Salary Transparent Street Wants You To Get. That. Money.
TikTok’s Hannah Williams reveals her best advice for job-seekers, tips on negotiating for more, plus her ~thoughts~ on girl math.
“Money can be fun.” For the everyday person, it’s very easy to agree with Hannah Williams’ statement — except she isn’t referring to spending it, she’s referring to talking about it. The 26-year-old CEO and founder of Salary Transparent Street (STS) has one goal: to promote pay transparency, one video at a time, through on-the-street interviews with strangers of varying professional backgrounds.
Along with her fiancé, James Daniels — who is both the cameraman and editor of all of the brand’s footage — Williams has created a movement with her TikToks. “When people ask, ‘What are you? An influencer or content creator?’ I consider us social activists,” the former government contractor and data analyst tells Elite Daily at VidCon Baltimore, the annual influencer convention’s first East Coast-based event, earlier this season. “We create content, but we have a mission,” which is to encourage open and honest conversations around the still-taboo topic of money.
Coming from an upper-middle-class family, the D.C.-based creator says, “My parents didn't really talk about money with me, but they were always really good with money.” To this day, she can’t buy anything at full price without hearing her mom in her head questioning whether it’s on sale. “I’m always looking for discount codes,” she admits.
Williams’ family not putting the pressure on helped her put the “fun” in “funds,” allowing her to approach it with an open perspective. Below, she shares how she went from data analysis to content creation, her tips for approaching money and salary negotiations, and what she really thinks about TikTok’s girl math theory. (Don’t worry, it gets STS’s seal of approval.)
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Elite Daily: Where did you get the idea for your page?
Hannah Williams: I started a job in 2021 as a senior data analyst in Washington, D.C., and found out I was severely underpaid, based on the market rate; I was making $20,000 to $25,000 less than my peers in my role. When I asked for a raise, the company made me jump through all these hoops and eventually was like, "Yeah, you can't get the raise.”
ED: What sort of hoops?
HW: They told me that I had to be with the company for a year. Then they said they didn't give out raises of more than 3% to 5% at any one time, which was a lot less than what I was asking for. My only option was to find another job.
In my first interview with a recruiter, she asked me what my salary requirements were, and I had this light bulb moment — instead, I asked her what the budget was for the role. The recruiter said, "The budget's about $115,000." I was going to ask for $105,000, so I had already undervalued myself by $10,000 compared to what they were going to pay.
A couple of weeks later, I accepted that job with the $115,000 annual salary, and was working there before starting Salary Transparent Street, but I couldn’t shake what had happened. So I had this idea: I'm going to make videos about my salary — how I negotiated and all that — to help. I had a video go viral where I shared every salary that I had at all five of my jobs, and it got over a million views.
ED: I watched that!
HW: Yeah? I knew there was something there. So I just came up with this random idea: "Let's ask people on the street and get them to share and show that the value of transparency is just blatant." If we want to persuade people to see the value, we'll show it coming from strangers because it's good enough. People actually were willing to share, which was the No. 1 thing we were worried about.
ED: OK, I was going to ask...
HW: Yup. There are people who want to share. So we kept filming every day for two weeks, and every single video went viral. At that moment, I was tired of my corporate job; I always was looking for a job that gave me purpose and actually had a positive impact — and I just created a job that has an impact for me. I quit my corporate job three weeks after posting the first video.
ED: Does it ever feel awkward to ask these questions to people you don’t know?
HW: No, I think I’m probably one of those weird people who just loves having conversations transparently. I think there’s so much value to it. So when I ask people, I don’t feel embarrassed. I think I've gotten better at it too, because I've been doing it for over a year now. I was probably a lot more nervous when I started.
ED: Do you have a general approach?
HW: I have a pitch when I go up to people; I don't just say, "How much do you make?" I always say, "Hi, we're Salary Transparency Street. We're doing interviews for our channel. We ask people what they do and how much they make to promote pay transparency. Can we interview you?" I think that them hearing that immediately, they understand that I'm not just sticking a mic in their face for clout. It's a mission, a purpose, and I think they resonate with that.
ED: Since you started out in D.C., were you finding a lot of people with similar jobs?
