Making Millions From The Kitchen: How Daniels’ Love for Cooking Changed His Life
When it comes to being a food content creator, we all assume it’s a women’s game. But this week’s #CreatorStories features a male food content creator – Daniel Ochuko. In this conversation, he shares with us how his love for cooking started and how it has changed his life over the years.
Let’s get to meet Daniel, shall we?
Tell us about your background. What was growing up like?
Growing up was fun and very Nigerian. I have a very small nuclear family but my extended family is very extended (laughs). I grew up with lots of extended family members and was the favorite child. It was really nice to have all that attention at the time.
Was that when you started entering the kitchen?
Well, I started cooking when I was very young. But it was more of experimenting. I tried out different things because I had an interest in cooking but I didn’t know so much at the time. So, I was always in the kitchen with my mom, helping out where I could, whether slicing onions, adding spices, or anything. From there, I started learning how to cook different things.
How experimental did you get?
Very experimental (laughs). One time I added scent leaves into rice because I thought it was going to be nice. I didn’t slice it. I just washed it and put it into the rice like that. My mom was surprised, but she said it was nice. Now that I think about it, she was just trying to support me because there’s no way that was nice.
I like how you’re realizing it now
(laughs). I was just trying out new and weird things as the last child in the house at the time. So some things just happened.
Was that also when your love for cooking started?
I don’t think so. I can’t say for sure when my love for cooking started. I just like the idea of bringing one or two things together and seeing how people get excited over it. Plus it’s very relaxing for me to cook.
Indeed. Did your parents ever feel like you weren’t supposed to be in the kitchen because it’s a “woman’s” thing?
No, I didn’t. My parents aren’t even like that. My dad and mom cook. So I could enter the kitchen to join my mom whenever I wanted to. Also, I was the last child in the house for a long time. That gave me the attention and freedom to do anything I wanted at home.
How did it influence what you studied in school?
In secondary school, I did food and nutrition and was one of the three boys in my set to do that subject. In university, I wanted to study human nutrition and dietetics but that didn’t happen. So I studied Food Science and Technology which was a total waste of my time and resources.
I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has a genuine love for food or cooking and maybe wants to study more of it. I love cooking. I just want to be in the kitchen making food for people. I don’t want to know the technology behind tomatoes or the engineering part of it or the chemical composition and all that. I just want to make something exciting, tasty, and delicious out of it. So Food Science and Technology was just the engineering of food. It was basically Engineering courses, which was a lot of work and struggle.
Thankfully, you survived
Did I really survive? Well, it was a lot, a whole lot.
Did you ever try to start any food business seeing as you loved cooking?
Yes, I did but it was a total failure.
Maybe using the word “failure” is too extreme, but I just couldn’t. I have very high standards when it comes to providing services for people and the Nigerian factor was just a lot for me then. Also, I didn’t have the knowledge of handling a business or even growing it. But more than that was the Nigerian factor that played a huge role and I just got tired.
How long did you run it for?
It wasn’t for long. I started in my first year at the University and part of my second year. After that, I got tired and stopped.
Did you make money?
Yes, I did. It wasn’t a lot. But it was cute.
God when. There’s “cute” money now?
Let’s come down to content creation. How did your journey as a Content Creator start?
I used to follow a lot of food creators on YouTube, for example, Sisiyemmie, The Kitchen Muse, Sisi Jemimah, and several others. However, it was when I discovered Dimma Umeh that I decided to start creating content. She’s not a food content creator. In fact, it was just a random YouTube recommendation.
I started watching her videos and was very shocked at the quality. Initially, I thought her video quality and type were because she was abroad until I found out that she was living in Nigeria and creating that kind of high-quality content. That really blew my mind and made me want to try content creation.
At the time, I was very interested in skincare. So I thought about creating skincare videos. But when I thought about it from a financial point of view, I wasn’t convinced I could make money creating skincare content in Nigeria. I compared it to creating food content (as I was interested in that too) and wanted to know which had a better chance of sticking with me long-term and my love for food won. I decided to combine my love for food with videos and pictures and make it into something.
So I started watching other food creators to know how I wanted my food pictures and videos to look. And that was how it all began.
Interesting. Did you have to take any courses to learn video or photography editing?
For a long time, I did not. I used the entire COVID period to do lots of trial and error and winging it on the way. In fact, I’d say I’m a graduate of the University of YouTube. That’s where I learned almost everything.
YouTube is the real GOAT
(lol) Yes, it definitely is.
When did you eventually get the big break in your career as a food content creator?
