CNBC make it 2024-07-11 16:25:30

Our side hustles bring in $125,000 a year or more: ‘Nearly everybody’ can make money this way

Sarah and Jamie McCauley are landlords, YouTubers, Walmart pallet flippers, eBay resellers and Amazon product reviewers — and those are just their active streams of income.

The McCauleys make their money by researching what makes side hustles profitable, testing them and teaching others how to do the same on YouTube. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based couple earned nearly $140,000 from eight streams of income last year, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

They’re particularly good at two types of gigs, they say: anything involving real estate and their YouTube channel itself, where they share their side hustle exploits with at least 146,000 subscribers.

“If you’re looking to just make some extra money on the side, maybe pay off a credit card debt or pay for a vacation, I think that is doable for nearly everybody,” says Jamie.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to earning passive income online

The McCauleys are part of a side hustle revolution, a growing number of Americans who supplement income with multiple jobs. More U.S adults — about 39%, according to Bankrate — have side hustles today than ever before, whether out of necessity, precaution or a desire to increase their earning power.

Ease of starting is at an all-time high: Platforms like Amazon, Airbnb and Fiverr offer instant access to paying customers. But with competition also rising, it’s hard to build a side hustle that regularly brings in revenue.

Make It spoke with a selection of Americans with successful side hustles to learn how they built their businesses, and used them to fund a wide variety of financial goals. Every respondent highlighted four common traits that helped drive their success:

They tailor their product to their audience

No matter what you sell, you need people willing to buy it. Jenny Woo says her side hustle is successful for a simple reason: She researches her audiences intensely, and tailors her products specifically to them.

Woo is an adjunct lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, a freelance business consultant and the teacher of an online course about emotional intelligence. Her one-woman side hustle, called Mind Brain Emotion, sells 12 different emotional intelligence-themed card games.

It brought in $1.71 million on Amazon last year, according to documents reviewed by Make It.

Woo’s first deck of cards, “52 Essential Conversations,” was tailored toward parents who — like her — wanted to connect with their kids and build their emotional intelligence skills. She joined parenting Facebook groups and observed users’ posting, commenting and liking habits, she says.

After selling $10,000 worth of the game in a 2018 Kickstarter campaign, Woo kept researching. She conducted a survey of her consumers, and learned that “overwhelmed” teachers looking to support children’s social and emotional development made up a significant portion of her audience, she says.

Her second deck, “52 Essential Relationship Skills,” was built for those teachers. It didn’t sell as well as her first deck, but it taught Woo that she could broaden, and combine, her audiences.

Woo applied that lesson to her third game, “52 Coping Skills.” She started with her own experiences working with college students during the Covid-19 pandemic and combined it with her continued research on teachers and parents, she says.

It’s now Mind Brain Emotion’s top-selling game, says Woo.

They find a platform suited for their product

Woo sells on Amazon, which has a broad reach, to collectively rope in Mind Brain Emotion’s hyper-specific audiences. Tim Riegel’s products have a more singular customer base, so he sells on Etsy, a marketplace known largely for homemade and handmade goods.

Riegel, a full-time general manager at a sheltered workshop, makes firepits from recycled tank ends in Lamar, Missouri, and sells them under the name Mozark Fire Pits. His average product weighs 225 pounds, and sells for $950.

Mozark Fire Pits brought in approximately $202,000 on Etsy last year, according to documents reviewed by Make It. Riegel maintains a 40% profit margin, he says.

Riegel chose Etsy over platforms like Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock because it felt more user-friendly, and a better fit for his personalized products, he says. He also sells on Facebook Marketplace, which costs him more in advertising — but less in shipping costs for customers within a 200-mile radius, he adds.

That kind of platform analysis is valuable, no matter what kind of side hustle you run.

If you sell a service, instead of a good, you might consider platforms like Fiverr and Upwork — popular among photo editors, marketing writers and voiceover artists — or Taskrabbit, known for labor-intensive side hustles like cleaning or repair work.

Or, opt out of those platforms entirely. If your gig is something that many other people also do, try finding marketplaces with more narrow niches like Contently, Skyword or ServiceScape, recommends side hustle expert Kathy Kristof.

