How Tori Dunlap Has Grown Her Email List to 385k Subscribers

Tori Dunlap runs Her First 100k, a brand focused on helping women under 35 build wealth. 

While her brand might not be for you, the way she’s been able to grow her audience is really remarkable. A lot of Tori’s content is edgy and forces you to choose whether you love it or hate it.

But that’s on purpose, and it’s helped her grow really quickly.

tori dunlap growth

Tori created Her First 100k to help women get better at building wealth. The first $100k is said to be the hardest for people to save, so she wants to help them get there faster.

The Growth Timeline

Tori’s growth timeline is really interesting. She started a blog back in December of 2016 called Victori Media. It was

I was hesistant to even include that in the timeline, but I did for the sake of being comprehensive.

That website wasn’t rebranded to “Her First 100k” until 2 years later in November 2018. Tori went full-time with the brand in 2019. 

Here is a view of the timeline that’s a little more dialed into that timeframe:

You can see that TikTok was the tide that lifted all boats. Once it started to take off, her email subscribers and Instagram account quickly followed.

The Growth Levers

There are a few different growth levers I can see working out extremely well for Tori and the Her First 100k brand.

1. The 400k person quiz. Tori has been able to grow her email list to hundreds of thousands of people by using a quiz. Many of her products and course sales start with this quiz.

2. TikTok is the tide that lifts all boats. Tori has been able to use TikTok to explode her brand and other channels.

3. Press & media mentions. This is one of the most extensive lists of media coverage I’ve seen from a creator. Tori has been on every major news outlet, and the way she’s been able to get these is really interesting.

4. Reverse engineer your mentors. Clearly, this is my favorite one. Tori has found a way to emulate what some of the bigger creators in her space have done and replicated that for her own business. Hint: it’s working.

1. The Quiz Worth 400k Email Subscribers

Tori has a financial personality quiz that she’s used to be able to massively grow her email list.

The quiz gives people a few different questions for her to better understand who her customers are, and offer them more custom options for learning more.

Traffic to the Quiz

We’ve seen other people use a quiz to grow their email list, but the difference here is that Tori puts an immense amount of traffic firepower behind it.

She started promoting her quiz on TikTok, and in April 2021 one video on TikTok went viral, and she grew her email list by 100k subscribers in 7 days.

100,000 email subscribers in 7 days…from organic social media. Wow.

Let’s look at how this works.

The quiz leads to 5 different personalities you can end up getting funneled into.

Each of those results has products and resources you can use to level up, some of which are paid products.

On every page, there are multiple ways to engage with more content:

  • Blog post
  • TikTok video
  • Podcast episode
  • YouTube video
  • Upsell to purchase their product

Email funnel with 4-5 emails of valuable content and resources for your exact goals. 

At the end of the 5-day funnel, that person is given the option to purchase a product and go even deeper. 

The other interesting piece of this is that she will include affiliate links throughout the email where it makes sense. So even if someone doesn’t buy her products or courses, if they sign up for one of the other recommendations she makes, she can still earn a commission there.

The Quiz As Top of Funnel

Tori has this quiz everywhere now:

  • The Homepage
  • The Start Here page
  • Her TikTok “link in bio”
  • Her Instagram
  • Her Twitter bio

She even creates specific TikTok videos around the quiz and says she sees a good uptick in the number of subscribers she gets on those days.

She now also runs the quiz via Instagram DMs, so you don’t even have to go to the website to take the quiz.

You can do this using a tool like ManyChat that will auto-DM people on those platforms.

2. TikTok & Short-Form Video

TikTok has been instrumental in the explosive growth of Tori’s audience and her email list. 

Her 6th video on the platform went mega-viral and got her around 200k followers in just a few days. That’s more followers than most people ever get, and she did it with one viral post.

“It took me 3.5 years on Instagram to do what it took me 1-2 days to do on TikTok.”

Tori Dunlap

While the growth was very fast, Tori studied the TikTok platform for around 6 months before she even started posting. 

She wanted to get a grasp on what worked and learn about the TikTok culture before jumping in. She realized that there are 3 things that make videos do well.

