YouTube Millionaires: Jeffrey Bui took a chance and went full-time on YouTube. Five months later, he’s gained a million subscribers.

By 02/02/2023
YouTube Millionaires: Jeffrey Bui took a chance and went full-time on YouTube. Five months later, he’s gained a million subscribers.

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.

Jeffrey Bui has big ideas.

“I’m always a visionary person,” he says, and that’s how he comes up with the concepts that have helped drive his channel from 200,000 subscribers to nearly 2 million in just four months.


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But, he says, going from vision to execution can be tough–and that’s where his team comes in. And, he stresses, he’s always, always had a team. Even in his old career, he had a team. Back before he did content, he was a business operations manager at a sales company. There, his team was 20 people strong, but despite his success, he kept finding himself thinking, “Wow, why am I here?”

From there, the next logical thought was, What if I don’t have to be?

So, when he got the chance to leave that job and start working behind the scenes on 2HYPE member James Riedel‘s channel, he went for it. That was three years ago, and in those three years Bui went from just doing camera work to do camera work and editing, then camera work, editing, and idea generation, and eventually he ended up involved in video planning “from top to bottom,” he says. After that he moved into the channel management side of things, working not just with Riedel but with all of 2HYPE.

At the same time, he was getting his own channel off the ground. By October of last year, he had 200,000 subscribers, and wanted to know what he could do with his channel’s growth if he built a team and started working on it full-time.

The answer is: a lot.

Check out our chat with him below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: For those who may not know you, can you give me a little bit of your background and how you ended up on YouTube?

Jeffrey Bui: I think it’s been longer than two years, I think it’s three years now, three years ago I started working with James, which is one of the 2HYPE members. I worked as his production team. Also, I did brand deals. I did from top to bottom before James had his team now. It used to be a two-man show, plus Garth, which was our editor.

Basically, that’s where I learned the side of YouTube from shooting, how editing and pacing works. Because as I started working for James, the first year we were focused on just camera work. Then eventually it was camera work plus creating ideas. Then there was camera work plus creating ideas, plus setting up the videos, plus planning the videos from top to bottom.

Then eventually, I stopped doing camera work for James and I focused on the channel management side, which was more of the back end, working with editors, working with thumbnail artists, understanding what makes a good video. Then from there I was able to branch off and I worked with 2HYPE as the group, I worked with James and 2HYPE.

Simultaneously, this is when my channel started, when I started working with James. Backtracking, when I was just working with James, I did a lot of food videos at first, and I would help James, and then after work and after a long day, I would just, “Yo, James, do you want to try all the foods from Taco Bell, all the foods from in and out.” Then I build relationships with all the guys as well and they were happy to be in those videos, so the other 2HYPE guys.

Eventually, I worked with James and 2HYPE. I started off just doing camera work with 2HYPE and then eventually, same thing, worked the way up and then eventually I became Operations Manager for 2HYPE, managing all the employees, working with the workflow, just anything that needed help, really. There was not really a specific position, but because I was able to do so many positions, in case there was any time that I needed to step in, I helped out from top to bottom; just meetings, everything. There’s a lot.

Tubefilter: What got you interested in doing YouTube originally? What did you do before you met up with James and 2HYPE?

Jeffrey Bui: I always wanted to do YouTube. I always did those blogs when I traveled for years, and then mini videos, review stuff. Nothing ever got traction off the ground, but I feel, as much effort as I put into it…Like in college, I’d do basketball videos, 1v1s, but I just didn’t have the knowledge, I think.

Being able to be surrounded by everybody that was already doing it not only at a full-time job, but also they were killing it…2HYPE, everybody is doing amazing on their channel. Being able to mix my passion for creating content and then the know-hows, I think, was the missing piece. Since I was probably in middle school watching the old “YouTubers” like Timothy DeLaGhetto, KevJumba back in the day, that’s when I wanted to be a YouTuber. I just didn’t know how to edit back then, didn’t know what to do. Eventually, when I was finally able to understand what it takes, I think it was just perfectly mixed.

Tubefilter: When did you strike out on your own?

