If YouTube has a rising star at the moment, it is undoubtedly Hafu Go. In just a few short years, the Canadian YouTuber has managed to amass more than five million subscribers. Currently averaging 35,000 new subscribers per day, he’s on track to hit 10 million this year. We recently caught up with Hafu despite his busy schedule to discuss the method behind his incredible success and what he wants to accomplish with his channel in 2024 and the years to come.

Hafu Go

Hafu Go
Subscribers: 5.02M
Uploads: 306
Video views: 1,429,171,595
Content type: Education

User created: Feb 8th, 2017


Where some YouTubers discovered the platform — and its potential — incidentally, for Hafu, it’s always been there. While Hafu’s channel (in its current form) didn’t officially start until 2019, YouTube was a constant presence in his life from a young age.

“There’s a very long history with me and YouTube,” Hafu explains to us. “I started watching YouTube as a kid [with channels] like Smosh, Nigahiga and even Fred. [Those] first viral YouTubers; that’s who I grew up watching.”

Hafu always seemed destined to be a presence in front of the camera. Growing up, he aspired to become an actor. However, he never saw it as a viable option for him.

“… my parents are Asian!” he jokes. “They told me that was too ‘unrealistic,’ so I never thought [acting] was a real career route for me.”

But, even though acting seemed little more than a pipe dream, Hafu was still fascinated with creating videos. “I always made videos for fun as a kid. I’d [do] stop-motion, or comedy skits, or try to create skits like Smosh and stuff like that.”

College vlogging

Creating videos remained a hobby for Hafu throughout his childhood, but it evolved into something more when he started college.

“I actually took [YouTube] a little bit more seriously in university,” Hafu recounts. “[My] first year of university, during the summer, I bought a $300 used camera and recorded the first video on my current channel. After that, I fell in love with the creative process of it all. I can think of an idea, and then, in a week or two, I can put out something for people [to watch]. Over my entire college career, I made vlogs and stuff like that. [My] content has shifted since then, but that’s when I first started seriously.”

However, being a business major, Hafu wasn’t sure if making videos for a living was something he could do. But the passion was there, and he was determined to find a way.

“I started just by searching for a hobby or passion. When I was in university, the phrase I kept hearing was, ‘If you find something you love doing, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Hafu says. “I really wanted to find that. So YouTube — or making videos — was just part of the search process. I tried a bunch of different things and YouTube was the one that stuck out to me because I really loved the creative process of it … In university, people would be studying for finals in the library, and I’d be sitting there editing my video.”

Thus, the Hafu Go YouTube channel we know today was born.

Making the jump

In the beginning, Hafu mostly vlogged his experience in college, sharing studying tips and offering a peek into student life. He continued making content on the side after graduating in 2019 while working in marketing.

“That’s really where my passion was,” Hafu reveals. “I was always doing YouTube after work and stuff … but I wasn’t able to financially support myself full time [yet].”

With a goal in mind, however, Hafu was able to switch to being a full-time YouTuber just two years after graduating.

“While I was working my marketing job, I saved up some money and it gave me a safety net, where I [was] comfortable with not making any money for a couple months. Surprisingly — like the day I quit my job — or the month right after, my YouTube income replaced [my job’s] income because I got a sponsor.”

Hafu’s regular, consistent posting schedule, even as a hobby, helped him to snag a sponsor so early — one he was determined not to squander.

“I don’t remember exactly how big my channel was at the time,” Hafu continues. “I think it was around 100K; somewhere around there. My first goal [for the channel] was to make as much money from YouTube as I did at my job. After that … I wanted to get to a point where I could do more creative projects.”

Rapid growth

Looking at Hafu’s subscriber numbers, it’s easy to forget the timetable he’s on. From 2021, when he quit his day job, to now, he’s managed to amass over 2.5 million subscribers. For lack of a better term, that’s insanely impressive.

“To put that into context: it took me a year to get my first 1,000 subscribers and another year to get 100K. Then it took another three years to get to a million. [Recently], we grew a million [subscribers] in one month, which is mind-boggling to me. But I want to keep the pace up, so this year, I’m aiming to get to 10 million subs.”

Hafu’s remarkable growth wasn’t a matter of chance or luck. Behind his flamboyant on-camera presence and seemingly spontaneous demeanor lies a meticulous and thoughtful approach to content creation. And one key component of his approach is YouTube Shorts.

