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China Expat YouTubers 2021

2020 was a difficult year, but the lockdown situation—both in China and abroad—created an unexpected positive for expat YouTubers in China: a captive audience in the west.

The world was eager to learn details about COVID-19 here in China: how and where it was spreading, what authorities were doing, and particularly how China was able to bring the virus under control. Several content creators filled the information void left by closed borders, leaving professional Western journalists outside the country. Without being necessarily scientific or systematic in their reporting, these content creators painted a credible picture of the situation on the ground, given that their message was free from ulterior motive or official directives.

They all have different approaches to how they conduct their vlogs but ultimately have something in common: they represent a unique perspective of life in China that few people can attest to or have ever heard of. The following are eight expat video creators who have seen an extraordinary rise in viewership over the last 18 months. Make sure to read their stories and follow their content on both Chinese and Western social media platforms.

Barrett

Take a look at British YouTubers Lee and Oli, the ultimate father and son duo. Through their channel Barrett, the two take their subscribers along on a thrilling adventure as they dive head-first into life in China. From fake designer clothing markets to infrastructure, from food to opinion pieces… Barrett unravels some of the most interesting topics in China to an international audience.

What brought you to China?

I initially came to China as I was doing business with a factory in Hangzhou around 14 years ago.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

My son Oli had previously run a YouTube channel, and it’s something I was interested in doing. So, we chatted about it a few times and then decided to start a channel.

Who is your audience?

Our audience is a varied mixture of people. Our main audience is the USA, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia, but we also have a lot of Chinese living abroad who watch our videos.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

Just get stuck in and start making content.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

The advantages are that you get to see some great things and places that you would not normally get to see. The main disadvantage is that you get attacked by people who disagree with your opinion of things.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

I see our job or role as showing people different areas we visit and showing them how life is like here in China.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

The weekly schedule is always pretty busy, mainly consisting of shooting footage, editing videos, taking thumbnail pictures, and getting videos ready to upload. Then, there is answering emails and messages, and all of the administration that needs to be done too.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

By uploading what we think will be interesting content on a regular basis.

How do you continue to create content?

We continue to create content by having a few ideas written down. However, it’s usually driven by the projects we get involved in and the places we visit.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

Probably the thing that makes us most unique is the fact that we are a father and son team. Also, we cover quite a diverse range of topics, including tech, travel, food and

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

It’s always nice to bump into fans. This can be anywhere… in restaurants, at airports, at train stations. Often, they will want to have a picture taken with us.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

I have no issue dealing with backlash that is constructive; however, it’s often not. Mostly, the way we deal with rude and abusive comments is usually to ignore them.

What’s your plan for the future?

The future plan is to do more of the same: travel to different places and produce

Jerry Goode

After Jerry saw a pattern of biased fake news targeting China, he decided to start field reporting via livestreams and videos in order to defend his wife and daughter’s homeland. Today, the channel JERRY GOODE aims at revealing the truth about China to the world (in a very polite tone). While Jerry adds a bit of comedy and sarcasm in videos, his livestreams focus on debunking Western stereotypes about China.

 

What brought you to China?

I’ve always been interested in Chinese history and culture and I can see that the economy in China is exploding. In short, China is full of opportunities. I’m now married to a Chinese woman and we have two daughters after my five-year stay. I don’t see myself leaving China anytime soon, maybe never.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

I’m a radio DJ currently for a station back in SA and I always had “field reporting” in my blood. After I saw biased news breaking abroad about China, I decided to put my skill into action and defend my wife and daughter’s homeland. Also, China is my second home, so it’s my duty to report the truth against fake news. I stand for peace and understanding on my channel.

Who is your audience?

