Bobby Parrish: YouTube Entrepreneur, Not An Overnight Success
About Our Guest
He is "Out to prove that home cooks can be rock stars in the kitchen and you don't have to be a chef to cook like one."
This episode may be for you if you are...
>> An online content creator (a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, etc.) who are looking to up your game, monetize your work, find potential next steps in your success journey, seek inspirations in growing your brand, relate to another content creator and real tactics that work.
>> Looking to start something new on your own - but you aren't sure if you are good enough. We help you get rid of those excuses and quite your lizard brain.
>> A busy professional looking to change your eating habit and cook more at home, following recipes that are healthy, delicious and last for a week! #MealPrep
Fei: Hey hello how are you. This is a show for everyone else. Instead of going after pop one person in the world we dedicate this podcast to celebrate the lives of the unsung heroes and self-made artists.
Bobby: I always wanted to learn from other people and see what they're doing. The biggest theme was number one be consistent with your content pick a schedule stick to it and get it out on that schedule so you're your fans or your ecosystem know that and just. Keep keep doing what you're doing and that's the most frustrating line ever because everyone would say like oh you're great. It's amazing content just keep doing what you're doing. It is true what people say like your work will be rewarded but it will test your patience big time. In a world of a lot of nobodies and viral videos it's very hard to stay focused on your core. We learned that we need to find knishes and subcultures of cooking cooking is too broad. So we found a meal prep and I found there was a cult following for that is something I believed in. So I think finding what you're good at like it could be as Neish or micro as you think it is. There's going to be millions of people who love that so don't think about going Mackrell you have to go micro and be the best person that you'll crap are the best person that you know. Green tea or whatever your specialty is just do that. It doesn't work that way and there really is no secret sauce and you can't pay someone to teach you how to do it. You just have to go through the painful process of building a business it's a business and it's very painful. I would love to produce two videos a week. We only do one because so much work goes into it. But it's about quality not quantity I'm not going to throw stuff out there just to be out there it has to be my rules. My videos have to look like the Food Network. There have to be a seamless look from TV Food Network to YouTube. Flav's city that I know that we've done our job production wise
Bobby: So when people tell me now they can't they can't do something or they don't know how that's just an excuse.
Bobby: It's a crutch in today's world in 2018. There's no excuse not to do anything anymore you can literally do whatever you want and it goes back to what you're saying. Ninety nine percent of people won't do it because they're lazy or they're scared. But if you want to become anything you can literally do it. Now on the internet it's unbelievable.
Fei: Hey guys is your girl Fei Wu and you're listening to a new episode of The Face roll the podcast today on the show. I'm joined by Bobby Parrish. Bobby is an unusual guest on Face world. He's a Chicago native and a YouTube sensation. Or maybe we call them YouTube or these days. He's known under the Home Cooking category specifically. He is known for meal prep and his channel is called Flav's City with over 150000 followers on YouTube and even more on Facebook and Instagram. You won't believe that Bobby was a stock trader and worked somewhere in the financial district in Chicago. At one point before he became a YouTube entrepreneur. But wait 150000 followers. That's it. What about those you tubers with millions of dollars. This is why I love Barbie who tells a compelling story of how he works with other brands strategically and turn his hobby into a full time gig which by the way
Fei: Most YouTube burs even those with millions of followers haven't learned how to do. Bobby and I hit it off right away. We're both makers and he was so quick to reveal his trade secrets. You may be wondering how do discover Barbie and introduce them to face world podcasts. Well I found him through YouTube. No surprise because I was learning how to cook for myself. Look just like anybody else podcasting and freelancing are super fun but I really didn't take care of myself. And I was honest about it. In 2000 16 and into 17. During some of my recordings didn't matter how hard I worked out at the gym my diet just wasn't working. I felt sloppy bloated because I had no time to cook and ended up eating frozen food and dine out constantly. Bobby by the way just wasn't what I was expecting. After all moves you tubers who cook in front of the camera are women either very young women towards targeting millennials or older moms whose recipes are just so irresistible. But who is this guy. I always cook the way but the pictures look so compelling and as I said some of those said hold 30 which happened to be a day that worked for me really well for 30 days. Bobby also has his own style. He talks to the camera with so much great energy in inviting you the audience to join in making it look so easy without without taking himself too seriously.
Fei: He has great knife skills but clearly that is through his own practice rather than a 20 plus years of being a professional chef. So I thought to myself hey if this guy can do it I bet I can too. His wife is the camerawoman by the way. Also the producer and the video editor Bobby cannot give her enough credits attributing their success to her hard work and perseverance for over seven years. Yes you heard it right. Seven years which I found during the recording seven years is no overnight success. It is sweat and tears it's strategy and commitment.
Fei: I think this episode teaches us precisely why we cannot buy into the common believe over an overnight success. We're viral videos. Consistency and effort are everything. So it really will be enjoy this episode. I do not even want it to end. So if you love it like Id invite one more friend to listen in. It will mean so much to us. If you click the subscribe button without further ado please welcome Bobby Parrish to the fazer old podcast.
