Latest News

Ep. 249: How this foodie turned her hobby into a thriving remote brand with Cat Lin

Sharing is caring!

In this episode, I speak with Cat who is a Taiwanese-Canadian travel writer, photographer, and YouTuber from Canada. 

She is the mastermind behind For Two, Please – an English-Mandarin bilingual couples travel blog, with her husband Kev. 

Listen on to find out how Cat creates engaging stories and videos to show young couples how to eat like a local, and travel like a pro!

Listen Below:

RELATED EPISODES:

Ep. 248: How this entrepreneur gained freedom as a language teacher and online business coach with Anahyse France
Ep. 247: How this mother of 4 gained freedom as an online travel expert with Amanda Keeley-Thurman
Ep. 246: How this expat travels the world as an English Language Teacher with Nicole Brewer

Transcription:

Debbie:

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to speak with my guest today. I’m here with Cat.

Hey Cat, how are you?

Cat:

Hi, Debbie. I’m good.

Debbie:

Thank you so much for joining us today. Can you tell us more about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Cat:

Sure. Hi everyone. My name is Cat. I’m a Taiwanese Canadian travel writer, photographer, and a YouTuber currently living in Edmonton, Canada. But as an offbeater, I am always on a go.

So I’m really a mastermind behind For Two, Please which is an English Mandarin, bilingual couples travel blog with my husband, Kevin. Together, we create playful, engaging stories and videos, really to inspire young couples to go out like a local and travel like a pro.

Debbie:

That is awesome.

And I love that you are all about food because so am I. I don’t know about cooking it, but I just love to stuff my face with all types of food so I can definitely go behind what you’re doing, Cat.

So how did you and your husband decide to do this, right? Were you always a foodie? Was this always what you did or did you have a regular nine to five before you became a foodie traveler that you are now?

Cat:

Well, I have always been a foodie and a traveler since I was little. So I was a Taiwanese, but I really grew up in Malaysia. And then throughout my travel, I’ve been moving to places like Vancouver to New York City and then back to Taipei, Taiwan.

But what really inspired me to start my travel platform and live a remote life is I always joke that it’s actually inspired by our love story with my husband.

So in 2013, my husband, then-boyfriend, wanted to end our two-year long-term relationship. So we were like having a relationship 15 hours apart in the world.

Debbie:

Wow.

Cat:

He was living in Canada, I was living in Taiwan. So eventually this relationship needs to become more in person. So he was like, “Okay, we need to decide who should relocate.” And at that time, my husband was training in Canada and his job was really more location-dependent. Whereas I’ve been working in a consulting company for two years and I was looking for a change of scenery.

So I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” So I packed my bag, quit my job, and bought a one-way ticket to Canada. And I know some people say like, “Wow, that is really a big move,” but Canada wasn’t really that foreign to me ’cause I used to live in Vancouver for four years. But Calgary, Alberta was very new to me.

Have you been to Calgary, Alberta before, Debbie?

Debbie:

No, but I’ve seen so many photos of it. There seem to be really beautiful spots there to like hike and stuff.

Cat:

Yeah.

Well, most people know Calgary because of bands, right? But it was a really cowboy city and winter is super cold and the city itself was very heavily invested in oil and gas at that time. So it was a complete culture shock for me.

And with my background and career goals, job searching was not easy when I first moved there. I was trained in social organizational psychology and was really interested in continuing my career in the field of strategic HR and organizational development. But the job market in Calgary was very much taken up by engineering jobs.

So in the human resources scope of work, there were all very administrative. Like, it was just filing, hiring, and firing, and that’s it.

So my husband said, “Why don’t you start something yourself? Like, work on something you’re passionate about.” And that inspired me to start my own travel and food blog, For Two, Please.

It really started as a passion project. I wasn’t really in the mind of, “Hey, I need to make money out of this.” It was initially a way for me to share my life in Canada with my family and friends back home. Then it slowly involved into this bilingual platform with a focus on food and couples travel.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And that is such an interesting way of starting it, right? Because you really had no choice at that point.

Cat:

Yeah.

Debbie:

There were no jobs where you were that were within your experience and range and you just created it yourself. And it is so funny how that all played out and you’re right, it did stem from your romance and how that all started.

So what happened after that, Cat? Like, you started your blog. Is there a lot of culinary delicacies in Calgary, Alberta that we just don’t know about? How did you, how did you create your content for that?

Cat:

At that time we were just trying out different restaurants in Calgary and Calgary wasn’t really known for food but it’s funny because it started the opposite. Like, it’s not how amazing the food is, but it’s how bad food was there. And I was like, “Honey, you can’t call this ramen. You need to try the real ramen.”

