YouTube Food and Lifestyle Personalities Share Branding Tips

YouTube Truvia Baking Contest Final“Mix, taste, frost, yum and done” – those were among the steps that a contestant used to bake brown sugar cupcakes. She was competing at an event this week to be a baking star sponsored by Truvia, a natural sweetener. Four YouTube food and lifestyle stars judged the desserts and offered insights on how they each rose to video fame.

While the baking techniques were straightforward, the path to becoming a YouTube sensation isn’t as clear cut. As moderator and YouTube beauty channel host Rachel Talbott noted, it takes time. As the judges concurred, it also takes resourcefulness and an ongoing, concerted effort to stand out from the crowd. The panelists included:

Byron Talbott: professionally trained chef, Byron Talbott channel
April Moore: online foodie, mom and lifestyle expert with 3 YouTube channels
Gaby Dalkin: cookbook author, food/lifestyle writer, What’s Gaby Cooking channel
Joanne Ozug: recipe developer behind Fifteen Spatulas channel

They shared their perspectives on several topics, such as personal branding, promotions, content, timing and video training. They’ve been on YouTube for about 2-5 years. While some tips may appear self-evident, others are less intuitive, and most are easier said than done. Each possesses expertise in the food and lifestyle realm, but their pointers apply across categories.

YouTube provides a worthwhile platform: Since there are other video platforms, they spoke about why they selected YouTube.
• While YouTube is an increasingly crowded space, there are more opportunities and endless people to network with. It’s an extension of word of mouth and a powerful way to connect. (Ozug)
• YouTube personalities are typically regular, not professional people, and it’s fun posting videos there. (Moore)
• Brands are noticing YouTube more ad are reaching out to those who have their own channels. (Moore)

Personal branding and content choices are key
• Do what you do best and film it well or have a unique perspective. For me, that means cooking and culinary skills. (Talbott)
• Offer something useful and entertaining, have a signature and deliver on that every time. (Ozug)
• Focus on what you’re most enthusiastic about and if you have multiple passions, separate them into different outlets. (Moore)
• The challenge is getting the content right and displaying it properly. (Talbott)

Audience feedback and interaction rule
• Know your audience and stay true to it. In my case that’s women aged 20-45 years who like lifestyle content. (Dalkin)
• Reach out to get audience reactions of your content, to create a bond with them. (Talbott)
• Engage with your viewers in the YouTube comment box. (Dalkin)

Promotions and multiple partnerships cast a wide net
• Do collaborations with other YouTube channels to introduce your audience to different products and projects. (Moore)
• Engage socially and cross-promote your videos on your other platforms and blogs. (Dalkin)
• Attend events for networking opportunities. (Moore)

Timing and schedule discipline are everything
• Be organized and stay on schedule, which is especially important for this creative space. (Talbott)
• Be deliberate and intentional with your schedule, since there are endless ways to spend time on social media. Focus on results and stick to your mission. (Dalkin)
• Most of the panelists post videos from once a week to once a month, though Moore posts to at least one of her channels daily.
• Their video length ranges from 3 to 10 minutes, with cooking videos typically on the longer side.

Video training: most are self-taught presenters
• The panelists’ consensus was that professional video training wasn’t essential. Most learned on the job by trial and error, though Dalkin has a video team.
• Take time to get comfortable in front of the camera until it feels normal. (Ozug)
• This is one of those things I’m not naturally inclined to do, but remember that you can stop the camera along the way until you’re ready to resume. (Talbott)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (Dalkin)

As the image above indicates, it looks like by now they’re all naturals in the spotlight.
(l-r) Byron Talbott, Joanne Ozug, Gaby Dalkin, April Moore