Siowei, better known as im_siowei online, was planning to go into finance. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and her plans got derailed. Instead of getting a job at a bank, Siowei started posting TikTok videos. We had a chance to chat with the Malaysian content creator and learn all about her approach to TikTok and YouTube and why she loves making videos. We will also discuss what made Siowei start making content, as well as how she was able to grow her channels to astronomical levels in just a few short years.

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Content type: People

User created: Oct 7th, 2022

From finance student to TikTok star

After finishing her Master degree in Australia, Siowei returned to Malaysia expecting to enter the workforce as a banker. As it turned out, though, life had other plans for her. That was around the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic started disrupting normal daily life all over the world. Siowei wasn’t exempt. Stuck at home and with low prospects of entering the workforce any time soon, Siowei needed something to occupy her time.

“I just graduated from university and was about to look for a job when COVID-19 hit. I was literally stuck at home and decided to try out something new — something literally out of my comfort zone,” Siowei says. That something ended up being TikTok.

“That’s where I first stumbled across TikTok,” Siowei recalls. Indeed, with many people stuck at home with nothing to do, TikTok, for many, became a refuge — an enduring point of contact with the rest of the world.

An introvert by nature

Siowei often mentions that she is an introvert by nature. That may be surprising since she exudes so much energy and enthusiasm on camera. Her skits are always whimsical and fast-paced, filled with unexpected twists and turns to keep her young audience guessing.

She worked as a primary school teacher for four months in Malaysia. During her time teaching, it dawned on her that kids can be greatly influenced by their teachers and the adults in their lives. Having discovered her love for kids while teaching, she became motivated to make a positive impact on the youth. And with most of their time being spent on social media, she decided to start making an impact online.

However, in reality, for Siowei, making videos to post on social media was not something she ever imagined enjoying, let alone making her career. However, with encouragement from her partner, Zheng Yi, Siowei started posting on TikTok.

“I was a really shy person,” Siowei admits, “and I rarely have pictures of myself on social media. However, my partner encouraged me to try it and I did!”

While Siowei now has over eight million subscribers on YouTube, she was actually hesitant to post short-form content on YouTube. She instead chose to start her journey as a content creator on TikTok. After she began to grow in popularity, she decided to branch out to Instagram Reels. Only then, after posting to both TikTok and Reels, did Siowei decide that she could give YouTube Shorts a shot. She was tentative about posting on YouTube because she believed it would be hard to break out on the platform. With 61.1 million content creators on YouTube, according to DemandSage, it’s an understandable concern. She worried that no one would what her content over the millions of other videos out there. However, it turns out YouTube users did watch her content, and they loved it.

A surprising success

“To be honest, I didn’t really have a specific goal prior to this,” Siowei says. “I was expecting to get a job in the finance industry once I graduated but life had different plans.” Rather than cling to her old plans, Siowei has decided to embrace her new career as a content creator.

“I would say I am definitely grateful for it as I could explore and do so much different fun stuff while shooting my videos,” Siowei explains. She says life as a content creator gives her more freedom to indulge her curiosity: “I am always curious about everything and fortunately, doing whacky videos allows me to try lots of stuff that I could never have had the chance to!”

Along the way, Siowei has found joy in making videos and exploring her potential as a creator. When asked what she dislikes most about being a creator, Siowei didn’t have an answer: “To be honest I really enjoy doing what I am doing right now, like every part of it. It is quite well-balanced and I love my team! I especially love shooting stuff that’s like totally new so I get to try out so many different stuff!”

Her family’s reaction

At first, Siowei kept her TikTok ambitions a secret. In an early YouTube Q&A, Siowei relates how she would lock herself in her room to make TikTok videos, leaving her family to wonder what all the noise was about. However, as soon as her account reached 10,000 followers, she let her family in on her success.

“I only let my parents know I’m creator content on TikTok after I got my first 10K followers,” she says in the Q&A, “all they know is I was always locking myself in the room and making a lot of noises … they didn’t know what I was doing. After I got my first 10K followers, I remember I sent a screenshot of my TikTok profile to the family group and then everyone start laughing, like ‘Oh, okay, then the noises in the room finally make sense.'”

