Finance is a taboo subject — it’s something we seldom talk to others about and would only discuss in private. Many people, especially women, have been conditioned to believe that money is a complicated subject that must be left to the professionals. “My not-so-conspiracy conspiracy theory is that the patriarchy distributes those narratives to women and other marginalized groups to keep them underpaid, undervalued, and overworked,” says Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K.
Dunlap created her brand and financial website shortly after the 2016 American presidential election. “The movement we started was really brought on by the election of Donald Trump, and the realization that we don’t have any sort of equality for marginalized folks until you have financial equality,” Dunlap notes. For many Americans, the event left a big question mark over gender and racial equality, reproductive rights, and economic stability. That ultimately inspired Dunlap, a young 20-something working for a security firm at the time, to start her own blog sharing accessible financial advice and resources. She ran the blog on the side of her 9-5, detailing her journey to save $100,000 by age 25. And when Dunlap reached her goal shortly after her birthday, millions of other women wanted to learn exactly how she did it.
Making bank as a financial influencer
Dunlap celebrated the milestone with a trip to Italy and soon after, received a call from Good Morning America. “I filmed my segment and I quit my job three weeks later,” she recalls. At that time, in 2019, her main source of income was private financial and career coaching, $99 live workshops, and digital downloads. When the pandemic hit and the popularity of investing surged, Dunlap’s educational TikToks became a go-to resource for many, contributing to further growth of her social media following. Her brand, aptly named Her First $100K, grew from $0.5 million in revenue in 2020 to over $3.4 million in 2021.
Scaling her business with 15 team members, today, Dunlap continues to empower women to build their wealth through her informative TikTok and Instagram videos, her podcast, and her upcoming book Financial Feminist, set to launch in December. Her tone across all platforms sits somewhere between informative stand-up and the cool, finance-savvy sister you always wish you had.
Dunlap’s new book poses important questions that aim to help women understand their financial habits. The book also offers practical financial advice that sets you up to get out of debt, save, build financial stability, invest, earn more, and scale your career or business.
“Beyond this being a finance book, I see this as a book that all women need in their life. [It talks] about the narratives that you’ve been believing about your money and worth, which have been keeping you behind in society,” Dunlap says.
What creators need to understand about money
Instead of going straight into practical money advice, Dunlap’s business is founded on the belief that we must first look at our own beliefs and emotions surrounding money.
“I realized that in order to make lasting change, you have to ask [yourself] what are the narratives you believe in, or have been taught about money,” Dunlap explains. Some of the most common narratives range from “it’s impolite to talk about money,” “you shouldn’t want money because it’s evil,” and “money can’t buy you happiness.”
“The most intense part is that money is psychological and emotional, and until you realize what kind of financial trauma you carry, it’s going to impact every part of your life,” Dunlap says. “And if you’re running a business or are a creator, it’s going to impact every part of your business.”
She continues, “[There are] all of these creators now, many who’ve blown up during the pandemic, who are trying to figure out how to manage their money, especially women and people of color. And they either don’t know how to advocate for themselves, or don’t think they are worthy of advocacy.”
Ready to break the un-wealth cycle and start making money? Here are four lessons creators can learn from the success of Dunlap:
4 Financial Tips To Learn From Her First $100K
1. Don’t be afraid to talk about money
You should stand by your rates and build your wealth. It’s important to talk to other creators about rates and compare them with your own.
2. Create passive income with digital products
Sales from online courses and workshops helped build the financial foundation of Her First $100K. If you consider yourself a creator-educator, creating and selling digital products like courses is one of the best ways to make money. There’s little to no overhead, not to mention they can be sold repeatedly with unlimited supply, making them a great way to earn passive income for years to come.
3. Take advantage of long-term brand sponsorships
In addition to online course and workshop sales, Dunlap seeks ongoing brand sponsorships to cover business expenses and fund free content she’d post on TikTok and Instagram. This gives her the ability to share her content to a large audience, and create videos that authentically resonate with her brand, mission, and followers.
4. Offering value with your content = audience growth
Her First $100K has famously never paid for advertising, and instead offers free advice of value that’s worth sharing. If you’re a creator-educator like Dunlap, make sure that you’re sharing easily digestible knowledge that people will want to share with others.