A young couple who packed in their old lives to become full-time TikTok influencers are on course to earn £120,000 from their videos this year.
When they met on Tinder in August 2018, James “Jimbo” Hall, 21, was working for his dad Mark’s e-commerce business as head of purchasing, after leaving school at 16 with just four GCSEs, while Eloise Fouladgar, 22, was studying politics at London’s City University.
Like other young couples, they chatted for hours on the phone and synchronised their movie viewing on Netflix. But in March 2019 – six months into dating – the pair, who now share a home in Berkshire, were introduced by pals to the Chinese video sharing social networking service and their fortunes changed virtually overnight.
Jimbo said: “I was mainly keeping an eye on trends and doing the occasional silly dance – I wasn’t gaining followers very quickly at all.”
But by June, he was well and truly hooked and convinced Eloise to sign up for an account, so they could make content together. Their first video in June last year featuring Jimbo dancing in the background while Eloise watched, looking unimpressed, attracted 100,000 views.
“Jimbo practically begged me to make an account,” Eloise laughed. “So I eventually obliged by sitting in the background while he did one of his silly dances. I cringe looking back at it – I was so awkward.”
Soon sharing videos about all aspects of their life as a couple, a clip of Jimbo bringing Eloise a hot water bottle to ease her period cramps gained a staggering two million views.
Eloise said: “I was in actual shock. The video just blew up overnight – we weren’t expecting it at all. I think people like to see romance, especially young people, who hope to have that for themselves one day. We try not to be fake in our videos and I think that makes us relatable.”
She continued: “I think the hot water bottle clip did well as so many girls want a bit of pampering at that time of the month, but it’s never really spoken about.”
Footage of their two-week trip to the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali in September 2019, set against a backdrop of white, sandy beaches and crystal clear sea, drew one million views.
Soon their popularity reaped material rewards when, in December 2019, they were contacted by influencer management agency, Yoke, who, for a cut of their profits, promised to turn their social media presence into a profitable business.
With becoming a full-time influencer looking more lucrative – and fun – than a career in politics, Eloise, who was in the third year of her degree, dropped out and Jimbo left his dad’s company to pursue their successful video double act.
“Coming back from Bali was when it all changed for us,” Eloise explained. “We were contacted by a management agency and that’s when we realised this is what we wanted to do. I had to sit down with my parents and explain to them this is what I was dropping out of my course for, to become a full-time influencer.”
She continued: “They weren’t exactly convinced by the idea. I told them to give me a year and if I hadn’t made it by then, I would go back to my studies.”
Since then, the couple have learned how to earn a fortune on TikTok, with Eloise making no plans to return to her politics degree later this year.
They earn money by using brand sponsorship, which involves big retail names paying them to place products in their videos – making them between £1,000 to £3,000, depending on the brand. They also use music placement, with record labels like Warner Music Group paying up to £1,500 for their artists to provide the soundtrack.
And thirdly, they promote downloadable apps, giving a unique link in the video or on their homepage, which shows developers that any subsequent download hit came from them – which earns them up to £3,000.
Explaining how they choose which brands to promote, Eloise said: “We want to stay true to our audience, so we always make sure the promotion fits in with the rest of our content.”
“If I’m recommending an app to download, it will be one that I use on my phone all the time,” she added. “If I’m plugging a brand it’s because I use them and like them myself.”
The couple’s first big earner together came in February 2020, when Eloise was paid £2,500 by online retailer Fashion Nova to share a video wearing its merchandise, to be shown to her two millions followers.
Striking up similar deals with big brands like The Perfume Shop, Revolut and Papa John’s, the tech-savvy duo are paid on average £2,000 per post, depending on the product.
“When I post an ad I want to make sure our audience enjoys it,” Eloise explained. “So, I will try and make it as fun and in line with our non-promotional output as possible. When I did some work for Pretty Little Thing I got Jimbo to do the order online so it turned into a kind of game – my boyfriend doing my clothes shop for me.”
She continued: “The video involved me trying on all the clothes he’d bought and, to mine and the viewers’ surprise, he actually did a good job. I try and do something like that with all the promotional stuff we share. It pays off. I can even see us doing a his and hers range for a clothes line at some point down the road – a collaboration with an online retailer.”
Now, the couple upload seven to 14 videos a week – making sure that a maximum of three are promotional, so they keep their viewers entertained with other original content and do not leave them feeling that everything is a money-making wheeze.
They are also well known by fans for their share-worthy pranks, with one video of Eloise throwing a foam brick at Jimbo’s car gaining 25 million views.
“We did the video in two parts,” she recalled. “The first was me throwing the brick at Jimbo’s car and the next was his reaction.”
She continued: “It must have got 10 million views in one day, I gained over 400,000 followers that night – it was the best day of my life. I think that’s been our best video yet.”
But not every prank is as successful.
Eloise said: “I had this brilliant idea that if I froze Mentos mints in Jimbo’s ice cubes his drink would explode all over him when he plonked them in. It was an absolute fail, but we still uploaded it to TikTok, because people like to see that we are real and it’s not staged.”
And last month, Jimbo and Eloise, who have three million followers and nearly 75 million likes between them, banked a whopping £10,000 from brand sponsorship, music placement and app promotion alone.
On track to earn over £120,000 between them by the end of 2020, they are also one of the few business partnerships to have benefited from lockdown – with more and more bored youngsters boosting their popularity and saleability by clicking on their clips.
Eloise said: “Ever since the pandemic our TikTok has really taken off. Part of it is because we’re able to film basically every day without fail.”
She continued: “But mainly I think it’s to do with everyone being stuck at home, especially the younger generation, and having nothing to do. There’s only so much Netflix anybody can watch and we’re keeping them entertained instead. It’s a two-way street though. We’d be so bored without putting out all this content.”
Currently renting their two-bedroom flat, the couple are hoping to use their savings to put down a deposit on a £500,000 property in London at the beginning of next year.
Eloise said: “I’ve told Jimbo I want us to own our own house, have a pomeranian dog and be engaged by the time I’m 24 – so he’s got two years. We’re on the same page though…just about. Our biggest goal right now is to reach five million TikTok followers. I feel like once we’ve hit that target, we really have made it as influencers.”
She continued: “Jimbo never lets me forget my reaction when we reached one million – I actually cried – so you can imagine what I’ll be like if we make it to five.”
In the future, the pair have also set their sights set on making it across the pond.
Jimbo said: “It would be great to fly out to LA, where the TikTok scene is massive, and try to establish ourselves there, but who knows, the bar is so, so high out there.”
He concluded: “Most important of all is thinking about longevity, TikTok is so new, you just don’t know where it’s going to be in a year or two. We want to expand into other realms of social media, especially YouTube, as it’s never gone out of fashion.”