Fei: How I discovered you is quite a journey. I didn't expect. I've heard my pockets for three and a half years and I would watch a movie or go to a show and see these amazing people and reach out to them. Thanks to your website that had a very direct way to kind of reach out to you via a contact form for my listeners. We have not heard of you. I think they they should have at this point is that I started cooking recently as a couple of months ago and before that you know just really time consuming I'm a very busy working professional like you were as well. And I realized I was falling a lot of women.
Fei: And so funny a lot of them are so young or moms like all the Korean moms and then all of a sudden one day you popped up and said hold 30. And there was maybe one in Sopot and it was just I loved your energy and you were such a great sales per cent of my watching you talk about the food. I couldn't help it. I would go to Whole Foods right away buy everything and the food would come out with that energy. Like you portrayed on the video. So I would love to learn more. There's a lot I want to learn more about you bye. Tell us how Flav's City come about. How did you find that name. What was your persona.
Bobby: Yes so cooking has always been a big part of my life. I definitely think that my mother instilled the cooking bug and me because she was a phenomenal home cook and I just remember these amazing home cooked meals that she would always cook almost every night of the week. So that got me started. And then even in college I remember having like a tiny apartment and still cooking with like one really crappy non-stick pan and like one toaster oven and just making meals and actually inviting people over back then. So I'm also a product of the food network.
Bobby: So I got hooked on that probably 15 16 years ago and was just kind of amazed at everything not just the food but also the cinematography of it and how it flowed and so as I graduated college and cooked more and entertained more and we used to throw our underground dinner parties that were really popular on the North Side of Chicago. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to try my own cooking show. And before the internet it's obviously impossible because it's such a small club where you have to know someone or have to be born into the royalty of you know broadcasting. So it wasn't until about seven years ago exactly. It's funny because my wife got the the Facebook push yesterday. They're like 7 years ago today and I showed a picture of us doing our first video. So it was kind of kind of funny that that was what it looked like seven years ago and then we were kind of like a little sad that we've been doing this for seven years and put in that much blood and sweat into it also. Right. You know it just came to the point where my wife is an amazing painter and so she wanted a great camera to take pictures of her canvas is to put on our website.
Bobby: And I'm kind of a cheapskate. I'm like Waffle we're I buy a thousand dollar camera. We're going to make a cooking video. And so we made the first video. It was a labor of love it took hours and hours to shoot. It took many more hours to produce and to add it and then we put it on YouTube. And at the time you know I thought it was the best thing ever and looking back it was so bad that I deleted it. It was embarrassing but that's how it started. And then for the first few years it was really hit or miss. We just kind of put videos up whenever you wanted to. But then about three years ago we went to Videocon which is the youtube developers conference in California and we saw all these people making a business out of it a living out of it having massive followings. And so we picked up on some really key points to turn this into you know the beginning of a business and be consistent with it and treat it as an entrepreneur would treat a brand new business.
Fei: Wow. I have no idea. I I'm so intrigued. I'm so glad you mentioned the number of years because seven years of recording and I couldn't even find the end of all your videos that I really wanted to see the first video is because there's so many misconceptions with content creators online these days thinking overnight success building so much buzz and heavy that if I hear the word viral one more time. Oh and the fact that people are surprised that I've been running the pikas for three and a half years they're thinking like oh how much money have you made how many downloads is it really worth it.
Bobby: Yeah it really is. I mean sometimes you see these stories are like the home page of like Yahoo. Words like overnight sensation you know has millions of fans and I think that boggles people's minds I feel like oh that's how it should be for everyone. And you know it's pretty safe to say that you know we've never had a real video it's been the hard way the slow way of like trudging and just making content and putting it out there and you know it is a labor of love and you meet other creators whether they're podcasters like yours video creators bloggers and very few people. I'd say 99 percent of people have had like that overnight sensation. It really is a long game and like for years we would talk to creators who are bigger than us and kind of pick their brains because I was one like I was when I learned from other people and see what they're doing and see if we can implement implement those tools too.
Bobby: And one of the biggest the biggest themes was number one be consistent with your content. Pick a schedule stick to it and get it out on that schedule so you're your fans here ecosystem know that and just keep keep doing what you're doing and that's the most frustrating line ever because everyone would say like oh you're great.
Bobby: It's amazing content just keep doing what you're doing. But that doesn't mean you know shit when like you're getting nothing back in return and you're putting all this work in the videos and nobody seeing them. It's much easier to say keep doing what you're doing when nothing is happening. But there always is that tipping point where like you don't know what it's going to happen and you don't know what it's going to be about like all of a sudden a piece of content hits or a theme of content hits.
Bobby: And next thing you know you know I think it took us a while to say it like three years to get 30000 subscribers on YouTube and then less than a year to get 70000 more and get our first hundred thousand. So it is true what people say like your work will be rewarded but it will test your patience big time.
