Food & Travel

John and Malie

How We Work A 9-5 And Travel Around The World On The Side.

Side Hustle
February 5, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi, we’re John and Malie (pronounced Mah-lee). We’re based in Sydney, Australia where by day, we both work a 9-5 in the healthcare industry and on the side, we create food and travel content. We’re huge foodies who love to travel (especially overseas) which ultimately led to us to documenting our adventures through video as a vehicle to hold onto those memories.

Truth be told, Malie does most of the grunt work on the travel research (accommodation, attractions, food etc) and John does most of the filming (he really just wants to eat!). We both have a hand in producing, editing and marketing.


Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!

If we were to go back to the beginning, this would’ve started just prior to our first trip to Japan as a couple in 2015. We were doing research for the trip - reading blogs, scrolling through Instagram and of course, watching Youtube videos (mainly vlogs). We recall watching a lot of Japan vlogs for inspiration and ideas for the trip and thought to ourselves: “We can do that. That looks like fun and if anything, we can look back on the videos down the track”.

It was actually really good practice because being in a foreign country where the majority don’t speak very much English (or we’ve noticed), we found vlogging not as daunting because the person next to us wouldn’t really know what was being said so fear of being judged was kind of out the window. Fast forward to 2020, we’ve been travelling to multiple countries yearly and have been vlogging our travels since.

Initially, we made videos for Youtube as a way to hold onto those memories and just to share our experiences with our family and friends. Then eventually we found our videos helped others plan their travels and have even inspired some to start up their own Youtube channels. It’s a great feeling to be able to help others through our videos.

Our biggest inspirations on Youtube would be Mark Weins, Best Ever Food Review Show (BEFRS) and Mikey Chen (Strictly Dumpling). They’re living our dream - travelling for food, making a living out of it and they have killer work ethics.

One quote that we hold onto to this very day and keeps us going comes from one of our favourite vloggers, Casey Neistat - “Free time is the enemy of progress”. We don’t strive for perfection (because there will always be someone better out there), just progress.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

When we plan our travels, everything is recorded using Google Docs which eventually turns into the itinerary. We also use Google Maps to bookmark all the sites or food spots we’ll be hitting up.

Our videos are usually day vlogs as dictated by the itinerary (though things usually change by unforeseen circumstances such as a change in weather). Though we also brainstorm travel or food video guides we think can be helpful to others eg. Lists to do or eat in ‘Insert City/Country.

More and more people are wanting to travel we’ve found (especially as we get older) and producing such content will always be searched. To stand out and get creative, we try to consume as much content as possible and create content whenever we can as the more we create, the easier and quicker the process is.

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

We invested in Macbooks back in early 2015 and started our video editing journey using iMovie as it was free. It was very easy to learn but we eventually saw it’s limitations and made the transition over to Adobe Premiere Pro. It was definitely a steeper learning curve and we were overwhelmed by the features. It took a couple of weeks before we could be comfortable with using it. Everything was learnt straight from Youtube tutorials.

For photos, we edit everything using the Snapseed app. It’s quite user-friendly, feature-rich and free!

Music also plays a huge part in our videos (and a lot of Youtube videos in general!). Youtube Audio Library has a great selection of free music to use but we also use Epidemic Sounds (subscription-based) as it has a massive library of music we can use to utilise in our videos.

You’ll find us on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook with the same handle: johnandmalie. (The Facebook page is super new to us!)

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

The biggest fear for us starting Youtube and posting content was being judged by our family and peers. Once we started posting and sharing, we got some positive feedback which was quite encouraging. For us, it just took some time (about 6 months in) to completely not care what people thought.

That being said, we get hate comments all the time. Initially, it definitely felt pretty bad to see such nasty comments but at the same time, our videos would be flooded with generally positive comments. We just learnt to eventually ignore it but it did take some time. The video that comes to mind was from a video which was a bit polarising. It was a video about being scammed in Vietnam, which we got a lot of hate for, but we also got a lot of encouraging comments and support for as well.  

Another fear was definitely vlogging in public. We got stares all the time, felt self-conscious and worried about what people would say about us. Then we thought to ourselves “You know what? We’re most likely never going to see these people ever again so who cares! Also, maybe they wouldn’t understand what we’re saying”. Vlogging for the first time ever in Japan definitely helped with our confidence!

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

When we were posting our videos on Youtube at the start, we tried to post on a weekly basis. It wasn’t easy - we would take a few days to finish a video (with jobs on the side as well). We achieved this and we got a fair few of viewers (~200 over a period of 3 months) but once our Japan vlogs were done, we ran into a halt because we had no more travel content.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when we wanted to start getting serious with this Youtube thing. We started posting again weekly (after almost a year of zero uploads) and it was around the same time we noticed a course being spruiked by Bart & Joe (JustKiddingFilms) for Jumpcut Academy which helps teach you how to become successful on Youtube and content creation in general. We joined and saw massive value from the courses and content provided. Our channel definitely had a better sense of direction from thereafter.

Since we still have full-time day jobs, our nights are spent editing videos and we strive to put out a video once a week (usually on the weekend). Though sometimes life actually does get in the way and our upload frequency does get affected. That being said, we haven’t stopped and we most likely won’t. We actually enjoy the process of creating content that people will find value from and enjoy.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

Don’t wait until you’ve perfected your skills before uploading your first piece of content. Strive for ‘good enough’. As long as you’re consistent in putting out content that you love, it generally gets better over time as your skills develop and you’re hopefully getting feedback from viewers/followers. The main thing is taking this feedback and applying it whenever necessary. This will help you grow as a creator (in our limited experience so far).

Another tip is definitely engage with like-minded creators or creators in your niche especially those with similar followings. You can learn from one another and you can make some pretty good friends this way. Just reach out. The worst that can happen is you’ll get ignored or rejected.

Don’t be afraid of rejection, it’ll only make you more resilient to other challenges.

If you’re already creating content and you’re struggling, you can try to draw some inspiration from your favourite content creators (whether it’s Youtube/Instagram) and perhaps try to do a similar video/photo as them but putting a slight twist on it to give it your personal flavour.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

We consider ourselves to be very small Youtubers in the content creation space. One of the most memorable moments during our journey was for one of our videos to hit over 10k views (over 170k now). It was one of our videos we made of Singapore and the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was a huge boost of motivation and we thought this could actually go somewhere.

Another milestone was getting that first paycheck from Youtube. It wasn’t much, but it was an amazing feeling (still is!) to know you can get paid for putting out content you’re proud of and people will watch and enjoy.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

We don’t do anything crazy with marketing our Youtube channel. We share videos with our friends and family when it’s available, through Whatsapp and Facebook. We also post highlights in Instagram stories as well as posts.

Collaborations with other Youtubers helped as well who had similar followings. We’ve done a couple in Sydney, one in South Korea and one in San Francisco so far. It was a great way to connect with other creators and we’re still good friends! The process was also super easy. We simply reached out via Instagram or emailed them directly (you can get email contacts on Youtube through the about page on a channel).

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