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Episode 206: Using Live Video to Build a Strong Community with Kathy Hester

In episode 206 we talk with Kathy Hester about how to go live on social platforms because it’s valuable really in growing and connecting to your audience.

We cover information about how to get started, confidently be imperfect and take the 7 day live challenge!

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with Kathy Hester
Website | Facebook

Bio
Kathy Hester runs the food blogs Plant Based Instant Pot, Healthy Slow Cooking, and talks about Promoting Yourself at Kathy Hester. In addition to being a blogger, she is a recipe developer, food photographer, and author of 11 cookbooks. She’s sold over 150,000 books to date. She also has courses to help people get started in Live Video, and teaches people how to reach their people and create community through live video.

Takeaways

  • Video helps build an audience connection that a blog post cannot.
  • Live videos are more informal – not products worthy of being shown on the Food Network.
  • You’re the expert in your live video.
  • You’ll start to get to know your audience personally, they’ll want to support you.
  • Expect interruptions and diversions in your live videos. You can prepare material.
  • Keep your equipment simple.
  • Go live seven days in a row, or as close as you can from that. Three to five minutes, you can go live longer if you want to. Share a kitchen tip, a new product or unpack something you received.
  • When you go live, ask basic questions to get people talking such as where are you from and what is the weather like?
  • When you teach an online class, have tips and products and foods prepared in advance that you can talk about. That way if there’s a lull or moment you have to fill when your food is cooking, it won’t get awkward.
  • Take one simple process and break down the different ways you can share about it to your audience.

Resources Mentioned

Equipment to create live video

Jump Into Live Video Using Your Phone

Click here for a discount on my class! $30% off to EBTers!

Keep Learning!

Check out episode 185 to learn how useful web stories can help you increase blog enagement.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Hey awesome food bloggers. Do you struggle with knowing exactly what you should be doing to move the needle forward in your business? Do you struggle with knowing what to focus on next? If so, if this sounds like you, I have two solutions for you. Number one is mastermind groups. There is so much power in getting people together and helping to solve each other’s problems. At Eat Blog Talk we have put together our own mastermind groups and we are hosting these weekly. You can join at any time. You can try it out for a month or you can sign up for a quarter or you can go all in and sign up for an entire year. Come join us. See if it’s a great fit for you, and this will really help you to solve those problems you’re having in your business and give you clarity about what you should be doing next to move your business forward.

The next solution is the Eat Blog Talk membership. I have spent all of 2021 so far putting so much value inside of the membership. It is such a supportive and wonderful place to be for food bloggers. We are learning so much from each other. We are joining together in monthly intensive calls, where we focus on very specific parts of food blogging in order to grow our businesses in massive ways. We also have guest experts come in and join us very regularly to talk about really specific parts of food blogging. We get one-on-one access to these experts such as Matt Molen from email crush, Casey Markee from Media Wyse. So many great people are joining us in these sessions and they are super valuable. There are so many reasons why you should be in the membership. I could not even start touching on all of it. If you’re tired of wandering around aimlessly in your business and not knowing what to focus on, give the membership a try for free for two weeks. Go to eatblogtalk.com. You can sign up for the masterminds there, and you can also start the process of getting into the membership for two weeks, just to check it out. The rest of us can’t wait to see you inside.

Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This podcast is for you. Food bloggers wanting value and clarity to help you find greater success in your business. I am so excited. I have the amazing Kathy Hester with me today from kathyhester.com. We’re going to dive into the topic of using live video to build a strong community. Kathy Hester is passionate about making healthy eating accessible and delicious. Her recipes are plant-based and vegan. Plus, she can help you with your dietary restrictions or allergies with recipe alternatives. She runs the food blogs plant-based instant pot.com, healthyslowcooking.com. She talks about promoting yourself at kathyhuster.com. In addition to being a blogger, she is a recipe developer, food photographer and author of 11 cookbooks. Oh my gosh, Kathy! She has sold over 150,000 books to date. So impressive. She also has courses to help people get started in live video and teaches people how to reach their people and create community through live video. Kathy started doing live Facebook videos a few years ago and noticed it forged a strong connection with her audience. She took those skills and started doing live online cooking classes that make a large part of her income. In addition to working with brands on live social media video. Oh my gosh, Kathy, I did not know that you had 11 cookbooks and I did not know that you’ve sold over 150,000 books. That’s crazy and awesome.