“I have to attribute a lot of the growth to [YouTube] Shorts,” Hafu reveals. “Shorts is such an incredible opportunity right now. Competition on Shorts is still relatively low compared to TikTok and stuff like that. If I’m able to make a really good video, I get a lot of views because the standard right now on Shorts [is low]. It’s AI [narrated] commentary over already viral videos.”

Despite the boom of AI and repurposed content on YouTube, Hafu is set on making original content.

“That’s what I see popping up over and over again, but I’m there making original content. That’s the stuff people actually want to see, and our Shorts are averaging anywhere from five to 10 million views per video. It’s been a huge growth driver,” Hafu says.

Long-form vs. Shorts

Hafu takes a unique approach to Shorts: He views his long and short-form content as different. He finds that a common error many creators make is applying the same strategies to both formats.

“The problem I see with a lot of creators is if they blew up from Shorts — or short-form content — they struggle to transform that into a long-form audience,” Hafu says. “Right now, we’re averaging three million views on our long-form [videos] in addition to seven million on the Shorts. That’s something I’m proud of. We’re able to do it because I separate the long-form and the short-form.”

By having separate strategies for his long and short-form content, Hafu can optimize both types of content for their unique audiences and YouTube’s algorithms.

“They’re separate algorithms and you [have] to tailor to each audience,” Hafu continues. “There’s some crossover, but it’s low. I’d say 80% of our Shorts are completely original content filmed for short-form content. That’s why I think they’re so successful. The main difference is, for long-form videos, [viewers] have to choose to click on them. Whereas in short-form videos, they get served [them]. That’s why packaging — thumbnail, title and the idea — is so important for long-form video. A lot of short-form creators don’t know what makes a good long-form video.”

Hafu also finds that many long-form creators aren’t maximizing the potential of Shorts. Rather than producing unique content for Shorts, they often just condense their longer videos or livestreams into Shorts.

“The problem long-form creators have is they only cut down longer videos into Shorts. People don’t want to watch that because it [wasn’t] made for Shorts. It’s not entertaining enough. The other 20% [of our Shorts] that I talked about are long-form clips. But when I’m filming long-form, I keep that in mind. So [when filming] I keep everything in the center frame — the center third — so it crops better. I’ll also get better B-roll and stuff like that.”

Hafu’s process

Despite his massive channel and following, Hafu has what he describes as a “small and nimble” production team. Aside from Hafu himself, the team consists of a videographer, a scriptwriter, a creative director, an editor and a manager, Doug Landers, cofounder of Greenlight Group. With such a small team, everyone’s role is crucial to the success of the channel.

“[I] have a weekly brainstorming session with my team,” Hafu reveals. “Then [we] would have ‘pitch meetings.’ So everyone comes up with 5 to 10 video ideas and … we’d go through each one and see what we liked about them. It’s a free-flowing meeting because someone might present an idea, and that might become the seed for a completely different idea.”

This open approach to brainstorming allows Hafu’s team to come up with initial ideas that can later be further developed and refined.

“That’s how we come up with a lot of ideas,” Hafu says. “After that, we go and research [everything] we could possibly do in the video. Just because you got the idea doesn’t mean you know what you’re going to do, right? We’d then script out different segments — a rough outline, not really word-for-word scripting. Then we get the logistics handled; call whoever we need, or buy whatever products we need [before filming].”

After nailing the logistics and script down, they set aside specific days for filming. They do this for both long and short-form content. The team runs as a well-oiled machine thanks to their efficiency in pre-production. Hafu emphasizes the importance of planning and research and its role in their ability to grow.

“One change that my manager Doug and I made in the last year is we’re spending more time on planning … I will say filming is actually the shortest process of everything.”

Parting words

Hafu encourages all creators to be methodical and thoughtful in their approaches to content creation. In his parting statements, he offers some advice for those getting started or looking to grow their channel into something more.

“Look at what you can do right now,” Hafu tells us, “to get to the next step. Then the next step after that. When you’re first starting, your only goal should be to make 10 videos and look at [those] results. In the beginning, you have to discover what type of content you like making and what type of content the audience enjoys watching from you. Once you find that, you can think more about YouTube Analytics, and you study from there.”

As Hafu Go is on track to be among the fastest-growing YouTubers around, it’s clear this approach to content creation is working. A dynamic personality can only take one so far, but combined with hard work and research, it can propel that person to unprecedented heights of success on YouTube.