Coltyy: 10Million+ on TikTok. How Brands Can Think Like Creators

Colton Macaulay jumped on the TikTok bandwagon in 2018 and has since grown his audience to 10 Million+ fans. Today, he creates content for a number of brand partnerships—but it’s always the act of creating that comes first, and the monetary side second.


Colton Macaulay jumped on the TikTok bandwagon in 2018 and has since grown his audience to 10 Million+ fans. Today, he creates content for a number of brand partnerships—but it’s always the act of creating that comes first, and the monetary side second. Getting compensated allows him to do one important thing: create crazier and crazier content. Using his phone for recording and iMovie for editing, Colton is now expanding into YouTube shorts and longer-form content. In this episode of DTC POD, he explains why he got kicked out of creator house, what brands can do to communicate effectively with creators, and the importance of mastering social media algorithms.


Colton Macaulay (@Coltyy), sits down with Blaine & Ramon to detail how he grew his audience to over 10 Million fans on TikTok, 3 Million+ on Youtube, and the creator's perspective on working with DTC brands. For Coltyy, becoming a TikTok star began with a passion for art, photography, and the outdoors. His wildlife photos were getting good attention on Instagram, but the engagement performed much better when he featured himself in the content. From there it seemed a natural step to start producing video, where he could be much less formal—and have fun in the process. Now, it’s not unusual for Colton to spend over 10 hours per day making content for his 10 million+ fans.

00:40 - The “creator house” vibe

Creator houses are a unique space where popular creators gather to produce content. The fact that there is high expectation to produce contracted content for brands is a double-edged sword.

“Obviously to live in these homes, you've got deliverables to meet. So maybe you’ve got to make a certain amount of videos with that caffeine bar, which is called the Nutrohaler per month, to stay and live in that house. Or you got to make a [inaudible], or we have that long format app that's going to be coming out soon, which is Flick. And we've got to make a certain amount of videos to help promote the launch. And then the last content before that would have been The Go, it was a reality show. That was also a shit show. They were just sucking every penny they could from every brand. And we had to like film six hours a day, and all these videos were heavily promoted with different brands.”

08:37 - The first brand deal

Colton’s first brand deal resulted in a viral video with over 8 million views. He’s extremely thoughtful about which brands he will work with and the content he produces, as each video becomes part of his public profile.

“Everything happened very fast. I was putting like crazy hours, like 10 hours a day. In the first two months I got to 72,000. This was 2018, I believe. Two months in around 72,000, and I had my first viral video series two days later. Another viral video series and I was at 450-450,000. I got my first song promo around like 800,000 followers. They just reached out to me. I had no idea what my worth was. I think I was still averaging probably at least 1.5-2 million views, and I think I accepted like $600 bucks, $800 bucks, which I was told was very underpriced. It was like yo, $800 bucks for being on TikTok?? All right. So that was probably my first deal, and that song promo got 8 million views on my video. I do put a lot of time in when it comes to brand deals and things like that. I know I usually can't remove these views from my profile, so I try to make it real good.”

9:53 - Producing content organically

Even when content is part of a paid promotion, Colton’s goal is to work the product or service in as organically as possible.

“The last one that I did was one for Yubo, which is an app kind of like Tinder, but almost for friends. And then you play games and stuff on there. So I was like, all right, I'm in Florida. I’ve got to get this video done within like 24 hours if I want to do it. So my head’s just thinking like how can I incorporate maybe meeting a friend on this app, and doing something kind of crazy in Florida? I was like, okay. I just came from LA. I'm going to say that I was on Yubo and I met this other guy who loves wildlife, and he's in Florida. So I decided to go over to meet him and catch iguanas. So the video was just me and him catching iguanas in Florida. And then we both caught one where we brought them back to where like our Airbnb and were bonding with our iguanas, and then making jokes and stuff throughout the video to make it more entertaining. And that was kind of that promo. I just tried to make it feel as organic as possible. I don't want it to seem like it's forced.”

11:30 - Vetting brand partnerships

As a creator, Colton loathes email. He says the best way brands can approach creators is through DMs, where they should clearly state the type of engagement they’re seeking.

“Most creators absolutely hate email. I'm sure some are pretty good at answering them, but I know a lot of my friends, including me. Super cluttered. I feel like I answer most of the DMs on Instagram. So if there's a company jumping in there, I'm on my screen all the time, including all my friends. Those are the ones I respond to the fastest, and it just seems more personal. I like texts. I like Instagram. I want something personal. The formal stuff, it's not really my thing. That's why having a manager would be awesome, because we're creators. We're not someone who's trying to do emails all day. So the ones that I respond to on Instagram for sure would be the ones that stand out, or they get straight to the point…I would like to know, like, are they just trying to get like a collab, like free product? Sometimes they won't even say. So you have to send emails back and forth to figure out what that is. Like, get straight to the point. Is it you're trying to give us free product for a post, which are very much are the ones I don't want to do. Or are you trying to do pay per download, if it's an app? Or is it a fixed price, where we pay you a certain amount per post? Knowing that it is pretty key for whether I respond or not.”