I don’t think I’ve gotten the big break yet. I’m still figuring it out, which is wild because people assume I know what I’m doing. I don’t. I’m honestly just doing it as it comes. I haven’t gotten a clear idea of what I want yet.
You’re still doing well. Kudos
So what’s your content creation process like? How do you come up with your content ideas?
After my research, I create a long list of content I want to make. It helps me stay sane and organized so I can just pick out these ideas and create them. Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out the way I want but the most important thing is to have the idea.
Then I compare it against my audience and find out if it’s something they will resonate with. After that, I run it through my checklist questions;
- Is this something you’re comfortable with sharing?
- Is it something you have more knowledge about?
- Do you have to do more research on it?
- Do you have to try out things before actually filming it?
When I have my answers to that, the next step is to go ingredients sourcing. If I don’t have the ingredients in my pantry, then I have to find them.
Next, I decide how I want the video to be shot. I also consider where I’ll be posting it, whether it’s YouTube or just Instagram. If it’s YouTube, I know I have to shoot with two cameras or shoot in a higher resolution so that when I post it on other platforms, the quality is still intact.
Lastly, I film the content. Sometimes when I’m excited about it, I want to edit it and post it immediately. Other times, it may take a week or two before I post it. In other cases, it may be because something didn’t go as I wanted so I don’t post it at all.
Can you give an example of such a situation?
Yes. Recently, I tried making pancakes. I filmed the first recipe and everything was beautiful. But the pancake didn’t taste as I wanted it to, so I had to film again because something was just off. I ended up filming the pancake four times and I wasn’t satisfied with any of the trials so I decided not to proceed at all even after I knew that the videography and everything was lit. My major reason was that people would try out the recipe and if it’s not there, it’s not there. There’s no need for what I ordered vs. what I got.
How often does this happen?
Not often, which is a good thing.
Have you experienced backlash from Nigerians when you post a recipe different from what everyone knows?
Oh yes. Trust Nigerians. If I’m making Jollof rice for example, and I put my rice before my tomato paste, they will come for me hard (laughs). But it is what it is. At the end of the day, we all have Jollof rice.
True. Is there something you absolutely don’t like to do in the kitchen as much as cooking is your thing?
I hate washing dishes.
That makes all of us
(lol). I guess so.
Okay. So we know that being a content creator also comes with its own money-making opportunities, right?
So how long were you posting online before you got a paying gig?
I was posting for a bit but it wasn’t consistent. However, two months after I decided to start posting consistently, I got a paying gig.
When did you decide to start posting consistently?
It was in 2022. February 2022 to be precise. Then in April, I got a paying gig.
How much did it pay?
Oh, I can’t say the exact amount but it was like five figures.
Nice! What was the gig about anyway?
It was mostly recipe videos. They wanted me to create content for their social media platform and also sometimes leverage my audience. But it was mostly creating content for them to post on their social media platform.
How much do you charge today for such videos?
I’d say six figures. But it depends on what the gig is about.
How do you manage the financial responsibilities of being a food content creator?
Honestly, I had support. I started content creation with a camera, I never once used my phone. When I made an upgrade to my kitchen, I also had support. So it was never something I did alone or from my pocket. Thankfully, I had help.
Aside from brand brand partnerships, what other revenue streams do you have?
I have a content creation class. One thing that helped me is the quality of my work. People always reach out to me to teach them how I create my content. So I use the content creation class to share my knowledge about things. I also have some revenue coming in from YouTube Adsense, and creating content for brands. This is different from brand partnerships because I don’t have to post this on my page or try to advertise to my audience. I just create content for them to use on ads or their social media pages. That’s pretty much it.
Finally, what advice would you give to your content creators who are looking up to you?
You need money ohh (laughs). You definitely need money. Also, you may be inspired by me but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to do things the way I do them. Because, like I said, I had support. If you’re putting that kind of pressure on yourself without help from anywhere, I don’t think it’s worth it or even health. Just create.
Also, don’t overthink it. It gets clearer as you create more. You shouldn’t be trying to be perfect. You should be trying to be 1% better every time you pick up the camera to film.
Lastly, the idea of a niche being too saturated is a joke. When I started food content creation, lots of people said it was an oversaturated and competitive niche. But when I started, I noticed that a lot of food content creators supported me. That’s an announcement of ‘we’re here together o.”
So you’re the new ingredient in the Jollof recipe. It’s you who’s bringing something new to the pot, not doing what Daniel has done or doing it like Daniel. But doing it the way you want to do it.