Here are my top five countries viewing my videos and livestreams. I have 21.3% American viewers, 14.4% Canadian, 10.6% United Kingdom, 9.5% Singapore and 6.9% Hong Kong. Basically, I have more of a Western audience than Asians; however, I do have many Chinese people living aboard watching me here in China.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

Many platforms’ viewers can donate to creators such as Patreon, Buy Me A Coffee and WeChat. A creator makes money off of ad revenue on YouTube as well. Personally, for me, I care more about the message than a big income. We need to protect the world against warmongering politicians from the West, and I want my kids to have a bright future instead of a chaotic world.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

For advantages, I feel like influencers get to travel more and see awesome places that normal expats never go to. So, it’s one huge learning process about the country you make videos in. For disadvantages, [it is difficult to take] a lot of online hate for standing up against Western lies and beliefs about China, but I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up to spread truth, love and understanding. I believe I found my purpose in life, so [online hate] is not a big deal for me anymore.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

Respect the microphone you have in your hand, because there is power that comes with being on these platforms. Never misuse your platform and stay real in speaking the truth.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

From Monday to Wednesday, I stream live from the streets inside China for one hour. After the stream, I will reply to comments. Overall, it usually takes four hours to complete a stream and comments per day. On Wednesday, I upload a weekly video and reply to comments, which takes six hours. On Thursday, I shoot a video. From Friday to Saturday, I edit the video. Then, I stream live on Sunday in my studio, taking questions from my audience about China. This is my workflow on a weekly basis, but I must confess that it’s hard sticking to a schedule like this if you have two daughters and a fulltime job.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

I’m known for replying to each and every comment on my channel. I also make sure I find interesting topics to cover, while keeping my eye on the news for top stories. I treat my audience as my clients; I need to serve them with the best service, because they use their time in their busy day to watch me talk about China weekly.

How do you continue to create content?

In China, if you really understand how the country operates, you will never run out of content. China has so much to offer for me to show and teach the world.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

I believe I’m the only channel doing a lot of livestreams from inside China. I will soon have the first ever livestream only channel in China.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

My audience are foreigners and Chinese living abroad; however, I do have fans that spot me and know me from YouTube and my Chinese platforms. It’s kind of cool for me to meet people that enjoy my work, so I normally take them for a Tsingtao beer.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

I love criticism, because that tells me I’m on the right track and I use criticism to better my content. Regarding backlash, haters are very loyal; they help me get the algorithm started with their hate comments and I always thank them for their views.

What’s your plan for the future?

My second channel is a surprise; on that new channel, I will have very unique videos coming out for people to watch and to learn from.

the JaYoe Nation

Matthew Galat produces videos about life and travel from a personal standpoint via his channel, the JaYoe Nation. Currently, he considers China to be his home base, while his homeland is America. In addition to adopting a self-employed life, his core objective is to cycle around the world from China to the United States, sharing his highs, lows and observations along the way. Beyond documenting his travels, Matthew often delves into politics, culture and different lifestyles.

What brought you to China?

I ran a small product development firm that produced products for clients in select factories in China. I moved to China to further my business goals. Over time, I started traveling more and realized that life was too short to pursue thankless goals. So, I laid the groundwork for my life of travel and videos and made it happen.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

I enjoy sharing my perspective of the world. Beyond that, I wanted to make sure that I could retain moments in my life for my own sake. I fear not being able to remember or relive moments that matter in my past; by encapsulating them all in engaging videos, I can make sure they will never be lost. YouTube offered my first opportunity to save these moments to chronicle the highs and lows of my journey. Along the way, I have amassed a subscriber family who shares my journey as well.

Who is your audience?

My audience is wide-ranging. They watch from all over the world, but Americans makes up 30% over the life of my channel. There are mainly male and 25 to 44-year-old viewers. My audience is made up of travel enthusiasts, people who are interested in Asian topics, and expats living abroad.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

This is not an easy or particularly fulfilling profession if your primary goal is “celebrity status” or being “rich and famous.” I produced 1,500 videos on my channel, averaging around 10 hours per edit. For the first few years of my travels, I didn’t make much at all. During the last few years, I have made the equivalent of a base salary of an American office job from YouTube. I make videos because I love to capture moments—this is my primary motivation. Making it a career was never an intent. Of course, there will always be lucky and timely outliers that will succeed faster than others. But most of the time, you are probably not going to see swift growth. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and enjoy sharing [content].

