I am Laura Vitale and
this is my husband, Joe. We created Laura in the Kitchen
about four and a half years ago. It’s now one of the most popular
cooking channels on YouTube. She had a crazy idea one day. It was,
I want to write a cookbook. I said, Well, we could do that but we’ll
spend our life savings publishing it. You’ll probably sell eight copies to
your friends that are interested and then you’ll have about 992 copies
sitting around that you haven’t sold. Then she says, Well, how about a TV show?
I’d love to have a TV show. Again, you just can’t go knock
on TV’s door and say, Hey, can I get a TV show? and expect them
to say yes because there’s thousands of people doing that. So then we had this
crazy idea to build a kitchen studio in the basement of our house and that’s
where we filmed Laura in the kitchen. That’s where it started. Before we uploaded,
we didn’t know what we should be posting. We actually went to Google and used
auto complete as our analytics at that time. We literally typed in “How to make” and
then the letter “a” and then “how to make” and the letter “b”. That’s where bruschetta came from in the first episode. As we went on, we decided to take a
look at who we were reaching the most. It was no surprise. It was 13 to
17-year-olds that were on the platform more than most people at the time. Then we started trying to figure out:
who should we be targeting with this show? Who’s the audience that
we’re really interested in? To be honest, the 13 to 17-
year-olds category made sense because we didn’t feel like they were
watching cooking shows on television. We felt that this was the audience
that would grow up with Laura. We actually started running
ad campaigns against videos that were really resonating
with that audience. We started our channel in January 2010.
Then in the summer of 2011, I thought, I’m really building my audience. At
the time, we had about 20,000 subscribers. We were uploading about once or twice
a week. That’s when we came home and I said I’m going to upload
every single day. I’m going to upload a new recipe every day
for as long as I possibly can. Just to build my library. Anytime
somebody searched for something, I want it to be what came up. Whether
it was brownies or pizzas or cinnamon roll. Whatever it was, I wanted to be the result. That’s what we did. We uploaded every
single day for nine months. We built a really good library. I think,
at the time, we had a couple of 100,000 subscribers and we thought we
can scale it down to every other day. That’s the current schedule we
have now. It’s every other day. When it comes to getting ready to film
an episode, it starts with an idea. First of all, I think about the time
of the year and then I see what my audience has been requesting.
I see what’s trending. I see what people are pinning. I see what
people are searching for. These are my apple fritters.
They are to die for. I see what’s really popular that
I can maybe do a twist on. I take all of that into consideration.
We film in bulk. We don’t film one episode here and there.
We’ll film for two days and we’ll film enough content to have
for about two weeks or so. It takes me about a week to come up with
the recipes that we want to film. Then I have to test the recipes. If
it’s something that I’ve made before over and over again, there’s no need to
test it. But if it’s a recent recipe that I had this crazy idea for, I’ll get in
the kitchen and I’ll start playing around see what works, what doesn’t.
I think from the very beginning to the day that the episode goes
live, it’s about a week. We knew from day one what
we wanted this format to be. In fact, we actually sat down and
watched several other cooking shows to see how they intro their show and
to see if there were any patterns that we really thought we liked.
As far as the format of the show and the way it’s outlined, it was
very utility. It made sense. Go over the ingredients first that way
you’re not getting into something without having everything
laid out in front of you. On television, you don’t see that a lot.
You don’t see it laid out that way, the way we do it because we expect people
to be watching it on their iPad or on their mobile device in their kitchen. We’ve gotten to a point where we know what
the audience likes, what they don’t like, what they’re going to respond
well to, what they’re not. Of course I take that into consideration
when it comes to what recipes I’m going to choose. Then, we’re
also at the point where we know what’s going to perform best and when. For example, on Saturdays, you’ve
got to post something sweet. People have time to bake so we know that
something like a cake or a muffin is going to perform really well. Starting
from the thumbnail because now they get up on Saturday mornings. They see that
chocolate cake. It might need a couple of hours to set but they have the time
and the day, so it makes sense to post it on Saturdays. The thumbnails
are always similar in terms of they’re on a white background because
the thumbnail is as big as a postage stamp you need to be able to just see the dish. If it’s got a beautiful cup and
silverware and a beautiful plate, it doesn’t really work for a thumbnail.
We might have to retake the pictures several times in order for it to look
right but that’s really, really important. I’d say we average about 50 thumbnails
before we get the one we want every time we shoot. The food in the
thumbnail is the food that was made in the episode. It’s not a
second dish. It’s identical. When you see a thumbnail, you’re actually
going to watch that dish be made as opposed to something that
sat through hours of beautification. That’s really important to me because
I don’t want people to be like, Well, mine doesn’t… why does that one
look so amazing? This doesn’t look that way. I want it to be… You’re
going to get what you see. We actually have a subscriber
counter, which I made myself. That’s a big four-inch numeric counter
that sits in our kitchen It updates every half an hour to show us
how many subscribers we have because we want our subscribers to know
how important they are to us that they actually have
a place in our home. If I had to measure the engagement in
levels, I’d say a view is at the bottom. Obviously it’s important but that’s the
first measurable piece of success. A view, then a like, then a share, then a
comment, then going out on social media and finding someone who
made the dish and recreated it. That’s the top. That’s the ultimate
measurement of success because at that point, you have changed
somebody’s behavior and you have people who are that engaged and that
interested in what you’re doing. When you see something six hours after
you posted it and someone else has already gone and recreated it, there’s
just something special about that.