Kathy Hester:

It is crazy. Only a crazy person has that many books.

Megan:

You and Jason, between you and Jason, you’ve got like a million books.

Kathy:

Probably. Yeah. Only one of mine right now is self-published. The next one is going to be self published. The rest are traditionally published.

Megan:

Interesting. Okay. Well, that’s very good to know too. Well we’re going to dive into the topic of live video today, which I know you have a strong passion for. I have been in some of your clubhouse rooms where you’ve talked extensively about this, and it’s clear that you have a passion for it. But first we want to hear what your fun fact is.

Kathy:

I will give you two fun facts. One is I used to play in the orchestra in the Louisiana Philharmonic and my degrees are in music performance. So most people don’t know that. My second fun fact is I have been meatless since 1983.

Megan:

My goodness. Both are great. So you’re a musician. I didn’t know that either. I’m learning all kinds of things about you today. And 1983. Can I ask you quickly what prompted you to make that change?

Kathy:

I had been leaning that way, looking back. But I actually went into a grocery store and saw a side of beef hanging on a hook and it all kind of connected for me. I was like, yeah, I think I’m done. Then I left that grocery store and I never ate meat again.

Megan:

That actually is super funny. Just that one thing like, yup. That’s kind of gross.

Kathy:

I’m older, which is why I became vegetarian when I was 18. When I grew up, it was the seventies. So it was cool, packaged food. Your meat came on styrofoam. Everything was very disconnected. People talk about it being disconnected now, but it was way more disconnected from understanding where it came from and what happened to bring that to market and things. So it was the one thing and I was like, I get that because when you’re 18, you kinda need that two by four upside your head to see.

Megan:

It is cool to know that the beef hanging from the ceiling was your tipping point. Kathy, you’re so funny. I love you. All right. I want to talk about live video because you feel passionately about this and you’ve really just dug into it in a way that a lot of food bloggers have not, and you have so much information to share. So let’s dive right into this. One of the things you believe in is how doing live video can help to build a strong community. Can you talk us through this? How does this work and how do we get started?

Kathy:

Absolutely. Here’s the thing: it’s really scary when you first start doing it. So everyone, if you’re feeling some butterflies, even while we’re talking about this, thinking about it, that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s not your body going, don’t do this. It’s like, well, this makes me a little uncomfortable. Because why live video really helps you create a special kind of connection that a blog post doesn’t is because you really are giving of yourself, right? You’re showing yourself, you’re being vulnerable. Because when we’re doing live video, we’re not looking to be on the Food Network. I don’t want your live to be network TV ready.

Megan:

So it wouldn’t be right. That’s not the goal. You should go in knowing that you are not doing that. I love that.

Kathy:

Yeah. Cause here’s the thing. Think about what you want to see when you watch a Facebook live. I’m gonna make a broad assumption, which is probably incorrect. So let’s say you wanted to learn how to make something vegan in the Instant Pot. If you don’t just put in whatever words you would make sense then that would make you want to watch something. So what you really would be most interested in is finding out maybe some tips about being vegan, right? Maybe you’re just starting to be vegan and you don’t know where to buy nutritional yeast in the store. Maybe you’ve never gotten your Instant Pot out of the box. Maybe we can talk about how to release pressure. You want to get those little things that you need and in a live and in your life, you’re the expert. So you’ll have your things that you want to talk about.

But it just gives me the chance to go, Hey guys, I’m here for you. Here’s these things I want to show you. So I’m being of service, right? I’m working within what’s often called the giving economy, which is I’m giving these lives for free. So when I’m going on Facebook or YouTube or things like that, I’m not getting paid for it. When I go and do classes, I’m getting paid for it. Or if I’m doing a live for a sponsored brand, I’m getting paid for that. But the thing is, is I’m showing up for my people. They’re showing up for me too. So sometimes if I do a live for triangle vegefast or somewhere else, it’s my people that come watch that live. So they become close to me. So they want to help support me as much as I want to support them.

