A TikTok creator who posts tips on how to apply to college breaks down how he has grown his account to 880,000 followers and is making thousands of dollars from brand deals
19th May 2021
  • Gohar Khan set up his TikTok account, @goharsguide, in September to help students apply to college. 
  • He now has more than 880,000 followers and has earned more than $3,500 from brand deals.
  • Khan explained how he works with brands and how TikTok has boosted his consulting business.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In his junior and senior years of high school, Gohar Khan would spend hours every day scrolling through “Applying to college” Reddit threads and the college-admissions website College Confidential, hoping to find help and advice that his school wasn’t providing. 

“It was just this incessant information gathering for months leading up to college applications,” Khan told Insider. 

Ultimately, his efforts paid off. He was accepted by Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Brown. Khan, 22, is now a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in computer science, economics, data science, and business analytics. 

While studying, he also set up his TikTok account, Gohar’s Guide, where he posts regular tips to his 880,000 followers about how to get into the top schools.

Since starting the account in September, he’s picked up brand-partnership deals and used his TikTok account to direct business toward his college-student consulting firm. 

Khan broke down his earnings with Insider and explained how his experiences as a first-generation college student from a low-income background inspired him to help others in similar positions. 

Khan said he launched his TikTok to help students like him who don’t have access to the resources to ‘ace their college applications’

Khan started posting his popular tabletop videos — filmed from above, with quick transitions and integrated graphics —  in September 2020. He told Insider he produces content daily and spends between two and four hours filming each video.

His videos vary in topic, from “What happens if you cheat on the SAT?” and “What to do your sophomore year,” to hacks for memorizing important dates and reading tips. So far they’ve amassed more than 24 million likes. 

Khan said he was motivated to launch the TikTok account out of empathy for students going through the college-application system.

ready? 📝 ##school ##learnontiktok ##tiktokpartner (essay help in bio!)

“It wasn’t until my junior year that I understood that top schools offered full scholarships and that they would offer need-based scholarships too,” said Khan, who was offered a full scholarship from MIT.

“I see TikTok as a way of passing on my journey and what I’ve learned coming from a background that really wasn’t ideal for applying to top schools, as opposed to someone from a private school who may have had the resources, knowledge, and counselors to really ace their college applications,” Khan added.

Khan has worked on a small number of partnerships with brands such as the study-tools company Quizlet and the scholarship program Rise. So far he’s earned $3,500 from brand deals, and he charges rates ranging from $500 for a single promotional video to $9,000 for a multi-video campaign. Insider verified his earnings by viewing documentation that Khan provided, which included an agreement to work on a campaign that isn’t yet live.

Khan told Insider he’s careful when choosing which brands to work with. 

“Every day I get a lot of DMs on Instagram and a ton of emails from different companies trying to sponsor me,” Khan said. “The last thing I want is to advertise something to my viewers that I don’t truly believe in.”

When it comes to brand deals, Khan is his own negotiator. “My pricing scheme is really just a gut feeling based on how big the company is and whether they have a larger budget to allocate,” he said. 

Khan’s TikTok has helped promote his college-student consulting startup

Alongside his TikTok-related income, his content on the video app has also helped boost business at Next Admit, the student-consulting business he set up last year with his brother, a fellow Ivy League student. The company offers educational services such as essay reviews and college-application help. A 500-word essay review costs $68 for a one-week turnaround. The business employs about a dozen student consultants. 

“Nearly all traffic to Next Admit comes from TikTok,” Khan said. “I would definitely link my TikTok success to the success of Next Admit, but I also feel we’re starting to garner attention via word of mouth.” 

Khan said the only funding required for the business was “the $10 for a domain and a couple bucks” for an Amazon Web Services server. He declined to disclose Next Admit’s financials. 

“Affordability and accessibility is at the core of Next Admit,” Khan said. So far, the website has garnered 696,000 page views from more than 81,000 users across the globe, he added.

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