Vivian Tu is the founder and CEO of social-media brand “Your Rich BFF”. Vivian Tu
Former investment banker Vivian Tu began posting videos on TikTok to discuss personal finance.
His account “Your Rich BFF” gained popularity and he built a brand with over 5 million followers.
This essay is part of the “5 Trends to Bet Your Career On” series.
This essay is based on a conversation with Vivian Tu, a 29-year-old content creator and social-media brand founder. your rich bff, The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Every video of mine starts with the tagline, “I’m Vivian, your rich BFF and your favorite Wall Street girl.” I like to think that this sentence gives you a three-second summary of my backstory and what I do now.
I started my career as an equity trader at investment bank JPMorgan in 2016. After a few good years, my manager left, and after that, I felt like I was being undervalued.
I left Wall Street to move into the tech and media world and started working in client partnerships at BuzzFeed. When I got there, all my new coworkers were asking me questions like, “Are we buying the company’s stock options? Which health insurance did you choose?”
I had so many questions that I decided to put this information online, not because I wanted to be a creator or influencer, but because I thought it would be a fun way to help my coworkers.
I posted my first TikTok video on January 1, 2021, and it went viral. I got 100,000 followers in a week.
People always want to know what made that first video so special, and I think the truth was that it wasn’t special. I just called out all the people online who were giving bad financial advice or recommending risky options. I said, “I don’t have any plans to get rich quick, but if you want to learn more about money, I can definitely teach you.”
Soon after, I started making money as a content creator. At first, it was just ads on my videos on TikTok and later on Instagram, YouTube and other platforms.
Now, I get paid primarily through partnerships with brands – I post branded content on my social-media accounts, I work as talent for brands’ content, doing interviews on their behalf. , and speak at events. I also make money from ads on my podcast, “Networth & Chill.” And most recently, I received an advance for my personal-finance book, which I will publish by Penguin in December.
Devoting full time to content creation requires planning
In April 2022, a year and three months after making the first video, I decided to quit my job. Leaving BuzzFeed was a difficult decision. I had been there for almost four years and was getting rewarded for my hard work. It was profitable. But Your Rich BFF really started moving forward, and I wanted to do things I didn’t have the bandwidth to do.
I said to myself, “You can always come back to a corporate job. When you’re 40, 50, 60, you don’t want to look back at this moment and wonder what if.”
I estimated how much money I would need to make consistently to be able to make a living from content alone. Before I quit, I set aside $100,000 for a year’s worth of income from my corporate job.
Creators sometimes get on their skis – they have a viral video and they’re thinking about quitting their job. I don’t think that’s wise.
I was afraid to leave. When you come from a background like mine, an immigrant family whose expectation is that you’ll go to university and then get a high-paying corporate job, it’s absolutely terrifying to go out and do your thing.
I started growing my team and realized I had made the right decision. I first hired a lawyer to look over my brand partnership contracts, and a manager to advise me on business decisions.
Three months after I left the job, the volume of opportunities and inbounds increased so much that my management even recommended I get an agent, someone who could negotiate contracts and rates for me with brands and other business partners. I signed with talent agency WME, and through them, I was able to increase the rates I charge, and start new projects like a podcast and book to grow my brand.
I want to be known as an educator, not just an influencer, and diversifying my platform is a way to let people learn about finance using whatever medium they choose.
Furthermore, the algorithms of social-media platforms constantly change. Sometimes you’re charming and sometimes you’re not, so I find it important to diversify my business and meet my audience where they are.
My plan worked – last year I paid myself a salary of almost $300,000. But overall my business made $3 million. Obviously I had to pay my teams and reinvest in the company, but I have a great life and I get to be my own boss.
Ingredients for a Successful Social-Media Brand
There’s always a bit of luck involved when you’re successful on social media, but I also think I’ve done some things better than other people creating financial content.
My branding is strong. It tells you everything you need to know about my history and what happens in my content. It’s strong to such an extent that people stop me on the street and say my tagline.
I’ve also made a concerted effort to treat my audiences like friends. I call them my BFFs. I take time to respond to DMs. I prefer serving versus selling. I don’t have any courses, I don’t have any masterclasses. I’m not selling digital. I’m providing the value for free.
Last, but not least, I am consistent. Since I started posting, I put up a piece of content every day. If I only created content on days when I felt like creating it, I wouldn’t have as much of it.
I’ve seen creators who work so hard on it for a month and then take a month off, and like that, all the momentum you’ve built gets wasted. I recommend deciding on a content cadence that you can follow consistently.
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