So that’s how that community starts being built. It can be just as tiny as, Hey guys, I’m going to unbox my groceries today. Let me show you what I got at the new Wagman’s. Cause we got a new Wagman’s and let me tell you, I’m super excited. I still have not done that unboxing yet, but it’s going to happen. That’s the other thing, the level in the entry point into live video is super low. It’s so low. It’s okay if the mailman rings your doorbell, it’s okay. If your dog’s bark, it’s okay if your baby cries, it’s okay if you have an old cat and you have to bounce them like a baby while you’re finishing up talking on your live, because here’s the thing. That makes you accessible, human and charming. Everybody identifies with that.

That’s when we’re talking about creating community. I think we’re seeing it now that people are going into Clubhouse too. I think podcasts have always been a different kind of connection than just the written word. It’s not that we can’t write some of our personality and create some connections there, but it takes longer. It’s a longer haul. A podcast, I think you still have a little bit longer than video, but it’s quicker than the written word because you hear the person’s voice, right? You hear the influx of the voice and the personality and hearing it, and seeing it at the same time is like magic because all of a sudden everybody knows I wear Harry Potter. T-Shirts. They’re like, Ooh, what a quirky middle-aged lady that is, you know? Then they see my crazy dog Max, or I’ll go off camera. You’re not supposed to go off camera.

I always say kind of throw rules out the window, especially with live video, because as these people are getting to know you, I have a fan. So when I open up my Instant Pots, I use a multi-camera set up, which you don’t need. You just need your phone. So maybe let me go ahead and say, so all of you, people that are scared of live video, and we’re already looking up on Amazon about how you can’t afford $5,000 of new equipment. Yes. I’m talking to you. You don’t need all that. You haven’t even done a live yet. I bet you have a fancy phone that takes 4k video. You’re not even going to need 4K video. So if you’re going to get something, get a tripod for your phone, or one of those little metal things that will hold it still so you don’t have to touch it. That’s what you need to start live video. You don’t even really need that. You really just need your phone, but you’ll want that. You can get it for under $20.

Megan:

Can I tell you what I did my first video with, Kathy? I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with anyone. I wish I could have taken a picture. Cause now I’m kind of embracing all of those weird things I did to make my blog work in the early stages. But one day I was like, Hmm, I need to make a video. I did it live and it was on Instagram. I took a stool in our kitchen and we have this, do you know what love sacs are, they’re like little bean bags. We have a little love sac, it’s a footstool that we use when we watch TV. I put it on top of the kitchen stool. Then I taped my phone to the love sac, to the material and it worked. I was like, it’s not going anywhere and that’s how I recorded my live video.

Kathy:

That’s brilliant. So someone that I know, and and I don’t know if you guys have interviewed her yet or not, Sarah Waldner, she’s doing amazing on TikTok. I asked her about TikTok. She taped her phone to her shirt.

Megan:

Nice. Yes, see you do what you gotta do.

Kathy:

She’s killing it on TikTok. She’s getting so many brand deals. With TikToK and Instagram lives and Instagram stories and things like that, that’s why I say the bar is low. That doesn’t mean there’s not quality information, but that means you don’t need to do hair and makeup and have a $10,000 camera. That’s what I mean, it doesn’t need to be TV, but use what you have. Actually, I have some little things that you prop your phone up, that I got at blogger conferences over the years. Prop it up on some books. You probably have something free. I love hearing that you went live on Instagram first. I often recommend that, just because it can go away or you can save it to IGTV. Things are a little bit different now. I usually just save everything and put it in my feed, but I will also put a little asterisk on that, that I am not an Instagram expert. But what I have tried to start to do is embrace what I do well, and I do video well now. Before anyone I’m trying to think of another thing that may be coming up. Well, of course she can do video. She was a performer and the orchestra, well, that has nothing. I was not an actor. I said, 80 bazillion times, I will never do video.

Megan:

There you go. You doomed yourself.