“One of the problems I see with a lot of freelancers is that they go to the best-known online platforms … and those platforms are so saturated with people who have been there for, often, decades,” says Kristof, whose blog SideHusl has reviewed more than 500 different side gigs.

They stand out on saturated platforms

No matter your platform, you’ll need to stand out. A good listing can help: clear and concise, written for your intended audience, free of typos, with high-quality graphics and some search engine optimization (SEO).

Becky Powell, a kindergarten teacher based in Beaverton, Oregon, has a side hustle selling worksheets for other educators on an online platform called Teachers Pay Teachers. Many of her worksheets focus on her personal specialty, teaching children sight-reading skills.

Her side hustle didn’t take off until she embraced SEO. When she uploaded her first worksheets, she titled them, “Creating sight words with pattern blocks.” Sales slowly trickled in.

Her husband Jerome, who has a business background, suggested a simpler title, like “Hands-on sight words.” The sight-reading worksheets quickly became her bestselling products, Powell says.

Powell’s store brought in $125,500 in 2022 revenue, according to documents reviewed by Make It. Her husband also sells worksheets on the platform, and they’ve used their combined earnings to fund vacations and pay down their mortgage and student loans, Powell says.

“You have to have passion and knowledge,” she says. “You also have to have a business sense [and understand] SEO.”

Once you gain enough customers, work to turn your sales into positive reviews, so you appear higher in platforms’ search results, Kristof advises. Customer service, prompt shipping and quality control can usually earn you a good online reputation.

They know when to change direction or walk away

The McCauleys have a rule for their ever-changing collection of side hustles: “You either have to be one of the first to get there, or your approach has to be very unique and different to be successful,” Sarah says.

But being first or unique doesn’t guarantee long-term success. In 2020, the couple was early to a side hustle trend: pallet flipping. At local warehouses, they’d buy pallets of returned goods from Amazon, Walmart or Target. They’d unbox the pallets, discover their contents and resell the items for a hopeful profit.

From December 2020 to December 2022, the McCauleys made about $19,500 in pallet-flipping profits, they estimate. Their most popular unboxing YouTube video got 5.4 million viewers, translating to an additional $30,000 in advertising revenue, says Jamie.

Last year, more Americans hopped on the pallet-flipping trend. Pallet prices rose, resale values dropped and a slew of unboxing videos diluted the McCauleys’ viewership. “The pallets became not really worth our time … from the standpoint of time over money,” says Sarah.

Four years ago, the McCauleys would’ve simply moved onto their next side hustle. Now, they’re feeling the strain of constantly building new gigs from scratch, and starting to reorganize their income streams into a smaller number of longer-term projects.

Instead of flipping their current home renovation project in Northern Michigan for a profit, for example — something they’ve done multiple times — they’ll keep it as their own vacation house and part-time Airbnb rental, they say.

“We always knew [side hustling] was going to have an expiration date,” says Jamie. “It’s a young person’s game, to always be looking for what’s next.”

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. CNBC Make It readers can use special discount code CNBC40 to get 40% off through August 15, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

No. 1 ultra-processed food this dietitian stays away from: It ‘doesn’t have any nutritional value’

Almost 60% of the caloric intake of the average American diet is coming from ultra-processed foods, according to a 2017 paper published in the journal Population Health Metrics — and that’s concerning to health experts.

“Ultra-processed foods contain ingredients that we generally wouldn’t find in our kitchen, and they often contain high amounts of sugar and salt,” says Jinan Banna, registered dietitian and professor of nutrition at the University of Hawaii.

“They may also contain additives, and they often are stripped of their nutritional values. So they may have very little vitamins and minerals [and] fiber.”

Eating ultra-processed foods often can lead to a higher risk of developing health conditions like dementia, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to doctors in the American Medical Association.

That’s why Banna limits her consumption of ultra-processed foods and encourages you to do the same. Here’s the highly processed food that she never consumes.

‘I would never consume soda,’ dietitian says

“Some [ultra-processed foods] I would never consume, such as soda,” Banna tells CNBC Make It.

“Soda doesn’t have any nutritional value other than just calories in the form of sugar. So they’re empty calories, which don’t give us any of the nutrients that we need.”