HW: There was a good variety at the beginning. Our first video was a lifeguard, then a NASA engineer, a software engineer... But I don't like doing interviews there anymore, because it's always contractors, consultants, government jobs — and government jobs are already public.
The high salaries did help, though. If we interviewed all people who made under six figures, it probably wouldn't have done as well just because you hear six figures and you're like, "What? How did you do that?" It's part of the virality.
ED: What careers resonate most with your viewers?
HW: Tech and health care — people are interested in careers that they can break into with different backgrounds. You have a ton of people that are really unhappy doing what they do now and they don't make enough and they're not paying the bills. So they're like, "What can I do?" They can't go back to college; that's not always an option. But they can do a boot camp, get an associate degree, or certificate, and make a ton of money in tech or health care.
ED: Is there a career that you really want to ask someone about, but haven’t had the chance yet?
HW: I would love to interview more trades, because construction workers, glassworkers, and electricians make bank. Plumbers... I haven't interviewed a plumber yet. I keep hearing that they make good money.
ED: Was there ever a salary that you were just *mind blown*?
HW: There was one guy who I don't believe. He was an e-commerce drop shipper, and he said he made $1 million. I was like, “Cap on that one.”
ED: What number were you anticipating?
HW: If you're successful, then $200,000, $300,000. But a mill... What are you shipping?! I think one of the things that we need to do a better job of when we interview people who are self-employed is clearing up how much they make as their revenue, not their actual take-home — there's definitely a difference. Our company has made over a million dollars, but I am not a millionaire.
ED: What is it like to make money as a content creator?
HW: There is no limit to how much you can make. If I work really hard, it pays off. For us, it took a couple of months for us to even monetize. Now we make about $1,500 to $2,000 a month on ad revenue via YouTube AdSense, Facebook Reels, and Instagram. It's not enough to support yourself, but it's a nice little chunk of change if you're doing a side hustle.
If we didn't have our brand partnerships, we wouldn't make anything. The money is really all in the brand partnerships.
ED: At any point during those times when it was tough to monetize, did you ever consider going back to the daily work grind?
HW: Never. We knew we were going to make money. We were talking with Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Monster within the first month. They came directly to us, all inbound.
ED: In the interest of salary transparency, how much do you make?
HW: I make $125,000 a year salary — that’s my take-home. I used to make $200,000, but I wanted to grow the company, so I took a little bit of a pay cut.
ED: What advice do you have for content creators who want to break out in the space?
HW: When you start, you should just explore what makes you happy and what feels right. People always ask me, "How do I find my niche?" Just post whatever — every day, post something new. Try to post two or three times a day, because the audience will tell you. Once they tell you, "Oh, I really like this," and that video performs well, you figure it out. Throw a ton of crap at the wall and see what sticks.
ED: What do you think the effects are of being so open and honest?
HW: Oh, my God, so much. Pay transparency has been shown to improve productivity in the workplace. It improves employee morale, also reduces employee turnover. It's more expensive to hire somebody new at a higher rate than it is to pay your current people their fair market rate.
ED: I like your original question, asking “What's the budget?" Is there anything else you’d recommend for job seekers?
HW: Negotiate, even if you think the salary is good. Never accept the first offer that they give you because you're leaving money on the table if you do. If you can't get the actual salary you want, ask for other things like commuter benefits, better 401(k) match, and sign-on bonuses. If you're working from home, ask them to pay for your internet bill, education reimbursement... There are other ways to make what you deserve, but also stand up for what you deserve.
ED: Perhaps the most important question: How do you feel about girl math?
HW: I love girl math. I feel like it got a bad rap. I understand why people say that — it kind of reinforces negative stereotypes about women not knowing how to do math. I get that. But I also think that, in a way, it's how girls know money and there's a way that we can make girl math fun and we can make it make sense.
ED: It’s a way to make yourself feel better. That Taylor Swift concert? It was paid off so long ago, it’s basically free.
HW: That was old you. I feel like in that perspective, you can change it from sounding dumb to being like, “I budgeted for this ticket months ago and I secured it at a cheaper rate than it currently would be tonight, so I saved money, because I bought it ahead of time. Now I get to enjoy the night, carefree, because I planned for this.” It's perspective.