And so we started putting the travel element into it, like, “Why don’t we show people what it is like to look for authentic food whenever we travel and show people what is the local dishes that you need to try when you visit there? And so on.

Debbie:

That is awesome.

And yeah, I’m so for that.

And this is the thing, like, I just love food so much that whenever I try anything, well, I feel like I’m also spoiled because I live in New York city so everywhere I go, the food is just really good. And when I do go to a different place and the food is bad, I’m just disappointed.

Cat:

Yeah.

Debbie:

Like, “This is not how it is,” but yeah, just being spoiled in New York City.

So now, do you do this blog with your husband and you are both doing this full-time together? How did that go about? Because he was there doing full-time work, right? And that’s why you ended up being the one to move to Canada.

Cat:

It’s more of my full-time job but he has a real job. That’s what he likes to say. This is his side hustle.

Debbie:

He’s kind of like your side piece, the arm candy that you have in your blog, which is so funny. That is pretty incredible.

So now that everything has been happening in the world and it definitely has taken a toll in the travel industry, how have you been able to keep going throughout this whole pandemic? Did you redo your business? Were there any changes that you had to do because of the whole situation?

Cat:

Yeah.

I know that a lot of people in the travel industry were impacted and a lot of people had to pivot.

And for us, we definitely had to pivot because at the very beginning of the pandemic, like nobody was looking for travel content. Like, there are no tours, there are no trips going on. There’s no sponsor trip going on.

So on the side, we started our YouTube channel that is more on the lifestyle side. So being the Taiwanese moving and living in Canada right now, my vision for this YouTube channel is to share what life is like in Canada in a more visual format for people to get a sense of, “Autumn is like this. And then there are so many incredible things you can do.”

It’s travel in a sense, right? But you are taking your audience with you through video and through storytelling, but it’s just a different format that regularly posts on the blog.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And I think I’ve seen a lot of travel bloggers do things more locally on their blog because of that whether it’s written form or video form. And I think it’s so interesting to see how they’ve been able to discover a lot of things that are in their backyards as well. Because most of the time, someone like you, Cat, you’re always traveling all over the world and then we often miss what’s right in front of us.

Cat:

Right.

Debbie:

So have you been finding that out, like something similar to that experience as well, where you are more able to see things locally in your area as well?

Cat:

Definitely.

And also because of the pandemic, I moved to a completely different city. I moved to Edmonton. So it was a chance for me to really explore the food, the festivals that are around here.

Debbie:

That is awesome.

And yeah, I mean, there’s always so much to see and do wherever you are.

Now in terms of your blog, I know you started it as a hobby and now it is your full-time business. How have you been able to grow it where you can actually create income from that and start this remote business that you have now?

Cat:

Right.

So in the beginning we were just doing and writing content that is really dear to our hearts. Like how a lot of Canadian content, like, “How do you visit a place?”

In the beginning, it is more like a travel log for us just so we can look back. We had no idea of what SEO is, what social sharing is. But then in some places like Bend, a lot of people are searching for it. So eventually we got a lot of traffic.

And when you are connected with people in the travel industry, they like, a lot of people are looking for, “Hey, how do I make money out of my passion?” And so I got to learn that just based on your traffic, you can have passive income through like ad network, like media vine, or I think there’s another one called She Network?

Debbie:

Yeah. I think it’s She Media, something like that.

Cat:

Yeah. She Media. There are so many out there.

So it started with that. And then eventually through networking, we had some travel tourism boards that were interested in bringing us to showcase their destination to our audience. So a part of our income stream also comes from sponsor trips.

Debbie:

I love that.

And there’s always a lot of different things that you can do, especially when you’re in this type of platform, right? And one of them is the sponsorship that you were talking about. Are there any other income streams that you have been able to utilize on your blog, aside from sponsorships that have helped you make this more sustainable?

Cat:

Yeah. Now I’m looking more into photography and video.

So on the trip, I always take so many photos and video footage. Sometimes brands like tourism boards or like hotels, they’re interested in expanding their assets. So if you take a photo that you think is incredible, you can contact them and say, “Hey, I have a set of 10 images that I took when I visited your property.” And send them a link and see if they’re interested in purchasing. Sometimes they might be interested in buying some of that.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And it’s really interesting with that too, is because you’re already creating that content. So why not create more income from that, right? It doesn’t really take more work for you because most of the time you take those images, so you can add them to your blog.

And then now you can even sell them to the companies themselves. You can even put it on places like iStock or Alamy, other types of websites that you can really sell your images to if you want to do that. So there are so many things that you can do with this, and you have been able to do it too, Cat. And I love that.

