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

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

At the time, she had had a few months of success thanks to her Personal TikTokwhere she shared experiences about it change jobs and negotiate salarywho inspired her to launch Salary Transparent Streeta TikTok Series asking strangers a question you’re not supposed to ask: how much money do you make?

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

“I knew you didn’t just have an account that was doing so quickly, without it being monetizable in some way,” she says. “I was ready to understand.”

Within months, Williams and her fiancé, 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 six-figure brand deals. So far, Salary Transparent Street has brought in almost $600,000 and the couple live 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 her own boss, and advice for workers who want to pursue their own dreams in 2023.

How she quit her job: ‘Failure wasn’t the worst thing’

While Williams finally put in her notice around May, she says she was mentally ready to quit long before. The biggest thing holding her back? In order to build Salary Transparent Street the way she wanted, Williams would need Daniels (the series’ cameraman) to quit his desk job in government contracts as well.

It was a big risk to lose a steady income and bet on something new. But Williams, a training data analyst, crunched the numbers and saw the jump could be profitable.

“I knew there were brand offerings that were so niche and suited us perfectly that it might take a few months to figure them out, but those were possibilities,” Williams said. Plus, since the couple didn’t have kids or a mortgage, the timing couldn’t be better than being a little risky.

According to Williams, “the failure was not the worst thing”. She could always go back to her old job or find a similar one if the series didn’t take off. The worst, really, would be not to try at all.

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

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

Salary Transparent Street continued to gain momentum, reaching millions of viewers. Williams has landed partnerships 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. As with 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 job is kind of your life, and the work-life balance you had before disappears. completely,” she said.

That said, she’d much rather put that effort into something she’s built, than work a weekend for a company she’s not as invested in.

Another side effect: burnout. “It was a very interesting lesson to learn that working all the time is definitely not the answer to getting things done,” she says. “Eventually your brain just can’t handle it anymore.”

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

Then, so as not to be overwhelmed, she schedules her work on time, including when she has to take a break for a walk or to read. “If it’s on my schedule, I’ll follow it,” she says. Scheduling breaks reinforces accountability. “It’s been hard realizing that I need to take a break and relax a bit and then come back to it. And that’s going to help me be more productive rather than going full speed all the time. .”

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

Advice for job seekers in 2023

Even though Williams wants to tell others to take risks and make big career changes, she also knows people are worried about the economy in 2023. “If we fall into a recession, it just means there’s there may be a little less advantage for you in the job market,” she says. So just be aware of that and make calculated decisions.

That doesn’t mean you have to stay in a bad spot, though. You can always take advantage of the information available to determine if you are underpaid and ask for a raiseor switch to a more resilient workemployer or industry.

“When I left my job, I knew my back-up plan for 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.”

She adds, “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Just make sure these are informed decisions.

To have an impact

How this 26-year-old earns and spends $25,000 a year just outside New York

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