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

Advantages are plentiful. Making friends from all over the world and affecting people you will never meet. I love when I receive a message from someone who has felt the positive impact of something I have said or done in my video. This is extremely humbling and fulfilling. Beyond that, having the freedom to make the product you want to make without external forces telling you what to do or not to do is amazing. I live according to my own schedule, and I live and die by my own work ethic. It is not for everyone, but it works for me. Being able to leverage your subscriber base to find opportunities is a great positive as well. By [working with] a company or person that wants to leverage your channel’s exposure, it might mean getting into a nicer hotel room, which often becomes a win-win scenario.

Yet, it is not always roses. By putting yourself out publicly, you invite stalkers and strange folks. People label you and troll you because they have painted an unfavorable picture of you. Keyboard psychologists will diagnose you from a distance and unflatteringly degrade you in your comment section or worse. Depending on your channel subject, you become part of a public news sphere bent on accusations and defamation in order to further their own narrative. This can be stressful and depressing at times.

Income is always fluctuating, and you can never depend on every video to perform the way you want. Often times, some influencers can sacrifice their content for a narrative that provides a better ROI. I try to keep my opinions and content balanced and enjoy what I am doing, so I have to understand it might not pay as well as being divisive and toeing the line of hate many people align with.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

I don’t like the word “influencer.” I am just a person that makes videos. My job is just that. There are many channels covering many topics. Sometimes our videos have some influence, sometimes not. Our job is to make videos that will hopefully entertain those who watch. Some might be influenced or encouraged to see a part of the world they have yet to see or a side of a subject they had not entertained. We don’t even have to be good people; there are plenty of us encouraging others to adopt hateful or divisive rhetoric. So, our “role” is up to us to decide.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

My pandemic life is a far cry from my typical traveling life. When I am on the road cycling, my days revolve around moving from one checkpoint to another, finding stories to tell along the way. The end of the day involves finding a place to stay for the night, hopefully with good WIFI. I edit my episode, upload, publish, promote and move on to the next day. Pandemic life is more scattered. Travel is not as easy, so I must take opportunities to tell stories as they come. Editing is done at my desk, instead of in some hostel’s bed or lobby.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WeChat are opportunities for people to engage with me in unique ways. Patreon is probably my best opportunity to connect with the subscribers who want to keep in touch. I do not do as much as I should though, and almost always feel guilty for not doing more.

How do you continue to create content?

I make videos when I want, how I want. I find that stories present themselves all the time—you just have to keep an eye out for them. My mission at the beginning was to try to find stories to keep the channel going. But that mission seemed superfluous. Life presents you with so much content, so you never run out. That being said, I keep notes on my phone from time to time to remind myself of points to discuss later, but my videos are more off the cuff than others.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

That’s not up to me to answer. I am me, and I consider all of us unique. I try to keep my content and ideas original, but this is a question that should be answered by my audience and not myself.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

I have met friends from all over the world who watch my content. I do not have any “fans.” This is another word I try to avoid. “Fan” denotes some elevation above the audience who views the videos, and I try not to perceive myself that way. I have run into people in all parts of the world who enjoy my content. Airports, on the road, randomly in coffee shops… Many times, enthusiastic subscribers will have seen much of my life unfold on my channel and have more knowledge of my personal life than my own family. It can be creepy, but it’s also endearing. I have also interacted with people who took a positive direction [in life] after watching my videos. They share these stories with me and appreciate the impact the channel has had on them and their family. I was not prepared for this when I started making videos, and it makes the act of running this channel all the more fulfilling.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

[My advice is to] try to ignore it, but that is often impossible. Even though I have tough skin, it’s impossible not to take some of the more brash and evil comments to heart.