When you drink soda, it is digested very quickly and can cause you to feel hungry, she adds, which can lead you to eat more food than you planned to.

Instead of soda, Banna opts for different types of tea and water, still or sparkling.

“Sometimes I drink a cold hibiscus tea. Plain water, of course, is a great alternative,” she says. “Even coffee can be an option, of course, consumed in moderation.”

Diet soda and other ultra-processed drinks are the processed foods Americans consume the most, recent study shows

A recent preliminary study that was presented last week at a meeting held annually for the American Society for Nutrition took a close look at dietary data collected in 1995 from more than 500,000 Americans between the ages of 50 and 71. The data was used to determine if there were connections between dietary choices and mortality rates over the span of almost 30 years.

Out of 124 foods, ultra-processed drinks was the No. 1 food that people who had the highest intake of ultra-processed foods consumed.

Diet soft drinks were the key contributor to ultra-processed food consumption. The second one was sugary soft drinks,” the study’s lead author Erikka Loftfield told CNN.

Beverages make up a significant portion of dietary intake. So, these types of drinks — like diet sodas and energy drinks — are the processed food that people seem to consume more than others, Loftfield said.

The study also found that the lifespans of those who eat a diet high in ultra-processed foods may be shortened by over 10%, according to CNN.

Use the 5/20 rule when reading nutrition labels

As a rule of thumb, Banna recommends using the 5/20 method when checking the nutrition labels on the foods you eat.

“You can use the daily value,” she says. “That’s an easy way to know whether the food is generally high or low in a particular nutrient.”

Check the daily value percentages of specific nutrients like sodium, sugars or saturated fat, Banna suggests.

“The idea is, if [it’s] 5% or less, then the food is generally low in that particular nutrient. If 20% or more, you can consider the food high [in the nutrient],” she says.

“So that’s just a quick way to glance at the label and know if a food contains a little bit or a lot.”

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

The No. 1 country where expats are happy with their careers

Expats in Denmark are among the happiest with their work lives, according to the latest Expat Insider survey from InterNations, the online global community for people who’ve moved abroad.

The Nordic country ranks No. 1 for where people are most satisfied with their jobs, career opportunities and work-life balance, among other aspects.

That’s based on survey responses from more than 12,500 people living in foreign countries and reflects their feelings on four broad categories covering work topics, including their career prospects, salary and job security, work culture and satisfaction, and work and leisure.

Denmark ranks highest for two groupings: work culture and satisfaction, as well as work and leisure.

Some 84% of expats in Denmark are satisfied with their work-life balance, compared to a global average of 60%; a similar share are happy with their work hours and, on average, work 39.2 hours per week, compared with 42.5 hours for the global average.

Here are the top 10 countries where expats are happiest with their work lives abroad:

  1. Denmark
  2. Saudi Arabia
  3. Belgium
  4. Netherlands
  5. Luxembourg
  6. United Arab Emirates
  7. Australia
  8. Mexico
  9. Indonesia
  10. Austria

Ilana Buhl, a CNBC Make It contributor and American teacher who moved to Denmark, says moving from Texas to Copenhagen brought about lots of positive changes to her work life: shorter workweeks, stronger boundaries around off-hours, five weeks of paid vacation, and a better salary to cover a lower cost of living.

Outside of work, she also enjoys robust public transit, public health care, affordable day care, and ample maternity leave paid for by her employer and the government.

Many of these factors contribute to the fact that Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, according to the annual World Happiness Report.

Coming in at No. 2 is Saudi Arabia, where a majority, 75%, say moving there has improved their career prospects, versus 56% globally. The majority, 63%, of newcomers relocate to Saudi Arabia for work, where they say they’re satisfied with the state of the local economy.

Meanwhile, just 35% of expats around the world say they moved to a foreign country for job-related reasons.

The biggest downside to working in Saudi Arabia may be the long hours — expats working there report logging 47.8 hours a week for a full-time job.

Rounding out the top three is Belgium, where expats are highly satisfied with their job security, the local job market and their own career opportunities.

Expats in Belgium say they enjoy flexibility in the workplace, especially among the 68% who say they can work remotely, and their shorter-than-average full-time workweek of 40.8 hours.

