Entrepreneur: Makaela Ingemi

Biz: Mak Ingemi

Tilt: Her take on viral trends along with humor and advice

Time to First Dollar: 4 to 5 months

Channels: TikTok (1.7M), YouTube (75K), Instagram (63.1K)

Rev Streams: Brand sponsorships, TikTok creator fund

Our Favorite Actionable Advice: 

  • Listen to the people: Mak was a guest on her sister’s TikTok when those viewers urged her to start her own account. Within seven months, it became her primary source of income.
  • Stick to a niche: Her business manager preached the benefit of finding and defining your niche. Mak relates to her audience often from her perspective as a member of the LGBTQ community.
  • Don’t budget big revenue from creator funds: While Mak earns revenue through TikTok’s creator fund, she finds much more success in executing brand sponsorships.

The Story

What TikTok viewers want, TikTok viewers get. After they begged Makaela (Mak) Ingemi to start her own handle, she crafted a unique account. In only seven months, it’s become her primary income by defining her niche. 

Mak first appeared on her sister Mattea Ingemi’s TikTok account (2.3M) in a series of videos featuring odd questions and Mak’s hilarious answers. After a few features, Mattea’s comments were full of people asking Mak to premiere a profile where they could follow her life more closely. 

Mak Ingemi made brief appearances on her sister's TikTok. Viewers asked her to start her own. Seven months later, it was her primary income. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

So, she gave in. Mak wasn’t opposed to being an original creator as she had been creating for her YouTube channel since 2018. But she hadn’t been consistent on YouTube because those videos took her more time to create than quick TikToks. Now, Mak strives to bring her ever-growing TikTok audience over to YouTube where she can tell more stories. 

Mak’s content often talks about her life as a part of the LGBTQ community. She’s built up a dedicated following that turns to her for humor, advice, and perspective about dating, working, and living in the modern world. Her account combines viral trends with moments from Mak’s everyday life, something she’s been applauded for as her audience got to know her better. 

Mak spent the first three months creating TikToks based on viral trends. She says new creators can grow a following quickly by “finding creative ways to twist (trends) into something, so it fits your profile.” 

Defining your niche

Her strategy to build an audience and monetize her content? Building an unbreakable niche. “My manager has always kind of shoved this down my throat but: niche out your profile,” she explains. “It’s really important. People want to think they go big, and they just hit all of these different areas and their platform will grow. 

“I think that’s where you see these accounts that have like 1 million-plus followers or something, but if you look at their engagement, they’re getting like 5K views on a video. If you build your following on your niche or your niches, and you let people know exactly what they’re going to get, your account is gonna grow a lot faster.”

If you build a following in a niche and let people know what they're getting, your account is going to grow a lot faster, says #TikTok creator Mak Ingemi. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

Mak’s immediate niche was identifying as part of the LGBTQ community. While there’s power in defining yourself on a platform, there can be a downside when you feel constrained by it. “I kind of felt like the entire point of my profile was just me being gay, which is fine. I love posting LGBTQ content and being able to be a role model for people, especially younger queer kids,” Mak says.

Lately, she’s been growing her platform and her own online identity in new forms of content. While creating, she keeps in mind brand sponsorships – that’s how she built a sustainable business in just seven months. (Note: Mak does have a job as a videographer outside of content creation, but she says most of her income comes from brand deals.)

“I do, like, a cooking series now that’s performed really well. I’ve reached out and done a lot of fashion-type of videos. In my mind, it’s like … how can I create content that will be marketable for these brands that want to see their product on my page, but at the same time, connect it back to these niches?” she says. “Part of that comes with making sure that your TikTok profile is also about your personality and about you as a person.” 

Don’t expect creator funds to bring big bucks

Mak also spoke about her participation in TikTok’s creator fund. “I don’t make a ton from the creator fund. I don’t know if there’s any validity in it,” she says. The real value comes from creating a strong image that brands respond to. “My younger sister does content creation as well, and she’s struggled with her niche a little bit. She has a significantly higher amount of followers than I do, and I’ve gotten offered more on certain offers just because of my niche.”

TikTok creator Mak Ingemi says don't expect big bucks from creator funds. The real value in content comes from a strong image that brands respond to. #ContentEntrepreneur #Sponsorships Click To Tweet

In the future, Mak plans to continue growing her YouTube audience, where she believes she can connect on a deeper level with her followers. “I think there are a lot of stories, especially in my area there are a lot of queer stories that I think should be told, can be told on YouTube. Ideally, that’s the direction I’ll take my channel.”

About the author

Kelly Wynne is a journalist and creative writer living in Chicago with her pet dachshund. She's an advocate for women's rights, mental health, and chronic illness.