“Do something unreasonable today.”
These were the words that convinced high school choir teacher Brett Boles to finally quit his teaching job and pursue his online business as a TikTok star and digital course creator full-time!
He’d been working 12-14 hour days for more than 5 years teaching choir at a high school in Connecticut. And even though he loved teaching and his students, he did NOT love the hours or the pay! He was always exhausted and ready for a change.
I wanted to capture Brett’s incredible journey, which all began with his students encouraging him to post short videos about music on TikTok. We sat down with him at his home in Connecticut to hear all about how he went from a teacher with no business experience to incredible TikTok stardom, affiliate marketing success with ClickBank, and a life-changing, six-figure online business!
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Who Is Brett Boles?
Brett Boles is a former high school choir teacher and current dad and entrepreneur living just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2007 and pursued vocal coaching for 10 years, then joined the BMI Theater Workshop in New York as a lyricist.
Eventually, Brett had to put those musical theater dreams on hold and look for a steady paycheck as a public school teacher to support his family. He later started a master’s in songwriting from Berklee, but put a pause on that to start his online business, which includes content creation for TikTok and Instagram, plus affiliate marketing on ClickBank and his own high-ticket songwriting course!
Brett’s TikTok Journey
Ironically, Brett’s success wouldn’t have been possible without TikTok, something he knew very little about before he got started. This 30-something teacher wasn’t particularly tech-savvy or business-oriented, but he forged ahead anyway!
As the story goes, Brett first learned about TikTok from his choir students. They actually encouraged him to start posting videos of himself on TikTok during the pandemic, and he decided to give it a try. If nothing else, he knew that his own success as a songwriter depended on how well he could market himself on social media!
For his content, Brett simply shared what he knew: musical theater and songwriting. He broke down popular songs from Broadway musicals – and later Disney movies – explaining how they worked and why fans loved them. By just publishing a single minute-long video per day, Brett saw his following grow steadily month after month.
He called his social media account “The M Tea,” which means “spilling the tea” about music – but with the initials of M.T., it could also mean a number of things, such as “music theory,” “musical theater,” or even “music teacher.”
When we sat down with him at his home, Brett shared a memorable anecdote about the day that one of his students discovered that Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the insanely popular musical Hamilton) had followed Brett’s account. She screamed in the middle of class and he thought something was wrong, until he realized she was just incredibly excited!
This was definitely a turning point for Brett. A few of his videos had gone viral before, but now, actual celebrities in the musical world were taking notice.
The only problem was, how could Brett take the half a million followers he’d built up over 2.5 years and translate that following into an income?
When Brett Discovered ClickBank
Brett Boles solved his TikTok monetization problem by signing up for a ClickBank account and finding a high-converting music product he could promote to his audience. (NOTE: I wrote an article about TikTok affiliate marketing, but it’s one thing just to share some general tips – it’s another to meet someone who’s doing it for real!)
All Brett did when he was ready to monetize his TikTok and Instagram was create a new video sharing his excitement about a product that could teach his followers piano, with a link in his bio to a landing page.
Originally, he had his affiliate link right there pointing to the sales page of this ClickBank product. Later, he added an opt-in step where he could continue to stay in touch and promote this product to a growing list of email subscribers.
One thing Brett emphasized to us is how skeptical he was about affiliate marketing when he first looked into it! Affiliate marketing seemed too good to be true. But he gave it a try – and made hundreds of dollars while he was sleeping that first night.
Since then, he’s gone on to make several thousand dollars from just this one ClickBank affiliate product, while also:
- Proving that there’s a market for his knowledge and expertise!
- Discovering how best to market to his audience!
- Monetizing followers who aren’t ready to invest in his more expensive songwriting course!
The coolest thing about Brett becoming a ClickBank affiliate is that he proved the concept of making money online – to himself!
As soon as Brett realized he could use ClickBank to make money as an affiliate, it gave him the confidence to put in his notice at his teaching job.
That one step – making his first commission check with a ClickBank affiliate product – convinced him that he could figure how to make it with his new online business!
Crossing the $100K Mark
Brett might have gotten the ball rolling for his business with affiliate marketing on ClickBank, but he had his sights set on creating his OWN high-ticket songwriting course!
There’s a reason for this… Over the past couple years, his followers had left tons of comments on his videos saying they wished that Brett could be THEIR music teacher. After a while, he got the idea that maybe he could be!
Because he didn’t have a background in business or digital marketing, Brett had relied a lot on marketing education to help him get to this point. He actually mentioned to us that he was a member of Spark by ClickBank, and he also learned a ton from another program that taught online marketing to music educators, including how to build his own funnel and create a digital course!
That’s when Brett started a beta program of his Transformational Songwriting program and invited his TikTok and Instagram followers to check it out! These were very warm leads who already liked Brett’s content and trusted him.
Brett used a fairly simple webinar funnel to sell his course: sign up for a webinar to learn more about the program, book a call with him, and if you’re convinced, purchase his course for a year of intensive songwriting lessons and coaching.
He also had a pretty compelling hook: anyone interested in being a songwriter has historically needed to go into debt or deplete their savings pursuing it through undergraduate or graduate-level university classes.
But what if you want to learn songwriting without spending $40K or more to do it? Brett’s course – even at a multi-thousand dollar price point – feels like an absolute bargain by comparison!
As of this writing, he’s got 38 students and crossed the $100k mark in total revenue just from sales of his Transformational Songwriting course! Not bad in the first year of business!
3 Tips for Free Traffic Success
Brett has enjoyed tremendous success by getting educated on affiliate marketing and sticking to his plan. But there are 3 overriding takeaways from Brett’s story that you should remember for your own journey!