Panama was recognized as the No. 1 best country for expats overall, according to the InterNations survey. The overall ranking accounts for broader life and financial factors, where foreigners say they’re satisfied with the quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and an “expat essentials” index, which covers housing, administration, language and digital life.

Want to land your dream job? Take CNBC’s online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers really look for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

How much it really costs to buy a $1 home in Italy

15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living—a single person can live there on $20 an hour

As a single person, you’ll need an annual income of $40,000 to cover basic expenses in the cheapest U.S. states, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis.

The state with the lowest costs of living is West Virginia, closely followed by Arkansas and Oklahoma, the analysis says. In West Virginia, a one-person household needs a pre-tax income of $39,386 to pay for necessities like housing, transportation, health care, taxes and other common expenses — as tracked by the MIT Living Wage calculator.

The good news: The median American yearly wage for full-time workers is nearly $60,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But minimum wage workers in many of the least-expensive U.S. states lag significantly behind that figure. With a 40-hour workweek, West Virginia’s $8.75 hourly minimum wage translates to just $18,200 per year, for example.

Here’s a look at the 15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living, based on how much a single person needs to cover basic costs:

  1. West Virginia: $39,386
  2. Arkansas: $39,724
  3. Oklahoma: $40,211
  4. North Dakota: $40,262
  5. Kentucky: $40,355
  6. Ohio: $40,359
  7. South Dakota: $40,718
  8. Louisiana: $41,233
  9. Mississippi: $41,361
  10. Iowa: $41,678
  11. New Mexico: $41,807
  12. Nebraska: $41,849
  13. Alabama: $41,911
  14. Missouri: $42,024
  15. Wisconsin: $42,062

Based on a 40-hour workweek, these totals work out to an hourly wage that ranges from about $19 to $20. In contrast, the most expensive state for a single person is Massachusetts, where a single person needs $58,009 per year to cover basic costs. That works out to roughly $28 per hour.

While rural states have lower costs, they tend to have lower wages, too. The median household income in West Virginia is $52,460, compared with $75,910 in New York, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data from 2022.

The difference in basic costs between states is largely due to housing, which tends to be most affordable in rural states. Urban areas typically offer a higher concentration of jobs, attracting more residents — and increased housing demand drives up home prices.

Annual housing costs in heavily urban states like California and New York are close to $20,000, compared to roughly half that figure in the 15 least expensive states.

Rural states also tend to have lower taxes than states with large cities, because their public services and infrastructure are less expensive. Taxes vary by about $5,000 to $10,000 per year between states, according to SmartAsset’s analysis.

MIT’s Living Wage calculator is based on data from various federal agencies, adjusted for inflation as of December 2023.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

How a 34-year-old went from making $40,000 right out of college to $400,000 now at TikTok

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money series, which details how people around the world earn, spend and save their money.

When Sora Lee was an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, she got what she considers to be pretty bad career advice.

″‘Pursue a major that you’re passionate about,’” she says an advisor told her and her peers. “Good for her that her career worked out, but I don’t think that was very helpful advice for someone like me who was an international student.”

Lee began studying political science, which she was interested in, until she considered how it could affect her earnings and ability to get a job down the line. As an immigrant from South Korea, Lee was already thinking about her ability to stay and work in the States, which would require an employer-sponsored visa. 

In her mind, that would be difficult to attain without a job in a highly competitive field. She didn’t think a bachelor’s degree in political science alone would lead her there.

“I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive to pursue money or pursue passion, but I do think you can’t not think about money because a lot of us need to support [a family] or don’t have any family to support [us],” Lee tells CNBC Make It. 

She wound up double majoring in political science and economics to broaden her job prospects, and the decision seems to have paid off. 

Now 34, Lee lives in San Mateo, California, and earns a base salary of $320,000 a year as the global head of product marketing at TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance. This year, she’ll receive $80,000 in restricted stock units, which brings her total compensation up to $400,000. 

She started at TikTok in 2023. That year, she received $48,000 in RSUs and a $50,000 sign-on bonus in addition to her base salary.

That wasn’t her only compensation. Money from a severance package, stock sales, renting out a room, selling a house and working her side hustles brought her 2023 income to about $840,000.

