I was stuck in boring office job – now I've bought first house & travel the world thanks to Hannah Montana lifestyle | The Sun

TIKTOK is an app which saw a rapid rise in popularity since it was launched worldwide in 2018, raking in one billion active users by 2021.

And there are Scottish fashionistas who have successfully used the platform to make a living – going from working office or retail jobs to becoming full-time influencers through their videos.

The app allows savvy users to create short clips which you can add special effects, music or recordings to.

It saw a surge in popularity over lockdown, as people trapped inside their homes turned to the social media platform as a source of entertainment.

Now there is a wide variety of content available on TikTok, with punters using it for everything from showing off clothing hauls to giving tips on how to clean the house.

As the amount of users grew, brands started to pay influencers to promote their products on the app.

For some Scots, this allowed them go from posting fashion content as a side hustle to buying a house with their social media salary.

Three of the top TikTok influencers in Scotland spoke to the Scottish Sun in an exclusive interview about how using the app changed their lives.

East Kilbride local Megan Welsh, who was recently signed to the Scots marketing agency Aquarius Creative, was able to achieve her dreams of being a homeowner thanks to her new status as a full-time influencer.

Although Megan mostly uses TikTok as a way to de-stress from other more serious content creation, she recognises that working via social media has allowed her to make the kind of money her peers can only dream of.

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The YouTuber and podcast host shared that after years of feeling 'like Hannah Montana' while working a regular office job by day then being a socialite at night, she has now been able to buy a house from the salary she gets as a full-time influencer.

She said: "I never believed that this would one day be my job. I was always just happy getting free things or going to cool events.

"That was more than enough for me. I always felt like I was Hannah Montana – I work a normal office job and then I go to these crazy events. I live this double life. I never believed for a second it would be what it is now. I think I was a bit in denial.

"I’m currently in the process of buying my first home and that’s all from money from being an influencer!

"I would never, ever be able to afford this flat that I’m buying if I was still working in the office, because my salary was dramatically less than what I earn now.

"It’s so surreal. When I’m going and getting my mortgage sorted, all the legal boring bits, it’s so crazy to think I’ve managed to buy my first home from doing the job I love.

"As much as everyone deserves to be able to go out and purchase a house it’s just so difficult these days. It’s such a fortunate position."

Lydia Karakyriakou, 22, also found that her life changed drastically after her TikTok account blew up when she made an appearance on ITV's famous reality show Love Island last winter.

Despite only being featured on the dating programme for three days as a Casa Amor girl, Lydia's TikTok following exploded as viewers loved the outfits the bombshell wore around the villa.

The Glasgow local worked in retail for six and a half years before going on the show, but after her newfound fame was able to quit her job and become an influencer full time.

She said: "It's been crazy because I was in Love Island for a very short period of time.

"I knew that my following would have grown a little bit because everyone’s always does, but I wasn’t expecting to get to a certain point where I could be making good money and just end up working through social media.

"It was crazy, not getting that much airtime so it wasn’t like the public had a really good bond with me, and coming out and I’m now on 115,000 followers which is insane for a Casa girl who was in for three days.

"All the Casa girls who were in last season – I’ve got more than them now! And they had a full six or seven months to grow their following even more.

"For me it was a big shock. I was so grateful and happy. I felt like people were really following me because they liked my fashion content and not just because of Love Island."

After the UK public watched the show, Lydia's following on TikTok skyrocketed from a few thousand to 80,000.

In one of her most popular videos, which racked up 1.1million views, the star tried on outfits she would have worn in the main villa if she was picked in the recoupling.

While some Love Islanders have spoken out about the damage trolling on social media has done to their mental health, Lydia confessed that for her, coming back into the real world has been plain sailing.

Brand deals on TikTok now make up about 50 per cent of her income stream, and she was able to quit her job at Zara to focus exclusively on fashion content.

She said: "When coming out of the show they set you up with well-being to check on you every week. They have calls with you and see if you have any problems or anything you want to talk about.

"It was so funny because when I had my first call, I was honestly – there was not one bad thing I had to say. I was buzzing, I was so happy. I was just laughing everything off and enjoying everything that comes from it.

"They were honestly so surprised because I think they’re used to people coming on and having a lot of problems they want to get off their chest.

"I was fine. I would go back in. I was quite worried coming out, but honestly everyone was so nice and supportive.