Fei: I couldn't agree with this more. I mean I can't even. It's so refreshing to hear you say that and because they're their days and nights are literally the last thing I want to do is stay but stay above midnight and record of ways intro and I'm standing there thinking Wow I truly have nothing better to do at this moment. But I love my guests but this is such hard work and and even you know recording and such. I mean this is work for you and it is for me and I'm thinking showing up really is 99 percent of the the difference right. Most people don't show up.
Bobby: Yeah I even say more than that. Ninety nine percent of people can talk about it but only one percent will follow through. And I think that's true with everything in life. And I think that's why it's so important to actually you know put your money where your mouth is and it's hard and it takes a long time to learn your field but just doing it in the first place is a win. But then when you actually get to the point where you're getting rewarded with whatever it is you want whether it's sponsorships fans and community that it makes that much more worth it. But it's more than half of it is just doing it putting yourself out there putting the work into it doing the voiceovers working hours and hours. We learned how to film. We learned how to edit how to produce how to build a website how to do food photography. We learned all of that. My wife and I and luckily we live in a time when you can learn that on a line and so like I said if this was 1995 or 2000 you'd be screwed. You can't learn any of this. You can't produce your own videos. But now like that middle man that wall has just been knocked down. And the only thing stopping you from becoming you know the entrepreneur or entrepreneur or the creator you want to be is you. If you're not going to do it which most people don't then shame on you. You're not cut out to do this and you should probably do something else.
Fei: Yeah yeah. So I'm bubbling with so many questions and I love you how you lean right into it with. I mean truth truthfully there's a huge difference I notice over the past few years to talk to people who have shipped to people who have launched and put something out in the world even of the felt embarrassed and completely challenged by it but it's out there. YouTube can be just sometimes some of the comments not yours but many other comments can be the lowest denominator as the most.
Bobby: It's the most brutal ecosystem out there for sure.
Fei: Absolutely and I feel like the ecosystem has changed drastically in the past seven to 10 years went from a community kind of intimate to now people are just delivering something that I feel like they could get them more subscribers or what other people want rather than focusing on what you want and what you came into this in the first place.
Bobby: Yeah it's very easy to fall into that trap. And like you look at you tubers in general and it as most of them are like teenagers or young 20 somethings. And then you have creators like you and me who I feel like I'm a dinosaur. Like I go to these conventions and like they're all just young kids and you know I feel like man if I would have started this when YouTube first started out it would've been easier or I would have had a million followers by now. But I would say it still is a young man's game. But it's so important to stay focused on your point of view. So I do cooking videos. I make healthy meal prep recipes that home cooks can follow that will help them with their health goals be super creative in the kitchen and usually done in 30 minutes or less. Now be very easy for me to go look at other trends and be like oh wow edible slime is trending like crazy. I'm going to make slime or you know these challenges videos where people do crazy stuff. Those are gimmicks that might work here and there but I drilled down on the analytics of YouTube a lot.
Bobby: I'm a big. I'm a numbers guy. Some come from finance. And even if I made a slime video I made the world a slime. It might get a million views but it's not going to bring me more fans than if I made it three of my normal meal prep videos and I'll be a one hit wonder and no one's gonna stick around from my other videos because I'm not the slime guy on the healthy food guy. So in a world of noways and viral videos it's very hard to stay focused on your core and you may need to switch it I mean for the first year.
Bobby: Plus we were just making general cooking videos under the umbrella of cooking and they weren't doing well and was pissing the crap out of us because we would put our sweat into these videos and nobody would see them and then we were fortunate enough to be selected for something called YouTube. Next up I say it's like a week long Academy for up and coming. You Tubers they select them you apply. And it was an amazing week where we learned so much and then we learned that we need to find knishes and some cultures of cooking cooking is too broad. So we found a meal prep and I found there was a cult following for that is something I believed in and ever since we did that our chart went straight up. So I think finding what you're good at like it could be as niche or micro as you think it is. There's going to be millions of people who love that so don't think about going macro you have to go micro and be the best person that meal prep or the best person at you know green tea or whatever your specialty is just do that.
Fei: If after listening to the episode you decide to hit your kitchen to make some delicious and healthy foods. Be sure to let both of us know. Look forward to hearing from you.
Fei: I really love the meal prep series. I didn't realize I was so drawn to that until I realized that whenever there are only two of us.
Fei: Usually when you have a family whenever you cook everybody consumes right away and looks those are beautiful. And for us I immediately went to HomeGoods or Amazon wherever the link that you had of purchasing the containers. And I feel so good to make these meals and to lay them out so beautiful in the like a bento box. Oh exactly. Yeah.