What’s your plan for the future?

Until the world opens up, I will continue telling stories from inside China. I have a new channel idea I am working on to be a home for some of my divisive opinions, and that will be live soon. When the pandemic stops and world travel becomes more ubiquitous, I will be on the road telling stories once again.

FerMuBe

Being the owner of an English training center, Fernando Munoz learned that he could provide insight to foreign teachers about the teaching expectations in China, including working conditions, contracts, legal aspects and student management. However, he quickly uncovered YouTube videos that portrayed China in a negative narrative. With a toolbelt of knowledge on Chinese culture and politics, Fernando decided to change his niche. Now, his channel FerMuBe mainly details China’s green corridors, Dongguan’s urban landscaping and a wide range of China-based commentary.

 

What brought you to China?

I came to China in the year 2000 as an English teacher, searching for a challenge in my career. I wanted to teach in countries [with different kinds of students] because I felt that would really test my ability as a teacher. Previously, I had taught Spanish-speaking students both in America and in my home country of Colombia.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

As an English training center owner, I could give foreign teachers a better perspective of working conditions, contracts, legal aspects, student management, and other expectations. I soon realized the scope for this particular niche was very limited, so I started making general teaching content to help any teacher anywhere. The more content I consumed on YouTube, [the more] I realized that there was a negative narrative about China. A few large YouTube channels profited from portraying China in ways that I knew were not true. This led me to create different content: explaining China to foreigners who might not understand the country very well.

Who is your audience?

I try to speak to people who are interested in China or hold conflicting views about China. [I also target] proud Chinese citizens living abroad, who enjoy and appreciate when someone sheds light on China’s culture, lifestyle, tradition and even politics.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

The number one objective is to reach monetization, but that in itself is quite a challenge. It won’t be enough to support your livelihood for quite a few years unless you are a hit and your subscriber count skyrockets. So, YouTube is more a marathon than a sprint. You must dedicate years of your life to create content before you can actually see significant remuneration. There are other paths to generate income, such as selling merchandise and opening financial support accounts like Buy Me A Coffee or Patreon. More prominent YouTubers with bigger clout can get sponsored or engaged in product endorsement or product placement deals, which would help with the income generation part of content creation.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

I have always wanted to be a leader in my industry—somebody that people would look up to for advice, guidance and expertise. Since my channel changed its orientation, I find myself being the target of a lot of hate comments and criticism that are unrelated to the arguments that I am presenting. So, I fail to see clear advantages to being an influencer. I feel dragged into a position where my content may change someone’s perception of China; therefore, it becomes a necessity or a duty so to speak.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

In my particular box, I think you have to be honest and concise in order to influence people’s perspectives [about certain topics]. This often requires research into topics and a long time writing up an article or a list of ideas before putting them on tape and uploading them.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

Because I run three channels, a podcast and a channel in Spanish, I pretty much plan, shoot and edit almost every day except the weekends if I’m very busy. Now that I have added Chinese subtitles to my main channel’s videos, this extra step has slowed [my workflow], but it allows me to tap into other social media platforms here in China. That is something that I think has great potential.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

I think people follow you because you have a consistent message. They also appreciate your reasoning and logic, creativity, filmmaking execution, or video editing. I personally have catchy intros and outros [that serve as a call-of-action]. I am also very active in my comment section. It is very important for me to give a heart to every single comment in every one of my videos; if I agree with what the person is saying, I will also click the thumbs-up button. I appreciate this kind of communication after a video [is uploaded], since it allows me to reflect on things that I had misunderstood or said incorrectly. My comment section is a great sounding board for current and future videos.

How do you continue to create content?