Kathy:

I did not want to do video. I didn’t want to open myself up. You know the YouTube comments, there’s so mean. I’ve got to tell you, I’m not sure that I’ve had many mean comments on video. I think I’ve had much more meaner comments through my blog, honestly. But I really didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t good at it to begin with. I wasn’t good at it at all. I sucked. Here’s the thing – when we wrote our first blog posts, chances aren’t that it wasn’t the most awesome. We don’t go back to that blog post from 10 years ago and go, wow, I was a genius. We’re like, Oh my God, I can’t believe that’s still on the internet. I have all of my old videos on my Facebook, healthyslowcooking.com. Not healthycooking.com, the healthy, slow cooking Facebook page. If you go to videos and you go back and if you can watch all the horribleness as it happens. I encourage you to, because you won’t do worse than I did, you won’t.

Megan:

Embrace it. Embrace those first videos because you can look back and see how far you’ve come and you can see how much you’ve grown. Then that will instill competence.

Kathy:

Like most learning things, you have X amount of times you’re going to mess up before you can get better. What I do, like when I’m teaching a class or in my course, we go live so we can get some of those out of the way. So just get that one out of the way and let that one be bad and go ahead and do another one. Anyone who’s listening, who’s like, well, I kind of want to do it, but I just don’t have that kind of time. Go live seven days in a row, or as close as you can from that. Three to five minutes, you can go live longer if you want to. But I’m encouraging you to go on Instagram and go, and I think I’ve done this one before. Look, I got a new Halloween spatula. Coolest thing ever.

Megan:

So it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You don’t have to talk about how to make a really involved recipe. You could just do something simple like that. I got a new spatula. Look, here it is! Just be excited about it.

Kathy:

Well, I got this great garlic press at the thrift store. It’s like a roller and it’s got metal and holes in it. Evidently somebody just got it and gave it immediately to the thrift store. Because after that I saw them on Amazon. It’s amazing. I did something on that and people still talk about it. That’s some tool. If you get a grocery box, like misfit market and perfect foods, farm box direct or anything like that, that is material right there. So I actually unboxed my misfit market every week, for almost a year.

Megan:

You can start so small. So I know, because I had this hurdle for so many years. I’d be like, Nope, can’t do it. I don’t have anything to talk about. But you’re saying Kathy, that you don’t really need the best idea. You can start with unbagging your groceries, unboxing something. Showing one kitchen tool and doing that consistently. So you are challenging people to do seven days in a row of live video, maybe on Instagram.

Kathy:

You can do Instagram. The reason I say Instagram over starting on Facebook, it’s just that Facebook has a little more of a learning curve. If you’re going live on your computer. However, if you’re going live from your phone, you can do Facebook or YouTube and you can even alternate them if you want to, to kind of see where your live video audience is. That would still count on your seven days, because both of those, you pretty much get to just push a button and go live. It’s not that it’s impossible on your computer. It’s just that Facebook has something called Facebook live producer, and it looks a little bit scary. But it’s not, it’s not. It has lots of places for you to put in information that you don’t need. So realize if you’re looking at something and you’re like, I don’t even know what that means. Don’t click it, basically. You’re going to have your facetime camera if you’re on a Mac and you’re going to click go and there you are. So you can do it. But what I want for you, since in the beginning, you have all the feels. You’ve got nerves and you’ve got to get used to just talking to no one, conversationally. So those are all things that you’ll learn in the seven days. I want to take all those other things out of the way. So for a long time, when I did live, I was like, Oh, I need to make a recipe every time. I remember I was feeling a little bit sick and I asked my Facebook group, would you guys feel cheated if I make one of my spice blend recipes for you today because I don’t feel very good.

They were like, we would love to have the spice blend recipe that’s only in your cookbook. Cause I do a lot of salt-free sugar-free blends and I love doing it. So literally I measured things out. I think I did Italian spices seasoning. So I don’t even think I put it in a spice grinder that day. Most of the time I put everything in a spice grinder, which starts a whole other conversation because I use a spice grinder attachment on my Ninja. So there I’ve got that stuff to talk about. Also on the whole spice grinder thing. If you only have a coffee grinder, put some white rice through it, that’ll take some of the coffee smell out. So when you guys are thinking of these tiny topics, you’re like, there’s nothing to say about that.