17:28 - Giving every video 100%

Colton is serious about content and wants every video he creates to perform well. His profile is like a living billboard that showscases high video views as a result of his effort.

“I like having that clean profile. I'm not trying to give away my secrets here, but you know brands are going through your profile and they're looking at how many views you're averaging. I don't want a video on my profile that says 200,000 views, 300,000 if my average is like 2 million, 3 million. When you're making those post for brands, that’s staying on there. So that's why I always give 100% effort. I'll even sometimes redo them. And if I have a real relationship with them, then it usually leads to maybe a possible another deal. Or if I have other brands going through my profile, it increases my price too. It's like, oh, this guy's averaging maybe like 3 million views for brands.”

19:37 - The importance of video editing

The more content Colton produces, the more he considers hiring a videographer to partner with him. The key is finding someone who’s the perfect fit for his style.

“The amount of time that people spend editing is insane. I mean, Justice, the guy in our content house, that guy is on the computer morning till night editing. It's a full-time job. And if I was doing that, especially because my goal for this year is getting to long format content. I got like six videos ready that I'm going to post. If I spend the time editing those six videos, like I bet you I’d probably have 20 less TikToks out right now. So I definitely will have a team. I just gotta find the right guy that fits what I'm looking for. I've tried a few videographers, but it just doesn't match up at all. Like, I'll be in the middle of the woods by myself with this guy, and he just won't talk. I'd be talking and I think I'll say something funny or be like almost asking questions. Like the guy doesn't talk. I'm sure you probably see some YouTube channels where the videographer is almost a character too. You’re kind of like vibing with the person, it's gotta be the same energy.”

21:38 - Why challenges perform well

Videos that include challenges typically get high views, as the audience wants to stick around and find out what happens.

“My first [YouTube] Short that blew up was a challenge. I've done a lot of challenges. Challenges do very well on YouTube Shorts. Don't know why that is. But since I'm pretty athletic, we went to a gymnastics gym and I created a challenge. You know what a box is, like a gymnastics box? Well, it's kind of the same material, but it's a donut. So I placed this donut at higher and higher levels and you have to like dive through it and to the point where people would start knocking it over, and not making it. And then it was pretty much who could make it the highest. Those challenges seem to be really well. I think it's because the watch time on it really high, because everyone wants to see how high everyone’s going to make it to the very end. They want to see like how many boxes, how many levels they’ll reach. So I've noticed the challenges where it's levels, people want to see how high or what level they're going to reach before they eat shit.”

23:06 - Mastering the algorithm

Understanding the algorithm is perhaps the most important part of being a creator. Colton has developed a sixth sense for what will work well based on the rules of each platform and the elements that are valued.

“I very much look at how things perform, and I looked at the watch time. And then based off how certain videos perform, I change my content and tweak it. It's the reason why I’ve made it up to this point, is I have came up with my own conclusions or ideas on what the possible algorithm was for TikTok or YouTube. Understanding that algorithm is the most important thing. And there's a bunch of different parts to how it works that are all evaluated higher or lower. Obviously one of the most valued ones would be watch time. But, for example, like TikTok it’s profile clicks. People that are going out of the way to go to the profile is very highly valued. And that's why you see a lot of people that do those videos that are cliffhangers. So they'll have a part two to them next, getting the same views. Because people are going out of the way to come back to the profile to see if part two is out.”

26:08 - Moving to long-format content

Condensing a video down to less than a minute is hard. That’s why Colton is excited to start exploring longer content that allows for more creativity.

“For me on YouTube, a lot of people make them 15 seconds, 20 seconds. Look at all mine, and they're almost all exactly a minute. I used to use the whole minute. I would totally do it for three minutes, if it was worth my time. Because I try to use that same video for YouTube shorts, so I'm still keeping everything to one minute. But it's hard for me to compact my videos to fit one minute long. I'm struggling to take out clips. So long format for me is like a little more relaxed. I just don't have to make it as fast-paced, or take out certain clips I don't want to take. So three-minute videos, five-minute videos, or even 10 minutes is not going to be too hard of a problem for me…now that challenge is gone. I don't have to worry about that. I can make it the way I want it.”

41:41 - Any account can go viral

Many creators have a big hit and then lose their mojo. But Colton says it’s always possible to find your stride again and see your account take off.

“Some accounts can die off if like maybe you went viral once and got like hundreds of thousands of followers. And that was you're only following was one video, and you’ve had no viral videos since. I've seen it happen to a handful of people. Or maybe they blew up through skits. Now, skits don't work on TikTok. That’s also one of the reasons why I did try to diversify my content as much as possible, so I'm not relying on one niche. But for the most part, you can revive accounts, no problem. I know my friend Matt, he was, no offense, but his views were ass. They were real bad, like 8 million followers, averaging ver multiple months like 70,000 views, 50,000 views, 80,000 views for like the longest time. And then all of a sudden things started picking up again. He was getting a million, 2 million, 500,000, 2 million, 5 million.”

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Colton Macaulay - Creator on Tiktok

Ramon Berrios - CEO of

Blaine Bolus - COO of OmniPanel