Jeffrey Bui: I think about two months ago, I fully went full-time with myself. Then two months ago or three or four months ago, I went full-time from James. I still do work with James on a part-time basis as just being in his videos and helping.

I think to give some perspective, we were at 200,000 subscribers in August of last year. August, September-ish. That’s about four, five months ago. Then I think five months ago we finally went full-time. I hired a full-time team and we’re fortunate enough to be at, I think, it’s 1.4 million now. [Editor’s note: In the handful of weeks between our interview and publication of this story, Bui gained nearly 400,000 more subscribers, putting him at almost 1.8 million now.] I think it was like juggling part-time, but at the same time, there was a lot I still needed to learn. I think we’re about five months full-time and we almost, I don’t even know, seven times’d the business or seven times’d the sub growth. But at the same time, it also has to do a lot with Shorts as well.

Tubefilter: What was the trigger point for you to go full-time on your own channel? I feel like that’s a big decision.

Jeffrey Bui: I think to be honest, a big part of it is not letting down the people that have helped me so much, because if you think about it, James and all the other guys have always supported me from the beginning. A big part of me being hesitant was, after I’ve helped them so much, stepping away, how that affects them.

Before I stepped away, I tried my best to make sure that everything that I’m stepping away from was taken care of before I stepped away. For me, relationships matter most. As soon as that was figured out, I took the leap of faith and I jumped, because obviously, there’s a financial aspect to being a full-time creator as well.

That was a big worry, but I’m also glad to be able to do what I love to do and be able to still keep a great relationship with all the guys, like step away in a manner that wasn’t selfish, if that makes sense. I think our relationship was so strong because when I was there, I gave all I could, so even as I stepped away, we’re all still brothers. We’re like brothers today.

Then the second part of that answer is, obviously the financial, I think having so many people that have been there and done that and seeing how the process is, a leap of faith with me to go full-time. Because I don’t think I was able to support myself full-time, but once I took the leap of faith, the money started coming in to support that. I think the biggest hesitancy was both stepping away from doing something that helped my friends, but also the financials. I’m glad it is all working out right now.

Tubefilter: You mentioned hiring a team, your own team, but what else has changed for you, now that you’ve gone full-time? 7X growth is huge, so what have you done that’s helped facilitate that growth?

Jeffrey Bui: That’s a great question. I would love to give credit to Justin Roque. I’m always a visionary person, so I’ve always put visions that are insane. If you take a step back and say, to go from, we’ve only gotten 200,000 subscribers in two and a half years, and to say, our goal at the end of the year was to get to a million, and I put that out there. And for him to be so open to outrageous ideas…I don’t know a way to put this in words, but his idea to believe in not only me, but the vision, was what got us there. I think without him, there wouldn’t be this.

I’m not giving enough credit. I’m going to be honest, without his ability and what he does…It’s not even like he has amazing skill sets, but it’s the belief. It’s like when you have one person that believes crazy ideas, it’s great, but when you have a second person that also not only believes it, but also is willing to put in the work, two people can go a lot farther than one.

I think it is just his ability to be open to the energy of the impossible. Because I feel like, not a lot of people, but I can imagine other people being in his position where I would shout out a crazy idea and they would say “Yes” but their actions don’t match it. Eventually, that idea falls out.

Tubefilter: What is his position on your team?

Jeffrey Bui: He’s basically like my partner. I think with any business, there’s so many roles that go unkept that it’s hard to say. We’re just partners, if it makes sense. Anywhere that I can fill the role, I’ll fill the role, and anywhere he can fill the role, he’ll fill the role.

It’s a great opportunity for both of us because I think the biggest thing at the end of the day, our biggest goal…Like, obviously there’s subs and making the best videos ever. But the end goal is for me to make a culture or a structure that is supportive of what he wants. When he first came in, I always made sure that what he’s doing aligns with what he wants and how I can fit him into the big picture, because at the end of the day, without him, there’s none of this. Vice versa, without me, there’s none of this as well. With both of us with each other, I always make sure like, “Hey, does this fit? This is our five-year plan, this is how you fit in it. This is where I want to take you.”

