Olivia Dunne Breaks Down How Being Comfortable In The Uncomfortable Helped Build Her Massive Media Empire

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Olivia Dunne is the most-followed college athlete on the internet. She has the largest brand out of every single college athlete on the planet.

Think about that for a second.

The number of student-athletes competing in NCAA championship sports jumped to an all-time high over 520,000 in 2021-22. That doesn’t include the sports that are not sanctioned by the NCAA— ie: JUCO, NAIA, etc.

Of all 520,000+ athletes out there, Olivia Dunne is the biggest. Not Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams. Not national championship-winning UConn star Adama Sanogo.

It’s Olivia, and by a large margin.

How did Olivia Dunne get to this point?

The growth of Dunne’s brand did not happen overnight. It didn’t necessarily happen organically, either.

Dunne put in a lot of hours to get to where she is, and is not slowing down.

As the most prominent face of success in the Name, Image and Likeness space, Dunne spoke to a group of top college football recruits in the Class of 2024 at On3 NIL’s Elite Series on Wednesday in Nashville. During her conversation with OutKick’s Jonathan Hutton, the 20-year-old LSU gymnast talked about how she and her family try to maintain a sense of “normalcy,” even amidst the chaos of 24-hour Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoots in Puerto Rico and other NIL requirements.

Olivia and Katherine Dunne speak with Jonathan Hutton at the On3 NIL Elite Series in Nashville.

Dunne also spoke with the recruits about the brand-building process. She made it abundantly clear that:

  1. NIL and social media should not come first.
  2. Understanding audience engagement is crucial.
  3. Consistency is key.

As a student-athlete, Dunne has to focus first on gymnastics and school. From there, she treats her social media portfolio as a business. There is a lot of planning involved, and then it’s time to execute.

Dunne also has to take the time to learn about her audience. The focus is not on the amount of followers (she rarely looks at her follower count), but engagement. It doesn’t matter how many people are following your account if nobody is viewing your content.

I do see the kid who goes home every day and works on it. I remember the kid when there was very little engagement and she posted four or five times a day.

— Katherine Dunne, Olivia’s mother

Thus, in addition to planning, scheduling and posting, Dunne takes the time to sit down and look at what is working and what isn’t working. She looks at the breakdown of people who are engaging with her content and how long they are engaging with her content, and then uses those metrics to hone-in on how she can continue to get more eyeballs on her profile.

Once she gets people on her page, it is then — and only then — that the amount of followers grow. You can’t have someone follow you unless that person visits your page and hits the follow button!

Olivia Dunne is constantly learning.

At this point, two years into the NIL era, Dunne has most of her content business plan narrowed-down. That doesn’t mean she isn’t always looking for ways to adapt.

It also doesn’t mean that it wasn’t difficult at first. Dunne has become comfortable in the uncomfortable, and authenticity is at the forefront.

Katherine, Olivia’s mother, also talked about how her daughter used trial-and-error in the early stages. She used to write down all of the things that she could post about and kept them on a cycle to gain an understanding of where her content did or did not work for her audience.

Although Dunne has become a bigger star than she ever could have imagined, that isn’t entirely true. There was a lot of manifestation, belief, and growth along the way. Dunne worked hard to get to where she is today, and will not take her foot off of the gas anytime soon.

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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