Beauty Creator Ester Tania Shares What She’s Learned About Brand Partnerships

Photo credit: -strizh-/Shutterstock Brendan Byrne (Licensed) remix by Caterina Cox

We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.

This week, we spoke with Ester Tania (@estertaniaj), a beauty creator with 2.5 million cumulative followers across TikTok and Instagram.

Tania is widely known for her “storytime” videos, in which she does her makeup and narrates dramatic and controversial stories about break-ups, cheating, and other relationship drama. In her videos, Tania says the stories she reads are anonymously submitted by fans. In addition, Tania posts product review, unboxing, lifestyle, travel, health, fitness, and self-care videos. 

Tania has partnered with a remarkable amount of high-profile brands, including Disney, Hulu, the National Football League, ColourPop Cosmetics, Glossier, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Pretty Little Thing. Alongside her career as a creator, Tania is also a professional actor, with credits in well-known series and films like Master of None, Luke Cage, City on a Hill, and The Comedian.

In an interview with Passionfruit, Tania shared what she’s learned about brand partnerships, her best-performing videos, her favorite filming and video editing tools, and more.

What social media trends are you currently paying attention to?

I love keeping up with trending videos, but I’m actually focusing on my own original content for now. I’ll always participate in makeup trends as long as it doesn’t require my audience to pay for new products!  

On TikTok, what kind of video formats and styles do you find perform best for you?

The storytimes while doing my makeup have always performed well. Everyone loves the crazy voiceovers with makeup. I also have a smoothie, skincare, and “What I Eat in a Day” series, which help me connect personally with my audience. 

Do you have any advice for tailoring content to TikTok as opposed to Instagram? What are the pros and cons of each platform?

This is the part I haven’t figured out yet! Instagram users are very different from TikTok users. I find TikTok users are more open, and my community is bigger. Instagram can be a bit scarier because they don’t understand the concept of a storytime. It definitely takes some adjusting. I think repurposing your TikTok content to Instagram is just fine, but staying consistent is key.

What are your favorite tools for creating beauty content? 

I used to film all my content in the TikTok app, which does make it very easy to edit, but if you lose your phone or the app won’t save—it’s the worst-case scenario.

I have started filming on my new Sony ZV camera and editing on Final Cut [Pro,] which I had been doing for about 10 years for YouTube. I think the higher-quality videos are refreshing to my audience, and I have more control over the way I edit with Final Cut. 

I also use Yongnuo lights from Amazon, which are very affordable! It’s all about learning how to use the lights you have to make it more interesting to look at. From there, it’s about getting creative with makeup or whatever content I’m shooting that day. 

What do you wish you knew about content creation tools when you first started out as a creator?

Well, I started creating content back in 2013 on my YouTube channel, and back then I felt I needed a good DSLR camera, lens, and editing software, so I spent lots of money getting it only to not find success on YouTube. 

For TikTok, I decided to do the opposite. I created content on my phone and used what I had instead of investing in new lighting and setup. I didn’t need those things. You can create amazing content with just your phone and a window. 

What are some of the ways you monetize? 

The best thing I ever did was sign with my management over at Dulcedo. They help me secure brand deals, and that has taken me a long way. I’ve created relationships with brands I never dreamed I’d be able to ever meet. I now make enough money to pay my rent, and I wasn’t able to do that before. 

What monetization advice do you have for up-and-coming creators?

Find a good niche you love and apply that to trending sounds and anything trending online. Trends helped me when I started.

I would also say charge more than you think you should. At the end of the day, the brand will negotiate so don’t lowball yourself. Draft an amazing short email pitch, and email brands every single day. You can also take that pitch and send it through [direct message] as well. Think of yourself as your manager.

What are some red flags in brand partnerships that make you certain you don’t want to work with a brand?

I love having creative control because I know what works for my audience. It’s important for the brand to be open to your suggestions since you are the creator. 

Also, payment is so important! Send your invoices as soon as you post, and follow up if they haven’t been paid. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are owed.

A huge red flag to me is lack of bedside manner. If the brand is rude to you even a little, it’s best to not work with them again. It means they don’t respect or value you, and it can lead to worse. I once had a brand cancel halfway through after I had already filmed all the content. This left me with hours of unpaid work, and I could tell it would go that way because of how they spoke to me over email. Always trust your instincts!

What are some of the ways you connect with fans?

I go live as often as possible, and I answer as many questions as I can. This truly is something so vital. 

What are your current goals?

Continuing! I have many projects coming up, and I’d like to announce things soon, but since I’m doing everything on my own it takes a bit longer.

Are you a creator? Email [email protected] for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter.

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