Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
When Doobydobap left Calgary, Alberta, for boarding school in Connecticut, she lost something vital: food.
Okay, not all food. But Korean food. And Korean food was quintessential. It was the food she’d grown up with, the familiar dishes her parents and grandparents made every day of her childhood. The sorts of dishes she used to be self-conscious about bringing to her elementary school cafeteria, but in a high school more than a thousand miles away, endlessly craved.
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The nearest Korean restaurant was a 40-minute drive, and when you’re a broke student, footing that cab bill just isn’t feasible. So Doobydobap (aka Tina) did what seemed most logical: she called her grandma for recipes, and taught herself to cook.
Joining TikTok was a similarly practical decision. Fast-forward from Tina’s high school dorm kitchen through college and grad school, and you end up at the start of the pandemic. Between COVID uncertainty and the entry-level job market having already been pretty shaky, Tina wasn’t having much luck with applications and interviews.
So, she decided to catch companies’ eyes–she hoped–by launching a TikTok account and turning it into a digital portfolio.
Like several of our other Creators on the Rise featurees, Tina didn’t actually intend to become a creator. She didn’t expect her videos to find an audience–but they did. She also didn’t expect that the more content she made, the more she would fall in love with the whole shebang, from recipe development to filming and editing/post-production (her favorite part of the process). But she did.
Tina’s expansion to YouTube has taken trial and error. The stuff that works on TikTok, like ASMR, doesn’t necessarily take off on YouTube, she says. Instead, YouTube audiences tend to prefer storytelling–which means to find views on YouTube Shorts, she’s blended hi-res shots of her cooking and eating everything from chili oil ramen to garlic fried chicken and chicken feet to cup noodle fried rice with voice-over tales about her childhood, family and friends, and current adventures.
That approach seems to be paying off. Since September, Tina’s channel has gone from a few hundred thousand views a month to tens of millions, with an all-time-high spike of nearly 120 million views in October, 78.6 million in March 2022, and more than 40 million so far this month. In the same timeframe, Tina’s channel has gone from around 20,000 subscribers to nearly 2 million.
So what does this mean for her?
Well…she’s not entirely sure yet. Twelve months ago, she had no idea she’d become a creator–so who knows what the next year has in store?
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: First, tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you get up to before starting your YouTube channel and TikTok account?
Doobydobap aka Tina: Hi! My name is Tina aka Doobydobap, and I’m a food and lifestyle content creator on YouTube and TikTok. I use food to tell stories and show a glimpse into my life. I’m currently based in Korea, but I’m also always travelling.
Before starting my YouTube and TikTok channels, I was a fresh grad out of college and applying to a bunch of jobs. I didn’t find much success, and decided to start posting content as a way of building my portfolio, and that’s how my content creation journey started.
Tubefilter: Which did you join first, YouTube or TikTok? Why did you decide to start posting videos in general? Was making videos always something you wanted to do, or is that a newer interest?
Tina: I joined first on TikTok. I decided to start posting videos of myself cooking on TikTok because I kinda thought to myself…Oh, I could totally do that. YouTube definitely felt like there was a much higher barrier to entry, whereas TikTok was more easily approachable and felt like a fairer playground between big and new creators.
I started posting videos because…I was unemployed, hahaha. I was at a point where during the pandemic, interviews were not happening and I wasn’t getting any luck with job applications, so I decided to take one year to build a portfolio. I don’t come from any technical cooking background—I never went to culinary school or worked at a restaurant, so it was a way for me to “show off” that hey, I can cook.
Tubefilter: How did you fall in love with food? How did you decide to make that a central part of your content?
Tina: I fell in love with food probably when I was in high school. I went to a boarding school in Connecticut, and the closest Korean restaurant was about a 40-minute drive from me. There was no way I could justify a $70 cab ride for mediocre Korean food, so I decided to experiment with cooking in my dorm room, asking my grandma over the phone for recipes.
I never really thought that I’d make food a central part of my content, but more as a representation of my interests and who I am. Food and cooking are incredibly important parts of my life, and I couldn’t think of anything else that would represent me that well.
@doobydobap Korean gas stops hit different #streetfood #소떡소떡 #mukbang #korea ♬ original sound – Tina 최
Tubefilter: One thing that sticks out about your content is how honest you are about your journey with food. Sometimes things you try don’t go right, and you’re super realistic about developing your skills rather than instantly being a Master Chef. Why is this an important part of your videos?
Tina: Well, first off thank you—I’m honored. And you’re right. Before, I really strived for perfection and presented myself with high-precision ASMR until I realized that’s not who I am. I was never classically trained, I never worked in a restaurant, and I consider myself an avid home cook and a (zealous) lover of food before anything else. I’m really just someone who loves good food and who tries to recreate it at home.
Relatability is definitely a key factor in my videos. There are a plethora of chefs who are much talented, and I’m not one of them. I’ve been clear from the get-go that I’m not a chef, and I think people like that. It makes cooking less intimidating and inspires people to start going grocery shopping. I like working with everyday products, since I want more people to enjoy what I create. Nobody is going to have a $2,000 parmesan wheel idly sitting in the corner of their pantry. Most importantly, I make food that I enjoy eating, and I think that feeling transfers to the audience.
Tubefilter: What does the average day look like for you? How much time do you spend filming and editing? What else do you do outside of making videos?