If you’re using a blender, you can talk about the different kinds of Blenders. Have you tried that in an expensive blender and an inexpensive blender? Why do you like the blender that you have? If we’re making a smoothie, do you put your greens in first or later? You know, you can think about these things if it doesn’t come natural to you. Make notes, it’s okay to make notes. It’s okay to look down at a sheet of paper. It’s okay if you’re on your computer to look at the comments. In fact, there’s a perfect balance that you’ll find in these seven days, because I’d like you to watch these videos back. If you just can’t, if you know that looking at that is going to make you stop. Have a really good friend look at it and give you one to two positive feedback.

Things that you can act on. Because I remember when I first was doing mine, Denise Rivaldo, who is a hero of mine, she’s a food stylist and she’s amazing. She’s just this amazing force of nature. She’s like, Kathy, you’ve got to start looking at those videos. I was like, uh huh, and I’m like there’s no way in hell I’m going to look at those videos right now. But I had a friend look at them because all I could see and I still do this, but I’ve accepted it. When I can’t remember something, my eyes look up into my brain as if they were going to answer me.

Megan:

You didn’t know you were doing that probably until you watched.

Kathy:

No! I said, I look ridiculous. Now I’m like, you know what? It’s just who I am. The people who watch me all the time go, she’s thinking real hard for us, isn’t that sweet.

Megan:

I think we all have those things that we do. I do. I’ve corrected a little bit of it doing live video over the years. But yeah. I was like, Whoa, I didn’t know I did that. And having a podcast too helps me with how I speak because I have to listen to every word that I say here on this podcast. I’m like, Ooh, I need to fix that. So self evaluation I think is really, really good for all of us.

Kathy:

It is. But doing that practice is more important than taking it apart in the beginning. Because if you edit yourself too much, your brain is going to lie to you. Your brand’s going to go. People don’t want to see my spatula. People want to see the spatula. People want to see the cool shirt that you got with your blog name on it. People want to know that you rent your strawberries with a little Apple cider vinegar. People will go crazy for that for the spring.

Megan:

That’s so great. I love it. Just little things. We do them every day in our kitchen or outside of our kitchen. We think that. We think nobody is going to want to know this, but try it. So Kathy’s saying, try it out, try those little things out, for seven days in a row. That practice is going to be really good for you. You’re going to be accessible, human and charming for your audience. What other good things are going to come of this, the seven day trial?

Kathy:

Okay. Charming. I want to define charming. Charming is both truly what you think of right now as charming. It’s like, Oh, that’s so awesome. That’s the best part of myself. Charming is also when you spill the stuff out of your measuring cup all over your counter. Because I will guarantee you, everybody’s going to be like, Oh, I’ve been there. I feel for her. So realize that charming is really what we’re talking about here is being yourself, being real, being like I hate X. My people are so attuned to me. They know if I pull out that food processor, something worth it is coming; it’s worth it because I hate cleaning my food processor.

Megan:

Same.

Kathy:

I am thinking of getting a $500 food processor because someone told me it’s easy to clean. That is how much I hate it. When I do my classes, because twice a month I do a class for my membership Kathy’s Cooking Club. They know which blender upsets my dog. They have actually said in the comments, I’m so glad Max is downstairs today because he’d be really upset by that. So when your dog or your baby or your child is like, whatever, with Max, I try to pull him back. Look at that Max! Even in my class, one of the things that I think I got interrupted by him or something else, and I said, okay, this is the thing I want you to see. So that happened. Did you guys decide you didn’t want to watch anymore? Did you tune out already?

No. You went, Oh, I bet that’ll happen to me. You actually connected with me more. I think that’s really important to keep in mind because we want to be real. Sometimes you’re going to open up your Instant Pot and your beans aren’t cooked because beans are the variable. So instead of being embarrassed, Oh, how could I be? I shouldn’t even be having videos because the beans aren’t cooked. No, I’m excited every time the beans aren’t cut, because then I show people how I check to see if the beans are cooked. Because without me telling them, put more water in, if needed, and cook them for five to 10 more minutes, people will not do it.

