TikToking increasingly a full-time job for young people

By Kim Ngan   March 3, 2024 | 03:07 pm PT
TikToking increasingly a full-time job for young people
TikToking emerges as a career path for the youth. Illustration by Freepik
Tran Manh Duc, 30, decided to quit his office job to pursue a career as a TikToker four years ago despite opposition and skepticism among family and friends.

At first he used TikTok only as a tool to advertise his company's products, but when his first restaurant review video unexpectedly went viral, he started Saigon food review channel Anh Bung Mo. It managed to attract over 100,000 followers in the very first month.

"At the time they did not comprehend that TikToking could be a job," he says.

"Most people only told me I would fail and feel embarrassed and disappointed. For months my family and friends constantly advised me against pursuing such a career."

But Duc had no doubts.

Within a year his income increased nearly 10-fold, and it was at this time he decided to quit his job and dedicate all his time to developing his TikTok channel.

"As a TikToker, my daily income is as much as my earlier monthly salary."

Duc then employed a few dozen staff to help him put out content on TikTok.

"TikTok changed the lives of many people, including mine."

Duc is hardly alone in making a living off TikTok and other online platforms, and considering it a career.

Le Phuong Oanh, a TikToker with nearly 900,000 followers, has made it her profession for the past two years.

When she was unemployed during the Covid-19 outbreak, she turned to TikTok as a lifeline.

After garnering 100,000 followers in just three months she decided to recruit a team to professionalize her content.

"I have always viewed it as a profession," Oanh says.

"My 14 employees have always worked professionally and are divided into separate units like quality control, accounting, video shooting, and script writing.

"We work on a clear schedule and have specific strategies for each aspect [of the TikTok channel.]"

Tran Thi Thu Phuong, senior recruitment manager at headhunting firm 40HRS Vietnam, said creative content creation for social media has become a new career option in recent years.

According to software firm Adobe’s Future of Creativity study, 77% of non-professional content creators said they started monetizing their online content in the past year, with 48% of them saying these earnings accounted for more than half their total income.

In 2022 nearly 20,000 Vietnamese earned a total of VND1.5 trillion (US$60.8 million) from social media platforms, according to a report presented at a conference last March.

Professional TikTok training facilities report a rise in the number of young people enrolling for their courses.

At CMT Academy in HCMC’s District 3, the number of students doubled since the Lunar New Year holidays in mid-February, with many reportedly planning to quit their jobs in the next six to 12 months to pursue it as a career.

Nguyen Cong Minh Tri, who teaches livestream hosting there, says the desire to quit boring office jobs and the recent rise in unemployment have caused many young people to take up TikToking as a career.

"These people are usually office workers, students, fresh marketing graduates, or new mothers who are looking for a flexible job without the eight-hour work schedule, attendance check or KPIs."

But with the rush comes competition.

Several professional TikTokers, even those with millions of followers, speak about their unstable income and immense pressure and negative impacts on their health.

The job is highly stressful because TikTok changes very often, Duc explains.

"A friend of mine had a channel that made billions [of VND], but it declined as soon as he became complacent."

Oanh says: "This job has unstable income. Some months are great while some are bad. Because the work is all about creativity, when you run out of ideas or hit a creative block, you cannot produce any content to earn money."

Having seen many people quitting their jobs but failing to make it on TikTok, Duc says young people who come to this profession should first get training from specialists or have a secondary job alongside their channel.

To have a successful career on the platform requires serious dedication and should not be thought of as a fun project, he stresses.

He says new TikTokers should put more effort into their camerawork, script and background.

To be able to work with large brands, content creators have to learn about marketing, writing and working through email, English, and several other skills, he adds.

Oanh says the job requires a lot of brainstorming and efforts by all team members and not the TikToker alone.

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