Bobby: And you put all the work into it and then it's there for five days because you know meal perhaps about putting an hour in on Sunday or Monday and having five to seven meals for the week before I kind of stumbled upon this trend. Part of me was like well I don't know that I really get that because I have time I work from home and I can cook every day. But then I step back and I be like wow. Very few people have that luxury and very few people have time to cook anymore. I think the number one reason why people don't cook anymore is because they don't have time. So if you can say well I take your idea and I step on it because I say here's my meal prep do it and you'll have five to seven meals throughout the week and you won't sacrifice quality health money. It's a no brainer.
Bobby: It's a total win win and then within that subset of your pride I can tailor it towards oh you're on hold 30 here's a bunch of recipes. You're on a diet here's a bunch of recipes you're trying to lose weight. Here's a bunch of recipes. So it's really like a no excuse way. They get you to cook because that's why my channel exists.
Bobby: I have no other purpose as to motivate you to cook and get in the kitchen.
Fei: Yeah I mean I was so happy when I opened up the little container the next day.
Bobby: It's a great feeling because you open the fridge like oh yeah I have that I made yesterday.
Bobby: Thank you god I don't have to cook.
Fei: Exactly, thank God I don't to cook again. And it's old. I love the proportion because you got the carbs you got the fire you got the protein.
Fei: And I never used to. I don't know why I didn't realize that before. But I mean you're the reason why I realize I don't need these crazy containers that don't even stack in the fridge and I have to poop. I remember to take out every container too much or too little or something and create a huge mess right. And plate after plate and. And now I open it has everything that I need just makes me so happy.
Bobby: It's such a great feeling. It's really it's kind of like how we like organize our house to work. Less is more like I hate clutter. I hate unnecessary stuff.
Bobby: My wife and I do the Marie Kondo in our house we spark joy by eliminating all things that don't bring joy in here. And so I feel the same way in the kitchen. Like everything has to have a purpose. If it brings clutter or it's unnecessary I just don't want it in my fridge and my body and my kitchen it just doesn't belong there.
Fei: I love this. One thing I skipped over. Well you're talking about the long game is that there was a tipping point when I think about three years and from 30000 to say over 100000. So what happened exactly.
Bobby: Yeah it was meal prep was exactly what it was we were just making general Bradlow cooking videos like how to make a steak why we had to make beef tacos when we got to make Greek style chicken. And then we realized that you know YouTube is the second biggest search engine besides Google and you have to treat it like you would SEO or an algorithm. So all of a sudden I got turned on to basically try to hack youtube to find where there's needs. And we found that meal prep there was a huge need but not a lot of videos out there. So from the first video we did which I think was the first meal prep video we did was in September 2016. The video immediately performed like three times as well as any video we had done that year. So from that second not on like I we're only doing that and we've only been doing it since. Oh wow.
Fei: It's incredible. So you are seeing your journey is quite fascinating. And you mentioned and I read in your about page that you came from a finance background which I guess not so surprising. Chicago Boston that you know and tell me about that. You know what your role was I would like to learn a little bit more about your life before YouTube.
Bobby: Yes so I worked in finance for 15 years before I decided to switch over to Flav's City full time. And the interesting thing about that is that I didn't hate my job writing I wasn't in a position where I couldn't wait to get out. I loved it. I was a stock and options trader for 15 years and it was great because it allowed me the time and the financial luxury to transition or Flav's city because I worked from home for myself for the last 10 years of the 15 years of doing it. And so the stock market only up until a 30 till 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. So I'd have a lot of time to cook and create new ideas and recipes and yes you know that's what allowed me to kind of transition to it.
Fei: Wow. Who'd imagine. I mean didn't even occur to me so my clients are actually in hedge fund and financial services and. Wow. So that's incredible. A lot of people who are thinking about a transition into full time podcasting or YouTube. Is that they might not have the either the financial hygiene or the financial means to do that.
Bobby: Yeah it makes it a lot easier when you have the financial means to transition over slowly. I think I read something like a year ago that resonated with me about there was this couple they were serial entrepreneurs and they always said that when one was starting the new business the other one was still working. And then after it went well or they sold it. And the opposite would happen. So it always makes it easier when you can slowly transition into like your passion project or you have the cushion to do it. It might have been a different story if I had to just go full throttle into it without the financial resources behind me. But I still think that's a crutch. I don't believe in you know complaining or blaming or justifying. So even if you have to give up what you're doing for money. I would still do it because if it doesn't work out you you'd give it a year. Big deal. You know just go back to what you were doing before might be a little harder if you're you know married with a kid. But I still say if you don't do it you're always going to regret it. And whether you have some cushion or not you have you have to do it. There's there's no doubt about it.
Fei: So people go in and do it. I do it.
Bobby: Just do it.
Fei: Yeah just do it. It's so true. Because when I talk to other podcasters these days and I try to create a sort of a support network and a virtual hangout. And I hear people trying to time them time to market trying to time the number of episodes and I'm like just forget all that. Just put it out there and then the next thing you know they're still twiddling their phones still making excuses six months or a year later. So the transition is quite fascinating. How long have you been running Flav city full time.
Bobby: Since January of 2017.