So you’re doing a public service announcement kind of every time something doesn’t go right, because you’re teaching them how to fix it. So that’s one thing when you’re starting videos and even starting to teach cooking classes. I remember a time very clearly that I was cooking gravy. I was also cooking four other things during this cooking class. I looked over and my gravy was lumpy. I’m Southern, my gravy’s lumpy. People paid money to see this. So my brain is starting to go into mean, evil mode. I’m like, let me switch this. If someone came to me and said, my gravy is lumpy, what can I do? Which I’ve never asked myself before. I went, I would tell them to put it in a blender. So that’s what we did and it was fixed. I said, now you never have to be afraid of lumpy gravy again.

Megan:

Oh my gosh, Kathy, that’s an amazing story. Just thinking of it from a different perspective, instead of crap, I have a big problem. These people expect something from me. Thinking through to a solution is brilliant. I love that you did that just quick on your toes. Okay, put it in the blender. Let’s see what happens.

Kathy:

Right. My food blogger thing is that I make recipes accessible to people with all kinds of dietary limitations and allergies. So I work a lot with beginning cooks who are scared to do anything. So I’m always trying to think, how can I make it easier for them? I never think, how can I make it easier for me? If you get yourself backed in and you’re starting to feel your face get red, think of the other people. Think of what you can give them. Because that’s why we already do what we do. We have our knowledge. Whatever that is, if you’re the best meat griller in the country, then that’s where your expertise lies. So same thing is with the gravy, you would have a fix for anything that comes up and that can even be a great live. For years, I have my Instant Pot dragon.

It fits on the duos. It’s like a 3d print dragon that fits over there. So when you let the steam out, the steam comes out of the Dragon’s mouth. So I’ll do some lives, asking should we use the dragon today? Yes, is all the comments. What’s the thing that my people are most afraid of that I can help them with the most? Then I just make sure to keep doing that because you know what, every time I do an instant Pot recipe on a live, it’s an opportunity for me to show somebody new, how they can let the steam out without burning their face off. Because that’s what everybody’s terrified of, they’re going to burn their face off. Let them see the Instant Pot and whatever your special niche is, you have something like that too.

Megan:

Everybody does. It doesn’t have to be if you’re burning your face off, but anything, little just thinking about your people, I think is kind of what you’re saying here. Think about what they need from you, not yourself and the embarrassment that you’re experiencing or whatever’s going on in your kitchen, but turning it around and becoming one of your people.

Kathy:

Give yourself some grace, because chances are that the videos that first week are not going to be great. But at that same time, you’re going to be seven days into building a greater connection with your community because of it. So these seven days are not about you making perfect videos. They’re about you making a really good connection with your audience, showing up for them and learning how to be okay with being you. With being imperfect. Which is what we all are every day, anyhow. But being imperfect and having it recorded for the world.

Megan:

So the first seven days are about that. Just you getting comfortable with yourself, being on live video, being imperfect but making yourself accessible in different ways, even if it’s really small. So where do people go after the seven days? Do you recommend they keep going? What are we going to learn beyond that?

Kathy:

Yes. The reason I say seven days in a row is because if you can’t do that, you can start at once a week. But we’re getting two months ahead by going seven days in a row. So it accelerates you quite a lot. After that I think you need to have your own live show. Show is in quotes so that it can be the you show, which could be here’s my groceries or whatever. I went live every Tuesday at 1:00 PM Eastern standard time for two and a half or three years with very few in-betweens. So I think if you pick a day and the time, that lets people know to show up. Now, I’ve been very bad about that personally. So once you start showing up a lot, I can just kind of go on, I could go on now and probably 12 to 15 people show up, at least. Sometimes 50 or 60 people will show up depending on if I pick a good time or not. But if you let people know, then you can put it in your newsletter. Hey, don’t forget. I go live Tuesdays at one. You can put it on your social media. A lot of times, especially if I’m doing a sponsored live, I will promote that live. So I’ll go on Instagram live. Let’s say my live is that one. At 11 I’ll be like, Hey guys, I’m so excited. I’m doing this live for Idaho potatoes. We are going to make, what did we make? Oh, we made scalloped potatoes. I’m going to show you how to make scalloped potatoes that are vegan and oil-free using oats.