Posts that have these 3 things do well on social:

  1. Aspirational
  2. Educational
  3. Entertaining

Most videos on social end up having one of those three. But if you can hit 2 of those, and you’re probably going to get a good number of views.

If you can hit all three, that is the formula for a viral post. 

As a side note, her TikTok growth has plateaued over the last 16 months or so. This could be an algorithm change, or a more focused effort on her book more recently. I’m not sure but wanted to call it out.

Batch Create Content

You might have heard other creators talk about batch-creating content.

Essentially, you can sit down and write multiple posts at once instead of jut hoping inspiration strikes when you need it.

TikTok likes when you put multiple times per day, so she needs to create multiples at once or she can fall a little behind.

Tori said she records around 10 videos in half an hour to get more content created at one time.

Content Ideas & Prompts

If you’ve ever wondered how prolific creators come up with content ideas, here is a good place to start.

Tori tells her coaching clients (not sure if she still does coaching) to list out every question they get asked by their clients or customers. 

These can be comments on content you’ve created or even some other folks in your niche.

3. Press & Media

Tori is a big proponent of getting press and media mentions for your business. 

But these aren’t brand mentions that she just waited to have come to her, she was proactively reaching out to journalists to get her story out there.

One of the interesting ones I found was a feature in PureWow online magazine. If you’re not familiar, this was a magazine that Gary Vaynerchuk purchased back in 2017. 

This is cool by itself seeing as they have a pretty large reach. But my favorite part is that Gary Vee featured this story in his own newsletter. 

So not only did she get the visibility of that PureWow reach, but she also got in front of a ton of digital marketing and entrepreneur-type people who had been hearing Gary talk about how important TikTok was for your marketing strategy. 

How She Gets Media Mentions

There are two keys to Tori’s media and press strategy:

  1. A great story
  2. Twitter

With the nature of the news cycle, journalists are always under pressure to find great stories to cover. They are generally open to being pitched if you have a really interesting story and you pitch them in the right place.

That place, according to Tori, is Twitter DMs.

She sells her exact pitch template for this as well:

The Goal of Press

When she gets a major media mention, Tori isn’t expecting a big bump in sales. 

What she does get is a ton of credibility she can then use in social posts for a long time. This often leads to a jump in followers on her social channels – and if you’ve been paying attention, those followers often turn into email subscribers and then sales down the line.

4. Reverse Engineer Your Mentors

You know I’m a fan of this one!

In the beginning of her journey, Tori spent time figuring out what the people who had already built successful businesses and brands had done.

She had seen Ramit Sethi, a popular finance blogger, had a quiz on his website. She went through the process and reverse engineering all of the steps to find out how she could replicate it. 

She also looked up to Amy Porterfield and would try and find out how she ran her launches and grew her own business. 

How Tori Dunlap Makes Money

Tori has shared numbers in the past of how much the business makes. In an interview, she said that in 2021, the business did around $3.4 million. In 2022, it grew to $4.3 million. 

Tori said she is aiming for $8 million in 2023.

And she has a wide variety of revenue streams that are going to help her reach that goal.

Affiliate Marketing

In an interview with Bryan Elliot, Tori said more than half of her product sales come from affiliate marketing.

If you’re not familiar, affiliate marketing means that Tori gets a specific link or coupon code for her audience to use. If they buy using her link, she gets a commission from each sale.

Since over half of her revenue comes from these types of deals, that’s a LOT of money. Keep in mind that these are financial products, and finance products generally have a higher payout for commissions.

You might not get these high commission rates in your industry, but affiliate marketing is still powerful.

Brand Partnerships

Tori also works with brands via ongoing partnerships. 

These include brands like SoFi which offers high-yield savings accounts. Tori promotes high-yield savings accounts a lot, so being the exclusive partner that she recommends can go a long way.

I have to wonder if she’s been able to mix a partnership fee and get a cut via affiliate marketing since it’s such a big driver of growth for her.

Social Media Sponsors

In a podcast interview, Tori talked about how much her social posts bring in.

She said that she’ll get around $15k for a 60-second TikTok post. 

