It’s easy for me to keep track of how long I’ve been doing live videos — I started right after Noah was born. I had just given birth via emergency caesarean and was still recovering at Westmead Hospital when an email from Google Australia showed up in my inbox.
Google wanted to set up a meeting with me about their soon-to-be-launched new platform, Hangouts-on-Air — they wanted to pitch the idea of using it to do live cooking videos, so I hopped on a video call with them from the neonatal ICU waiting room a few days later.
(At this point you might question what would drive someone to say yes, who had just been hit with the news that their baby was likely not going survive — but that’s another story for another day.)
When Google decided to shut down Hangouts-on-Air in 2016, I explored other livestreaming platforms — you name it, I’ve probably used it — before I found a new home on Twitch.
So what are the big takeaways from my 7 years of doing live cooking videos?
Here’s my list (in no particular order) -
- The Compelling Character Theory (yes, I made that up)
I know the buzzword is to stay “authentic” or to keep it “real”, but the truth is, live video is as much a performance as any other visual medium. I’ve been guilty of showing up bored, unprepared, grumpy, frumpy — you name it (hey, I’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes, alright?) — and I can promise you, it will hurt your audience engagement and viewership numbers in the long run.
So yes, stay authentic, but give people a reason to tune in. If you’re low energy and boring all the time, don’t expect your audience to stick around; nobody owes you their eyeballs.
2. Aspiration vs Perspiration
As my TV producer friend keeps reminding me, cooking shows are meant to be aspirational. You want to create content that motivates and inspires people to want to make the food themselves, not make the whole cooking effort look dreary, or serve up what looks like something the cat dragged in.