Forget the lifestyle videos: Why teaching Excel is trending on TikTok

These influencers did not have to learn dance moves or travel the world in order to build up a hefty following. For them, knowing their way around a spreadsheet has proven to be a great recipe for success on social media

Kat Norton Excel
Kat Norton is earning seven figures by teaching Excel on her social media accounts.Cuenta de TikTok @miss.excel

On the other side of the dance choreographies, the ostentation and the perfect smiles, there is another territory in the influencer ecosystem that attracts thousands of followers and a lot of money. In this online world there are no pristine beaches, no flashy recipes and no dazzling makeup tricks of the kind that plague the internet. Only the multiple possibilities and complexities of the humble spreadsheet. Teaching how to use Microsoft Excel and revealing all the secrets that allow us to get the most out of the program has become a most lucrative niche on social media at the moment.

At the top of the pyramid of this territory is the American thirty-something Kat Norton, who has a million followers on Instagram and almost the same amount on TikTok. Under the pseudonym Kat: Chief Excel Officer, this woman developed a style in which she replicated the more colloquial language of these social media platforms to teach people how to use this spreadsheet tool. The result: a meteoric success: Norton has become a millionaire thanks to a line of business that includes online courses on her website, miss-excel.com, and mentoring work in companies and organizations such as the University of Cambridge or the media group ViacomCBS. In her profile, Norton claims to have trained more than a million students and, with this, achieved a seven-figure fortune in two years.

The Canadian Emily McDermott is another Excel influencer. She started selling Excel templates on Etsy, the largest global platform for the online sale of crafts and decorative objects. Two years later, she had made $280,000. It is a curious and lucrative path that has not, however, been chosen by one of the most prominent Spanish influencers in the sector. Álvaro Marín is a 28-year-old civil engineer from Albacete who posts content to his Instagram and TikTok channels, under the user name@excelconalvaro. Marín is upfront about his work: “I don’t consider myself an influencer or anything, this is just how it turned out.”

Álvaro responds by phone to what is, as he confesses, his first interview with a media organization. He explains how Excel has been his go-to program since he was studying engineering, and that he continues to use it professionally: “I work in the transportation sector, so I use it even more than before.” During the Covid confinement, while some people were making bread and other recipes, he recorded some how-to videos for his colleagues and realized there were very few videos of this nature on the internet.

Music is one of his other talents. That, he says, helped him create more dynamic content: “I’ve always had a lot of talent for making videos.” He saw the possibility of combining his skills and, in 2022, he tried his luck making some simple ones on Excel. His followers and content have grown steadily since then. Although not everything has been easy: “I have experienced 100% the insecurities of a person who has never been in front of a camera.” He also remembers how at first he was much more introverted and scared, but little by little he has been letting go. “In my personal life, I’m not that open,” he confesses.

He does not make a living from being an influencer through the traditional method of monetization by volume, but his success has allowed him to create his own consultancy and courses, both online and aimed at companies. In his case, his passion for spreadsheets has given him the formula for success on social media without having to learn a single dance step.

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