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Student Mealz

‘‘ What’s the point of making videos if you're not having fun? ’’

By Tess September 18, 2017

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Hi Tess, can you briefly describe your channel to new viewers?

Hello! In short, we are a cooking channel for students living on a low budget or for people who like good, simple food. We make our recipes easy, cheap and of course delicious. Our videos are short, clear and straight to the point.

How did you come up with the concept for Student Mealz?

Leo has always been passionate about cooking and liked to watch cooking shows. Often times, he wanted to just see how the recipe was made and skip the whole dilly-dally talk. A straight to the point video that explained the cooking steps only. At the time, there were very few if any channels that were doing that. We also wanted to reach out specifically to students. Many students don’t take the time to learn how to cook for themselves, always resorting to pizza or microwave food. We wanted to show students that with minimal effort and a small budget, they could enjoy delicious home-cooked meals.

Leo, do you have any formal cooking experience?

No, but it has always been a hobby of mine. I am a huge fan of food and cooking was always exciting to me. When I was a kid, I used to mix weird things together like garlic and candy or chocolate and bread, just to see what it would taste like. I enjoy experimenting with new flavors and frequently tweak recipes to see if I can invent something new. Not all of my experimental recipes are good – believe me, there have been some serious misfires!

How is it doing Youtube as a couple? Any practical advice for other couples?

First of all – have fun! We started this Youtube channel because we had fun cooking together. It was an activity that we enjoyed. We never expected our channel to grow this much! So we did not place pressure on ourselves from the start. As we started to attract subscribers and realized that people were actually liking what we were doing – we then committed ourselves to deliver content every week. As our channel grows bigger, it’s our responsibility to keep it fun for ourselves!

As far as couple’s advice, communication is key! When filming as a couple, each person may have a very different vision about how to shoot a scene or cook something. Take the time to brainstorm with each other and discuss the steps before recording. Also… couples need to listen to each other!  Sounds simple enough, but easy to forget when you are in the thick of things. This advice will help you create a channel together, while keeping your relationship fun and healthy. That’s what our 8 years together has taught us!

How do you two split the Youtube work? Who does what?

The work varies depending on our weekly schedule. When we were students, Leo and I did almost everything together. We would think of new recipes. Leo would host an episode,  I would film… and vice versa.  Now we have both graduated and it has become challenging to adapt to this new rhythm. I have to travel a lot for my job, so I’m not always home. Leo will then take over everything – filming, hosting, editing. On workdays, I still try to do the taste-testing portion of the videos after I get off work. When one is busy, the other one takes the lead. We completely trust each other and I think that’s why we are such a great team.

Leo and Tess, you have created 330+ videos over the last 5 years! What keeps you coming back to Youtube?

The first and foremost is because we have so much fun doing it! If it wasn’t, we would have stopped a long time ago.

After all, what’s the point of making videos if you’re not having fun.

Second is the interaction with our fans. (The growing subscriber count is a nice extra.) We get so many lovely comments, complimenting us on what we are doing and creating. And sometimes, we even get fan art! (See image below.) Our fans also like to suggest recipes that we should make, so of course we don’t want to disappoint! Our subscribers and fans mean the world to us, so we take their feedback to heart. It motivates us that there are people across the world who like what we do and believe in us.There are some negative comments and people who like to say that what we are doing is stupid, annoying and more. But remember, it’s Youtube! There will always be somebody hating on a video.

Student Mealz- Fan art

And finally, we motivate each other to do Youtube. That’s one of the perks of being a duo behind a channel. you’ll always have a supporter and motivator to back you up.

How did you spend your first Youtube check?

I don’t specifically remember but it most likely went to our Student Mealz budget. We use this budget on gear that enhance the production quality of Student Mealz – camera, tripod, microphone. And of course on the food we use in each episode.

Based on your experience so far, would you want to become full-time Youtubers or keep it as a hobby?

We would love to become full-time Youtubers! The idea of creating for a living seems wonderful. If we were to go all-in on Youtube, I think we would also like to explore ideas beyond food and recipes. Leo is so creative and has lots of great ideas! However right now, we don’t make enough money to make a living out of it.

Also you really have to commit to create and upload videos on a daily basis. This calls for strict discipline and a tight schedule. But we’re still trying to figure out our current setup since our lives have been changing a lot in the past 5 years!

You are now approaching 30K subscribers (congrats!). Has your channel grown steadily over the years or did you hit an inflection point and grow exponentially?

First of all, thank you! Overall, we experienced steady growth with a few peaks. The first was from collaborating with a Belgian website which gained us alot of subscribers. Then, one of our recipes (“How to make garlic bread”) somehow gained huge popularity in India! That was our first video that became very popular (video below).

We also then experimented and made a video tasting different Russian snacks (video below). This brought in a boost of followers as well.

But that last video wasn’t representative of the type of content we focus on our channel. It resulted in a larger number of “dead” subscribers – viewers who have subscribed to the channel but don’t watch any of our other content.

Do you have any techniques or tools that have helped reduce the number of hours spent on filming or editing?

At the start of Student Mealz, we spent alot of time setting up gear, experimenting with angles and finding the places in the kitchen that looked good on film. After much trial and error, we finally found a setup and and efficient workflow for filming.

But by that time, we had to move to another apartment and go through the process of finding the right set-up all-over again. And we had to go it again… as we moved a total of 4 times! We hope to stay in our current place and deliver consistent quality. With regards to editing, it’s all about templates, templates, templates! I always leverage the same camera settings and re-use editing templates/files/snippets. It cuts my editing time down by roughly 3 hours.

What questions do people never ask you guys but wish they did?

You wouldn’t believe the questions we get sometimes! We’re always open to answer more personal questions. Feel free to send us a private message just to talk a bit. We can filter these private messages out of the daily Youtube comments on our videos. This way, we can respond quicker and help out where we can.

What’s next for you (and your channel)?

For now, we need to find a new rhythm since both of us are working. When we find it, who knows what we will do next. We’ll definitely continue creating and posting – so keep your eye on us!

2 comments

  • juliantrends22

    I wish there was Youtube when I was in college. Back in the 90s, it was cool not knowing how to cook… 🙄 Beer-and-Pizza all day.

  • francesthayes

    Hey Tess – nice article. It seems cooking is a nice category to do as couple YouTubers. It gives you room to separate private life from public – unlike daily vlogging. Now the effort to nudge my bf to get in the kitchen with me!!