scorecardI was fired from my accounting job and had to give up my apartment and sleep on my friend's floor. Now, I make $500,000 a year as a YouTuber.
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I was fired from my accounting job and had to give up my apartment and sleep on my friend's floor. Now, I make $500,000 a year as a YouTuber.

Perri Ormont Blumberg   

I was fired from my accounting job and had to give up my apartment and sleep on my friend's floor. Now, I make $500,000 a year as a YouTuber.
Careers3 min read
  • Quentin Latham transitioned from an accountant to a YouTube content creator in 2011.
  • He struggled in accounting, got fired, and decided to follow his passion for entertainment online.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Quentin Latham, a 40-year-old accountant-turned-YouTuber from Miami. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I run the YouTube entertainment news channel Funky Dineva, but I started my career as an accountant after graduating in 2005 with an economics degree.

I worked my way up to a leadership role as a senior accountant and stayed until 2011. Early on, I realized that I hated it.

Now, as a YouTuber, I brought in over $500,000 last year through content creation alone. I'm never going back to accounting.

I always imagined myself as a corporate go-getter

I always thought I wanted a huge corner office, to win awards at my job, and to go to black-tie affairs.

Once I entered the workforce, the thought of doing that for the rest of my working life chipped away at my soul. I have a creative personality, and I found the routine and confinement of accounting to be painful and unbearable.

My boss could tell I was unhappy and underperforming. I was fired in February 2011.

With only unemployment benefits coming in and no major money saved, I could no longer afford my apartment, so I started scaling back my lifestyle. My fraternity brother was gracious enough to let me crash on his floor while I figured things out.

I had a YouTube channel that I decided to start taking seriously

I decided that moving forward, I would do what's authentic to me: entertainment. I was already spending hours on social media indulging in what was happening on reality TV and in the celebrity world, so I knew I could make content about it.

I launched my YouTube channel in December 2010 but didn't start treating it like a job until I was out of accounting. I created content around things like the Montgomery Riverfront brawl and Kanye West running for president. People seemed to like it, and my subscriber count grew.

Six months into focusing on YouTube, I got a call from Mona Scott Young and VH1 to appear on the first "Love & Hip Hop Atlanta" reunion. I interviewed members of the cast backstage, and the content was used as digital assets for the brand on its website. The response was incredible, and my following kept growing.

I now have 432,000 subscribers on YouTube. The bulk of my revenue comes from views on videos and live streams. I post five to nine videos and work roughly 10-15 hours a week.

I exceeded my accounting earnings within 1 year

After my first year on YouTube, my earnings exceeded $70,000, which is what I was being paid at my last accounting gig. I was able to get my own apartment and regain total self-sufficiency.

Initially, I knew nothing about financial planning for business owners or the resources available, such as business credit. I hired a CPA to help structure my business and file my tax returns. My 2017 tax returns revealed I had made $230,000, and I was shocked because I still felt relatively broke.

I realized I was spending the money as quickly as it was coming in, and I needed to regroup and start saving and investing. I got everything on track. Last year, I made $523,000.

YouTube has zero barriers to entry

It costs nothing to go through a trial-and-error period on YouTube. You don't even need a camera — I only used an iPhone or iPad for my first few years.

As a podcast or show creator, your main focus is producing good content in your niche. I suggest joining a local community-based organization that provides aid to content creators to build up your skills.

You can also hire an intern. College students always seek relevant experience to add to their résumé. Contact the mass communication and marketing departments of a college near you, or you can find someone virtually by searching on LinkedIn or Upwork.

When all else fails, Google is your friend.

One mistake I made when launching my business was only creating perishable content

I used to make videos on topics like Cardi B filing for divorce from Offset and then canceling their divorce. I was trapped in a cycle where I had to turn out content quickly and constantly versus my counterparts who were doing evergreen material. With evergreen content, the information will always be fresh to whoever is consuming it. Since then, I've learned to create both.

My immediate plans are to move into the product space. I've also recently started planning to open a content-creation studio where other creators can access audio and video equipment to bring their ideas to life.

Long-term, I plan to stay current and keep my skills sharp, so I'm well-suited to move in whichever way entertainment and pop-culture reporting goes. My vision is to retire in radio because you can do it until you're 90 — as long as your voice isn't cracking.