Lee didn’t know she would go into tech. Her first job out of school in 2012 only paid around $46,000. But she’s championed for herself in negotiations, learned how to succeed at work and applied those lessons with each career transition she’s made along the way.

“It’s hard to dream of becoming something that you’ve never heard of or been exposed to,” Lee says. “I try in my life to show that there are these career paths, but going into tech was not really a goal I had in mind. I just kind of fell into it.”

Working with some of ‘the world’s smartest, most competent people’

Being in Berkeley helped Lee get exposure and jobs at startups in the area that were willing to hire international students. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she started working at a small video analytics startup called TubeMogul. 

While working at TubeMogul in 2012, she became aware of Netflix as it was beginning to take off. TubeMogul was competing for an ad tech partnership with Netflix, so Lee learned about the company’s own technology and culture.

“My coworker said, ‘If you’re frustrated about the working culture [at TubeMogul], you should read this deck,’” Lee says of a Netflix company culture statement. “I thought it was so refreshing, just kind of thinking it’s something that could happen to me far, far away in the future.”

She wouldn’t have to wait long. A Netflix recruiter reached out to her that same week.

Lee started working at Netflix on its digital marketing programmatic buying team in 2014, earning a salary of $110,000. She stayed there until 2016, and took as a position at WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, in January 2017. She stayed at Meta for six years in several different roles for Facebook, eventually earning over $200,000 a year.

By this point, she knew she could command a large salary and enjoyed the benefits of working at highly regarded tech companies. But her satisfaction didn’t primarily come from the free lunches.

“I think the biggest perk is getting to work with some of the world’s smartest, most competent people and learning from them,” she says. “We can talk about the office food, travel and all the glamour that comes with it. But at the end of the day, I think that’s the benefit that all companies should strive to provide.”

By the end of 2022, Lee felt she was outgrowing her role at Meta, and had begun looking for new opportunities. But the final decision to leave wasn’t entirely hers. “It was actually perfect timing that I got laid off,” Lee says of being part of Meta’s November 2022 job cuts.  

“I got laid off on Wednesday, got my offer from TikTok on Friday, and had another offer from another firm on Monday because I had already been interviewing,” she says. “I negotiated between the two, and I got this TikTok role and I was able to get the [Meta] severance and start my new job.”

She began in her current role at TikTok in January 2023. 

‘I felt like I made it’

By now, Lee’s annual income has grown nearly 10 times from what she earned fresh out of college. And while she’s enjoyed her salary progression, her more recent pay increases haven’t felt as sweet as getting her first big check did.

The jump from earning $46,000 a year to $110,000 when she started at Netflix was huge. ”[I] felt like I made it,” she says. “That’s when I bought my first designer purse.”

Now working alongside senior executives and directors “making millions,” Lee says she doesn’t feel as wealthy as when she first joined the six-figure salary club. 

While she wants to continue increasing her salary, money alone isn’t enough. She wants her work to feel meaningful and challenging, so she wouldn’t necessarily take a better-paying job unless it satisfied those psychological needs.

“You spend so many hours in a week [at work], why spend it on something that you’re not excited by?” she says.

How she spends her money

Lee didn’t always have the financial cushion she has now. She opted to graduate from college in three years in order to save money, and while she was a student, she donated her eggs three times for cash to pay her tuition.

“I don’t regret it,” she says of that decision. “I think it was a good way to help fund my education [and] at the same time, give children to families who wanted their own kids.”

In 2019, she had a child of her own, Jackson. She shares custody of him with her ex-husband after their marriage ended in 2021.

“I wasn’t super prepared for the divorce even though I had initiated it,” she says. “I don’t have any regrets. I was at a point where I would be fine, even if my net worth starts at zero.”

She earned more than her husband at the time and was ordered to pay spousal support for a year after the divorce was finalized. Additionally, she had to pay hefty lawyer fees and sell two of the homes they owned together, one at a loss.

“My ex was managing all the finances, so I was pretty oblivious to anything like personal investing,” she says. “I didn’t know how to do anything, which sounds kind of funny because I’m the one with an MBA degree.”

