, and they are all paving my way to where I want to go.
I’m no quitter, but sometimes giving up is just the right thing to do. Holding onto whatever doesn’t serve you is only going to take up your energy and space, prevent new things from coming in, and keep you stuck. When what you do stifles your growth, change, so your new life can take place and unfold.