My channel is a mixed bag of goods. There are videos that I have planned for weeks and take many days to shoot; there are videos that I record in my studio whenever I have a few minutes; there are also live streams that I can do both in my studio or outside. So, there’s always something new for me to experience, shoot or discuss. This means the schedule is never the same.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

I think my understanding of Chinese culture and politics [is unique]. Although I’m not an expert by any means, I am able to draw observations and conclusions. I explain a lot of the misunderstandings that foreigners may have regarding the country that I call home.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

I have only met a couple of my followers, and they have added me as contacts on WeChat. I have met a couple of them for a cup of coffee and exchanging ideas.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

I consider my channels like my front yard or my garden—this means that I don’t allow anybody to disrespect me or attack any of my followers. My delete button is often used because I don’t allow people to muddy up my channel in the comment section—the same way that I wouldn’t let somebody throw garbage in my beautiful garden.

What’s your plan for the future?

I would like to be featured in more mainstream media. I think it would be great for my channels, allowing me to spread my message even further. I also want to take more time to push my Spanish channel since most Latin American countries only learn about China from mainstream media. From American media, it means that they don’t have access to the other side of many of the stories that I talk about. Many people are doing what I do in English, but I think there aren’t many people doing what I do in Spanish. I think there’s a need for intelligent conversation about China in Spanish, and I hope to find an advantageous position in that market.

Walkabout Rojo

The spirit of walkabout is undergoing a journey, according to Walkabout Rojo. Instead of staying at cheap hostels and wearing the same clothes, Walkabout Rojo’s videos document a working professional who lives where “the people” live. By immersing in an unfamiliar setting, this gives him the opportunity to experience new places, cultures and communities. On his channel, viewers can stay tuned to Walkabout Rojo’s travels and adventures.

 

What brought you to China?

Originally, I was only going to stay for one year, get some experience, and move on to other parts of the world. But it didn’t take long for me to realize it was going to take a lot longer than a year to understand China fully, so I stayed.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

After living here for a while, I noticed a disconnection from what my friends and family back home said about China and what I was experiencing. I wanted to bridge that understanding gap and show them what it’s really like.

Who is your audience?

Generally, when I’m talking to the camera, I pretend that it’s my family on the other side of the lens. However, my actual audience is as diverse as the world is.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

Do it. Do it now! Don’t wait, just start. It takes a long time to build an audience. Like all things in life, following through is the bridge between hard work and success.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

It’s a wonderful hobby, and this is my creative outlet for the soul. The biggest disadvantage can sometimes be the self-inflicted cost… equipment is a money pit if you’re not careful.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

To bring attention to things worthy of a spotlight, ask questions, and spark conversation.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

I’m very busy. [Balancing video-making] with the other responsibilities in life, the 30 minutes here and there are spent on a laptop, organizing files, scheduling or editing. You’re never bored.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

I try to stay authentic. I often keep mistakes such as tripping over a rock in my videos just to break away from the stigma of influencers’ “scrubbed” lifestyle.

How do you continue to create content?

My workflow is continuous, and some would say that it is spontaneous. However, I have a whiteboard at my desk with ideas, to-dos and more.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

The spirit of the Walkabout is in every video. I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything; my audience is on the ride with me as I discover places, people and new things about myself. In every video, we will learn together, but I believe the story is most important.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

What surprises me the most is the diversity of the fans I meet. The global reach of the internet manifests itself in that way.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

Haters are going to hate. You do you. Everything else is just white noise.

What’s your plan for the future?

I will continue to focus on peeking around new corners of the world and walking down unknown mountain trails. Specifically, I will also be exploring the Chinese auto market a lot more in the next year as that is what my audience is responding to lately.

Austin In China

The Austin in China channel is an expat’s gateway into different Chinese cities, such as Chengdu and Lanzhou. Due to the obscurity of an expat’s lifestyle in China, Austin Guidry wanted to be a source of information that foreigners could use if they were planning to move to China. Over the span of 400+ videos, Austin continues to create practical and informative videos. Unlike many online creators, he does not actively discuss politics or YouTube drama, but he does his best to give his opinion and helpful advice.

What brought you to China?