Tina: It depends—when I have a recipe I’m developing, I cook every day and film when I have daylight. Ever since I started vlogging on YouTube, however, I try and carve out days where I’m doing something interesting and outside of the kitchen, since I did in the kitchen for so long during lockdown. I spend around 30 hours a week editing, and rest filming and other back-end stuff. I’m currently a one-woman team, so it gets difficult at times to manage my workload.
Outside of making videos, I try and see my family and friends as often as possible. Being a YouTuber without a team is definitely quite isolating and lonely at times, so I try and distance myself from any electronic devices when I’m relaxing. I also love to travel and try different cuisines for inspiration on recipe development.
@doobydobapChili Crisp Shakshuka 🍅🍳🧄🌱♬ original sound – Tina 최
Tubefilter: Another thing that’s common in your videos is “Don’t yuck my yum”–aka, you don’t want people coming in with negativity about the foods you like. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like growing up eating Korean food, and why “Don’t yuck my yum” is vital to you now?
Tina: School lunchtimes were super stressful. I went to elementary school in Calgary when I was younger, and it was always nerve-racking when lunchtime came around. It felt like I was playing roulette—I never knew what my mom packed, and I’d pray for a PB&J. I vividly remember the day my mom packed kimchi and when I opened my vacuum-sealed bento box, everyone scooted away saying it smelled like farts.
Now, times have changed and kimchi is sold everywhere. I’m happy to see that it’s changing, but a part of me is definitely a little sad little me never got to experience that. So yes, “don’t yuck my yum” is a vital part of my identity, and something I stand by for other facets of my life.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite thing you’ve made for your YouTube and/or TikTok?
Tina: Hmmm…Difficult question, but probably the video of my family making my grandma’s famous Southern-style kimchi. Because of the pandemic, it was just our small nuclear family, and it was a fun experience for us to make kimchi at home locked inside. We hadn’t made kimchi at home in a while because I would always be in school around that time, so it was a fun bonding experience that I was lucky to capture and share.
Tubefilter: Do you film the same content for YouTube and TikTok? Do you do anything else differently for either platform? Have you noticed different audience trends or different things your viewers are interested in?
Tina: This also depends! I’ve noticed that the TikTok audience loves ASMR while YouTube prefers stories. People who are subscribed on YouTube are definitely more engaged than TikTok since they know me better from my stories and vlogs. I think TikTok is more interested in food, whereas YouTube is more interested in me, who is behind the camera making the food and spinning stories.
Tubefilter: As you know, we reached out to you because your YouTube channel popped up as one that’s growing quickly. Do you know if there was a specific video that took off, or did a bunch of videos go up at once?
Tina: I saw almost little to no success on YouTube at first. I’d pray that my Shorts would get 500 views on a good day. It was frustrating at first because all the videos that were performing well on TikTok and Instagram were not reciprocated on YouTube.
I started experimenting around with different formats. I decided to do a “vloggy” style format about my favorite breakfast food, fried egg over rice, and that was the video that made me go viral on YouTube. Not the seven-day tonkotsu ramen from scratch, kimchi, or five-hour stews, but a 10-minute fried egg over rice with soy sauce. Not going to lie, I was a little mad at first that THAT would be the video to take off despite all the effort I poured into other videos.
When I saw that video take off, I started posting every day to grow my presence and ride the wave. I only did voiceover-style videos, as I saw the highest retention from people who would stay on to listen to the stories till the end. After a while, people started binge-watching all my videos and it all “took off.”
@doobydobap Lunch at 7/11 Korea! #ramen #onigiri #bananamilk #mukbang #korea ♬ original sound – Tina 최
Tubefilter: What’s changed for you since you started making videos?
Tina: So much has changed. I never anticipated being a YouTuber in a million years. Even a year ago, I was still applying for jobs and praying that my videos would get appreciated by companies. This is my dream job, where I’m able to share the food I love with so many supportive people, and it doesn’t feel real at times.
It’s opened up so many opportunities for me and allowed me to find my other newfound passion in video production. I would love to explore more into the technical production side of content in the near future.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making videos?
Tina: My favorite part of making videos is post-production during the editing process. It’s also the most stressful part, since it’s where everything comes together. My subtitling and inner dialogue are where it comes to play and ties everything together. It’s a chance for me to exercise creative freedom by altering shots and script, and it’s so rewarding to see the final product at the end. You see the video go from shots of cooking to spinning a story and something that’s on my mind that week.
Tubefilter: Do you have any plans for the next few months? Anything exciting coming up? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Tina: My plan for the next few months is to successfully end my travels and keep doing what I love. Nothing too exciting, but finding more beauty in routine and regime is my goal. I’m planning on being in New York soon, so I’m definitely excited about that as well.
In five years’ time, I see myself…potentially leaving content and carving a new path, maybe? I think I’d like to not be in front of the camera, but in the back, being involved with more production. But who knows? I had no idea I’d be a YouTuber even a year ago, so we’ll see what’s there in the future in five.
Jellysmack is the global creator company that powers multi-platform social media growth for video creators, media companies, brands, celebrities, and its own online communities (Beauty Studio, Oh My Goal, Gamology, House of Bounce and more). The company’s proprietary technology optimizes, distributes, and promotes video content, resulting in meaningful audience growth and increased revenue in record time. Jellysmack is currently partnered with hundreds of talented creators including MrBeast, PewDiePie, Like Nastya, and Bailey Sarian. Looking to Go Bigger on social? Visit jellysmack.com.