That’s a big factor. Without him, none of this would be possible. Day in day out, he puts in the hours, the effort, not even physically the effort, but the emotional effort that comes with this job. Because as you can imagine, there’s so many things that don’t go the right way, but to be able to say like, “All right, this is what went wrong,” emotionally deal with it and say, “Tomorrow we’re still going to show up. Even though we put 100% today and nothing changed, we’re going to show up tomorrow.”

For him to do that…He has that almost ownership mindset, if that makes sense. When you own something, it’s like your kid, you go into it different. He has that ownership mindset. I had that same mindset when I worked with James in 2HYPE. Him having that will take him so far. I just wanted to give him some applause, if that makes sense.

Tubefilter: I feel like people don’t talk about that high-level collaborative partnership enough. When you find that creative partner in somebody, it’s vitally important.

Jeffrey Bui: Yes, 100%. I think it’s only right to bring out everybody that’s in your team, and I’m not just saying just to say it, it’s because as the person that owns the channel, you get so much notoriety already, you get so much reputation, like, “Oh, congratulations on hitting a million, congratulations on that.” You get it all already.

I think it’s our job when we are the face of a channel to give credit to elsewhere, because we’re naturally going to get all the credit already. Why would I take any more credit when you’re already the face on the channel? The moments that I can give credit, I will give credit, whether it’s Justin Roque, whether it’s Joel and Ruben, which is our editing side. We have Justin, which is our another editor, and then we have Peter, Jay, and then Thomas. Then thumbnail artists, those are our key foundations. At the end of the day, without Long Haul Management, I think without them none of this would’ve been possible. I think even sitting back and even having this conversation that allows me to be grateful for everybody that has been a part of it.

Tubefilter: Absolutely. I feel like people still don’t realize just how much goes into the backend. I talk to a lot of newer creators who feel like they have to do everything themselves, and it’s like, “No, no, no.” I understand the idea of wanting to keep ownership and keep control of your own channel, but also people who run really successful channels don’t just do it themselves because it’s impossible. It’s a job for like eight people.

Jeffrey Bui: Yes, 100%. It is so much more. Even the emotional support of your group, is like the 2HYPE guys. The 2HYPE guys, they have, I would say, 30 to 40 employees, and it’s those people who create the energy. To think it’s one person or even to leave it up to you, I don’t think I’d be able to keep doing what I’m doing if there wasn’t that community. They’re the people that push me to keep on going.

It’s like all my friends that came to where I was at when I used to be a camera guy or a producer, all those guys from the other teams, they kept me going as much as anybody else as well. I agree with you so much on that.

Tubefilter: Can you talk a little bit about your production process? What does the average week look like for you? How many videos are you trying to put out, how many Shorts are you trying to put out, that kind of thing?

Jeffrey Bui: That changes a lot, and we always set a goal, but I feel bad for the team too because I’ll be like, “Oh, this month, we want to focus on one long-form and focus on Shorts and blah blah,” and then I’ll end up shooting three videos long-form that week, which means three times the work, which Justin has never complained about. I’m very grateful for that.

Right now, if I could ideally speak, as of today, our goal is to do two long-form a week. We might scale that down to one. The only reason why we do long-form is because that’s the bread and butter of the business side. If I can ideally choose, I would only want to do one good video. You can make one really good video a week or two very solid videos. That’s where we’re at, and we’re focused on around three Shorts a week. Shorts is less-than-one-minute-form content on the channel. Our major thing is the Shorts right now get us probably 90%, 95% of the views, and also probably 95% of the growth.

Right now it isn’t as monetized, but hopefully in February that goes up. From top to bottom, we have five days in the week, but we break it down. Monday is our major planning day. We’ll plan from all the meetings with the team, thumbnail artists, our business manager, whoever needs to be a part of that. There’ll probably be like 30 minutes each just to get them running.

Then we’ll spend like three hours together planning the video ideas, thinking about how this could be better thumbnails for the week. Then Tuesdays are usually our collaborative shoot days with the guys.

