My Job is YouTube: Made with Lau

​​In this episode of "My Job is YouTube", Bay Area-based Randy Lau of Made with Lau, tells the story of being out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic and having a baby on the way, to earning a living while sharing classic Chinese cuisine with people around the world and celebrating his family legacy — all in the course of a year thanks to the success of his channel. He talks about his path from overcoming uncertainty about his future, to becoming a full time YouTuber. Hear practical tips from Randy on how he grew his channel.

These are the stories of #YouTubeImpact.

Check out the Made with Lau channel:

0:24 Intro
1:07 The backstory: Starting a channel in the Pandemic
2:05 How did you stay ahead with making content?
3:34 How did you keep motivated during the Pandemic?
4:22 Diversifying revenue streams
4:50 How sponsorships work
5:40 Potential for starting a YouTube Channel
6:20 Advice for getting started on YouTube

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Imagine you were bored and quarantined

so you started your own
cooking YouTube channel with your parents.

A mere 12 months later,
not only does it have 400,000 subscribers

you’re pulling in
$50,000 a month in revenue.

Not a bad family business!

Let’s meet Randy, the creator behind
“Made With Lau” a cooking channel

hosted by his dad who spent 50 years
cooking in Chinese restaurants.

Randy, thanks so much for joining.

My first question is a crucial one.

What is it like
running a channel with your parents?

It’s definitely interesting

because I spent a lot of
my adolescence trying to be independent.

Now, that I’m older, I think

I just appreciate
getting to spend the time with them.

So, it’s like 99% a positive experience.

I think just getting to connect with them
and bond with them over this experience

has been really special for us.

And you know,
they’ve worked so hard their lives

so this is a chance to just
celebrate them and their legacies

and just give them recognition
for the awesome people that they are.

I love them!

A record number of people
started channels in quarantine.

I took a look at your Analytics

and one thing I noticed was

the incredible consistency
with videos uploaded once a week

since you started
squarely on September 1, 2020.

I get the feeling
you had a very well-prepared plan.

— Can you tell us about it?
— The idea was actually conceived in March

so I spent basically six months
just figuring out how to film.

We shot actually
eight episodes before we launched

and I scrapped three of them
because I just didn’t like them

and they seemed really rough.

So, when we launched on September 1

I actually had five videos

like five weeks’ worth of videos
ready to go

because I knew
that I wanted to get to a point

where I figured out enough to launch

but I knew that I had still
so much to figure out each week.

I often recommend
that «creators» try to stockpile videos

ahead of uploading

because it gives you a sense of comfort
knowing that you have videos

and you’re not racing on this hamster wheel

trying to make content
the week before you upload it.

Do you try to stay five weeks ahead

or how far are you ahead in the process?

We had a buffer of five videos
in September, and then that buffer vanished.

It was just a lot, I think, to keep up with.

So, now, I haven’t missed a week

but there have been weeks
where I’ve made an easier video

just to relax a little bit,
because it is a lot to maintain.

For me, it was important
to stay consistent, I think.

So, I just tried to really
keep to that once a week.

Now, I’m fortunate to have

a small team of people
that can offload some of the stuff for us.

So, editors that can help us get ahead.

I used to do all the transcribing
and translating in our videos

so we have dual subtitles in our videos

and it was me transcribing everything,
and then handing it off to my cousin

who would spend another 10 hours
translating into Chinese

so, it was a lot of work.

When it was just me,
it was like 50–60 hours a week, per video

— which was…
— Wow!

— It was just like a lot to take on.
— The family business is expanding.

— You’ve got cousins working for you now.
— Yeah!

According to Analytics,
views didn’t seem to take off for a while.

In fact, I counted 25 videos or so,
before everything really took off.

What kept you motivated during that time?

It may be cliché

but I think you need
something to keep you going

when things aren’t
looking as sporadic externally.

For me, I think,
me getting to spend time with my family

and to preserve these recipes for our kids

to deepen my relationship
with my parents, and my culture

I think gives me a lot of intrinsic motivation.

So, regardless of
whatever happens with our subscribers

and our Analytics, and our growth,
I’m grounded in that

just being able to know that I’m doing
something really personally fulfilling.

That makes sense.

Now, you’re bringing in around
$50,000 a month, which is amazing.

Can you talk a little bit about
the various revenue streams that fund that?

In addition to YouTube AdSense,
we have our blog.

It also brings in a pretty substantial
revenue stream every month.

We have brand deals.

After that, we have Patreon

and we have affiliates

and other commission-based setups in place.

How do the sponsorships work?

Do various food brands reach out to you

and invite you
to do some sort of brand integration?

There’s like a whole
ecosystem that I’m diving into.

So, we’ve pitched brands ourselves

brands will directly reach out to us.

A ton of agencies out there
that represent a bunch of brands

and a bunch of creators,
and they just connect the two

so, I’ve done a lot of brand deals that way.

It also helps to network with
other creators who are getting brand deals

because we share contacts all the time

like, «What did you get paid for that deal?»

It’s just a lot of networking
and community building

that helps accelerate that aspect of it,
if that’s where you want to head into.

I’ve talked to other creators
as a part of this series

but most of them have existing businesses

that they use
their YouTube channel to promote.

You didn’t have
an existing business before this

but what do you think is the potential
for a business to start a YouTube channel?

The potential is huge on YouTube
because I think if you can get to a point

where the scale
that a platform like YouTube brings

there’s so much
mind-blowing reach that you can have.

I think if you can devote the time
to create compelling content

there’s a ton of potential there,
which I’ve seen this past year.

What would be
your one piece of advice for a business owner

a small business owner
getting involved with YouTube?

Is it to really come up with

that well thought-out plan
and content strategy like you did

or what would it be?

It’s definitely worth the investment,
if you’re able to devote

enough time and resources to it.

If you can let your story shine
in a way that people connect with

I think there’s definitely
a lot of value in that.

I think everyone has a story to tell

so, I think it’s definitely
worth looking into, at least

if you’re a small business
thinking about starting YouTube.

What’s one video
that people should watch first

if they’re new to your channel?

I think the most droolworthy video

is our Cantonese Chow Mein video.

It’s also our most popular video,
probably for that reason.

There’s also a much easier one,
which is our Congee video.

It just reminds me of my childhood and
just being surrounded by a lot of warmth.

Randy, thanks so much for your time.

I love the concept of your channel
and what you’re doing.

For everybody else, make sure
you go to “Made With Lau” and subscribe.

Thanks, Randy!

Thank you!

It was so fun!