How a Taiwan travel channel grew to 209K subscribers & $4K/mo

Oct 15 2022
Case Studies

Channel Stats

Name – 外國人介紹台灣 – Lukas in Taiwan
Niche – Travel/Vlog/Entertainment
Subscribers – 209k
Watch time – 1.8M hours (lifetime), 80.2k hours (September – monthly)
Revenue ($ per month) – ~$4K USD/month
Videos published – 322
Date of first video – August 3rd 2018 (when I started YouTube seriously)
Employees – 0 (solo)

Why/what made you want to start this YouTube channel?

There are two reasons why I started making YouTube videos.

After living in Taiwan for 6 years (originally being from Sweden), I got tired of my life in Taiwan and wanted to move back home to Europe again. But I knew I’d still miss a few places around Taiwan. So I decided to buy a GoPro and record a few memories for myself, before leaving Taiwan 6 months later. 

At the same time, a lot of newly arrived foreigners always asked me what my favorite things were in Taiwan (e.g. places, restaurants etc). So I also started making small ‘guides’ on how other foreigners could get to these locations, and order different kinds of food without having to speak Chinese. 

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Lukas in Taiwan’s earliest (published and listed) videos

Before I knew it, I’d found a new interest in video production and editing. I decided to stay in Taiwan until I’d uncovered everything worth uncovering and gotten tired of making YouTube videos. 

Four years later, I still post videos at least once a week

How did you get started?

1) Purchased a GoPro camera and started recording my favorite places in Taiwan. Typical “dad-on-vacation” style with 5 second clips of anything interesting (like beaches, temples etc) without any story or reason behind it. Didn’t make any sense…

2) Went back to my apartment and Googled “How do you edit videos?”. Found a free software called HitFilm.

3) Watched 100+ hours of YouTube tutorials on how to edit videos and different editing techniques and functions (e.g. separating video and audio tracks) by people like Peter McKinnonMatti Haapoja and even HitFilm’s official channel.

4) Finished my first video project and realized it didn’t make any sense. It lacked a story and something to guide viewers through the video. The first video only made sense for people who had been on that trip with me.

5) Re-shot the video with newly gained editing knowledge in mind. This time, I included much more facetime explaining what’s happening and guiding the viewer throughout the video

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Explaining context resulted in a much better travel vlog

How & when did you get to 10, 100, 1000 subscribers and ultimately partnered to where you are currently?

Here’s what my timeline has looked like:

  • 100 subscribers – August 2018
  • 1K subscribers – October 2018 (2 months after starting)
  • 10K subscribers – May 2019 (8 months after starting)
  • 100K subscribers – April 2021 (2 years, 8 months after starting)

There haven’t been any “growth hacks” or viral moments; I’ve just relied on dedication, passion, consistency and following my deadlines and plans to release at least one video per week.

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Channel growth has been mostly linear with no big growth moments. Source: SocialBlade

It’s been a slow grind and if you never stop, you can never fail.

In the beginning, I honestly didn’t pay any attention to views/subscribers. I just created videos to share with my friends. After about a month, I checked my email and had tons of emails from YouTube comments in Chinese. Turns out lots of Taiwanese people had watched my YouTube videos; one video had thousands of views and got me 340 subscribers in my first month.


Some of Lukas in Taiwan’s earliest comments (translated into English)

I had no idea why they subscribed but then I felt I had to continue making videos about new places and things to do here in Taiwan. 

I received new suggestions from my viewers who told me to check out this and this place, so I did. Every week, I made videos about my adventures here in Taiwan while maintaining a full-time job. And I haven’t stopped since (even if it included staying up until 2am editing videos after work).

How much money are you making (and how)?

The channel averages ~$4000/month from:

  • AdSense (40%) – $1600/month
  • Channel memberships (12.5%) – $500/month
  • Sponsorships (47.5%) – $1900/month

An agency here in Taiwan helps me find sponsorships and provides me with a work permit to be a full-time YouTuber in Taiwan as a foreigner.

Different tiers of channel memberships receive different benefits. The first tier (at $2/month) get replies to their comments. The second tier ($5/month) get occasional photo updates (usually reposted Instagram photos as member posts. The third and fourth tiers ($10/month and $30/month) don’t get anything extra. 

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But the key reason people support me isn’t for the benefits. Rather, it’s to improve the channel since I reinvest 100% of membership income into travel, accommodation, food etc which makes the content possible & better.