Majority of times, we do shoot with James because we have a workflow going on. We’ll shoot with James and then either Tuesday or Thursday are both collaborative days. We’ll shoot with other 2HYPE guys as well. We’ll go ahead and either shoot a long-form that Tuesday. Or, if we don’t shoot long-form, we’ll shoot a Short, and then Thursday, vice versa–we’ll either shoot a long-form or a Short. Wednesday will be our dedicated shoot day.

Today we are going to the Lakers game. Today’s a little bit longer because I live in Thousand Oaks, so I’m going to drive to L.A. to meet with Justin, and we’ll hang out the entire day of shoots. We’re also going to the Clippers facility from 1 p.m. to like 4 or 5. Then from 7:30 to whenever the Lakers games end, we’ll shoot video at the Lakers game, because we’ve been trying to pivot more video ideas towards games. Kids do love seeing that.

Then Friday will be our hoorah day to wrap things up. We’ll have a good two-hour meeting in the morning and we’ll go ahead and either shoot a long-form or Short that day. Pretty packed. I think it’s very fun. I think the toughest part is, if you don’t show up to work tomorrow, like if I didn’t want to work today or tomorrow, it is not on anybody but me. I think having the people around you to hold you accountable, like Justin, is very important, because I show up for him, if that makes sense.

Before, when I work with James at 2HYPE, if I don’t show up to work that’s the issue. I got to pull up at 9:00 or I got to pull up– For here, if I don’t want to work tomorrow, the only person that can yell at me is me. I think Justin being there, I know that he’s going to pull up at 10 or I know that he’s putting in the work, I got to show up for him. I think what keeps me going is the people around me, like Justin.

Tubefilter: What’s your strategy with Shorts? You said Shorts has played a major part in your channel’s growth.

Jeffrey Bui: What I could say about Shorts is it almost feels like a cheat code for right now. I think with anything in business or life, there’s a cycle to it. Anything that goes up insanely fast eventually will go down.

When I think about it is, as YouTubers–or specifically me, I can’t talk about YouTubers–it is my duty to go all-out on this while the opportunity is there, because I’m understanding a year from now, six months from now, three months from now, it might not be the same, and I doubt it will be. I don’t know if there’s any more specific questions about Shorts, so I can answer them, but I think they are where a lot of YouTubers need to be, if that makes sense.

Tubefilter: You said long-form is the bread and butter of your channel–I’m assuming that means in terms of monetization as well. Because Shorts monetization has been not great, to say the least.

Jeffrey Bui: Correct.

Tubefilter: Are you expecting that to change now that Shorts monetization is coming into play?

Jeffrey Bui: I talked to some people at VidSummit. I think it’s going to be relatively decent. Not like anything regular long-form RPM. I do believe that to be able to suffice as a YouTube business, your minimum-to-get views in Shorts would’ve to be like around 200 million views a month.

With that being said, we’re at 50 million, but we only part-time focus on Shorts. Once we find that number for the Shorts, we might even go a little bit more full-force on Shorts, because, like I said, the only reason why…I love long-form, I think long-form is all about community building. I think long-form is great, but I think in the season, unfortunately, what matters is making great videos.

If we wanted to, we could spend a whole month on one long-form video and not guarantee, but would hope that that video would at least get 500,000 to a million views.

Once that ability was possible, we’re like, “Hey, Shorts would’ve benefited us a little bit more.” Because if we got like 10 videos that each get one million views on long-form, we’d probably be still at 300,000 subscribers, but if we focus on 10 Shorts that got 20 million views each, it takes us to where we’re at today and being able to share our story and whatnot.

Tubefilter: What are your goals for this year?

Jeffrey Bui: As boring as it can sound–I say this to a lot of people–our goal is to make the best videos we can. Obviously, we have views per video goal and also a subscriber goal, but for me, I’ve always felt like when I spoke that out loud, it almost took that drive away from what we wanted to do. I think we keep our goals internally because it’s almost like I say my goal and then people will be like, “Oh, my god, that’s so dope.” It almost satiates that feeling. Like our million subscriber goal, we really never said it, we just did it. By the end of the year, we also have a goal, and hopefully, we can just show you guys and talk to you guys then once we get there.

Tubefilter: Is there anything else that you would want readers to know about you?

