Entrepreneur: Zack Burris

Biz: Zack the Girl Dad  

Tilt: Marriage and parenting humor  

Primary Channels:  TikTok (103.7K), Instagram (82.9K)

Other Channels: YouTube (169)

Time to First Dollar: 18 months when Swiffer DM’d him on Instagram

Rev Streams: Brand partnerships (Zack also has a full-time tech job.)

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Get a strategy: Zack followed TikTok trends to attract an audience. To retain his viewers, he created series, such as a collection of posts where he performs songs with his daughters’ toy xylophone.
  • Make full-time a goal: He creates his brand while holding a full-time job. But Zack’s goal is to make the content business his full-time job and grow an audience he can pass down to his daughters.
  • Protect your rights: Several companies have proposed giving them the rights to his videos so they can market them to media outlets and digital publications and split the earnings. Zack never says yes. He advocates for creators to retain the rights to their content.

The Story of Zack Burris

The text on Zack Burris’ TikTok this spring asked a simple question with a twist: “If you could become a full-time content creator, but in order to do so, you have to become a bow model, would you do it?”

As the video features a series of images with Zack posing with his daughters’ hair bows, his answer is clear: Most certainly yes. “Let’s make it happen,” he writes in the description. 

The success of Zack’s content business, which includes sponsorships from the likes of Huggies, Microsoft. and Circle K, is both a surprise and expected. In high school, he aspired to be a social media influencer and built a long-gone short-skit YouTube channel with a high school friend. 

Zack set all of that aside when he went to college and got married. He returned to content creation formally about the time the pandemic began. A friend encouraged him to post on TikTok. Skeptical, thinking it was mostly a platform for dance trends, he eventually posted a video to make memories with his young daughter. By the fifth video, featuring his daughter talking on her toy phone, he’d gone viral.

Zack Burrs thought @TikTok was mostly for dance videos. He was wrong. Now he operates the content business #ZackTheGirlDad. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

“It was very intriguing to me about how I was able to get that exposure, and it just pulled me in,” Zack says. “So, I started making videos with her all the time.” 

Keeping it real

Concerned about privacy, Zack quickly leaned less on content featuring his now two daughters and more on his humorous parenting takes. He found success in that content tilt when he rolled out series, such as posts remaking songs with the girls’ toy xylophone and participating in duet challenges. He also did a dad tips series, an idea he developed on paternity leave.

“I learned to do (TikTok) trends more for the exposure, but I do the series to keep the viewers active on the actual account,” Zack tells The Tilt. “The audience joins for the trends, but they stay for the series and for your personalization.” 

He also added marriage humor to his mix. And that sparked the long-running and popular series featuring tongue-in-cheek reasons his wife married him, such as having someone who can turn all the lights off in the house. 

“I started to realize, along the way, that making content around real-life scenarios was what people would relate to anyways because, more than likely, if we’re going through it, somebody else is,” Zack says. “So, basically, anytime my wife made the comment, ‘Why else do you think I got married,’ I made it into a video.” 

Working to go full time with creator business

The hard work to build followers on TikTok and Instagram didn’t immediately net him any big brand deals. In the first 18 months or so after launching, he had done a couple of product reviews for brands. 

Then, Swiffer, the maker of sweeping and mopping products, messaged him on Instagram. “I was in shock,” Zack says. “I was like, ‘Is this a real thing?’” 

Luckily, his wife’s friend was also a social media influencer with a larger following, and he went to her for support and advice on rates, expectations, timelines, and exclusivity. Today, Zack’s content revenue primarily comes from brand deals on his social channels. He also works with The Beard Club to create content for their Instagram. And he holds down a full-time tech job as a quality assurance analyst. 

For now, the money he earns from content is used to pay off household debt or a splurge. A recent deal with Microsoft was enough to pay for a new awning on his house. 

Entrepreneur Zack Burris says he uses revenue from his content business to pay off debt or buy a splurge. Eventually, he wants it to be his full-time income. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

As social media algorithms feel less and less predictable, Zack is looking for ways to expand. He’s building a website that will feature a media kit, which he plans to send out to brands he’d like to partner with. “I would love for it to be my full-time income and to pass on the page to my daughters,” Zack says. “It has been amazing.” 

Advice for content entrepreneurs

For newbie creators, Zack has these tips: 

Be wary of scams

From fake accounts made under his name to con artists offering to send money on Venmo if he sends personal information, Zack has seen it all. “Do your research before responding to anybody,” he warns. 

Protect your rights 

Several companies reached out to Zack with promises to market his videos to media outlets and digital publications if he gave them the rights. If they would sell it, for example, to a major TV network, they’ll split the earnings with him.

“Don’t ever do that,” Zack says. “I just recommend nobody ever sign up for or agree to those terms and just keep the rights to their own videos.” 

Don't give away the rights to your content, advises #ZackTheGirlDad. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Flip the script 

Like most content creators, Zack gets hateful comments. His dad tips series drew out some “haters,” as Zack refers to them. “It’s going to happen no matter what,” he says. “I looked at it as, ‘Hey, this comment is going to help me get more exposure.’ This person went out of their way to make my video pushed out to more people.’” 

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About the author

Sarah Lindenfeld Hall is a longtime journalist, freelance writer, and founding editor of two popular parenting websites in North Carolina. She frequently writes about parenting, aging, education, business management, and interesting people doing remarkable things.