Fei: Oh wow. So that was precisely almost a year ago and yet. Well how was that decision made. You know what are some of the factors that went into it.
Bobby: Yeah. So it was it was nice because I was able well going back obviously 90 percent of the content we made in the previous years where we weren't getting paid for it was basically free content that would live on YouTube. The advertising revenue you earned on YouTube is much smaller than most people think. And then you know you do it just to build the community. And then all of a sudden we started getting to a size of having fans where I started getting incoming emails from brands saying hey we'd like to sponsor your video or Hey we like to have you use our product and our video.
Bobby: So I earned it. You know some money doing that in 2016 much more than 2015. And then I kind of saw the trajectory going and it just so happens that digital marketing is really an I call it the Wild Wild West right now.
Bobby: You know it's really it's taking off and so many brands are either just getting in the space or are about to get in the space or feel like they're going to be left out and they're throwing money in the space now that I knew this was going to all of a sudden be a very viable business after the numbers we put up in 2016.
Bobby: So I felt comfortable in 2017 and January just stopped trading stop my job in finance and just focus solely on flavor city and what I mean by that is produce as much content as possible to get out there because that's my market my marketing. I don't do any cold calling to anyone. I probably should. And I could probably for my business. If I had a sales team or if I did it myself. But I'm a creator and I don't wanna be focused on cold calling people I want to create. So I'm just fortunate enough that last year we had so many incoming projects that it was a much better than expected year that this year I superhigh expectations. So going back to that though is that I never got into this to make money. I got into this purely to put my content on the Internet to help fellow home cooks. That's it. I think if I would have done it to make money I would not have been successful. And that's hard to say because some people you know they need money immediately. And I would say this is not the business for you because as you know making money is very hard in the beginning. And if that's your main focus as opposed to creating content you're going to fail.
Fei: I couldn't agree with them more and I think also I've been very lucky lucky enough to have the financial means. You know I've always I'd never spend more than I made. So you know I felt really comfortable to do this and do it for me and for for my friends and for the future kids I might have and do leave something for the world and to be remembered. And I think a lot of other people I've spoken with are so focused on where do you get sponsorship so it's so funny that I encouraged by an entrepreneur Dorie Clark she said you need to read that article it's called How to make money as a podcast or without the downloads and that became the most popular e-book I've ever written. It's awesome talking to you and I can recall a few other folks I've interviewed just so refreshing like makes my heart pump to feel so good about learning the truth of why people are doing this how they're actually doing it instead of all the news articles viral blog articles.
Fei: Following these ten steps to guarantee make money in your sleep. It just doesn't work that way.
Bobby: No it doesn't work that way and there really is no secret sauce and you can't pay someone to teach you how to do it. You just have to go through the painful process of building a business. It's a business and it's very painful. And it's funny because I don't have the biggest following per se I think right now we have 140000 subscribers on YouTube which have worked so hard for that. But we put out such consistent high quality content that is so micro that I know for a fact that we get paid more for sponsored deals than people who have a much bigger following than us because it's about quality not quantity. So you know I would love to produce two videos a week. We only do one because so much work goes into it. But it's about quality not quantity. I'm not going to throw stuff out there just to be out there it has to be my rules. My videos have to look like the food network. There have to be a seamless look from TV food network to YouTube of city that I know that we've done our job production wise.
Fei: So I want to definitely give a big shout out to your wife because I feel I realized that you were talking to her. But the funny thing is it regardless whether it was her it was just someone that you certainly were close to friendly with. I can imagine being a best friend you know the energy and a funny thing is in someone. I finally heard her. And one of the videos where you're jokingly saying oh yeah the poached egg thing. And you said you have to return them at a restaurant and your wife's I was so embarrassed. And before that I didn't realize that she was the one behind the camera and in a way I felt very included and the way I felt like I become that friend of yours you know as you were talking to me with a smile because most of the other people who don't have the luxury of having a spouse or a friend to shoot bears. I know they're talking into a camera with nobody behind. And the energy is drastically different. It's such a lovely feeling.
Bobby: Yeah it is. I'm very fortunate to be able to share that experience with her and to be 100 percent honest.
Bobby: She does more work than me flavor city would not exist without her because she does the filming the editing the photography so often how people see me and they think that I'm you know everything behind flavor city but I just because I smile and I cook and I tell jokes. But she is the one who does the really heavy lifting. So she she learned how to edit all the videos herself the YouTube tutorial. She learned how to do food photography so I would love to actually include her more in the videos. But then we start losing the video production. And like there's no one to hold the camera. But I think like you said over the last like eight months we've kind of been including her more in terms of candidness and people pick up on that always like we want more Dessie and I want more Dessie do just like they can't quite do it. But on the Facebook Live it's much more candid with her. It's that's actually my favorite platform every Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. Chicago time. We do live cooking with flavor city. And she holds the camera. But sometimes she cooks and we interact with people in real time and it's an amazing medium that you can't quite get on YouTube. But on Facebook you can and it's the most fun thing we do. My father
Fei: Hi there. It's your host Fei Wu and you're listening to the feisworld podcast today on the show. Meet Bobby Parrish Chicago native YouTube entrepreneur teaching you how to meal prep. With delicious and healthy recipes.