That’s so interesting how you kind of just figure out what really works for you, what type of content you wanna create, and then add that all together. And now you have this business that you can do remotely. I love it.

So, as you were going through this whole process of really making sure that it can be something that you can do sustainably, and it is gonna be a business for yourself, what has been the most struggle that you have come across in terms of your business?

Cat:

I think the most struggle, maybe it speaks to a lot of people, is like, there’s no map for us to navigate. Like, you know how we go to school for being an engineer, for being a doctor, there’s always a roadmap for you. Like, “You need to do this first, do this first. And then, off you go, you are going to be successful.”

But as an entrepreneur or as a blogger who is trying to make a living in this digital world, like, there’s no such thing. Like, there are so many courses out there. Of course, you can into it for yourself, but like, you can pour your heart and time into something and it might not even work, right?

So, like, there’s a lot of looking into things and trial and error to find what best works for you and what will work for your business.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And so when you come across certain types of strategies that haven’t worked, right? And maybe you’ve been working on it for months and it just hasn’t worked because this happens to us often you try something and it just doesn’t work. And it seems like it’s one year after the next.

How do you go up from that, right? Because I feel like as an entrepreneur, it’s always like an up and down. Sometimes I feel like I’m bipolar one day, I feel like I’m on the top of the world. And then the next day you’re like super low and down. I mean, I don’t know if that’s just me. Maybe you felt that too, Cat, but when you do feel that sort of like failure or maybe things just didn’t go the way you wanted it to, how do you move from that moment?

Cat:

I would say first I have to change my mindset, right? Like, being in this path, the path that I’ve chosen, I know that it’s not going to be easy. So I had to change my mindset into accepting that we are always on a constant change, but always have a routine that you can stick out to.

Like, I always go and work out every day. So I know that there is some consistency constant in my life. And also not being afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes I try things maybe I do just don’t know, like, maybe there’s an insider knowledge that I don’t know about.

And you just have to accept that there are some people more experienced than I am, and maybe it’s just time to ask for help so that I can focus my time on what I’m really good at and outsource the stuff that I have not experienced in and I might not like onto some other people.

Debbie:

Yeah.

That’s such a great strategy because it’s true. And we can’t know everything, right? We’re not like the all-knowing and all-seeing. And so we don’t know if we don’t know what we don’t know and asking for help, getting a mentor is one of the things that is so important about this.

Because you can learn it, right? But it may take a lot longer. It could take years, but if you’re just asking questions or maybe paying for somebody, who’s been doing this for a really long time and get their insider points to this is such a helpful thing and I’ve done it and I’m sure you’ve done it too, Cat, because you mentioned it.

But I think it is something that sometimes I still have to tell people to do and still try to convince them because it’s kind of like, well, it’s a lot of money, right? Or maybe I’m just not ready yet. But if you think about it, if this is gonna take you another two or three years, what cost will that really get out of you even more than just working with somebody.

So I guess you have to weigh out the cost, whether it’s time or money, which is really important in that learning stage of this whole process.

So now that you have been able to do this and there’s success in it, obviously, what are some of the things that you have found that have really worked for you so far to keep growing your business and your blog?

Cat:

For me, it’s always to keep in mind that anything can happen tomorrow. So whatever assignment that I work on, I always think of it as like, “This is my last assignment. What do I want people to remember me for?” So always do your best, always overdeliver.

Always remember why you started your business too. Sometimes people run their business and the ends like, “Oh, this just feels like my old job again,” right? Always remember what brings you to this stage in the first place and what you want to give to other people.

Debbie:

Yeah.

And that’s one of the things that I also have talked about before in terms of starting something. I always feel like there has to be a love for what you do aside from just trying to make money from it. Because I’ve started different businesses where it was just all about passion and it didn’t work. And then it was just all about the business and making money, it didn’t work.

And when I was able to combine the two, that’s when it really hit the mark, because when you are creating something and things are not going the right way, and then it becomes boring or there are tedious things that you don’t like about it, that’s where the passion starts coming in. The love of the process starts coming in. Because at that time you’re probably not making enough income or any income at all, right?

So there’s really no, like, “Yay, good on you. At least I’m earning this much or I’m getting accolades.” And when you’re just starting out, it’s all about like your love for it, your determination. And when you don’t have that, you don’t have that passion, it kind of just sizzles. It’s just done after a while.

And I think that’s why we see a lot of entrepreneurs do this and it doesn’t work out because there’s either one or the other. And there’s no appreciation for that process as well. So it’s a shame, but it does happen a lot. I love it.