Jeffrey Bui: Not really. Well, there was a background before I started all this, but I think that background also helps. The only reason why I would share that background is because I think the most important part of all this is, a lot of times in my life I felt like I was in a position that I didn’t want to be at, but I was fortunate to still be able to have to, if you would say, play full out. In those situations, I got all the skills I needed to be where I’m at today.

Just to give you some backstory, I used to be a business operation manager at a company that focused on sales. At one point, maybe I would have like 20 people under me. Being somebody that’s always been creative and wanted to do YouTube, I was like, “Wow, why am I here?”

I’m at such a young age. I was amazing at what I did. Communication was my key, being able to understand people. Not influence them, but be able to almost have them join what I’m doing, be sold into what I’m doing. I was like, “I’m not loving what I’m doing. I’m doing sales.”

Obviously, being operational manager, you work nine to five and then you’re still on the clock after hours. After hours, being a guy that made a good amount of money, this is when I was like 23, 24, so still in a phase right there. I would go to high school basketball games and photograph the best players, like Josh Christopher, I worked with Overtime, and obviously that didn’t pay much, but it was a passion. Cam Luke, who was a fellow college graduate of mine, he’s killing it right now, was definitely inspiration.

Just to say that sometimes, even if you are not where you want to be–because I know a lot of people want to be “influencers”–even if you’re not where you want to be, I think God or the universe wants you to play full out where you’re at, because there’s something that you need to learn right there that you’ll need once you get to where you’re at.

It almost helps me reflect right now, because I’m realizing all the pains I have right now I think there’s lessons that we need to learn for whatever we need in our next step. Anywhere you’re at and any troubles you have, don’t take it for granted. I know people have a lot of troubles that are greater than I’ve ever experienced, but I think wherever you’re at, there’s something that needs to be learned so that you have and wherever you want to be in the future. Hopefully, I can be a testament to that not only now but down the line.

Tubefilter: Anything else?

Jeffrey Bui: The most important thing in all of this, for me, specifically, is my wife. I’m fortunate enough to have such a wonderful relationship with my significant other. Her name is Tracy. Honestly, the reason why I work so hard is to, in the future, be able to provide for not only her but our future family. We’ve been together for 10 years. She’s been with me since I was a different person, that wasn’t who I am today. Not only her emotional support but her support along every single milestone.

She supported me by being able to help me during areas that I couldn’t fulfill at the time because finances didn’t make sense, whether it was YouTube or my business before. We’ve been together since every business I started. I’ve done a barbershop business, I’ve done an eBay business, I’ve done sales businesses, and she was supporting me. And even with YouTube, every milestone, whether it was 10,000 subscribers, 100,000 subscribers, 400,000.

She got me balloons for one million subscribers It’s just every single milestone–and, of course, with a million, she was one of my biggest supporters. She’s one of those supporters that would be like, it’s like an iceberg. It’s like you show 20% and then there’s 80% of all the support. She doesn’t like to be in the front. During our one million celebration, we had a Google Meet when we hit a million. She was on the call, and she didn’t speak once. She called me after. She’s so sweet. She’s never a person who would take praise in what she’s done, not only for me but what she’s done for her family.

She’s also one of my inspirations to work so hard because, to give you perspective, the last almost year and a half, two years, to be able to not only support us but support herself and her family, she worked literally 80 hours a week. This is what inspired me, a big inspiration for why I work so many hours. She’ll work from 6 a.m. for her first job until 12 p.m. Then from 12:30 p.m., she’ll get 30 minutes to drive to her second full-time job, she’ll work from 12:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. She’ll sleep at 10:00 p.m., repeat every single day, and on weekends, a lot of times, she’ll have to go and work for at least six to eight hours on the weekends. She’s done this for almost a year and a half, two years now.

Anytime that I feel like, “Oh, I’ve had a tough day. Oh, I went to a Lakers game today to shoot for five hours, six hours. Oh, I had to put a snake on me.” I’ve put in perspective how much she’s done for not only me but our relationship. She’s the reason why I’m where I’m at today, emotionally, and she’s making me a better person, a wiser person. I had to mention that.

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