Fei: It's so fascinating to me and I'm so happy to hear them. I feel that you know these days especially with younger folks. I mean the dynamics of relationship change literally every restaurant I walk into the couples sitting there playing with their cell phone the entire time with nothing at all to say to each other that you guys are so completely opposite you have this baby that literally like a baby you've nurtured for more than seven years. And also when you watch those most of you tubers and especially Instagram sensations are famous people.
Fei: Usually the relationship actually come after as in working with the photographer. Then they fall in love and then they are like inseparable. Before you guys actually the relationship. And then you learn to work together. Tell me what was that like.
Bobby: Yeah. So that was interesting. So like I said the only reason we started doing the videos in the first place is because my wife is a fantastic painter. She paints oil on canvas and they're all over the house. They're fantastic. And she wanted a camera to take photos of them to put them on her website. And so once we bought the camera which I think was like 1500 dollars that I'm like let's use this opportunity to jump into the videos. And you know we have a great relationship we both worked from home anyway. And what is it that I'd tell people out there like how. How do you do that and not kill each other. So just the fact that we were able to do that I guess was off to a good start. And then we started from the very beginning making the videos together learning photography together learning everything together. And now we have a challenge like a well oiled machine or just like boom boom boom.
Fei: Yeah. Wow that's really like a seamless team experience. You know I know there's so much learning in and for people who haven't stepped into our world and our world slim slimmer different. But you look at yourself today versus when you're just working when you're just working full time in finance. What is that main difference I mean the way the energy within yourself. I mean how have you transformed.
Bobby: Well it's interesting because I was working for myself already in finance. So that sense of being independent and being socially responsible was there already. But my wife used to work in corporate a job and she hated it. And so for her to quit that and then work independently for herself and then do this independently too. I've seen such a transformation there but I think the coolest thing to me is that I didn't get a call in every school. I'm not a chef. I'm a home cook just like you. Just like everyone watching me. I didn't have a video background. I didn't know anything about building a website. So the fact that we won by one conquered all these things and got them done and put them together to build this amazing platform we have is the most satisfactory thing. So when people tell me now they can't they can't do something or they don't know how that's that's just an excuse. It's a crutch in today's world in 2018. There's no excuse not to do anything anymore you can literally do whatever you want. And if it goes back to what you're saying 90 percent of people won't do it because they're lazy or they're scared. But if you want to become anything you can literally do it now on the internet it's unbelievable.
Fei: Yeah that is that is very true. And you know you mentioned last year was very exciting and even going to be more more ever more exciting this year. What are some of the highlights and projects and the people you worked on.
Bobby: Yes so focused on this year. My goal is once again quality not quantity. So we made a good amount of money out of what we actually beat my goal of last year for 2017 revenue which I was very happy about. But there were times that I felt we were working too hard. And it took away from the creative process. And I know I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. And so and so once you start to do that then it's kind of like well why am I doing this in the first place. So I don't want to take projects that are making the making work so hard that I'm going to regret it. So I'm trying to focus really only on the ones that can be enjoyable and the scope is big enough where it can last the whole year or a couple of quarters and I guess in your business to a lot of deals are one off. So what I'll come to you saying we need this thing we need it done in three weeks and then that's it. And it was it's a nice paycheck. But then at least nothing else and you just bust your ass and then you don't know your next revenue is coming from. So I really try to focus on yearly deals with brands that really make sense for me to work with and cut out the ones that just don't make sense and I'm going to be spinning my wheels and be burned out afterwards.
Fei: So I mean maybe there's some NDA you may not be able to name some of these brands but like what are some of the projects entail. Like what are they about.
Bobby: Yeah. Well I mean so last year I had a great partnership with the National Pork Board where every month I did a Facebook Live video and a blog post with an original recipe based upon the theme every month. And that was really fun because it challenged me to take any cut of pork I wanted to make a seasonal recipe and share it with everyone. So this year we're going to be doing a project with a salad kit maker who is releasing new stir fry kits and it's going to be all throughout the year and it's going to be something where you know people it's a product that people love and even I use. And it's something that I can totally take creative liberty. I notice now as I've become kind of like a bigger influencer they give you more independence whereas in the beginning like they must take the creativity away from you and they take it over manage you and like strip away your creative voice then what's the point of coming to a digital creator or what they call an influence or if you're going to put the words in their mouth. Whereas now it's kind of like here's a product like this week actually we just released a video for pleated. It's a meal kit delivery service. But I love the company because it takes away your excuse not to cook. They'll ship you the recipes you choose on line in a box prepped ready for you to go. So you don't have to shop. You don't have to prep. You just have to cook and the recipes are unbelievable and they just said order it. Make a video hit a couple of talking points and that's it. So having the creative freedom to create whatever you want with a product you truly believe is the best way to get the result that everybody is going to win.
