Entrepreneur: Emily Shaw

Biz: EmilyRayna

Tilt: Frugal, creative interior redesigns

Time to First Dollar: Between 6 months and 1 year

Channels: TikTok (4.5M), YouTube (127K), Instagram (148K)

Rev Streams: Brand sponsorships, TikTok creator fund, YouTube AdSense, direct clients

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Narrow your niche: Emily isn’t making videos on TikTok about interior design. She’s focused on DIY projects that can be done on a tight budget.
  • Pick the platform you do best: Not a fan of long-form content, Emily centers her work on TikTok and an audience that prefers short videos.
  • Don’t fake it: Resist any temptation to fictionalize for the sake of good content. Be true to your work, and your audience will respond more positively.

The Story

If you’re interested in interior design and DIY projects, you’ve seen Emily Shaw (@EmilyRayna) on your TikTok for-you page. The young interior designer and architect has over 4.5M followers on the app who appreciate her skills and her passion for giving back. 

The short-video creator hasn’t been on digital platforms too long, but that hasn’t stopped her from seeing wild platform growth. She funds her career by collaborating with brands she loves. Emily focused on graphic design tips when she joined TikTok in April 2020. Her first Snapchat-art video gained 2.1M views, and her following began growing. Then, she switched gears a bit and started sharing her plan to redesign her parent’s house while they were out of town. With a small budget and a passion for the project, Emily captured returning viewers who wanted to see the final outcome. 

TikTok's EmilyRayna funds her DIY projects and content creation by partnering with brands she loves. #contententrepreneur #influencer Click To Tweet

Emily’s personal inspiration for the project, and her career as a whole, comes from her family life. “I have always loved decorating my own spaces and the arts in general. I do attribute a lot of my desire to improve spaces to having grown up in an unkempt home, which you may recognize from my videos about my parents’ house,” she says. “I also believe that my love for problem solving also comes from growing up more frugal.”

So, Emily’s videos combine these things. She creates new spaces for clients (and family members) on a tight budget while allowing herself to be creative in how she crafts each room. Her TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram give DIY inspiration to followers while producing real-time updates on every one of Emily’s large projects. Not only is her content entertaining and easy to follow, but it allows viewers to recreate the results in their own homes.

Earning a living by blending real and digital worlds

Emily’s rise to internet fame allows her to keep producing this type of content. “It was never something that I thought was for me until I was essentially thrown into it,” she says. “When it comes to my career, it has allowed me to design in a much more rewarding way. I’m able to design for people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford that kind of work to be done and at the same time share tips for so many people to go try it themselves. 

“Now I’m able to choose who I want to design for, and since I work for myself, my projects are totally mine, and they build my brand instead of a firm’s. It really is perfect for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

EmilyRayna says her content business gives her the chance to do #interiordesign for people who wouldn't normally afford it. #creatoreconomy #TikTok Click To Tweet

To fund each project she covers on her digital channels, Emily relies on sponsorships from brands that align with her work and seek to promote their products to her audiences through her usual content. 

“The work I do takes a lot of time, so I prefer to be able to share that with everyone instead of doing private work with clients,” she says. “I have been very lucky to have many amazing sponsorships with companies that I have always adored and who allow me to be creative with my content to create amazing videos. I love getting to learn about all of the business behind the scenes.” 

TikTok fits her style

Emily’s large followings enable her to earn revenue through TikTok’s creator fund and YouTube’s AdSense program. 

Emily prefers TikTok because long-form content comes with more challenges. “I find TikTok to be the easiest platform for me to create on. I started posting publicly on TikTok because I was comfortable with short-video content, and I think it works the best for me,” she says. “The most difficult platform for me would definitely be YouTube; it is something I’m still trying to navigate and find my voice with. I think it takes a lot of talent to be able to engage people for long videos, and I am still trying to figure all of that out.”

Advice for content entrepreneurs

New content creators can face pressures like living up to audience expectations and competing with other creators. “If you worry about competing with those around you, everything will be stressful and you won’t be able to enjoy where you are at,” Emily says. “Just enjoy any opportunity you receive and try to remember all of the details because social media has become such a life-changing thing and you never know what tomorrow will bring.”

In addition, Emily advises creators not to fictionalize for the sake of good content. “You don’t need to search for a gimmick. Just share something you love and people will be able to see your authenticity,” she says. “I’ve never had to fabricate anything. I just posted about what I loved doing and it became my niche. If you be yourself, then it’s possible that your job could be to just be you; and that is the most amazing feeling ever.”

Don't search for a gimmick to gain traction on @TikTok. Share something you love and viewers will appreciate the authenticity, says EmilyRayna (4.5M followers). #contententrepreneur Click To Tweet

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.