"Everyone said I handled myself so well, that they loved my outfits in the short period of time they got to see me and that they wished they got to see me more, that I was wasted as a Casa girl. It just made my heart burst with joy.

"Now I'm just doing the whole self-employed thing which is great. One of my videos has 1.8million views, it's crazy."

Another influencer spoke about how using TikTok has funded her jet setting lifestyle.

Glasgow model and content creator Monique Palombo downloaded the app in 2021, and says it is now one of her main sources of income.

She thinks the video format the site offers allows her to show fans a bit more of her personality than photos on Instagram do, and the variety of options for video editing make it easier to capture an audience's attention.

Because of TikTok the Scots stunner has been able to afford going on holidays across the globe, and Monique shared how grateful she is for the opportunities this job has offered her.

She said: "One of my best videos reached 20million views, and it was literally just putting an outfit together but because you can play about with the editing, you can zoom in on specific parts of the outfit, you can really show lots of different things.

"You can use trending sounds, there’s just lots of things that can help you really grow on the app more than just a picture.

"I think it shows your personality off a bit more as well which is good.TikTok has definitely helped me edit videos and do things I was never really clued up on before.

"I grew pretty fast – after just a few months of being on the app. It’s one of my main streams of income now.

"It's funded my full lifestyle for a couple of years. Holidays, I recently bought a new car.

"I've been loads of places, I was in America last year with my family, I’ve been to Paris, Dubai. I went on a brand trip with my agency to Ibiza last year so social media has given me so many opportunities that would not usually be there."

But despite all the highlights, Monique admits that sharing parts of your life with strangers on the internet can sometimes result in nasty comments.

She admitted to experiencing more trolls on TikTok than she had on Instagram, and having to learn how to block out any negative reactions.

She said: "I think with every viral video you’re always going to get people leaving opinionated comments or the odd nasty comment. I am quite lucky that most of the time it’s okay.

"But I would say that TikTok is more prone to trolls than Instagram so it was hard at the start. I just try and not look at certain things. If a video goes crazy probably 10 per cent of comments are not that nice.

"I try to avoid but sometimes it's unavoidable, sometimes I just catch it but I try and let it not get to me because I don’t know these people and they probably leave a comment and forget about it five seconds later."

Megan has also become more self conscious about her appearance since going viral on TikTok – but she sees the funny side of it.

She laughed: "That sounds so big-headed, but I rarely go out of the house without at least one person stopping me. If I go shopping or on a night out I will weirdly get stopped.

"I still am not used to it at all, I get a fright every time someone comes up to me. I jump out of my skin."

The 25-year-old joked that her embarrassed mum once told her she had to start dressing more nicely to leave the house when she was recognised while nipping to a Glasgow shopping centre in gym gear with wet hair.

Megan said: "Last week me and my mum went down to Silverburn and I had joggies on that had tomato sauce all down them, I had a hair mask in my hair so it was soaking wet, and a wee bunch of girls from school stopped me and they were taking pictures.

"My mum said I had to stop leaving the house looking like that. I just still would never think, oh sugar, I’ll get stopped for pictures today."

Despite her newfound fame, the gorgeous brunette remains totally down to earth, saying that her favourite videos on the app are ones she takes of her friends.

After a pause to think, she added: "I suppose the one where I tried a spicy pickle was funny. That one got quite a lot of views. It was disgusting, I wouldn’t recommend it. I bought it from the TikTok shop – I’m an influencer but I’ll buy anything anyone tells me to!"

While TikTok has offered so many aspiring influencers access to a better life, the Chinese owned social media platform recently became a hot button topic in parliament over fears about data privacy.

The popular app was banned on Scottish government phones, after first being blocked from UK Parliament devices and Wi-Fi networks.

But the Aquarius Creative influencers are not worried that this shakeup will affect their ability to use TikTok to make a living.

Lydia's experience with Love Island taught her that life can change in an instant, and she is choosing to focus on the opportunities the platform has brought her in the present instead of worrying about the future.

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She said: "Things can change so quickly, and I think the worst thing you can do is worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. Obviously it’s good to be prepared for things like that, but knowing I’ve still got Instagram and it’s my main platform, it’s not something that I feel I need to worry about to an extent that I get worked up over it."

And Megan joked: "If they’re hacking my phone, they’re hacking everyone’s phones – so it’s not that big a deal!"

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