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In today’s digital age, TikTok has become a go-to for students, where they can intermingle their studies with creativity by creating short but snappy videos.
But, not everyone is able to nail the art of balancing student life with TikTok fame as both are a challenge in and of itself.
Meet Aiman Danial Bin Abdul Razak, a 22 year-old student, better known by his TikTok handle @aimonnn__, who has spent the last three years navigating TikTok while tackling the challenges of academic life.
In an exclusive interview with WeirKaya, Aiman shared about his TikTok adventure, where it all began during the Covid-19 pandemic when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was in effect.
Aiman had just completed his foundation year at UiTM and was eagerly awaiting for his results. Wanting to kill time, he decided to give TikTok a shot and filmed a video about his personal favorite anime One Piece.
To his astonishment, the video, which didn’t even show his face, garnered a whopping 10,000 views overnight.
It was a simple video with just my voice recorded on a tablet and some captions. To my surprise, it received 10,000 views overnight! It was quite a wow moment for me.
“That video was a breakthrough moment for me, where I was spurred to create more content as viewers kept asking for more similar content. I then gradually expanded my content to include discussions about anime, movies, K-dramas, and TV shows,” he said.
Balancing being a student & content creator
Aiman maintains a consistent posting schedule, striving to share a minimum of three videos each week. During busier times, he often intensifies his output to two or three videos over the weekend.
However, during more relaxed periods, he dedicates himself to daily uploads, ensuring fresh content every day. The length of his videos is flexible, adapting to the content at hand; for instance, his manga reviews can span anywhere from four to seven minutes.
Aiman’s content creation process is as casual as his videos, where he often goes impromptu and rarely has a script in place. Unlike using scripts or pre-reading materials, especially for movie and anime reviews, he relies on his genuine passion and understanding of the subject matter.
Aiman simply taps into his personal impressions, remembering what he enjoyed and didn’t like about a specific movie or anime, and effortlessly shares these insights during recording.
One of the high points of Aiman’s journey was his nomination in the Best Entertainment Category at the recent TikTok Malaysia Awards.
“I was shocked at first because the other nominees in the category were immensely popular and talented, with some of them boasting of having a million followers.
“So I asked a TikTok’s PIC (person in charge) about it and they explained that my high TikTok engagement and niche (anime content in Malay) was what set me apart. It made me really happy and grateful. Alhamdulillah, it was a significant achievement.”
However, Aiman’s journey hasn’t been without its share of challenges, where he had to balance between content creation and his studies.
The lack of privacy while recording videos was also quite a hassle as Aiman lived in a shared dorm room. However, his commitment to his craft pushed him to find creative solutions.
“Our dorms have three to four students living together, making content creation challenging. I was worried that I might have to quit but I persevered, even with my roommates around.
“It was awkward and I personally prefer creating content alone in my room for a better focus. It has since become a part of me and a commitment that I uphold,” he explained.
Misconceptions about content creators
Despite his popularity as a TikToker, Aiman emphasizes that his life extends beyond content creation.
This comes as some have mistakenly assumed that his entire existence revolves around nothing but anime, but Aiman is quick to debunk this misconception, highlighting that he enjoys a well-rounded life with friends, academics, and diverse interests.
Some think I’m all about anime due to my content and that it consumes my life. These opinions often come from those who can’t handle my critiques, especially when I’m critical of something they love.
“Another common misconception is that content creators don’t further their studies, which couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I occasionally share my daily life and academic journey with the aim to inspire others and to let them know one can be both a content creator and a student.”
Navigating through an unpredictable industry
As for his academics, Aiman has a passion for mechanical engineering thanks to his fascination with physics and its real-world applications.
However, his vision remains clear: continue to explore content creation on TikTok while excelling in engineering.
“I don’t plan on becoming a full-time content creator as I’m determined to pursue a career in engineering field. My passion for engineering has deep roots, dating back to my asasi (foundation) days where I developed a fascination for physics.
“So, my primary focus is to establish a successful career as an engineer while treating TikTok content creation as my part-time job and giving it due priority.”
Aiman also acknowledged the challenge of achieving stability in the ever-evolving entertainment industry but remains undaunted.
The reality of the entertainment industry is that it’s ever-changing. While many people might be following me on TikTok now, I recognise that in another 10 years or even sooner, a new generation will arise and potentially surpass my popularity.
“We all strive for stability, especially in financial terms, as income generated by content creation can fluctuate from time to time,” he added.
Dealing with attention and privacy
Privacy concerns related to social media is a common issue, but Aiman doesn’t lose sleep over it.
While it was initially awkward when classmates and lecturers discovered his TikTok presence, he has since grown accustomed to the attention.
“I’m not a big content creator, so I don’t feel scared. But there are moments when I feel a bit awkward, especially at university, where some know about my TikTok presence. However, I’ve grown used to it.”
Reflecting on his content creation journey, Aiman said he has learned valuable lessons along the way.
One such lesson came from a video that unintentionally ventured into political territory during a movie review and some viewers took offense.
I once reviewed ‘Anwar: The Untold Story’, a film featuring political figures. Despite focusing solely on the movie without discussing politics, the comments accused me of delving into political talk. I recall one comment saying, ‘Bro, I followed you for anime reviews, why are you suddenly talking politics?’
“I want to clarify that I discussed the movie, NOT politics. Surprisingly, I didn’t delete the video and it’s still on my TikTok. However, I made a decision not to review political movies or related topics anymore”, he said.
Handling negativity and burnout
TikTok, like other social media platforms, can sometimes attract negativity and online harassment. However, Aiman doesn’t let negative feedback affect him.
Instead, he maintains a principle that there are things he can and cannot control. Thus, he focuses on what he can control—his reaction. While constructive criticism is welcomed, he doesn’t dwell on baseless negativity.
“One of the common comments that reviewers like me always get is ‘Why don’t you just do the show/movies on your own?’. It’s funny cause they (the audience) can’t take our takes on the review,” he mused.
Aiman also shared his insight on how he manages moments of feeling overwhelmed or burnouts.
“Experiencing a sense of helplessness or burnout is normal. This is especially true when I start a new semester or join extracurricular activities and competitions, where I must balance my time between studying and creating content.
Inevitably, there are days when I feel tired and lazy. But I maintain a mindset that enduring hardships is essential for success and adds meaning to life. Whether it’s getting nominated for the TikTok Malaysia Awards or excelling in my studies, I know the effort pays off in the long run.
“I’ve also learned that you can’t hustle all the time. Having fun and relaxing are equally important. For me, reading manga and watching anime are my ways to unwind. Hanging out with friends is another essential part of life. As a result, I’ve become better at prioritising what truly matters,” he said.
Advice for aspiring student-content creators
For aspiring student-content creators like him, Aiman has a nugget of wisdom for them: it is possible to strike a balance between studies and creative pursuits with effective time management and self-discipline as their allies.
You can be a successful student and you can also be a successful content creator. Both of these can coexist. What you need to do is try to balance your time and know what you should prioritise.
“Of course, studying should be your first priority while content creation comes in second. Just as making content requires consistency, so does your study. You can do and be both.”