I studied history at university, and one of my professors, who I deeply admired, loved talking about China. He had traveled to China several times and had focused on Chinese history for the majority of his career, and his enthusiasm for China supposedly rubbed off on me. I realized that I could spend a lifetime learning about China, and that prospect was so fascinating to me that I ultimately decided to move to China… and I did! And here I am—10 years later—still in China!

What prompted you to begin your channel?

The first time I came to China was in February 2011 as an exchange student in Lanzhou, Gansu. At the time, nobody was making videos about Lanzhou. I had no information from people on the ground. The only person making videos from China was SerpentZA in Shenzhen, but Shenzhen is basically a whole different country. There was little overlap between what he was talking about and what scarce information I gleaned about Lanzhou. I started my channel in order to fill in that gap. I wanted to be that source of information I needed before I came to China. As far as I’m aware, I am the second person to have started a video blog in China, and I have been making videos here longer than anyone else currently in China.

Who is your audience?

My audience is chiefly American and Canadian, with a surprising number of Indian viewers coming in at number three. About 3/4 male. I was surprised at the number of Indian viewers, because it’s the Americans and Canadians who mainly show up in comments.

What is your advice on attracting a Chinese social media audience?

There are three paths that expat influencers generally take. The first is the one I originally took, “expat reacts,” which I made into an expat reaction food series that got around 300 to 400 million views across all platforms during 2013 to 2016. It was one of the first, if not first, expat reaction series in China. It’s since become a hot genre! The second is to speak excellent Chinese, preferably a dialect. Chinese people love someone who can speak their language well, even if they have no other skills. The third is to take a strong political stand with China and naysay any criticism that comes China’s way for any reason. The narrative of “the Western media is lying to you” and anti-American content has been especially popular in the last year or two.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

What’s amazing about [being an expat influencer] is when people say you’re a contributing factor to why they came to China. It’s really humbling to think that you may have that sort of influence on people. I guess that’s why people on YouTube are called “influencers,” even though I dislike the moniker. Another advantage is being able to attend events, go on TV, and have a platform on a scale that you would not be able to have back in your home country. Because expats are so rare, relatively speaking, our voices are heard in this country more than they are back home.

Our words are heard, like I said, and words and actions have consequences, which can be a double-edged sword. When it comes to certain topics, especially in China, you as a foreigner must be careful about what you say. There are many, many things I would like to make videos about, but I’m forced to censor myself or only partially present my opinion because of what could happen… and that’s just a fact. I was fired from a really good job here specifically because of social media posts, and since that time, I’ve had to be careful about what I say.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

Influencers influence. They put out their voices and their opinions into the ether and publicly become a part of the global conversation on whatever it is they decide to speak on. It’s a huge responsibility, and one I take seriously. If I’m going to influence people’s opinions on something, I want what I say to be correct, even if it’s considered “boring.” The idea of me being an influencer is still rather uncomfortable to me, to be honest.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

I am not a career influencer, so my schedule largely revolves around my teaching job and friends. I don’t have a set schedule, and my videos come out when they come out.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

I have always thought of myself as someone just making videos for myself or for my friends. Honestly, that’s how I film my videos. Once, in the midst of a creative slump, a friend said, “Just pick up the camera and talk to the people like they’re your friends,” and that’s what I do. I’m not making content for a huge global audience in my head. Although my audience may be relatively small, but I respond to all of my comments and make sure that they know their voices are heard. I do videos that they suggest, such as Q&A videos, and spend as much time as I can catering my videos to the people who keep coming back.

How do you continue to create content?

