I made my first million through brand collaborations – vlogger Joanna Kinuthia

Joanna Kinuthia [Photo: Courtesy]

With a huge following on her YouTube channel, Joanna Kinuthia has become one of the most sought-after social media personalities in the country. She speaks to Ahadi Wambui about the highs and lows of being in the limelight.

Pulse: What was the inspiration behind starting a YouTube channel?

Joanna: I have a very special relationship with makeup. For me it’s so much more than just slapping products on your face. It’s a boost of confidence, an art and a means of self-expression. I wanted to teach other women how to wear makeup and enjoy the amazing intrinsic benefits that it brings.

P: There are many makeup channels. How do you ensure yours stands out?

J: I truly believe that who I am, my personality and how I interpret things, is unique. My channel stands out because I am unapologetically myself.

P: You quit your regular job to focus on YouTube. Is it true that you then quickly made over a Sh1 million?

J: I quit my job in 2017, just a few weeks after landing it. I felt there was so much more to life than waking up to go sit at a desk and line someone else’s pockets. I felt that I was meant to do more. At the time, my YouTube channel was only a few months old and even though I hadn’t made a cent from it, I left my job and decided to give it everything I had.

P: Which came with good returns?

J: Soon after, I started getting great opportunities to work with amazing brands. I made my first million through these amazing brand collaborations with names I could only have dreamt of working with. I share this not to brag but to let people know that there are great career opportunities online and an office job is not the only way to make a good living. In this day and age, it’s possible to make a great living by leveraging your talents, whatever they may be.

Joanna Kinuthia [Photo: Courtesy]

P: What are you up to when you are not ‘you tubing’?

J: I’m running my business - Joanna K Cosmetics. YouTube, however, is quite a handful on its own I have to say. Between coming up with ideas, to filming and editing the content and then uploading and engaging with people online, there’s hardly time for much else.

P: How do you deal with trolls and cyber-bullying?

J: I struggled with this for a long time, and still do from time to time. It’s very difficult to ignore a hateful comment even in a sea of positive ones. However, a few things help me cope, one of them being the realisation that trolls are people who are not happy about their own lives and, therefore, try to bring other people down. Happy people raise others up rather than tear them down so a hateful comment has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person leaving it.

P: Is it really possible to put food on the table solely through YouTube?

J: Absolutely. I have earned, and continue to earn a great living through YouTube. I financed my company, Joanna K Cosmetics, through money I made on YouTube and the capital required to begin was in the millions.

P: Why does it all sound like a get-rich-quick scheme?

J: There are great opportunities to earn but make no mistake; you work hard for every penny you earn. YouTube, being a quick and ‘easy’ way to make a lot of money, is easy to be misconceived as a get rich quick scheme.

Joanna Kinuthia [Photo: Courtesy]

P: How long did it take you before you started earning?

J: I didn’t earn a cent from my channel for almost eight months. The key is I didn’t give up. Like any other earning avenues, it can take a while to start earning, and it requires hard work to keep earning.

P: Is there such a thing as ‘oversharing’ online?

J: I believe this is quite personal to each person. On one hand, it’s important for you to share some parts of yourself with the world in order for them to connect and relate with you. This could be struggles, challenges, and victories. On the other hand, putting something out into the world invites critique, both positive and negative, so it’s up to an individual to decide what they are ready to receive criticism on and what they aren’t.

P: How do you guard yourself from such attacks?

J: When it comes to relationships; family relationships, romantic relationships and friendships I’m quite guarded because that involves asking someone else to share themselves with the world and open themselves up to criticism, which they may not be ready for. I keep off such potential attack lanes.


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