Dubbed the “Scholarship Guru,” Carlynn Greene has secured 30 scholarships between her undergraduate and graduate degrees. With over 181k followers on Instagram and 784k followers on TikTok, she teaches people to do just the same: significantly reduce their college debt by securing the scholarships they want. Beyond this, Carlynn has had the opportunity to tap into different types of scholarship support for students from different backgrounds, and collaborate with major brands like Walmart and Microsoft.
Like many creators, Carlynn is committed to growing and supporting her audience through value-packed digital products, such as her Financial Aid Toolkit, HBCU toolkit for Black students, and even a toolkit on how to successfully use AI to secure scholarships. She’s written three books and is in the process of writing a fourth one on how to “crack the code” when it comes to scholarship applications for international students and those interested in studying abroad.
We sat down with Carlynn to learn about her journey into content creation, her key monetization strategies, and all things digital products. Let’s dive in!
Tell us about your content creation journey.
I first started on YouTube in 2017. However, I eventually pivoted to TikTok in January of 2021, which is when things really started to kick off for my content. Eventually that growth was also shared with my Instagram when the platform finally implemented Reels. Through all of this, I’ve learned that I’m better suited for short-form content. I think that’s why I thrive more on platforms like TikTok and Instagram as opposed to YouTube, which is mainly long-form content.
Why did you focus on the scholarship/student space as your content niche?
After winning 30 scholarships between undergraduate and graduate school, I wanted to share my techniques on how to win scholarships with others. Many people apply for them but never get awarded, because they don’t realize that it’s a very strategic process. That’s why I focus so heavily on teaching them just that!
There are so many different ways to monetize as a creator. Which ones have worked best for you?
What are some of the opportunities you’ve gained through content creation?
So far, I have been able to work with huge brands like Walmart, Microsoft, Dr Pepper, and more. The cool thing about my content is that I focus on student-centered stuff — mainly scholarship advice. A lot of these huge companies give out scholarships and need someone to advertise them. So, often they’d come to me to spread the word!
Also, I was able to win the ADCOLOR TikTok Creator Award, and received $65,000 in grants between TikTok and LinkedIn.
You also offer a number of digital products. Can you break them down for us?
Most of what I offer on my website is free, like my Financial Aid Toolkit. However, I reserve more step-by-step and in-depth learning for my paid-for products. For example, all my ebooks are paid products.
I make six figures from my online business, primarily by selling three books (available in ebook and paperback formats). And I’m currently working on a fourth one for international students!
Scholarship Algorithm is a strategy book I wrote as a 30-time scholarship winner, who was debt-free for undergraduate and graduate school. It’s also about how I’ve helped students across the globe win millions for their education.
School Code is the ultimate guide for students and parents to navigate college admissions, academic enhancement, professional development, networking, and saving and making money. This book is chock-full with advice and resources for success.
The Disabled Debt-Free Degree teaches readers how to obtain a higher education for free (or cheaper) based on disabilities and medical conditions that are physical, mental, chronic, or otherwise via lesser-known financial resources.
Why did you start selling digital products?
Tell us about your content and audience growth strategies across Instagram and TikTok.
For TikTok, I initially focused primarily on stitching and dueting videos. Then, I would repurpose those videos for Instagram. I also recently started using a software called Manychat to automate my responses to those in my comments and DMs, which has significantly grown my email newsletter as well.
How do you engage with your audience?
How do you stay inspired as a content creator and avoid burnout?
What keeps me motivated are the success stories I hear from students. For instance, I had a student who won 50 scholarships (even more than I did), and a student who won 24 scholarships while currently in college (she just graduated debt-free)! And so many more of these testimonials can be seen on my website.
These stories are what keep me going. At times, I get imposter syndrome and think, “Do I really know what I’m talking about here?” But seeing those wins validates what I do.
Do you have any tips for aspiring content creators?
I would say to thoroughly study those in your niche before you get started. I did this for about a month before I got on TikTok and took so many notes. Once that was done, I finally started creating my content and was very strategic with my captions, hashtags, calls to action, and establishing myself as a thought leader in my space, which can help with credibility.
What’s next for your content creation journey?
Focusing more on getting speaking engagements! Social media algorithms are unpredictable. First, I depended on YouTube, then TikTok, and now my primary platform is Instagram. However, this can all fluctuate, so I’m trying to do more in-person interactions.