Writing Books to Viral Videos: Emily Cole gets Creative with NIL

After jumping into track and field late during her senior year of high school, Emily Cole was able to drop her times and land a roster spot at Duke. From writing a book to going TikTok viral, she has taken NIL by storm. 

Cole started to post daily vlogs and running videos after learning how to grow her personal brand from her sister Juila Cole, a country music artist in Nashville. Getting into a routine with social media is key for follower growth, and Cole began taking things seriously in her gap semester during COVID. 

She began writing her book Athl-EATS, which is set to publish May 2022. 

“It’s basically a guide to sports nutrition that I wish I had ten years ago when I was in high school.” Cole said of Athl-EATS. “I interview a bunch of elite athletes like April Ross and Marshall Kosowski, who played for the Dodgers, and different people that have gotten to their respective highest levels of their sports. I ask them what they wished they had known when they were younger and kind of tell their story, one core lesson from what their experience was. They each have their own chapter, and at the end of their chapter, I have a recipe that shows you how to implement what you learned.” 

Since high school, Cole had aspirations of writing a cookbook to help young athletes. Then last May, she joined a course through the Creator Institute at Georgetown. She is wrapping up the publishing process for her book as she competes on the track this spring season and finishes her course work in Computer Science and Economics. 

“[The Creator Institute] partners you with an editor and publisher,” she explained. “I’m now in the editing process of the publishing process. We’ve switched editors and I’m kind of going through all of the first drafts that I’ve written for each chapter and implementing the different edits I had from my first editor. It’s been a super amazing process and I’m excited about it. It’ll be super easy for people to purchase. It’ll just be on Amazon, and they can order it that way.” 

Since July 1, Cole has used her social media, particularly Instagram, to promote pre-sales of her book. She’s gotten her fans and followers involved in the process. 

“For my pre-launch campaign, I had different kinds of perks that people could earn based on which package they bought,” she said. “It’s more about being a part of the process rather than actually getting the book. They get their name in the back of the book, they get to help pick out the cover. They get invited to the launch party.” 

Cole added, “Other things you get in higher tiers is inviting me to go to a book talk or do a Q&A or have me write a special extra recipe for you. So, a bunch more perks like that could help me connect with the audience better. As I promoted it on my Instagram, I really tried to post pictures and stories as I went through the process. So even on days when I was like having a writing slump and I couldn’t figure anything out and I was sitting in my laptop for two hours, I would post about that so that people really felt like they were part of the journey.” 

Aside from writing Athl-EATS, Cole has rapidly grown her social following on Instagram and TikTok after a viral video with Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse player Mitchell Pehlke. The two filmed a duet about going to a formal together and TikTok was all-in with making the meetup happen. Both Cole and Pehlke used their social channels to keep fans engaged leading up to the big date. 

“He was basically putting in his application and I responded back like, “I accept if you want to come,” Cole said. “I said, ‘There’s nothing to lose. It could be so fun.’ He ended up actually coming, and it was a super huge deal and we had a ton of fun. Then we ended up actually being in New York together as well. I was already going to visit my sister there. Barstool reached out and asked us to come on the podcast. It’s been a whole experience and it’s been a crazy few months, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” 

Posting content can be intimidating, especially on TikTok when videos can be seen by anyone. However, that’s what makes the platform unique. 

“TikTok is just a lot easier to grow a following because it can be so instantly viral. So, don’t be afraid to start posting,” she said. “I think the main thing that holds people back is what their friends will think of them or if people make fun of them. But no one will be making fun of you whenever you’re making a bunch of money off of your social media pages.” 

As she’s become more consistent posting on social media, Cole has seen her views on TikTok continue to go up and has been able to share more behind the scenes of being a student-athlete. 

“I do track and cross country. Neither one of those are our huge revenue-generating sports,” Cole said. “[NIL] has really created an opportunity for me to get these deals solely because of my presence on social media rather than them coming to me just because I’m on the team.” 

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