A professionally-trained chef who debuted on YouTube fewer than three years ago now commands a larger audience than some TV stations in the nation’s more competitive broadcast markets.
Gemma Stafford originally is from the South East of Ireland and studied at the world-renowned Ballymaloe cookery school in County Cork.
Today, she hosts Bigger Bolder Baking. More than 778,000 people – whom Stafford affectionately calls “bold bakers” – subscribe to her channel. By comparison, Austin, Texas (a top 30 broadcast market) is home to 745,640 television households. To date, Stafford has garnered more than 50 million views. (Compare those numbers with figures we reported a couple weeks ago).
Stafford recently joined ProfNet as a guest for #ConnectChat on Twitter to talk about her channel. For journalists and bloggers, the avenue – much like the various social media platforms out there – can provide a space to authentically connect with new audiences. Here, Stafford shares the behind the scenes and discusses key ingredients for building community.
For folks who may not be familiar with you, give us a little bit of background. What made you decide to create a YouTube channel?
My husband, Kevin, and I wanted to combine my passion for food with his love of entertainment. We thought we could create a unique show for baking fans online.
What does production entail? For example, who shoots the episodes? Where? How many cameras are involved?
We are a two-person team! Kevin shoots with two Canon 70D cameras and edits. One camera is always focused on me (it’s the master shot), and Kevin floats with a second camera for close ups. We love our close up!
I handle all the food and hosting. It’s a funny story. Neither one of us had done anything like this before. We’re shooting in our own kitchen in Los Angeles. Some fans think it is Ireland, but it could never be that sunny.
Are you following a script? Or do you ad-lib the segment? What sort of on-air training did you have?
I follow an outline based on the recipe with important points. No formal training. Until two years ago, I was camera shy.
What’s your secret sauce? What sort of strategy did you employ to build your audience?
First and foremost, deliver quality recipes and a high-quality show. Second is FOCUS. We were always focused on baking (not food in general) and recipes our audience could make. Next was CONSISTENCY. Our show releases every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PT and our audience expects it. We also work hard to encourage a COMMUNITY feel. We didn’t create it on our own. Our Bold Bakers helped it grow. I spend a lot of time researching and developing recipes.
I always make what I enjoy, and I definitely listen to my fan’s requests. In fact, my biggest recipe series, “Microwave Mug Meals,” came from a fan request on how to make a cake without an oven.
Also, we know there’s a large audience on other platforms as well who may not find my recipes on YouTube. So, we create specific content for Facebook, Twitter, and especially our website. Our goal is to create the number one baking community online.
As YouTube talent, you’re part of a larger community of online video chefs. How important is cross-promotion? In other words, in what ways have you interacted with other YouTube personalities and brands?
We’ve worked with some other great food shows like POPSUGAR’s Brandi Milloy, and Jenn Johns of Cookies, Cupcakes, and Cardio. Collaborating with other channels is a great way to reach new audiences and give yours a little something extra.
So, what’s next for Bigger Bolder Baking? What’s on the horizon? Some YouTubers jump at a chance to cross over to television. Would you?
Yes, we see TV as another great platform. I hope we get to take Bigger Bolder Baking to TV. In the meantime, we’ve loved working with “The Doctors,” where my “Mug Pizza” made an appearance, and with Today.com/food. We’re thrilled about LIVE streaming, and I love connecting live with fans. We’re also expanding our website shortly with new features that our Bold Bakers have requested. I’m excited to be working on my first book, releasing this holiday. And, of course, I’m excited for every new episode of Bigger Bolder Baking on YouTube.
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Wes Benter is a senior online community services specialist at ProfNet, a service that connects journalists with expert sources. He previously worked as a creative producer for PR Newswire’s MultiVu. Prior to that, Wes worked on-air as a reporter and weather anchor for network affiliates in the Midwest. Learn more by following him on Twitter @WBenter.