Since then, Siowei’s parents have been quite supportive — her mom even likes and comments on every video.

“My parents are quite supportive of what I’m doing,” Siowei went on to say.

The keys to im_siowei’s success

Siowei has experienced a meteoric rise — first on TikTok and eventually on YouTube as well. Joining TikTok in 2020, the im_siowei TikTok account has accumulated more than 4.2 million followers and 111 million likes as of this writing. And her follower count continues growing daily.

And that’s just TikTok. After starting the main im_siowei YouTube channel in October 2022, Siowei reached her first milestone in April 2023: one million subscribers. That quickly ballooned to 2 million by June of that year, and by the end of 2023, Siowei had close to 6 million subs. Today, the im_siowei YouTube channel boasts 8.3 million subscribers. That’s some tremendous growth in only two years. Still, Siowei remains modest.

“The growth rate is subjective,” she says. “My current rate could be considered fast for some but slow for others. I believe that filling content gaps and also producing content at high quantities allows us to ‘hit more jackpots.’”

There are several factors we can point to to explain why Siowei has seen such strong and steady growth on TikTok and YouTube. The first is the content itself. It’s whacky, funny, relatable and relatively easy to produce — especially with help from her team. This leads into the second factor: Siowei’s practical approach to the production process. The next factor is Siowei’s daily posting schedule. She rarely, if ever, misses a day of posting, and sometimes, she’ll even post a Short and a longer video on the same day. The last factor in Siowei’s success is her and her team’s focus on data and analytics.

The content

Siowei’s videos appeal to younger viewers. As Siowei says, “I make whacky comedic content for kids aged 8-15.” Viewers in this age range are notoriously ravenous content consumers who often watch videos on repeat. This means there is a big appetite for her content, and Siowei and her team work had to satisfy it with wholesome comedy skits.

“I always try to come up with content that is out-of-the-box to trigger more critical thoughts among kids,” Siowei tells us. Her skits usually revolve around how to survive home and school life from a pre-teen perspective. This includes common situations like “When You Sleep in Class” and less-common scenarios like “If the world become dumb, except you.” Sprinkled in are outrageous how-to tutorials that, Siowei admits, no one should ever follow — like “How to Grow Taller in 2 Steps.” The impractical scheme involves getting sucked into a vacuum painted green so you can pretend to be a snake and get stretched out by an eagle. You’ll just have to watch it.

When asked what about her favorite video on the channel so far, Siowei says it’s the video about “if humans are not scared of ghosts.” She explains, “I personally am super scared of ghosts like I cannot even watch a supernatural — or even a horror — movie. This video used a cuter way to present ghosts and portrayed them in a much more positive light. I hope this video helped kids overcome their fear of ghosts or being alone in a room even just by a little bit. It was also fun to shoot! It would say it’s our first “haunted” video and so the setup is very different. The team enjoyed it too!”

To get ideas, Siowei looks to a range of sources. “I scroll a lot of videos all day to get inspiration,” she tells us. “My team also helps me come up with loads and load of funny content! I am also very inspired by my childhood cartoons like SpongeBob and Chibi Maruko-Chan. Their positive vibes inspires me even up until today!”

The production

As you can see, Siowei focuses on making whacky and fun yet relatively easy to produce videos. For example, Siowei takes on most of the on-camera roles for each skit, swapping costumes as she portrays each different character.

Siowei and her team use Capcut, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro to edit her videos. In the past, Siowei used to edit her videos (something that isn’t uncommon for content creators just starting out) or get the help of her boyfriend to edit the ones that she found to be difficult to tackle. However, as her popularity and channel grew, she was able to hire a team of editors to help with the workload. So she does the heavy lifting on-screen, Siowei’s team helps manage the workload behind the scenes:

“I have a production team that includes content, videography, video editing, posting and analytics. We set goals for the number of videos to post for the month and our team lead would arrange the schedule accordingly.”

Along with this highly organized production workflow, Siowei’s skits typically use simple, often handmade props and costumes. This not only makes the content of Siowei’s videos funnier but also more relatable for her viewers, as they could make the same props themselves. Keeping her setup simple also allows Siowei to focus on the story and her performance. Having a crew helps with that as well.