So now let’s talk about the content you guys are actually creating. You are doing this blog and you’re sharing your love of food, right?

Cat:

Yeah.

Debbie:

So what has that been like? I mean, I know there are bloggers and then there are food bloggers, are there any much difference in how you create your content when you’re traveling and then also sharing a foodie blogger in that sense? I’m pretty sure it’s so fun though, right? Like, “Oh, my gosh.” But I’m like, “I would eat so much.”

Cat:

Yeah.

That is the job hazard. Like, you eat, you feel like you have to eat, right? Your job is to eat.

And then for me, growing up from a Taiwanese background, like, our family always say, “You have to finish whatever you order.” So it’s like, you gain weight but I have to control myself. Sometimes on the trip, I’m like, “Okay, we are just gonna order things that we can sample, not the full portion.”

Debbie:

Yeah. It’s true.

It’s so funny ’cause I’ve done some press trips with a few travel blogger friends and some of them work with companies that just give them full access to the food and the restaurants that they have. And there were only like a few of us and I’ve gone to a few of it with them and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how do you finish this?” And they’re all really good food. And I’m like, “We can’t even take it with us ’cause we’re gonna be traveling.”

I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” I’m horrified sometimes ’cause I’m like, “I can’t just leave.” Like you, Cat, I’m like, “That’s not how my parents taught me. I have to finish everything.” Like, “How do I stuff this all in my mouth? And or like put it doggy bag and just bring it with me.” And I’m like, “Oh man, that’s that’s first world problems right there.”

Cat:

Totally,

Debbie:

That is so funny.

So going back to really figuring out what works for your business and I know you talked about SEO, is there any other strategies that you have used to gain an audience for your content that you are doing right now that you continually do that has worked really well for you?

Cat:

For me personally, I feel like being resourceful to my audience is a big thing. Like, I know some people might be like blogging. Some people are known for their personality, right? Some people on YouTube, but I’m not that kind of person.

So for me, it is really showing my audience how to visit places, how to find hidden gems, where it is worth going to and passing my knowledge on how to visit a place like a local. So that is one thing. And I will say the other thing is just being authentic to your audience. Like, if you visit a place that sucks, don’t sugarcoat it, right? Like, when people visit it, they gonna find out if you are painting it.

Debbie:

They’re gonna be like, “Cat, you lied. You said this is amazing, it isn’t.” And there are certain foods too that just look so good, but they just taste so bad. And you know it’s just there for Instagram, but it doesn’t taste good. And I’m always so disappointed, but now not so surprised.

Cat:

That’s definitely a trend, a bad trend that has been going on in the food scene. It’s all about how it looks, but not how it tastes, right?

Debbie:

Exactly.

‘Cause I’m like, “If it looks this good, it has to be in the same par with the taste ’cause then I’m just so much more disappointed when it just tastes so bad.”

That’s so funny ’cause there’s this Netflix show. I forgot the name of the host, but it’s ugly, delicious. ‘Cause like I would rather see something ugly, taste it, and it just tastes so good than be it so beautiful and it just tastes so gross.

Yeah, I would rather have it ugly and tastes good. I’m all about taste for sure. It’s kind of like a pleasant surprise when it’s ugly, but then it’s just so good.

Cat:

Yeah.

Debbie:

I’m like, “I’m for that.” That is so funny.

So, Cat, let’s fast forward to about 30 to 40 years from now and you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you wanna be remembered for?

Cat:

Oh, that is a hard question. I’ve never thought that since the pandemic. But I want something really simple like I don’t want to be a big celebrity or anything like that, but as being remembered as someone help others to explore a world through really good food.

Debbie:

That is a good legacy and I will push you towards that. Like, we will keep making this happen. Obviously, you’re doing it right now, Cat, but I’m like, “Keep going, Cat. Keep going.” I’m your biggest cheerleader.

Cat:

Thank you.

Debbie:

That is awesome.

Well, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Cat. If our listeners wanna know more about you, where can they find you?

Cat:

They can find me on my blog For Two, Please or on a new YouTube channel, which is very small right now. Please help us grow.

Debbie:

Yes, definitely. Is it also the same name, For Two, Please, on YouTube as well?

Cat:

Yes. I will send you the link soon. I’ll be able to claim my link.

Debbie:

That is awesome.

We will share that on the show notes as well.

Thank you so much, Cat. We really appreciate you. It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Cat:

Thank you.


Listen to Cat’s extended interview where she shares how to plan foodie trips as a couple.

What you’ll find:

In this episode, Cat will take you through the necessary steps on planning your foodie trips as a couple.


Follow Cat:


Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top