I have a list of bullet points and ideas in an Evernote document, but I do occasionally just pull out my camera or phone and film if something comes to mind or if I see something worth talking about.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

I offer practical, informative videos made for the people who want or are planning to move, live, or travel in China. I don’t make ideological content or stand on a soapbox. My videos are “You want to move here? Great! Here’s what you’ll see! Here’s what you need to know and some stuff you might run across.” I don’t talk about political matters or get involved in YouTube drama. My content is the stuff I wish I had watched before I came to China.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

Meeting subscribers is always an interesting experience. Because most of my content is focused on Chengdu, I meet subscribers pretty often around town. The oddness comes about because they know all about me, my life, my wife, my experiences…. and I’m meeting them for the first time! That is a little bit awkward to overcome at first, but as I’ve met more and more people, it’s become much easier. Everyone’s super nice, and I always welcome people to message me if they’re coming to Chengdu. I’ve always tried to meet up with travelers once or twice during their trips to Chengdu to see how they like the city. If I really was one of the reasons that they came to China or Chengdu, I think it’s important to meet them face-to-face, put a face to a name in the comments, and show them that everything I said was real and came from an honest place.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

I don’t get involved in backlash and am very rarely criticized for what I post, which is one of the reasons I often fly under the radar. When it has come my way, however, I take time and reflect on whether or not it’s genuine criticism, or if it’s people not taking the time to understand the issue. If it’s genuine criticism, I actually reply to comments, do research, and change my opinion if necessary. I had a video up on my channel that got some backlash about the phenomenon of Chinese people buying imported vehicles rather than buying local, and my previous take wasn’t fully thought-out. So, I unlisted the video because of it. I replied to a bunch of people, heard their thoughts and feedback, and I changed my mind. It’s what any normal person should do, honestly.

What’s your plan for the future?

I have videos about the pros and cons related to various Chinese cities coming up, along with videos about the cost of living in my city. I’m thinking about doing some more camping and hiking videos as well as more live streaming from the streets of Chengdu. As to the future, I’ve got no specific plans. For me, YouTube is just a hobby. I’ll keep making videos until I’ve got nothing left to say, I suppose. I may be moving to a different city in the summer (undecided), and if I do, I’ll be making a lot of content about my new surroundings!

Expat Survival (Borderless Commerce)

Intending to help foreigners create a better lifestyle in China, Expat Survival covers multiple topics, including starting a business, sourcing online, apartment-hunting, and opening bank accounts. For many foreigners in China, the apps WeChat, Alipay and Taobao may be daunting and confusing to use. In step-by-step tutorials, Expat Survival provides clear and concise explanations to help solve the audience’s problems.

What brought you to China?

I am married to a Chinese wife. We both met in the USA and then mutually decided to come to China after my contract ended.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

At first, I wanted to create videos to help foreigners settle in China with banking, business, lifestyle and transportation. Then, I started getting requests about sourcing online from China, so I had to change my niche to provide sourcing tips and strategies to other entrepreneurs.

Who is your audience?

My audience includes individuals who want to start a business in their country sourcing goods from China at affordable rates. If people have no idea how to get started, my channel can hopefully guide the way with payment gateways and best practices. Most of my audience comes from the USA and Africa.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

Social media has three phases: side gig, solo gig and full gig. I am currently in the side gig phase. If you can solve problems and tell a compelling story with consistency, you can make it in a certain niche you love. You must make the active decision to treat social media like a job you love. The road will be bumpy but think about the end result.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

If you create content on Chinese social media platforms, especially in the Chinese language, you have a massive advantage if it brings value to the market. I had a video on Douyin go super-viral, which led to over 10K followers. A disadvantage is the obstacle of publishing content consistently. You may run into restrictions with registration and live streaming that can only be solved [with people that understand Chinese].

What is the job/role of an influencer?

Ultimately to provide value to your viewers. Once you pick your niche and you see a demand in the market for it, brainstorm content that will bring value to the viewer, not you. I often see people make “selfish” content that only the content creator wants to see without the viewer in mind; if you do not already have an audience, it may be challenging to grow online.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

I have to set aside time for social media. I am still in the side gig phase of this journey, so balancing life, job and social media can be hard. I knock out my social media on weekends. I can argue I am possible busier on weekends than weekdays.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

I get most of my ideas from my conversations with people off of YouTube, and a lot happens behind the scenes during video production [to bring those ideas to life].