Here’s a look at Lee’s spending in March 2023:

  • Housing and utilities: $2,787 for her portion of the rent, split with her current partner, plus Wi-Fi and utilities
  • Discretionary: $4,445 on a necklace she bought herself, a camera, household goods, cleaning services, books and gifts for friends
  • Child care: $2,339 for Jackson’s pre-K
  • Savings and investments: $2,326 toward her 401(k) and flexible spending accounts
  • Transportation: $1,203 on her car payment and charging fees
  • Subscriptions and memberships: $487 for Pilates classes, Netflix, a water filtration system, ChatGPT, Audible and an indoor playground
  • Food: $427 mostly on groceries; her partner buys meals when they dine out
  • Student loan payment: $246
  • Gifts: $200
  • Insurance: $125 for health, vision and dental insurance

Lee’s only outstanding debt is around $36,000 for her Tesla and just over $3,200 in student loans from her master’s degree. She has a mortgage in her name for a home in Lake Tahoe, but her ex-husband makes the payments.

Lee’s company covers her phone bill, and she pays for car insurance bi-annually, so she didn’t make a payment in March.

Though she doesn’t regularly contribute to savings, she has over $21,000 in cash across several personal and business checking accounts and over $8,000 in company-sponsored flexible savings accounts. Additionally, Lee has $755,283 invested in retirement accounts, a 529 savings account for Jackson, and crypto and regular brokerage accounts.

All told, her net worth is around $843,000.

Buying back her time 

Between her son, her job — which often has her traveling cross-country — and her burgeoning side hustle as a content creator, public speaker and author, Lee has a full plate. As a result, she always looks for ways to optimize her routine and make the most of each day.

“I only have [Jackson] half the time and I want to be really present when I’m with him,” she says. “And then when I don’t have him, I also want to go full-in on my work and my other endeavors.”

As a result, she pays for a house cleaner to come twice a week and is happy to spend money on experiences with her son, like an indoor playground membership. Lee says those special activities and quality time help keep her grounded.

I only have [Jackson] half the time and I want to be really present when I’m with him.
Sora Lee

“I almost feel like God or some sort of higher being gave [Jackson] to me so I can take a pause and enjoy life versus constantly thinking about how I can do better and be more, and feeling anxious about how I am not doing enough, and how I’m not making enough money,” she says.

Lee says she struggles with anxiety around whether she’s making enough, or if her home is “nice enough,” which stems from how her dad spoke about money when she was growing up. “My father constantly talked about money and he would place value on people based on where they live or what kind of cars they drove,” she says.

She hopes to teach her son to view money in a healthier way.

“I like having adult discussions with him,” she says. For example, Jackson can identify certain car brands like Porsche and knows they’re expensive, but she’ll tell him things like, “Just because someone has a nice car doesn’t mean that they’re wealthy.”

She knows a 5-year-old may not fully grasp the concept of a depreciating asset, but he can start to understand that having expensive things doesn’t always mean someone is rich.

‘I want to see how far I can take this’

The future of TikTok in the U.S. remains uncertain, but Lee isn’t worried about her career.

In fact, after appearing on a Netflix reality show, “Love After Divorce,” she saw her social media following begin to grow and realized she had an opportunity to leverage the audience to elevate her career in a different way.

Her growing follower count helped her secure brand partnerships and speaking engagements, “which gave me a lot of joy because I do love sharing how to become a more effective employee and how to navigate corporate careers,” she says.

On her TikTok, YouTube and Instagram accounts, Lee shares career and lifestyle advice based on her experiences. At speaking engagements, she gives similar advice on how women in particular can climb the corporate ladder. Last year she brought in over $8,000 through these avenues, and she expects to bring in over $19,000 this year, thanks to more events and a book deal.

“I love creating engaging or educational content to help others,” she says. “It’s been really fun and really rewarding, so I want to see how far I can take this.”

Lee encourages her followers to get comfortable talking about money because it’s helped her learn about personal finance after her divorce. 

“Don’t be embarrassed about how little you’re making, or don’t be embarrassed that you don’t know how to do this,” she says. “We’re all figuring this out together.”

For income earned in South Korea, conversions from South Korean Won to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 Won to 0.00077 USD on December 31, 2023. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

What’s your budget breakdown? Share your story with us for a chance to be featured in a future installment.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

Leave a Reply