Hannah Williams quit her job to launch viral TikTok, earning 6 figures

In May, Hannah Williams took a step many people only dream of: she quit her day job as a data analyst to become a full-time content creator.

At that time, he had a successful few months through his personal TikTok where he shared experiences about changing jobs and negotiating his salary, which inspired him to launch Salary Transparent Street, a TikTok Series. asking strangers the question you shouldn’t ask : how much do you earn?

The series went viral and Williams saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I know you just didn’t have an account that fast, without monetizing it in any way,” he said. “I’m ready to understand.”

Within months, Williams and her boyfriend, James Daniels, both quit their jobs to focus on transforming Salary Transparent Street from a few TikTok videos into a full-fledged business. They criss-crossed 10 states, interviewed hundreds of people, and landed a six-figure brand deal. To date, Salary Transparent Street has brought in nearly $600,000 and the couple lives on a salary of $200,000 a year.

CNBC Make It caught up with Williams, 26, about how she prepared for the big start, the ups and downs of being your own boss, and advice for workers looking to pursue their own dreams in 2023.

How he quit his job: ‘Failure is not the worst thing’

While Williams finally put in his notice in May, he said he was ready to quit all along. The biggest thing holding him back? In order to build Salary Transparent Street the way he wants it, Williams will need Daniels (the series’ cameraman) to also quit his desk job in government contracts.

It is a big risk to lose stable income and bet on something new. But Williams, a training data analyst, crunched the numbers and found that the jump could be profitable.

“I know there are brand deals out there that are very specialized and that suit us, that might take months to figure out, but those are possibilities,” Williams said. Plus, since the couple doesn’t have kids or a mortgage, the timing couldn’t be better for being a little risky.

According to Williams, “failure is not the worst thing.” He can always go back to his old job or find a similar one if the series doesn’t pick up. The worst, really, is not to try.

So, with $10,000 in savings, Williams and Daniels put in their notice.

Within two weeks, Williams contacted two agents who provided $24,000 in seed money for Salary Transparent Street’s first two months. Williams and Daniels used the money to pay bills, pay basic living expenses and travel to the movies.

Salary Transparent Street continues to gain momentum, reaching millions of viewers. Williams has partnered with brands like Fiverr, The Knot and Cleo, a budgeting app. Then, in September, a big account came along: Williams signed a six-month contract with Indeed, the job search platform, for nearly half a million dollars.

The downsides of being your own boss

Building your own social media brand is not without its challenges. Like any job, Williams says, there are downsides to being your own boss, too, the biggest being that the internet never shuts down.

“So you can throw a vacation out the window, you can throw a weekend out the window. It’s incredibly difficult when your work is kind of your life, and the work-life balance you had before is completely gone,” he said.

That said, he’d rather work hard on something he’s built, than work a weekend for a company he’s not heavily invested in.

Another side effect: burnout. “It was a very interesting lesson to learn that working all the time is really not the way to get things done,” he said. “Eventually your brain can’t handle it anymore.”

To deal with burnout, Williams says it’s crucial for her to understand when she’s most productive and when she can give herself a break. For example, he likes to steal time to work on administrative tasks in the morning before others wake up and ask him things.

Then, to avoid being overwhelmed, he schedules his work on time, including when he needs to take a break to go for a walk or read. “If it’s on my schedule, I’ll follow it,” he said. Scheduling breaks reinforces accountability. “It’s hard to think that I have to take a break and rest a little bit and then come back to it. And it’s going to help me be more productive instead of being full speed all the time.

Finally, another big downside of being an internet entrepreneur is the moderation of comments on his video and social media posts. Not only can it be shit, but sometimes the comments can be hateful, which Williams says is damaging to her sanity. Now that he’s scaled the job, he’s also hired an executive assistant who helps with content moderation, who will make $80,000 a year with health benefits and PTO when he becomes a full-time employee in January.

Advice for job seekers in 2023

As much as Williams likes to tell others to take risks and make big career changes, he also knows that people are worried about the economy in 2023. There may be a slight advantage for you in the job market,” he said. .” So just be aware of that and make calculated decisions.”

However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in a bad place. You can use the available information at any time to determine if you are underpaid and ask for a raise or transfer to a more stable job, employer or industry.

“When I left my job, I knew my back-up plan in case of failure was to go back to my old job or go back to an industry where I had a strong career,” Williams said. “There are so many resources out there that can empower you to make a change if you want to.”

He added, “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Just make sure they are smart decisions.

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