FlavCity: Breaking the YouTube barrier

Every day thousands of YouTubers are trying to break in and becoming the next influencer. The platform became the voice of everyday people tired of seeing the same ol’ entertainers on television. YouTube is me, you, your cousin; yes YouTube is everybody. Anyone can find somebody who has the same taste, same background and same interest.

Among the most watched videos, the cooking channels are quite popular. A phenomenon that is a reflection of Millennials’ new habits. Slowly, this foodie generation is moving away from the ready-to-eat meals and opts for cooking at home. Millennials talk about it, post photos on Instagram, search ideas on what to cook, tips on how to prepare something and try recipes they found on social media.

But how can a new cook be heard on a platform so crowded? Easier said than done. To get the answer, we interviewed Bobby Parrish from FlavCity, a new cook on a rise, who’s working hard to break the YouTube barrier.

MJ: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Highland Park, IL in a small family where my mom loved to cook. She most definitely planted the cooking seed. While I was in the kitchen helping my mom, my brother was more interested in getting in trouble. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a degree in Finance. I used to cook and entertain in my dorm room, even cook for dates in my toaster oven and old scratched up pan. I became an options trader as soon as I graduated, and the hours of trading gave me plenty of time to cook and create.

MJ: What was your biggest challenge to launch your career and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was finding an audience for my content and building a fan base. The first year was the hardest, I would put so much work into creating videos, recipes, photography, and barely any people would see it. You think everyone is going to love this thing you worked so hard at and it will go viral, and the opposite happens! Luckily I had some mentors, and they told me to keep doing what I’m was doing, and as long as you put good content out there, the fans will come, I felt like Kevin Kostner in “Field Of Dreams.” After that first year, and fine-tuning my approach for each platform FlavCity lives on, I started seeing a dramatic increase in fans, views, and even got our first viral video, 12 million views.

MJ: What is your goal and philosophy when it comes to your brand?

I think people relate to my brand because it’s all about proving that home cooks can be rock stars in the kitchen, not just chefs. I call myself the anti-chef, because if I can do it, I know that any home cook can do it. My number one goal is to keep creating and sharing content on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. As long as I continue to grow, new and unique opportunities will continue to come my way. I have been very fortunate to work with brands that I love and use every day, and I still consider FlavCity “small,” it’s very exciting to see where we will be when our growth really takes off.

Career profile: Bobby Parrish from Flavcity

MJ: Tell us a bit about the process of creating a YouTube video.

Creating a video from beginning to end is like making a baby, in that case, I have over 100 kids running around the world! I do everything from start to finish with my lovely wife. I start by dreaming up some recipe concepts and then testing them in our home kitchen. We usually film in our home kitchen, so the two of us have to set up lighting rigs and cables running all through our house. The filming usually takes about an hour, even though the setup and tear down take longer, ugh! After that, it can take my wife 4-6 hours to edit a video and then I come in to fine-tune it. We adjust colors, add music, upload it to YouTube and then do a shorter 1-minute version to upload for my Facebook page. It’s a very labor-intensive process, but we have it down to a routine at this point.

MJ: There are tons of cooking channels on YouTube and every month, there are people who’re trying to break into. How challenging was it for you to find your audience?

YouTube is a “sea of noise” and it’s very difficult to find an audience and be heard. It took us a year to really get a decent fan base, where as it only took 1 year to reach 70,000 Facebook page likes and 9 months to reach 17,000 Instagram followers. Fortunately, YouTube is not the only game in town, and it’s really about quality, not quantity when it comes to my philosophy for YouTube. It’s only getting more crowded, but if you put high-quality content out there, you will eventually be rewarded for it.

MJ: You reached a little bit over 20,000 subscribers lately. How did you manage to do so?

Blood, sweat, and tears, ha! It took us a year to get 10,000 subscribers, and then only a few months to get to 20,000 subscribers. That first year was brutal because it’s so hard to stand out amongst the noise of YouTube. About 8 months ago, we really studied analytics, did our homework, and talked to successful creators. We learned that being consistent and putting high-quality content out there would help us grow and find our audience.

MJ: So you passed the 20,000 subscribers, but is it really profitable?

There is a big misconception about making money on YouTube. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, you are not making that much money off ad revenue that plays before or during your videos. Popularity does not equate directly to income, but over time brands and advertisers will find you. I was not concerned with income at all when we started this, so when the income opportunities started coming my way I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not hugely profitable yet, but we are still small if things continue the way they are going it will not only be nicely profitable but an extremely fun ride.

MJ: What advice would you give to somebody who wants to grow its brand on social media?

Post on a consist basis, that way your fans know what to expect. That is easier said than done because it’s hard to always be creating new content.

Be genuine in what you do and your enthusiasm and passion will come through, that’s what people will relate to.

Every social media platform is its own beast. Learn the nuances of each, and tailor your content to that. Rarely will fans bleed over to all your channels, so tailor your message to that social outlet. My Instagram feed is only for “food porn” pics of my dishes with full recipes in the comments section. Yet, rarely do I put those food pictures on my Facebook page because they just don’t do well there.

MJ: What are your plans for the future?

The only thing I am focused on is creating and growing my fan base. If we can take care of that, everything else will fall into place. I recently read an interview with Jeremy Piven, in which he was talking about creating and doing it for the right reasons. He said something that really resonated with me, “Do everything you can, expect nothing, receive everything.”

MJ: Most of our readers are thinking of changing career to follow their dreams, but it’s not always easy as there are many challenges. Since you’ve been in that situation, what advice would you give them?

I was in a very fortunate situation where I already worked for myself and was able to slowly transition my focus on FlavCity. I always like to be 100% prepared for anything I do, so if you are willing to take the risk, make sure you are prepared and put yourself in the position to succeed. Don’t rely on other people, only you can make your goals a reality. Sure, you may get some help from time to time, but if you are expecting that, you are going to fail. Once you put yourself in the position to succeed, make sure you are ready when opportunities come your way.

FlavCity: Breaking the YouTube barrier

About The Author
- Erika is a journalist and the founder of MadlyJuicy. After having worked for major media in Europe, the West Indies and Canada, she finally decided to create MadlyJuicy to inspire career-driven Millennials.

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