Last updated on November 1st, 2023 at 08:02 am
That’s what 25-year-old Esther Njoki used to feel every Sunday evening as the work week loomed.
A graduate of University of Nairobi, Esther had landed a “dream job” at a prestigious accounting firm in Nairobi right after college. But after 2 years crunching numbers behind a desk for 14 hours a day, she felt creatively stifled and burnt out.
Esther yearned to do work she truly loved. She set a crazy goal – quit her accounting job to start a YouTube channel focused on travel in Kenya.
Just 18 whirlwind months later, Esther’s channel has over 150,000 subscribers and earns her a full-time income of over Ksh10,000,000 ($100k USD) per year.
This is the story of how Esther found the courage to pursue her passion, persevered through a messy start, and now earns 6 figures as a full-time “YouTuber” embracing true lifestyle freedom.
Table of Contents
Why She Quit Her Accounting Job
After years of following travel YouTubers and dreaming of her own channel, Esther finally got the push she needed from an unlikely place.
“I was on a work trip in Mombasa auditing hotels. One evening I was watching travel vlogs on YouTube instead of preparing for work the next day.
It hit me that I was living vicariously through YouTubers exploring the world, while I was stuck in a job I no longer enjoyed. I decided then and there to take the leap.”
The very next week, Esther quit her accounting job and began plotting her new YouTube career.
She didn’t have any video experience. Just $3,000 Ksh in savings. But she did have a vision and a whole lot of grit.
Rocky First Year Running on Passion
That first year trying to get her channel off the ground nearly broke Esther.
Working from her tiny apartment in Nairobi, she struggled to gain any traction posting 2 videos per week focused on budget travel tips across Kenya.
“I badly underestimated how difficult it was to build a following from scratch on YouTube. My videos barely got any views. I drained all my savings and couldn’t even afford rent.”
Esther doubted whether she had made a terrible mistake leaving her accounting job. But her passion for creating travel content kept her going.
“I just tried to enjoy the process without obsessing over results or income. I knew if I could stick it out long enough, things would take off.”
And she was right.
After 12 demoralizing months, Esther finally struck algorithm gold with a video titled “Epic Safari Road Trip from Nairobi to Maasai Mara for Under $150.”
The video quickly went viral amassing over 250k views in a few weeks. Her subscriber count doubled then tripled. She gained the momentum she needed.
Esther reinvested her first YouTube earnings into better camera gear and committed to her channel full-time.
Within 6 months of crossing 10k subscribers, she hit 100k. Soon she was earning enough from Adsense and sponsorships to replace her accounting salary and then some.
How She Earns 6 Figures on YouTube Today
Fast forward to today, Esther’s thriving channel earns her a luxurious income of over Ksh10 million per year.
Here’s how she monetizes:
YouTube Adsense – The bulk of revenue comes from serving Google ads on her videos. High views = healthy earnings.
Sponsored Posts – Esther also works directly with Kenyan tourism boards and brands to create sponsored travel content and reviews.
Affiliate Links – She uses affiliate links in video descriptions to earn commissions on hotel bookings, car rentals, safari tours and more.
Merchandise – Esther sells t-shirts, hoodies, stickers and other swag featuring her channel brand and inside jokes.
Channel Memberships – Loyal fans pay a monthly fee for exclusive behind-the-scenes content and access.
With over 1 million views per month, these earnings streams add up fast for Esther’s channel.
Esther’s Top Tips
Esther credits these strategies for building her channel into a highly profitable business:
- Hyperfocus on a specific niche rather than variety content
- Reinvest earnings to improve production quality
- Study the algorithm and double down on what performs best
- Prioritize subscriber growth over quick views
- Engage fans directly through comments and community tab
Fulfilled Living Her Dream Lifestyle
Today Esther gets to live the lifestyle she always envisioned when starting her channel.
- She sets her own schedule and works when she wants
- She travels across Kenya doing what she loves – creating video content
- She earns a higher income doing fulfilling work
- She built a brand and community she’s proud of
Most rewarding of all, Esther’s journey of leaving accounting to pursue her unlikely YouTube dream has inspired other young Kenyans to go after their passions.
“I get messages every day from people who say I’ve given them the courage to make a career change and finally do work they love. That makes all the long hours and sacrifice worth it.”
Key Takeaways from Esther’s Journey
For other young professionals in Kenya considering following in Esther’s footsteps, here are some key lessons from her story:
1. Save aggressively – Build a strong savings cushion pre-transition of 6+ months living expenses
2. Pick a niche – Become THE authority in a specific niche vs. variety content
3. Master video editing – Invest time in sharpening your video production skills
4. Research the market – Study your competition and identify unmet needs in your niche
5. Collaborate strategically – Partner with others who have an engaged audience
At the end of the day, Esther proves that with relentless drive and commitment to your craft, you can turn a side hustle passion into a full-time living in Kenya.
“My only regret is not starting YouTube sooner. If you have a dream, start before you feel ready and leap into the unknown.”
Your time is now.