1) Use TikTok as a Discovery Engine
Brett’s choir students had encouraged him to post on TikTok when he was first starting out. That ended up being a good decision, because his content was pushed to a lot of brand-new viewers on TikTok, which helped him expand his reach and grow his following!
The more-established social platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are tough to crack while you’re still new and looking to build an audience, but TikTok is built as a “discovery engine” that will get your videos in front of new people. (NOTE: If you want to learn more about TikTok, ClickBank actually has an in-depth course from social media expert Rachel Pedersen called How to Grow & Monetize TikTok.)
Now, just because your content gets discovered on TikTok, this doesn’t mean it’s the best place to build and reach your own audience! Brett told us that it was easier to get exposure on TikTok, but that a higher percentage of his Instagram followers actually get served the content he publishes.
The bottom line is, you should learn each platform and leverage their unique advantages with a comprehensive strategy. And like Brett, focus on just one or two platforms – you can’t learn all of them at once, and you’ll see more success if you can master the ones you’ve chosen!
2) Protect Your Brand
Brett said something that made a big impression on me. This was in a video on his Instagram where he talked about the affiliate product he was promoting:
I’ve spent two and a half years building this community on Instagram and TikTok, and I would never do anything to jeopardize your trust in me, so rest assured that when I share a product with you, it’s something I believe in wholeheartedly and it’s something that I think has tremendous value.
This resonated with me as a casual observer, so I’m sure Brett’s dedicated following really trusted his word that he wouldn’t promote any product he didn’t think would add value to their lives!
There are some types of affiliate marketing where you don’t have to think as much about your own reputation – such as paid ads targeting cold traffic – but if you’re doing free traffic like social media, YouTube, podcasting, or blogging, you absolutely need to think about your brand.
How do you protect your brand and reputation? Well, for one thing, be straightforward and upfront in your marketing! Tell the truth about a product’s advantages and disadvantages, as well as who it might be for. And if you wouldn’t encourage one of your close friends or family members to use a product, maybe don’t promote it to your followers!
In the end, it’s clear that Brett put a TON of effort into growing his audience on TikTok and Instagram. That audience is a massive asset that’s allowed him to build a six-figure business. It’s not worth squandering good will for a quick payday – instead, figure out ways to add more value and share your knowledge of your niche!
3) Promote Products With a Funnel
I was super impressed by the fact that Brett Boles had NO background in affiliate marketing, digital marketing, or even business, but was able to learn a key skill: building a sales funnel!
Specifically, Brett started out promoting a music product on ClickBank to his audience using an opt-in page to build his email address, followed by a page where they could go check out the page (through his affiliate tracking link, of course!).
From there, Brett invited his new email subscribers to tune into a live webinar where he could promote his high-ticket songwriting course. The CTA there was to schedule a live call with him, where he could hopefully sell them on buying the course!
So, to recap: visitors on Brett’s TikTok or Instagram are persuaded to visit his bio, click the tracking link to his landing page, and then become customers: for the ClickBank product Brett chose, for his own songwriting course, or both!
Below is a snapshot of the current landing page for his course, featuring a pre-recorded webinar that he’s put through its paces by now.
Clearly, Brett has cracked the code to building sales funnels. But what are the takeaways for YOU?
Well, whether you’re promoting an affiliate offer or selling your own product, it’s important to think about the customer journey from start to finish. If you’re like Brett and run an edutainment-style social media account, you’ll want to warm up your audience to buy from you by posting a personal video encouraging people to click the link in your bio.
That link should take people to a landing page, which should either feature your affiliate link, an opt-in form, or other step that leads people closer to making a purchase. Remember, Brett learned how to build a sales funnel from scratch, with no background in affiliate marketing – and you can do it too!
BONUS: Be Genuine
If you’re an aspiring content creator, Brett says, “You have to be YOU… Genuinely you!”
Don’t post what you think others want to see. Post what you WANT to post! Then, it’ll never be work. You want people attracted to you because it’s who you are and what you want to say.
From there, people will tell you what they want. Lots of people said, “I wish you could be my teacher!” That’s what gave Brett the direction to start his songwriting course, and it never would have happened if he hadn’t just focused on his genuine self and what he wanted to put out into the world.
It might sound a little hokey, but being yourself is the best way to be a content creator. Deliver genuine content first, and once you find a solid footing, then you can think about monetizing later.
Brett Boles Story Wrap-up
“Songwriting is something I’m super passionate about. I charge what I need to in order to be able to provide the value I want for my students.”
Brett Boles’ inspirational journey from high school choir teacher to TikTok sensation and successful digital entrepreneur showcases the power of free traffic and affiliate marketing today!
His story is rooted in a deep love for both music and teaching, but it also reveals how you can transform your life if you’re willing to embrace change and learn new things!
Brett has transitioned into online business and affiliate marketing thanks to ClickBank, and so can you!
Whether you use social media platforms like TikTok, paid ads, blogging, email, or other online traffic channels, you can find a niche and create a successful affiliate business of your own!
Thanks again to Brett for sharing his amazing story with us! You can check out his content at the following places online:
If you’re interested in seeing what a successful TikTok creator does (or you just want to enjoy some entertaining videos about musical theater and songwriting), be sure to check out Brett and The M Tea!
Ready to become a successful free traffic affiliate? If you want to build a firm foundation in blogging or TikTok, I encourage you to check out Spark by ClickBank. Spark is the official affiliate marketing education platform from ClickBank, providing you the courses, tools, and community you need to shortcut your path to that first affiliate paycheck – and beyond!