TikTok Star Evan the Card Guy Shares How He Hooked 16 Million Followers

Photo credit: Login/Shutterstock Evan the Card Guy (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 to Evan Alberto, aka the Card Guy (@thecardguy). Alberto is a TikToker with over 16.7 million followers and is known for card tricks, magic, social experiments, and giveaway videos. He also has over 4 million cumulative followers across YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Alberto started making card and magic trick videos around 2019. He saw success with what he calls “interactive magic”—performing and explaining magic directly to viewers through the screen. His other successful videos involve him approaching strangers in public for magic trick reactions, social experiments, and prize and cash giveaways.

Since his rise to TikTok fame, Alberto worked with large companies like Jack in the Box, Hyundai, and Arby’s for paid partnerships. Alberto also recently released a card game called It’s Tricky alongside gaming and entertainment company Barry & Jason.

In an interview with Passionfruit, Alberto described how he got started on TikTok, his successful viral video formats, how he plans videos with strangers, his monetization strategy, the creation of his new card game, and more.

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

How did you first get started as a creator?

I was in college and I was majoring in business. Meanwhile, I was working as a janitor at a car dealership just for extra money on the weekends when I wasn’t in class. And then, TikTok came out. … when [it] came out, I was like, “Well this is a new opportunity to showcase my magic.”

A lot of creators kind of have this story that they always wanted to be a creator and they grew up wanting to be a YouTuber. That was never the case for me. I kind of just did it for fun and then as soon as it started picking up, I got hooked and just kept going until eventually I was at the point where I had the opportunity to leave school and leave my job and just do it full-time.

What was your first viral video?

I was doing a card trick with an old friend of mine. It looked very candid. It looked as if we didn’t know each other. And I have this rule with myself that even if I do a magic video with friends or family, I never want to fake a reaction. So the whole video was legit. But I think the reason it did well was that it looked very natural. We did it at a mall and it looked like he could have passed as a stranger and it was just a cool video. So that got half a million views and for me, that was like, whoa, half a million people just saw this and it was my fifth video.

Some people make videos for a year and then get their first good one. But I always tell people, just keep going. You don’t know if your next one is going to be huge. 

In your early days, what was your strategy? Was there a particular video format you thought might do well?

Because I was just getting started, I wasn’t set on [going] viral. It kind of just happened. But more and more I just learned what did well and that was the strategy. … I started doing what I like to call interactive magic or interactive content. I feel like that’s really what gained traction towards the beginning for me, where I’m doing a magic trick to the screen so it feels like you’re there. So that’s where I started, with things like optical illusions and puzzles, things that the audience can feel involved in.

When you involve strangers in your videos, what is the process? How much of it is planned beforehand?

Every video that it’s a stranger, it genuinely is a stranger, whether it’s magic or I’m doing something wholesome where I’m giving away money or anything like that. What I always do is I go up to them first and I say, “Hey, I make videos and I kind of want to do something with you. Would you mind if I had you on camera?” And then 95% of the time they say, “No, thank you.”  

It’s important to have permission to get them on camera. Once I do, then the only thing that’s kind of fake is I go, “Okay, just don’t look at me. I’ll approach you with the camera.” … I prefer to ask first just so that the first interaction is very authentic and they’re in a good head space. 

What are some of the different ways that you’ve monetized? What works best for you?

It’s an interesting conversation because when it comes to monetization on social media, all the platforms are different. Some are better than others. … The way I’ve started making money at first was through TikTok live streams. I would do magic live for my audience. … which made good money and it’s what allowed me to quit my job, but it was very draining. 

So eventually I started getting brand deals and stuff. That was a good chunk of my income. And then where I really did the best was on YouTube and Snapchat, which is funny because they’re not my biggest platforms, but just per view, they pay the best. So I really focused my time on those, especially last year, and it paid off very well.

How did you identify who to partner with to make your card game It’s Tricky

I was working with Wheelhouse [an entertainment company] on a podcast, and the podcast centered around fun challenges. I would do magic for the guests and it was super fun. The whole theme was just lighthearted fun games, almost like a game-show-slash-podcast, which was really cool. And as we were brainstorming names, this is a couple of years ago, the name It’s Tricky came up.

Down the road we decided to basically use that IP [intellectual property] and go, oh, what if we made something with that name instead of just a podcast, we made it into a card game or a card deck. … Eventually, Wheelhouse connected me with Barry & Jason who make games. We started formulating ideas for this game and now it’s what it is now, which I think is a super fun card game. 

What have you learned through the process of creating the game?

It sounds cheesy, but stay true to yourself. … [The game is] very on-brand. It’s very lighthearted and fun. I think when trying to make products, when trying to do anything as a creator, it’s important to stay true to yourself. … It’s really important to me as a magician that I want the cards to feel really good.  I don’t want them to feel like your run-of-the-mill Uno cards … They’re not meant to be shuffled or played with like a Bicycle deck. So I don’t even know how they did this, but they somehow got in touch with Bicycle, so props to them. And the cards are actually made by Bicycle themselves. 

What are your goals right now? 

I always tell people that I want to be the next David Blaine, like, the face of magic. The person that when you think magic, you think the Card Guy.  It’s interesting though, cause it’s kind of changed over time because there are things I like to do other than magic. I like making videos that are funny or wholesome and I don’t see why I can’t do both. … So continue growing my social while also really leaning into the magic. 

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