On Instagram, she gets between $10k and $12k per post.

Can you imagine being able to create a post on social media and get paid 5-digit figures for it? That’s amazing.

She’s come a long way with these too. I found her old media kit from June of 2018 and these were her rates back then:

Book Sales

In December 2022, Tori launched the Financial Feminist book. The book very quickly became a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Bestseller.

The book also has links to her website and is a great lead-in for her other products. If you enjoyed a full book on her ethos and ideas, you’re probably going to want to go a bit deeper.


Tori has a membership program called Stock Market School that costs $297 per year.

At this point, she puts on an Investing 101 workshop once a month that costs $297 and gives you access to Stock Market School for a year.

It’s unclear how many people she allows into each session. And she also pairs this with software.


Tori has partnered up and created her own software to help peope start investing.

Essentially, this lays on top of a typical TD Ameritrade investing software but is more user-friendly and makes it easy for “newbies” to invest their money.

Within the Stock Market School ecosystem, you get access to Treasury, although it’s unclear if it’s for the whole year, or if this is an extra cost.

Digital Products

Tori has a decent range of digital products and courses available for sale as well. 

Here is a screenshot of what’s available, and there are options for bundling some of these together as well.

You’ll see this later, but her quiz leads into these products down the road.

Podcast Sponsors

Each episode of the Financial Feminist podcast gets around 59,000 downloads per episode.

I used an online calculator to get an estimate of how much Tori could be making from the podcast sponsors, and here is what it came up with:

I can’t tell you the fill rate, meaning how many sponsor slots she fills, and while it seems higher than 70%, I left it there since that was the default option.

With an estimate of $250k-$350k, the podcast seems to bring in some meaningful income for the business.

How You Can Replicate Some of Her Success

While Tori’s meteoric rise in audience growth is probably an outlier, there are a few big takeaways from her story.

Be Proactive in Pitching Your Story

Not everyone wants to be on Good Morning America. I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pitching outlets in your industry to get featured.

You don’t need to wait for news outlets to come to you.

The way Tori has been able to grow her audience and authority by pitching the media is really smart.

  1. Journalists need stories.
  2. You have a story.
  3. Reach out and tell them your story.

This builds your authority, and then the cycle continues. Eventually, you might have news outlets coming your way to get featured. But in the beginning, it’s on you to make that happen.

My friend Christina has a guide where she shares 16 of the top media outlets and their contact information, as well as some ideas for content that generally gets accepted by them.

Build a Quiz

While you probably won’t go viral and get 100k email subscribers in a week, a quiz can be a great way to get people onto your newsletter.

From what I see, the best quizzes have 5-7 questions and 3-5 possible outcomes. The outcomes could be related to the stages of where they are in their business (beginner, intermedia, advanced).

And then you can send this information, along with their email address, to your email service provider.

The beauty of having this data is that you can then market to them more effectively in the future.

Maybe you have a high-ticket offering that’s great for intermediate or advanced people in your audience. Instead of sending it to everyone, you can send it to only those people you know are potentially a good fit.

You can map out a quiz, and use a tool like Tally or ConvertBox to create a quiz.

Reverse Engineer Successful People

Tori came up with the idea to use a quiz from other people in her niche.

Can you imagine if she wasn’t paying attention and just skipped that altogether? Her email list would probably be a LOT smaller at this point, even with all the virality.

You don’t have to go super deep into what they’re doing, but pay attention to how your favorite creators are building their audience.

Are they doing cross-promotions? Are they getting media and press attention?

Can you get on those same outlets, or start doing cross-promotions with other people who have a similar size audience?

Not everything is going to work for you as well, but this is a great place to start testing out new offers and growth strategies.

And if you want someone else to reverse engineer these people for you, I send out a deep dive like this every week. You can sign up below. 👇

chenell basilio

Chenell Basilio

Chenell is the head writer and reverse engineer at Growth In Reverse. She spends her days researching newsletters, audience growth, and generally figuring out how to help others create better content.

She has an almost useless Bachelor's Degree in Geography, enjoys running, listening to podcasts, and eating guacamole. 🥑

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