Viral TikToker went from $50k salary to six-figure fame by asking people what they do for a living

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TikTok’s Daniel Mac – short for Macdonald – wasn’t trying to achieve social media fame when he posted his first video more than three years ago.

“I did not in any capacity think I was going to be living in L.A. I actually didn’t really like L.A. I thought it was not a good place to live,” Macdonald told FOX News Digital. “TikTok was completely random. I never had any Hollywood dreams or social media dreams. It was pure coincidence that I posted one video, and it popped off and I kept doing it.”

The 26-year-old says he’s gone from a $50,000 annual salary working in finance, to now an “upper zone” six-figure income thanks to advertising revenue and brand deals that hope to resonate with his audience of more than 14 million followers on TikTok, as well as over 334.8 million likes.

Macdonald is primarily known for his series where he approaches exotic or luxury cars to ask the driver what they do for a living. A mix of responses ensues, from confusion and defensiveness to open friendliness when people recognize him.

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“My first ever post got like 50 million views, and I just thought it was the most crazy thing ever. I didn’t show my face for about a year,” Macdonald reflected. “So my friends and family did not even know that it was me. They just would tell me, ‘Oh, this guy’s voice sounds like you. And why is his name similar to you?’… You could go from zero to 100 off one video and it could change your life.”

An avid car aficionado as well, he’s approached the driver’s seats of celebrities and public figures like Helen Mirren, Joe Biden (test-driving an EV), Jake and Logan Paul, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Wahlberg, Ford CEO Jim Farley, Shaquille O’Neal and more. But Macdonald’s inaugural post looked a bit different.

“The post that made my account really do well, which is my first video ever, was a guy in a white Lamborghini, and he turns to me at a stoplight after me and my friends had chased him down… And finally when we catch up to this guy, he just turns to me and he says, ‘I sell drugs for a living.’ And we didn’t know whether he was kidding or not. And he didn’t let us know because he just drove off,” the TikToker said.

His “baseline” criteria when deciding to feature cars comes with a minimum $100,000 price tag. Macdonald recalled that his love for automobiles revved up from a childhood “obsession” with Hot Wheels.

“Although I did love cars, I was really curious in how people become successful,” he said. “Most people are really friendly, but I’d say about 1 or 2% of people maybe get mad at me or yell at me… I’ve tried it with cars that are like $30,000, $40,000, and people get kind of scared and confused on why I’m rolling up to them.”

Prior to this, Macdonald had a “steady job” in the finance industry before he started recognizing the risk-reward of becoming his own boss.

“I quit my job that was a steady job in finance, which was scary at the time. And I’d say, if you’re young, it’s definitely worth it to take the risk of potentially owning your own business, starting a business,” Macdonald noted. “I can’t say that’s as easy if you have children and you’re 40 years old quitting your job, people still do it. But if you’re in your early 20s and don’t know what you want to do with your life, I’d say you’re probably not going to end up doing what you think you’re going to do. And I would definitely take the risk and try and be entrepreneurial.”

You could go from zero to 100 off one video and it could change your life… First video, out the door, I think I got a million followers in five days, which was unheard of, was super crazy to me… it can happen to anyone.

– @itsdanielmac on TikTok

The risk has reportedly paid off, as he noted that posting on TikTok has become his primary source of income.

“It’s kind of shocking how much money you can make in this field… most of my income comes from ad revenue, but then about half of that comes from brand deals with large automotive makers,” Macdonald said. “Right when I got that first check in the mail, I was like, this is another world.”

The Texas-to-California influencer’s best advice to younger generations isn’t to “work hard,” but in order to go viral, one must think broadly.

“TikTok and other platforms, they will reward the share button specifically, like copying links, way above anything else, a like or a comment, because it gets people that are off [the] platform on [the] platform, which is far more valuable than anything else. So I try to make my content as broad as possible to appeal to a mass audience,” he explained.

“So I think in the back of your mind with everything, caption, footage itself, you need to have: Can this video be shared? Would I share this to my friends?” Macdonald added. “Make it relatable to the masses is number one.”

Today, Macdonald aims to utilize his success to branch off into other business endeavors, including a podcast and an annual car rally – while also being the proud owner of two cars he’s always admired: a Porsche GT4 and Audi RS Q8.

“To this day, I’ll sit on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles for like four or five hours and just hear cars go by,” he said. “In my sleep, I could hear an engine roar of a nice car, and it sparks me up.”

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