Interview with Tik Tok Star Liv Pearsall aka Lil' Breadstick
From Bible Stories to Math Facts Liv shares the secret on how she gained 800k followers in just over 30 days
I had the pleasure of speaking with Liv (over Zoom, thanks 2020) about her incredible growth on Tik Tok and where she gets all her ideas.
Jason: In the last 30 days, you’ve gained over eight hundred thousand followers, so I guess my first question is, what happened?
Liv: I got TikTok in December just as a fun app to mess around on and at the beginning my only followers were really my friends. Around late March I posted a video about a story when I was in 5th grade, and when I woke up the next day it had 5 million views and I got 50 thousand new followers overnight. I realized if I wanted to gain a following I needed to capitalize on this so I started putting out more regular content and trying to figure out what my brand would be. I started putting out little experiments here and there; posting videos of different types at the same time and seeing which would do better. Then I grew to 100k, 200k, 300k followers. I was at 350k for a while and in early June I posted another video that hit 6 million views and in the last 45 days, I went up to 1.3 million. So it was really 2 videos that blew up that helped propel me.
I have to ask, where did Lil Breadstick come from?
I went to a camp in California when I was younger and for some reason, I coined the name Lil Breadstick for myself, and to this day I still think it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever done. Everyone in the camp started calling me that. I thought it was a funny story and I told it on my Tik Tok and my followers decided that I was Lil Breadstick now. I actually changed my handle from Liv.Pearsall to Liv.Breadstick for fun. I wanted to change it back because I’d rather be known by my name. The problem is you can’t change your handle for 30 days after you change it, but then I blew up so I’m known as Liv.Breadstick and that handle is stuck
How do you decide which videos should be a series versus a one-off?
Most of the videos that are an ongoing series start out as one category where I had a lot of ideas for. Like cool math facts, you can’t just be like here’s one cool math fact, well maybe you can (laughs) but I had a lot I want to share. Same with the Bible Stories, I had a lot I wanted to share so I knew I could do numerous ones for those topics. When it’s just a little sketch I can tell when it’s gonna gain traction and be something people are going to want more of. Every now and then I’ll have a video that I think is a one-off but people really like so I’ll turn it into a series. It’s a combination of me wanting to please my followers because I want to be a good content creator and doing what makes me happy.
Do you have a favorite video?
Hmm honestly I thought the Elijah v. Baal video was so funny, I packed a lot of jokes into that one and was very proud of it.
The bible ones are always impressive to me because you pack so much information into a short video
I cut so much out! They would be so much funnier if I could do 5 minutes
What’s the hardest video to make?
Any video that requires a script, audio recording, upload, costumes, lip-sync, and editing of words over it with durations, those take forever. So that’s why videos like the Bible Stories will take much longer than some of my other simpler videos. I think more work gets put into it than people realize, even though part of my brand is that it’s such low production value. I’m just slapping a towel on my head or putting on a sweatshirt I haven’t washed in weeks, maybe don’t put that in (laughs) fine you can. I feel like if I up the quality it would lose the novelty.
That’s why I’m hesitant about moving to a platform like YouTube.
So that was my next question, would you ever move to YouTube?
YouTube has really upped their professionalism and I don’t really have any professional tools. I’m editing within the Tik Tok app, sometimes I use an app called Splice which is like $1 a month, and even for that I was like maybe it’s too much. It’s scary because the people that are really big devote their lives to it. Someone as huge as David Dobrik has a legit camera he uses for his vlogs, I’m using my phone. So if I do decide to take that next step maybe I need to think about investing some more, it’s hard to gauge how legit this platform even is and how far I can or want to take it.
Are there any other Tik Tokers you look up to?
What first comes to my head are people who I admire the positivity and encouragement they show towards their followers, that’s what I really want for my followers. For instance, @annaxsitar who also has 1.3 million followers does a really good job of being kind to her followers and validating them. It’s especially important to me because I’m a Christian, unfortunately, the Christian community on Tik Tok is known for being very judgemental and I want my platform to be a place where anyone, not only Christians, can follow me and I want them to know that I love them no matter what.
There’s another creator, @Ethan_In_Person, we actually go to school together, we blew up at the same time. He’s really funny and consistent and those are qualities I really respect. For Tik Tokers in general, the consistency of putting quality content, it’s not always easy. I have a life of my own, a 9-5 job so sometimes it's a struggle.
It’s clear that your religion is an important part of your platform.
I’m constantly reminding myself I’m using this platform for God. My natural inclination is to point to myself and say “look what I did.” The Lord keeps reminding me that everything I have is a gift from him so I need to keep reminding myself that. The hardest and most rewarding part of this platform is being able to offer it up to the Lord.
Where do you want to go from here?
Honestly, great questions. I’m currently at Wheaton and I’ll be graduating in December with a Bachelor’s in Applied Math. I would love a job in the data industry. Fun fact, I worked as a runway model in San Francisco before I moved away. I would love to keep doing that so ideally, I would want a job in a city with a big agency where I could do both.
If I could have anything I want to be a performer. Performing is the most energizing and fun thing in the world for me, nothing would make me happier than to perform as a career. I went into college telling myself it’s not possible, there are so many people who try it and fail, so I went for a stable career path. It’s something I also enjoy, not as much, but I enjoy it. Now, I suddenly have this weird opportunity to actually entertain people and over a million people have deemed me someone they want to keep watching. This started out as an app I got for fun because i didn’t think anyone would care but now I’m in a situation where maybe being an entertainer is possible. One of my dreams is to be on SNL, I always said that will never happen, but now I’m thinking maybe I should try it and take this where I can. I’m just riding the wave until it dies down if I happen to pursue my dream in the middle of it so be it.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to become successful on Tik Tok?
Pick a brand early on, you want something that will make you recognizable. That’ll be what gets people to follow you and not make you a one-hit-wonder. For me it started with the phrase “Okay so,” the name Lil Breadstick, “Something Something with Liv,” and having the text pop up as I say every word. Those are all things that when my video shows up on the FYP they immediately know that it’s me. That when they come across other videos I’ve made they can associate them with me, that’s how you make a connection and a brand.
Even though it seems obvious, the most important thing is to make good content. People always talk about using the right hashtags or captions, but when it comes down to it if people like your content and they want to watch it you will blow up as long as you’re passionate about it and consistent.