I went viral on TikTok right after Christmas last year.
I know people are going to ask how I did it, so I'm absolutely going to tell you that it was a complete fucking accident. I kept seeing people comment Let's Go Darwin on posts of anti-vaxxers, and then a few people said to me "you should make a shirt" and so I did. I designed a super simple tee (in the picture) and made mine with glitter on my cricut then made a video that took me less than 15 minutes including editing and typing out all the hashtags and stuff.
I didn't really think much about it and headed out to do my evening barn chores (we have five horses, chickens, donkey, etc.), and then when I checked my phone later I saw a lot of views. And I started getting orders for the shirt.
I ended up adding a non-glitter option as well as designing another one with a camo flag as well as stickers, bumper stickers, magnets which were all requested on the video. That video currently has about 750K views. I had my first $10K day in revenue and a few more that almost hit the $10K mark.
While it was amazing to make that much money, it was also really hard. I typically work by myself doing everything, and M (boyfriend) helps sometimes but he has a full time job so even though we're partners he is more of a silent partner. We stayed up until 3-4 am many nights pressing shirts and packing orders. The emails and customer messages were overwhelming...and there were a lot of my tears as I struggled to make everyone happy while keeping up with my shop.
I learned that I can set boundaries and tell customers no. I don't have to accommodate every request especially when they're unreasonable. And I learned that I would rather build a community more slowly with steady orders and provide excellent customer service rather than a blind flurry of orders. Plus since this tee isn't in my usual wheelhouse I'm not sure how many repeat customers I'll get from it.
Anyway, all of this to say if you're a small business owner or content creator hoping to go viral: be prepared for the hate comments, be prepared to have people be angry at you even though you're trying your best. And don't let it get to you. There are some people who will never be happy. That's not on you. Just be upfront and honest.