Channel name and link – Asianometry
Niche – History, Technology, Science
Subscribers – ~270K
Watch time – 3.3M (monthly)
Revenue – $3-5K/month (from AdSense & Patreon)
Videos published – 316
Starting date (of first video) – 10th May 2017
Employees – 0 (solo)
Why/what made you want to start this YouTube channel?
I worked in Silicon Valley after graduating from college. After 10 years, I got tired of it and moved to Taiwan. I just wanted to go to Asia somewhere.
When I got to Asia, I figured a unique experience would be to sell everything and start fresh in life with a blog.
Asianometry started off as a travel blog/channel (though you can’t see the videos anymore). The first videos were on travel, hiking and landmarks, not geopolitics.
After 4-5 videos, no-one cared and I got like 10-15 views. I realized that if I wanted to last, I needed to make this enjoyable. So, I decided to make videos on topics I was interested in.
At the time I was a history buff so I wanted to do videos on World War II and the Chinese Civil War. And that’s how the channel “started” – making very obscure history videos (on Genghis Khan and the Qing Dynasty) that no-one really cared about but I was interested in.
How did you get started?
I was very low budget (and still am) as I like to keep overheads low.
- MacBook Air
- Blue Snowball (that my ex-vlogger sister gave me)
- iMovie (or even iMovie on my iPhone)
I’d post once every 2 weeks when working in cafes.
When I just got started, I didn’t realize just how rough making China/Taiwan-related videos would be
There was either frequent abuse, low-quality spam in the comments or little to no engagement at all.
Asianometry is a product of my passion for learning and sharing what I learn in an engaging manner. That’s what kept me going despite the abuse, spam and low engagement.
How did you get to 10, 100, 1000 subscribers and ultimately where you are currently?
My first 10 subscribers came from friends and family. I just posted about my channel on my personal Facebook account to let friends/family know I’m doing “this vlogging thing”. They all subscribed to stay updated on my journey.
After a year of experimenting with travel and obscure history videos, I had 300 subscribers.
My first breakthrough came when I created 4 videos on China (and Taiwan) which were picked up by the YouTube algorithm (possibly due to great watch time?). Then, someone posted my China-Taiwan video to a right-wing forum and I went from 300-1500 subscribers extremely quickly.
Two years after reaching 1K subscribers, I was only at 4K subscribers. It took a really long time to get to 10K subscribers. I sensed I needed to change my strategy for coming up with ideas and presenting them
I realized my passion for history wouldn’t translate into channel growth (or monetization). I needed to pivot away from obscure history videos.
I decided I wanted to make this YouTube thing work. So, in September 2020, I decided to take a sabbatical from work and focused on producing as many different kinds of videos as possible.
I started with tech; I made videos relevant to Taiwan’s semiconductor chip shortage that was happening at the time.
These were a hit. Producing as many different videos as possible and discovering this niche was what got me to 10K subscribers.
To get to 100K subscribers, I tried to focus on the tech/semiconductor niche as much as possible (since those videos were doing very well).
My growth pattern was simple; I just produced more and more videos in an under-served niche, got picked up by the YouTube algorithm and had some of them organically reposted/viral on forums.
This strategy hasn’t changed much. But to get to my current subscriber count (~270K subs), I focused on watch time and retaining viewers for as long as possible.
I realized it’s important to make content I watched myself. I wouldn’t watch stuff that’s just a guy boringly saying a collection of events. I wanted to know the underlying stories & ideas behind something.
So I changed my videos from being less “Wikipedia-styled vomit” to being more about story-telling, explaining ideas and problem solving.
After this change, watch time doubled and tripled (it was crazy!). From then on, if a particular topic didn’t have at least 50% watch time, I dumped it. Keeping your viewers on your videos is key to growth.
As MrBeast says, “If you make content that people genuinely crave, can’t find anywhere else, and actually watch. You’ll blow up.”
How much money are you making (and how – i.e. explain the distribution)?
The channel currently averages $3-5K/month from:
- AdSense (~60%) – $1-3K/month (fluctuates depending on video RPM)
- Patreon (~40%) – ~$2K/month (quite stable)
Advertisement income fluctuates a lot as it’s very hit-driven and geography-driven. Most of my viewer-base is in Asia which has much lower RPMs than other locations. So revenue from AdSense depends on whether a video has gone viral (and racked up more watch-time) or what country the viewers are from.
Patreon is an extremely stable source of income. I give my Patreons special Discord benefits and early access to videos (often months in advance).
I do get lots of sponsorship requests but I turn them all down. Sponsorships are a lot of work and I don’t have the bandwidth/infrastructure to handle it. I have no assistants and still have a day job so I can’t be bothered dealing with invoices, accountants etc. It’s just not fun even though I can unlock a ton of value. Maybe when I have more time, I’ll go for it.
I also tried releasing merchandise but no-one bought it (despite promoting it on my newsletter).
This has always been a hobby of mine and I feel like I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into monetization. It isn’t about the money, it’s always been about the enjoyment for me.
What does your content creation process look like?
To find ideas, I start with my interests. If I’m genuinely curious and want to learn, it’s a potential video. Viewers also provide feedback/ideas via email & comments. If the proposed idea’s interesting, I’ll work on it.
The majority of the time taken to produce a video goes to research and script-writing. Research and script-writing (and re-writing) can take from 4 days to 4 weeks. I basically dive into blogs, books, literature, videos etc. until I know the topic backwards.
Afterwards, it’s all about about preparing assets (creating maps, collecting pictures and videos) and recording. I’ve found Storyblocks makes this way easier but it still takes time.
Editing takes up ~30-40% of the time after which I release the video for early access Patreons (up to 2 months before release) and then on YouTube.
I don’t do much to promote videos. I really just rely on the YouTube algorithm and make the full script available on the newsletter. I’ve never reposted a video on forums even though my videos get picked up in a bunch of forums all the time.
If you could go back to square one again, what would you do differently?
Keep posting videos and never stop. You can’t lose if you keep posting and working on things you’re interested in. I posted 2 videos a week for the last 2 years – it’s probably the number one reason for my success
Learn why people enjoy your videos and lean into that. For me it was the quality of my research. But for you, it could be your personality, engagement etc.
Try new ideas and things you feel you’re not qualified to do. Your worst case scenario is that no-one watches it. Your best case scenario is discovering a new passion and unlocking growth for your channel.
Focus on watch time. If viewers aren’t watching >50% of the video, you won’t grow/succeed. Learn what’s wrong with your videos and improve if they aren’t retaining viewers.
But honestly, I wouldn’t do it any other way. Asianometry wouldn’t be what it is today if I didn’t start like I did. My growth was chaotic, lucky and dependent on being at the right place at the right time.
Where can we find out more about you? And is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t do gaming.