On 22 September 2017, I attended a sharing and networking session for Digital Food Content Creators (TGIF: Foodie Friday) conducted by PIXEL Studios. There, I was honored to come up close with two successful digital food content creators Sarah Benjamin (SNIA’s Asian Food Channel TV host & Food Hero 2014 winner) and JJ Tan (Co-founder of local cooking channel The MeatMen). Read on to find out what are the tips they shared with us!
About The Speakers
[Photo Credits: https://impixel.sg/event/tgif-foodie-friday/]
Both Sarah and JJ creates online cooking videos and are part of a bigger team. Besides cooking, Sarah also doubles up as a host who shares her thoughts about the dish and why certain ingredients are used in the videos. On the other hand, JJ (The MeatMen) prefers to let the colours and sounds made by each dish (eg. the chopping and sizzling sounds) speak to viewers.
Lessons Learnt For Digital Food Content Creators
At TGIF: Foodie Friday event, I bumped into a fellow blogger who does cooking videos. He was very surprised to find me there since we at NAHMJ do not make cooking videos. So why did I attend?
1. We do not make cooking videos now, but there’s no telling about the future.
2. There are always lessons to be learnt in each experience. Besides, this event is for content creators. Regardless if I am blogging or vblogging, I am creating content.
True enough, I learnt 3 important lessons.
Lesson No. 1 – To be successful, you just have to do what you are passionate at
Sarah says that she is a shy person and she considers herself more a chef than a host. If you meet her in person, I think you will agree. During the sharing session, she seems down to earth and at times a little reserved. It took her some time to warm up before she started to share more freely about the little anecdotes she encountered during filming (like how her mum forgot to press record when filming for her). But she was still far from talkative. In fact, JJ who works behind the scenes on The MeatMen Channel, seems more talkative in comparison (prior to the start of the event, I could hear him speaking more frequently in the group).
Yet, if you look at Sarah’s videos (including her entry video for Food Hero 2014), she exudes confidence when hosting and speaks very well. I think that’s because she is speaking about her love, food. Speaking comes naturally when she wants to tell us what each ingredient brings to the dish and what the smells are like.
I am also shy so I actually left TGIF: Foodie Friday without doing any networking. I am still regretting giving up the chance to ask Sarah for tips on how she overcomes her shyness. Let me just trust that when I keep doing what I am passionate in, I will eventually overcome my lack of social skills and be more successful.
Lesson No. 2 – Don’t think about going viral…build your audience and the rest will come naturally
JJ, who started The MeatMen with fellow army mates as a hobby to explore how different flavors are created and to prove that cooking is easy, says that they did not have a plan on how to get big. Each week, they simply got together to document what they cook at a bench beside a window (to get natural lighting in lieu of professional lighting) using a second hand camera. The menu was simply decided based on what they wanted to eat that week.
And 3 years on, they are making online cooking videos that garners a few hundred thousand to millions of viewers. As JJ puts it, “Don’t think about going viral. Reach out to your audience first. Build your audience and the rest will come naturally..when you have 10K views and you approach brands for collaborations, they may consider it. When you are bigger, the brands will approach you instead to suggest working together.”
Lesson No. 3 – Connect with your audience by thinking in their shoes
As Sarah says, her audience in Singapore loves anything to do matcha and salted egg so she will consider this when creating recipes. Also, she advises us to name our content to catch the audience’s attention. Surprisingly, this is simpler than I thought. For example, if you are making a video/post of Kueh Salat for the local audience, Kueh Salat must be in the video/post title. The local audience knows what is Kueh Salat and can connect with it so they are likely to be interested in your video/post. On the other hand, if you name it after your Mom who taught you the recipe, you are unlikely to get as many views (unless your Mom is a celebrity) because they don’t know what your video/post is about.
What Sarah said is a wake up call for me because I like to give unique (and sometimes strange) titles to my blog posts (because it feels special) without realising that my titles fail to connect with my audience so my content won’t get read regardless how good it is.
About PIXEL Studios
PIXEL Studios was established in 2016 by The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and managed by Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). PIXEL stands for Promising Innovations and Experiential Learning. As the name suggests, PIXEL Studios is a shared production facility and experiential learning space. It is built with digital content makers, game developers, tech innovators and experimental learners in mind. Thus, this can be a great place for digital content makers to meet and exchange ideas with each other and create quality media content. Currently, the space at PIXEL Studios (collaborative area, green screen studio, thematic sets & video production studios) is opened for use to anyone with a viable proposal.
To check out the facilities for digital content makers, you can view the 360 Videos at https://impixel.sg/.
Apart from the facilities, PIXEL Studios also conducts free sharing sessions on various topics from time to time. If you are keen, you can check the upcoming events at https://impixel.sg/event-listing/.
I went to this session expecting to find scraps of useful lessons amidst a tonne of advertisements. Instead, there was much more sharing than advertisements (barely any actually). If I took the chance to mingle, I would have learnt much more. I strongly encourage you to attend PIXEL Studios’ future events. I will too.
10 Central Exchange Green, Singapore 138649
Monday – Friday 1000 to 1900
*Disclaimer: This was a media invite.