Maryland TikTok creators share their side of the story

TikTok videos from left to right; Phillip Chance Jr., 24; Justin Carmona, 29; and Kat Wellington, 23. (Screenshot and compilation by A.R. Cabral/Capital News Service)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland young people are joining the growing number of content creators on TikTok despite the lack of a robust local community.

Digital content creation is among the rising jobs of 2021 as the labor market shifted during the pandemic, according to a LinkedIn report.

TikTok, the social media and video app, announced one billion users in September, directly thanking users like small businesses and creators for the milestone.

A recent study found  21% of U.S. adults have used TikTok and 48% of people ages 18-29 have used it, according to the Pew Research Center.

Capital News Service spoke with some local creators about their experiences as TikTokers from Maryland.

Many of the creators featured in this article were found on collabstr.com, a website that connects marketers with content creators, all others were found through the search feature on TikTok.

@ninja.phlip

Phillip Chance Jr., a 24-year-old from Glen Burnie, produces comedic content on his TikTok channel but his real claim to fame are videos that feature him doing acrobatic flips and parkour, a type of free running.

Originally starting his social media career on Musical.ly, a defunct video sharing app, Chance has at least 162,000 followers on TikTok.

Chance lamented that there weren’t many other creators in Maryland, especially none that do what he does.

Chance acknowledges creators can make a livable wage off TikTok through brand advertising and staying involved with the app’s Creator Fund.

The TikTok Creator Fund is a payment program where TikTok pays creators for their work based on number of views, level of content engagement and practicing the app’s community guidelines and terms of service, according to TikTok’s website.

@call_me_cookem

Justin Carmona, 29, works as a bartender in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore at night while bringing his bartending skills and acquired bar knowledge to TikTok during the day, where he has about 729,000 followers.

Carmona aspires to use funds generated from social media to support restaurants and their workers who have struggled during the pandemic.

However, the content creator also acknowledges the unforgiving nature internet fame can bring.
“I get why so many people who are big on social media, why they don’t like to go out in public, why they are scared to make any single post, how any one thing can potentially be the end of what they have,” Carmona said.

Carmona only knows a handful of other local TikTok creators, and believes when creators become popular, they move to Los Angeles, but he would love a greater TikTok community in Maryland.

@realiferenovation

When Alex D’Alessio graduated with a degree in civil engineering, he didn’t think TikTok would be his full time job.

D’Alessio’s TikTok account, which has 163,000 followers, stemmed from an at-home renovation video that took place in the bathroom of his house in Baltimore.

Now he is a full-time TikToker at age 26, who regularly posts home renovation videos and home improvement tutorial videos, with a rosy outlook on the future of the internet.

“I think we are entering a generation where you can develop a community wherever you are. You could be in the middle of Kansas or Wyoming and find people to connect with and make a living,” D’Alessio said.

D’Alessio also believes businesses have shifted their advertising budget from television to social media because, in his opinion, people turn to their phones during commercial breaks now.

@washyourpillowcases

Kat Wellington, 23, started her TikTok career in March 2020 just before the pandemic lockdown ensued; she considers herself lucky for what happened next.

Wellington, who has over 333,000 followers, has a lifestyle and comedy TikTok channel that grew out of videos about her daily life.

But when it comes to collaborating with other creators, there isn’t much of a TikTok scene in Maryland, Wellington admitted in an interview with Capital News Service.

She loves visiting Los Angeles because creators know each other and connect there, but she would not move there because her friends and family are all in Maryland.

Josh DeAngelis, Wellington’s manager, is head of talent at Palette Media and Management and acknowledges the perks of living around collaborators.

“Collaborating helps position creators on a (For You Page) they otherwise never would have landed. There’s also the shared brand equity & association aspect, along with shared general learnings, trends and updates,” DeAngelis said in an email.

Wellington is DeAngelis’ only client from Maryland.

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