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Facebook video star refuses to cash in via YouTube

Money isn't everything for Nuseir "Nas" Yassin.

Just a year ago, the now 25-year-old walked away from a six-figure gig in New York as a software engineer at Venmo, the mobile payment provider. He wanted to live what he describes as his "best life" — one that's far away from sitting at a desk from 9 to 5.

"The rat race is real," Yassin said. "I was part of the rat race."

These days, he's traveling across the globe, making one-minute videos every day about the people he meets and the places he visits, from Ethiopia to Italy.

Each day, he posts these clips, including "How cheap is Thailand?!!" and "Morocco in one minute" to his Facebook page Nas Daily, where he's accumulated more than 750,000 followers.

Here's how Yassin became a nomadic social media influencer without eating into the $20,000 cash cushion he held aside after leaving Venmo.

Your life's worth

Yassin's path to a new lifestyle began with the realization that he was a third of the way through his life expectancy, and he was spending most of that time in an office.

Nas and his family.
Nas and his family.

"It seemed like I was selling my life for money," he said. "My life was worth more than $120,000 a year."

The young engineer knew he wanted to travel, and he came up with the idea of documenting his travels on video: 60-second quick hits that air on Facebook.

"It has to be one minute because people are busy," said Yassin. "It has to be on Facebook because my friends don't go on YouTube."

"It seemed like I was selling my life for money. My life was worth more than $120,000 a year." -Nas Yassin

Each video is brief, but it can take as long as an entire day to shoot, edit and consider concepts for the next day.

Taking ownership

Before leaving Venmo, Yassin decided how much money he'd need to get by while traveling the world.

He concluded that someone could reasonably live on $60,000 a year in New York, so he saved up that amount before leaving his job.

Of that, $20,000 was in cash and the remainder was invested.

Nas organizes meet-ups in the various countries he visits.
Nas organizes meet-ups in the various countries he visits.

On the plus side, he didn't have to contend with student loans. Yassin graduated in 2014 from Harvard debt-free.

His first stop was Kenya, where he arrived with a plan to make videos while he was on his trip. It was also when the budding video star realized he could earn money — and perks such as free hotel stays — without having to touch his savings.

"I got a job offer after 18 days: $3,000 a month to work in Nigeria to teach five people how to make videos," Yassin said.

That freelance assignment lasted about three months and has led to subsequent gigs that help Yassin pay for his travels. It also gets the word out about his video and social media abilities.

Nas has travelled to over 25 countries. He was most recently in Morocco.
Nas has travelled to over 25 countries. He was most recently in Morocco.

Hosting educational workshops, making videos for Al-Jazeera's AJ+ and other freelance assignments are the things that are key to financial stability for Yassin.

He's also shied away from YouTube, where creators can collect a portion of revenue generated from ads. Social media experts say these pre-roll advertisements can be a six-figure goldmine.

Instead, Yassin is posting his material on Facebook, where he's interacting with his followers personally.

"Nobody's offering me $100,000 for a video," said Yassin. "I don't like ads. I don't like selling things. That's not me."

A career on his terms

Yassin's end goal is to reach 1 million followers on Facebook, but he's already thinking about how this milestone will propel him to the next step in his career.

A Greek island Nas photographed using a drone.
A Greek island Nas photographed using a drone.

"I want to settle down in one place, raise $1 million, start a company and share what I learned from this year," he said. "My dream is to build a tech company that helps people discover content."

Yassin would also like to spread the word about decoupling yourself from your desk so that you, too, can live "your best life."

So what's the secret to becoming a social media guru and making a sustainable living? Your work and what you produce need to matter to you before anyone else can care about it.

"The way to make good content is to care about it," said Yassin. "I've seen a lot of people do things they don't care about just to make money."

"I want to see the video when I'm 90 and be proud of it, not say that this is trash but I got paid for it," he said.

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