I also pay $400/month to outsource translation and subtitles.

So my profit is usually ~$3100/month.

What does your content creation process look like (after finding an idea)?

Finding ideas

Finding great ideas is the most difficult part of my content creation process. 

Most of the time I find ideas by simply living in Taiwan and actively asking myself “Would this happen in my own country?”. If not, why not? How would we do this instead, and is this interesting enough to talk about for my now mainly Taiwanese audience? 

Honestly, even after 4 years and 300+ videos, I still have no idea if a new video will be a success or a failure. There are a few exceptions if there’s something new happening in Taiwan which people want a foreigner’s viewpoint on.

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Examples of video ideas

I’ve reached a workflow where I mostly reuse the same idea every single time (interviewing foreigners in Taiwan). So the success of the videos largely boils down to the guest. 

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Most of Lukas in Taiwan’s latest videos are guest-based/interview content

If I don’t find a guest to interview, then I have to improvise a new video within one day. Usually, this would be me talking to the camera about something I’ve noticed during my life in Taiwan.

Producing videos

Once I have an idea, my process works like this:

  • Write a script – 2 hours
  • Record the video – 1 hour
  • Preliminary editing (i.e. ordering the videos correctly) – 1-2 hours
  • Export first draft to translation company (get subtitles as .srt file 2-3 days later)
  • Complete editing(i.e. graphics, effects, B-rolls, background music etc) – 3 hours
    • Sometimes this isn’t required where the video isn’t too complex
  • Create a thumbnail – 30 mins
  • Complete production (i.e. re-export, upload to YouTube, handle SEO etc) – 1 hour

In total, I’d estimate I finish a video in around ten working hours spread out over 2-3 days.

Creating titles/thumbnails

I always try to find the single most eye-catching moment in the video to base my titles/thumbnails on. 

For example, say I make a video on “This week’s news in Taiwan” and feature many different news articles. I’ll title and produce a thumbnail based only on one specific news article that is as “clickbaity” as possible (as long as it’s following the truth). 

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Examples of Lukas in Taiwan’s thumbnails (translated into English)

Promoting videos

Other than re-uploading my YouTube videos on Facebook (since they now have ad revenue too), I don’t focus on promoting my old content after publishing.

I believe my time is best spent working on my next video right away. I trust the algorithm-gods to promote my videos for me.

I do make videos for YouTube Shorts (and then repost to Instagram Reels and TikTok). But my YouTube audience doesn’t use any other social media such as Twitter, TikTok or Instagram, so I don’t get any YouTube subscribers from those.

What are the key lessons you’ve learned from your journey?

 Set deadlines and make sure you follow them no matter what. I have a rule that I must release “at least one video per week” before Sunday midnight. I’ve only missed this rule twice during my four-year YouTube career (due to sponsors changing dates last minute without a backup video).

 Don’t forget to have fun. If you want to do YouTube full-time, you likely want to create videos you like full-time. Instead of focusing on growth tactics, always make sure you enjoy every single video you are creating.

There is no point in “cheating” by making viral videos to achieve your dream of going full-time on YouTube if you don’t enjoy the process. There is no treasure chest at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow is the treasure.

 People don’t care about you. Most of the time, people don’t watch your videos because of you specifically but for the value (i.e entertainment/education) your videos provide. Understand why people watch your videos and make sure you can add value and have fun at the same time.

When I started, I made videos about “my personal life” but really, people only watched my videos to see “a foreigner in Taiwan”. This meant when I made non-Taiwan related videos (e.g. traveling to Thailand) my audience didn’t care.

 People subscribe for your next video, not your previous videos. Make sure your channel has a clear focus so subscribers know what they can expect next. 

For instance, instead of making “a day in my life” video, focus on who you are to new viewers (e.g. “a day in my life as a student in San Francisco”). Then you might want to add valuable information for other students in San Francisco (that’ll make them subscribe to see similar content).

Where can we find out more about you? And is there anything else you’d like to add?

My YouTube and Instagram (@LukasEngstrom) are the best places to find out more about me.

If you’re serious about YouTube and want to chat/bounce some ideas with a YouTuber with 200K+ subscribers, feel free to message me on Instagram

I’m currently working on a separate channel to help new YouTubers avoid the mistakes I made when I first started, so I think we can learn a lot from each other and help each other grow! 

But remember, you need to have fun and be consistent in order for anything else to matter.

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