“We have more than 10 in our team working tirelessly to create awesome content! As with working with a team, I just set the goals every month and the team is free to schedule their time to achieve it!”

This production style makes it possible to produce at least one video every single day. That’s the pace needed to keep up with her posting schedule.

The consistency

Siowei keeps to a rigorous posting schedule, posting videos to TikTok and YouTube Shorts daily. As for long-form YouTube videos, those go up less frequently at around one or two per month. That’s because, as you might expect, longer videos take longer to make. Siowei says their goal stays the same, though.

“Longer YouTube videos definitely take up much more time to prepare,” Siowei says, “and the shoot itself would take days. The budget would also be bigger and the setup is more grand, in a sense. However, the core processes and logic behind them is the same — we always try to make the videos compact, whacky and unpredictable.”

Interestingly, you can see the direct impacts of this posting consistency reflected in Siowei’s follower and subscriber count. The graphs for each follow a smooth, linear upward trajectory that implies predictable and reliable channel growth, month after month.

The data

Even though Siowei didn’t end up in finance, she still puts her analytical skills to use. Instead of inflows and expenditures, Siowei and her team analyze engagement metrics to figure out resonates with her audiences on YouTube and TikTok and — maybe more important — what doesn’t.

“My team and I go through a lot of both quantitative and qualitative data,” Siowei explains. “Also, I would always try to come up with out-of-the-box ideas and visually unexpected stuff. That’s what makes our videos fun!”

Siowei and her team looks for the same kinds of trends on both YouTube and TikTok, but there are some differences between the two platforms. “TikTok offers a more simplified set of data,” Siowei points out. “We watch the engagement rate vs the views, and also monitor the comments to see what the audiences like.”

By contrast, YouTube gives creators more information to work with: “As for YouTube, it has a wider range of dataset so we could easily compare the performance of one video versus another.”

By paying attention to how her content performs, Siowei can make adjustments to help her videos find their audience.

What’s next for im_siowei?

In addition to her main TikTok account and YouTube channel, Siowei has recently started two new YouTube channels. The first, Siowei World, houses her animated content. The second, YAEY Gang, shows off her YAEY merchandise. “YAEY,” if you hadn’t noticed by now, is Siowei’s hallmark catch phrase and shows up in every video. YAEY stands for positivity, energy and appreciating even the smallest things in life. It’s also a word that Siowei always says herself, so she wanted to bring the same spirit into her videos in the hopes that everyone would make every day their best day.

To explain why she decided to split her content into different channel, Siowei says, “There’s still a lot of content in my mind that’s not suitable to be posted on the main channel as the content direction is a little different and I would really love to try them all out!”

For now, Siowei has a few different pursuits in mind: “I’m looking at three different categories this year: animation, music, gaming.” First up is animation. “I’ve started my animation channel a few months ago,” Siowei says, “[and I’m] planning to further grow it and hire a full team for it.” Music is a more recent endeavor. “I just started to create casual music. I look forward to making more, especially simple [rhythmic music],” Siowei says. “And ultimately, I hope to make a mobile game!” she concludes, laughing.

im_siowei’s final advice

Looking back, Siowei wouldn’t do anything different: “I would say I would not do things differently as it was the entire process that help built me into who I am today. The beginning stages were really my learning phase and it helped me build a very solid foundation!”

As for advice for new YouTubers and TikTokers, Siowei says all creators need to take time to understand their analytics. “I would advise creators to always analyze and follow the data if they’re looking to make this a full-time job,” Siowei says. “By doing so, your account would be more stable and lower risk. Also, I would like to say that being hardworking is a non-negotiable factor. On top of that, you have to analyze your data to make the right choice.”

So, we can see that Siowei’s success stems from a combination of her whacky content, an efficient production team, a consistent posting schedule and an eye toward analytics. But there’s one more factor that makes it all possible: a passion for making people happy through video.

“I just love seeing people happy,” Siowei tells us. “If my videos make people’s day, it motivates me to push even further.”