Fei: I love those examples like when it comes to you know travel and then making meals and maybe you're you're learning something new because maybe they're the things you've never made before. And how does it work. You know when you when you have done something you've never done before.
Fei: And on video so do you practice a few times do you like to have to make the same meal like 20 times.
Bobby: You know that's a good question. So if it's a recipe that I'm really like unsure of or is really different I'll have to practice it a couple times. But to the point now where I just know the flavors are going to work and I don't even practice at a time I literally do it for the first time on camera. And then if I was wrong about a certain quantity of like lemon juice or honey or vinegar I could just ask for the recipe. But I think that spontaneity is what makes it really fun for me. Whereas most people don't know that I think they assume that I like to research the recipes and I do but I don't practice them because I don't want it. This isn't like a Food Network show that's going to be produced like this is a real it's like it's being done and it's out there.
Fei: In another question that sounds like such and not a YouTube but person who consumes the content is how many days a week do you cook like in front of it in front of the camera and the kitchen I guess would be both an then bar.
Bobby: I cook every day for personal enjoyment and for personal consumption. But our schedule now is we film a video on Monday that's production day that takes hours and then Tuesday through Thursday we added the video Friday it goes out on YouTube Friday morning every morning around 830 and then every Wednesday evening we do Facebook live cooking videos and then almost every night I do Instagram stories recipe videos. So that's fun because I'm literally making whatever I was going to make anyway. But I'm just doing it to Instagram stories and it's extremely candid. And there's no editing and it's very fun.
Fei: So we talked about revenue streams and I think some came up already. So sponsorship brands working with you directly which is great without the middleman and sounds like there's some affiliate links that kind of sprinkled throughout. Is there anything else that we've missed.
Bobby: Yeah there's also a YouTube ad revenue. So the ads you see before every video they don't pay nearly as well as people think they do. They think you make a lot of money from it unless you're literally getting millions of viewers on a consistent basis. I mean I'd make anywhere from like 500 to 800 dollars a month from YouTube AB which is nice it's nice passive income but it's not something to support yourself off of. And then I get contacted for a sponsored Instagram posts here and there where someone wants me to use their product like as part of like a recipe for an Instagram posts. I call that passive income too because it's not something where it's sustainable but it's a nice little side revenue but it really is the sponsored videos.
Bobby: And I think it's only going to become that way more for all and for all video and digital content creators. I think I'm very fortunate and all content creators are very fortunate right now because like I said it's the Wild Wild West of digital advertising and what you said earlier if you go online and you look for cooking you'll find a lot of girls. You'll find a lot of bakers but you don't find a lot of straight white guys. And so I thought I'd tell people it's the only time in my life where I'm a minority because I'm about the most boring bland white guy you know in the universe. But on the internet being a cook and a chef I'm a minority. And so I think people see that like oh wow there's a guy who can cook you know his recipes are good he's kind of funny. And then when brands see that they're like oh well you know we've already worked with so many women are some of the bakers. Let's work with this guy.
Bobby: So I think that's why I've been successful with getting some brand deals that you know have been very lucrative.
Fei: Another intimidating thing as someone who just started cooking more recently is that my chopping my knife skills are just not there and I know you're very good with your neighbor. I came from experience but at the same time you not one of those crazy guys who just you know flipping the knife around and just all you see is like I can't do that. And I didn't feel intimidated by you. I was like I think if he can do it I think I can get there too.
Bobby: Yeah that's what I love to hear. So when you said that last thing if I can do it you can do it. I always tell people that. And I think that's what's cool about videos that I'm constantly dropping a little tips and techniques very casually. But there are like mind openers for someone like you like I didn't know that's how you chop an onion. I didn't know that's how you know chop parsley I don't know how that's used. I didn't know that's how you store kale once you get a home from the grocery store. So also I think the style of the video I make it's a 12 minute video where I'm literally cooking and talking the entire time. A lot of people on youtube do this style where they do an intro to the camera and talk Hey my name is X Y Z. Today we're making this and then it goes to all hands only with a voiceover. And for me that's very impersonal. My videos are all about me. I'm the Maria not my hands not the food. So by once again emulating a Food Network show you get to know me and my wife Dessie and tons of little tips throughout the process. At the end you've learned how to make a recipe. Probably learned a handful of really cool tips and hopefully gotten to feel like you know me and you want to watch more of my video.
Fei: Absolutely. And you are so approachable and you know when I went to your Web site I noticed something else. You've been quite recognize you're recognized a figure I noticed your pictures with a lot of celebrities and not just celebrity chefs. So how did those opportunities come about and how did you feel like during that time.
Bobby: Yeah it's it's funny because a lot of those comments like trade events or food and wine shows or we've been on a couple of food network competitions shows which was really fun. Those are those are like little validation bumpers every once in awhile like a pat on the back. But ultimately it means nothing to me because I care about helping you.
