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Dan Cunningham

Social media influencer

Dan Cunningham is an accidental media influencer. In fact, until Covid-19 hit, the 60-year-old Portage resident eschewed social media. But through the isolation and boredom of the pandemic, he found TikTok.

“I posted my first TikTok video about Billie the Duck, a duck with a deformed bill that kept coming up to our sliding glass doors, and it blew up,” Cunningham recalls. “It really hit with nature and duck lovers around the world, and people said things to me like ‘Your voice is so soothing, I just love the way you tell a story.’ I was hooked.”

Cunningham, had his own organizing business, The Organizer Man, so he began to make videos with organizing tricks and tips, including kitchen and cooking hacks (he provided some tips in the Five Faves feature of Encore‘s December 2022 issue), and it wasn’t long before Amazon reached out. He now reviews and demonstrates products for Amazon as well as for other companies such as Instant Brands — the company that sells Instant Pot. He has garnered nearly 500,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 240,000 on each TikTok and Instagram and also posts videos on YouTube. And in April he launched his own digital magazine, The Organizer Man Monthly, which provides subscribers with exclusive content that he develops.

During Covid, I learned about TikTok, and it became kind of an obsession. The short little blasts of info in the videos were great. I started looking for people that did content that I liked and realized that I could probably do it too. I started making videos about a year after I started watching TikTok. The first ones were about Billie the Duck and my dog Jack and his dog friends. It really had nothing to do with what I was interested in business-wise. I just thought, ‘Let me post this video I made about this duck because it is so adorable.’

Then I started making videos about organizing, time-saving tips, tricks and hacks. My first video to get a million views was one showing how to use a laundry basket to grocery shop. One of my most viewed videos is where I demonstrate how to use Press ‘n Seal plastic wrap as a bib while eating messy foods, which has more than 19.5 million views on Instagram. Another one, where I demonstrate how to wash windows using a paint roller, has 7 million views on FaceBook.

Everybody copies everybody else on social media, so TikTok was doing its format, and Amazon thought, “We want to do short videos of people using products.” They started scouting people to kick off their Amazon Shoppable Video Program and contacted me. At first, I didn’t believe it was for real, but they offered me a sweet deal to provide 10 videos and 10 pictures a month of me using products they sell, and off I went. Pretty soon brands were reaching out to me and sending things to me to try. Lots and lots and lots of things (he laughs).

I record all my own videos, including editing, voiceovers and adding music. No week is the same, which I really love. I post anywhere from 10 to 30 videos a week. I research all the time, looking for content ideas. Those can come from a magazine article, a book that I picked up at a garage sale, a friend’s suggestion or others’ content and ideas that I love and will reshare. There is a lot of communicating with the brands and timing the posting of content. I post consistently. Also, it’s not just products — on my social channels, it’s a mix of videos about products, tips and tricks, recipes, personal stories about Jack or my husband (Encore photographer Brian K. Powers).

I think what resonated with people was I was one of the only guys on these platforms doing content about storage and organizing and recipes and tips and tricks. I think that just kind of made me a little bit different and what made me appealing to Amazon.

It’s just so fun. I get to be creative, set my own schedule and make a difference. Some people are really moved by what I do for different reasons. One person told me, “In this video you sounded just like my dad, and I miss him so much.” Another had just put their dog down and said seeing Jack and Marley (Jack’s dog friend) together made them smile. Or they say, “Your tips and tricks have saved me so much money or time.” The good comments keep me going.

It can be really lucrative, but it takes the universe’s magic dust to make everything happen. If I took one piece out of the puzzle — such as Brian’s branding and graphic talents or my social appeal and the content that I like or Amazon reaching out — I don’t think I’d be where I am. All these different things just lined up at the right time.

It was basically in response to what people were asking for — they wanted a cookbook or a tip-and-trick book. Brian walked in one night and said, “What about a magazine?” His graphic talents and my content were a perfect match. It’s just packed full of tips and tricks and hacks and recipes and other content-creator highlights. The first issue just came out this April and is available through my website, theorganizerman.com.


— Interview by Marie Lee, edited for length and clarity

Marie Lee

Marie is the editor of Encore Magazine and vice president of Encore Publications, Inc. She’s been at the helm of Encore since October 2011. Marie’s background covers the gamut; she’s a former newspaper reporter and editor, a public relations and marketing communications professional, and book editor and collaborator. As Encore’s editor, she is dedicated to bringing the best things about the greater Kalamazoo community to the magazine’s readers.

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