How do you continue to create content?

I get my ideas from my experiences talking to people that reach out to me. If I see a problem that I have not made a video about yet, I add it to my list if I know the answer.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

I don’t promote, get rich quick and show tactical methods on how to source things from China. I don’t make it look easy; I try to make it black and white to show viewers that it takes real work and effort to source cheap and good items instead of just popping up a Shopify store linked to AliExpress.

Tell us about your experience encountering the fans.

I get a mix of responses. Some are genuine, and some are only in it for themselves. The worst cases are those promoting scams because putting out content about sourcing or drop shipping can invite scammers to enter your comment section. I wouldn’t call my viewers “fans,” but I enjoy the encounters of those that genuinely want to learn the system and may even know more than me about living in China. I have had a viewer who started a mini business, because they put the effort to listen and work through the obstacles.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

I am not an expert on this, but everyone is going to have haters. I just keep making content that I think will benefit my viewers and take bad comments with a grain of salt.

What’s your plan for the future?

I am building a platform to make it super easy for people to source from China worldwide. It is in its baby stages now, but I want to offer all kinds of services for anybody wanting to source from China to start their business. Essentially, I give the power to the entrepreneur by providing them with the right tools to start.

Of Course China!

Of Course China! is a video and audio podcast featuring various guests talking about their China journey, life and businesses. Every episode features one remarkable individual who has been living an interesting life in China; viewers can enjoy hour-long podcast interviews and livestreams unearthing these in-depth stories. The podcast was created in order to show the world what most foreigners are doing in China, why they moved here, and what kinds of opportunities China has to offer.

What brought you to China?

Ziv Glikman came to China in 2003 following his then-girlfriend, and Fernando Munoz came in 2000 for an English teaching job.

What prompted you to begin your channel?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we met and came up with this idea. We’re both enthusiasts content creators, and we thought this podcast show could be interesting for many viewers. Nobody was doing this kind of show from China consistently yet. Also, we’re two inquisitive individuals, so we really enjoy getting to know interesting people.

Who is your audience?

Our audience is from all over the world. Some people do business with China, expats who live here, Chinese people here and abroad, and those genuinely interested in this country and might consider coming to live here.

How can individuals make a career out of social media?

Social media and online videos are a long-term game. If you want quick returns and success, this is not for you. To make this a career, income has to be generated from it. You need to spend hundreds, probably thousands of hours learning the many sides of creating video content and pushing it online. You may also want to find sponsors and develop a network and a substantial following. If you don’t have passion for it, it is not advised.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of being an expat influencer?

The advantages are the opportunities to meet interesting people, visit places you otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit and try exciting new things. A disadvantage is that making videos is extremely time-consuming. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes.

What is the job/role of an influencer?

In our opinion, a vlogger’s role in China is to show life in a somewhat unbiased way. Everyone is biased to some extent; after all, we have our own opinion of things, and we live in a unique reality. Showing a variety of opinions from different people brings forward a more balanced picture of life in China.

What does your weekly schedule look like as an expat influencer?

Our weekly schedule includes communicating with possible guests for our show, scheduling interviews, figuring out locations, researching topics and keywords, posting on social media channels and publishing new content.

How do you keep your audience engaged?

We keep our audience engaged by finding interesting subjects and people to talk to.

What makes your YouTube channel unique compared to other channels in your niche?

We conduct our podcast in person rather than interviewing online like many others. We mostly let our podcast guests talk about their experiences and we just contribute commentary.

What is your advice for dealing with social media backlash or criticism?

Fortunately, so far, we did not encounter anything too harsh.

What’s your plan for the future?

We will continue bringing unique and engaging guests to our podcast for the unforeseeable future. Also, we’ve started a weekly livestream show called China Time, where we will discuss one topic every week. We’re also looking forward to bringing guests online via this new format.