Fei: It's beautiful he said. I always ask this question and could you look back to when you were about 10 years old. What were you like and what are some of those interests you had at the time and the reason for me to be interested in that is that you're still clearly very young but not so young that you don't remember anything that actually happened.
Bobby: Yeah I think at 10 years old I was a mama's boy. And where's my brother who's like three years older than me was the opposite of that. And so I literally remembered tires were like I would be hanging out with my mom in the House are usually in the kitchen watching her cook and like I remember one time vividly where my brother was in the backyard with his friend doing beer bottles like right outside the window. And like my mom saw that and didn't even care. Like this is like the that's him. Whereas I was inside like helping her cook or unload groceries. So that was such a snapshot of like who I am and who he is because he's just such a different person.
Bobby: But I think I was just like 10 years old that was just very open to the influence of everything. And I think I've been very curious about everything in life because I didn't. I've never really had a real job. I mean I worked for myself in finance. I worked for myself. Now I sit in my pajamas all day until I have to film a video that I actually brush my hair. So even though I'm in my 30s in my mind I'm really like in my twenties like my low 20s. I don't view stress and responsibilities as something that should get in the way and slow me down. And I just go about the world with curiosity and I want to know why things happen. And I think that's the same thing a kid does but it doesn't mean you stop that when you get older. Otherwise you know I would have never gotten to where I am right now and you never would have been where you are right now and we wouldn't be talking.
Fei: Yeah. Thank you for telling us those stories and that was really eye opening. And what I notice with a lot of guests answers is who they were as a 10 year old points to almost directly and who they are today. And I seem to remember especially certain moments and stories. It's an incredible experience and I think we forget that sometimes or just stop looking back to who we are and why we do what we do. So what do you what do you do with self care like you mentioned 2017. For me it was also way too hard working and I had to step back and look at what I was doing. How do you check in with yourself with your wife. I'm like hey around on the right track.
Bobby: Yeah. So luckily we both work from home so we can kind of like dial it down when we need to. One of my intentions for 2018 was to start meditating every day. So I started reading a book by Tim Ferriss called Tribe of Mentors and it seemed like a theme that everyone who was in the book was doing was meditation. And so I've been doing that every day and I find that it's a great way to start the day to do that. And I go to the gym about four to five days a week. That's something I've been doing since the day I turned 16 years old. So I think that the balance of that just having to work out and meditate and eat really clean food will offset however hard I have to work. But to the point where I don't want to I don't want to work to the point where I feel like it sucks. Like you said. So you know obviously that's unavoidable it's going to happen at times and you have to bust your ass but if you plan far enough out that you don't have to put yourself in those situations too often that's very wise.
Fei: So thank you so much.
Bobby: Awesome. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
Fei: Yeah likewise.
Outro: Hi there's me again I want to thank you very much for listening to this episode and I hope you're able to learn a few things
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[08:00] How did FlavCity start? How did the name come about?
[12:00] What are your thoughts on content creation vs. earning money from your platform?
[16:00] What did you learn about growing your following/subscribers? What are some key takeaways
[20:00] What is meal prep? What is the concept behind it?
[22:00] How did your channel grow from 30,000 to 100,000 subscribers?
[24:00] How was your life and career like before YouTube?
[27:00] How did you get started with YouTube? How long have you been running FlavCity full time?
[30:00] What was your secret sauce to becoming sensational on YouTube?
[33:00] How do you work with your wife? What’s the dynamic when you work together?
[35:00] How did you meet your wife, and how did she decide to work with you on this project?
[36:00] What is the difference between the relaxed Bobby and the working Bobby?
[38:00] What are some of the highlights/projects for 2018?
[39:00] What are some of the current projects about?
[41:00] Do you practice a few times before making the meals on YouTube?
[42:00] How many days a week do you cook for YouTube?
[47:00] How did you meet so many famous cooks?
[48:00] What were you like when you were 10 years old?
[50:00] How do you check in with yourself and with your wife? How do you go about personal care?
[12:00] Sometimes you see these stories about ‘overnight sensations’, and people think that’s how it should be for everyone. The reality is that it is a labor of love, and when you meet other creators, podcasters, vloggers, only very few people have had that overnight sensation. It’s a long game.
[18:00] In a world of a lot of noise and viral videos, it’s very hard to stay focus on your core. We need to find niches and subcultures. Cooking is too broad. We found meal prep. It’s something I believed in, and ever since we did that, our chart went straight up. Don’t think about going macro, because even going micro you’ll find millions of people interested in that.
[30:00] It doesn’t work that way. There is no secret sauce. You just have to go through the painful process. It’s a business and it’s very painful.
[38:00] When people tell me now that they can’t do something or they don’t know how, that’s just an excuse. In today’s world there’s no excuse not to do anything anymore. You can literally do whatever you want on the internet.