Food Creator KWOOWK Shares How To Hook Audiences on TikTok and YouTube

man over vegetables and cutting board background
Photo credit: Odd Projects

We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.

This week, we spoke with Kevin Tatar, aka KWOOWK (@letskwoowk), a food creator with over 5.3 million followers across TikTok, YouTube and Instagram

Tatar is a chef known for his short-form and long-form video series on cooking basics, national dishes, breakfasts from around the world, low-budget recipes, and college meals. His username KWOOWK is an “imperfect” take on the word cook—because Tatar believes “the kitchen is a space to make mistakes, own them, and create your own world.”

We spoke with Tatar about the power of short-form video, the struggle of managing workloads, monetization options, sourcing fan feedback through Discord, and more.

When did you first decide to start posting videos online?

I posted my first YouTube video at the age of 12 with big dreams to be a YouTuber. That video wasn’t that good but I kept the dream alive until I finally decided to give myself one year to make this dream a reality. That was about one year ago, when I started this channel: KWOOWK.

What was the first time you went “viral,” and what did you learn from that experience?

TikTok was the first space I saw growth in. When I got a video to hit 100,000 views, my mind was blown. It was a very basic fluffy pancake video, but it made me understand the power of a strong hook in short-form content. The first few seconds of that video made the difference, because it very subtly created some visual expectations. That’s when I started to think in terms of hooks. 

How do you decide which dishes you’ll cook for your videos?

Honestly, it’s not really about the dishes. I design my content around series and formats and I just pick dishes that fit that format. As far as choosing those, it’s whatever I like and represents me and my journey of discovering food. 

What are your most successful styles of videos?

People love when I make foods around the world and rate them. That is for sure my favorite series because it allows me to engage with my audience on a whole different level, discover, learn, and be humbled by the enormity of the food world. 

How do you tailor your content differently for TikTok versus YouTube?

I actually believe to their core, short-form and long-form are not that different in terms of substance. Making good, engaging videos with high retention rates is just as important on TikTok as it is on YouTube. Now, the key difference is that the short space allows for a new way of creating these videos.

Getting people to click your video on YouTube is half the battle, whereas, thumbnails are not a thing on TikTok, so the selling point of the video has to come directly from it. People are not actively clicking on these things, so because that initial commitment is eliminated, it’s essentially a battle for attention in the first few seconds of a short video. Most people believe they have to scream and blast tons of jump cuts and sound effects for their video to be engaging, but they’re missing the point: simply building an expectation that’s strong enough, in any shape or form, is the key to a good short form video.

What is your day-to-day like, and do you have any tips for managing a content creation schedule?

I don’t think I’m the right person to give advice on properly managing your schedule because I’m terrible at it. I tend to sink myself into one task at a time and get overwhelmed pretty easily by the sheer volume of things I have to do. I know not everyone can do this but I urge any creators to get at least one person to help them out in their day to day, because handling all these tasks yourself is a recipe for burnout (at least for me).

Constant video production (research, scripting, filming, editing, uploading) is a huge task with many different layers, but on top of that you gotta add emails, calls, meetings, handling sponsored content, engaging with fans, side projects, events, taxes! It’s a lot!

What are some of the ways you make money online, and how do you choose which business ventures to pursue?

I think money should become a more transparent conversation amongst content creators and audiences, because the whole topic has a weird mysticism about it.

I make most of my money from YouTube ads and a monthly [YouTube Shorts] bonus. I feel like they’re the only platform that properly cares about paying their creators. The rest consist of brand deals, secret side projects that I can’t talk about yet, and random stuff here and there.

Right now it’s all about balancing out my time, so I can invest it in the appropriate places. I’m reluctant to take on any new long term projects right now because I want to prioritize making videos: that’s my meat and drink.

What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?

I think I would go crazy if I was to constantly read comments. Not because they’re hateful, but because I think about all these millions of people being actual humans seeing my face every day on their phones, and that thought is a little scary. I try to interact with my fans in genuine ways that don’t overwhelm me: I have a Discord server for my biggest fans, I read my DMs sometimes and I treat all my content like a conversation between me and them. They are watching but also guiding me through my journey to discover food.

There are times when I read a random comment or DM, or I meet a fan in real life, and I get to see how my content is affecting real people. And most of the time I’ve inspired someone to cook for themselves for the first time, or try a new dish that they now love, or simply ignited an interest in cooking, and that’s the most wonderful thing.

What’s your most treasured tool for creating content? 

YouTube analytics. Hands down. They give you in-depth stats that are easy to read, and using the data to create real change in your content is really intuitive. I love analytics.

What advice would you give to an aspiring food creator who wants to start their own channel?

My number one advice for any new creators, not just food, is to immerse yourself into the culture and content of video creation. I think understanding social media and being primarily a consumer of good content is an understated factor that contributes to a creator’s success. There are exceptions, of course, but all the successful creators I talked to really understand the space deeply. Watch content, constantly ask yourself why it works/doesn’t work, and steal from everyone.

Thank you, KWOOWK, for chatting with us! 

Are you a niche content creator? Email [email protected] for a chance to get featured in an upcoming newsletter.

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