Megan, probably all the non vegans in my audience were like no way. I let them know that. Actually, for my cooking classes, I did gluten free vegan homemade sausages and hot dogs on Saturday. So Thursday I was testing a recipe, developing the last recipe for it. So on Thursday, when you do vegan sausages, you roll them in parchment paper and then in foil and steam them. So I did that whole process of rolling on Instagram on Thursday. I did it on YouTube and Facebook simultaneously on Friday, and I got 10 more people to sign up for the class and those two days. I think I got three new people in Kathy’s cooking club by doing something I had to do to test that recipe anyhow. At first, that may be too much. I am a little bit of a crazy person. So in many of my classes, I will develop a new recipe in the class itself so that I can teach people how they can tweak things and how they could switch things out. So that’s part of my process with teaching them that they know more than they think they know. I don’t think normal people do that. Sometimes it could fail. So like, if I’m doing that for a class, I have two backup recipes that are probably from my books or blogs that are well tested. So they still get something for that recipe. So far they’ve all worked the best. So fingers crossed and then they just get extra recipes to try. So, because I’m willing to do that there, I’m also really pretty willing to experiment during my lives. Sometimes I’ll be like, I’m just going to make this thing and let’s see what happens.

Megan:

You’re open about that. You’re upfront. So people know, right?

Kathy:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Because like, sometimes people will be like, I didn’t get the recipe packet yet. I’m like, yeah, you’re not going to get it til after the class.

Megan:

We’re doing this together. We’re in it together.

Kathy:

Exactly. But I also over-deliver on my pack. It’s like, even for the sausage, we did two kinds of sausage, a hot dog. I gave them three extra recipes and five spice blends in their packets. So I want them to feel confident when they come out of that. I actually recently did something I hadn’t done in a while, which was a live cook-along. So typically, cook-along classes are usually done on zoom and I’m still using Facebook, YouTube. I broadcast them in multiple places using something in-between Facebook and E cam, which is the software I use to use my multiple cameras. So everything goes live at the same time. Because I’m great with people just writing comments. People can ask me in the comments and I can do that and cook at the same time.

Megan:

Yeah. That’s probably a skill, right.

Kathy:

I’m thinking it might be because I keep saying that I don’t think people need extra help on their cooking classes. And other people seem to think that they do. I don’t know if I’ve just done it so long that now it’s not a big deal. I was talking at ICP. I was doing a talk about live video and cooking classes and it was on zoom. So their normal format is they hold questions, but people do comments. I can’t not read the comments while I’m doing it. Because it will shape my life. So if someone’s going, what do you mean? I don’t understand these different kinds of Tofu. I will pivot, talk about tofu and then come back. So I just remember the guy was like, I guess I’m just not even needed here at all. I’m like, I’m so sorry. But it’s just how my mind operates. So I like to build a class and make sure I’m serving the people that are there. So I love having questions and suggestions. So some of the people who take classes, they’ll be like, well, I do it this way. Most of the time, I’m like, that’s an awesome idea and share their expertise as well as mine.

Megan:

I love that. So where do we start with figuring out how or not how, but what to teach? So we do our seven day experiment with just going live about anything. 5. 5hen we do a regular class, like you recommend, once a week. Where do we start with what we do on those regular sessions?

Kathy:

Awesome. So even with part of your seven day before you go live for seven days, I would love for you to write down 20 things you can talk about. I’m really big on lists. And also when you do these lives, either seven-day or later make a bulleted list of some things. And have, I know you’ve heard me talk about my show and tell pile. So, if I’m cooking something and it’s in the Instant Pot I have, if it’s cooking for 10 minutes, I still probably have 25 minutes to fill. So I might go millet. It’s not just for birds or something like that. So have some show and tell and that could be your favorite spatula. That can be the new olive oil that you found that you love. Have some things, I want to make sure I talk about these six things. So you’ve got that, but your 20 things should literally be not sentences. So what can you make? I can show people how to make chili powder from dried chilies. Okay. That’s pretty easy, right? I can show people how to cut a potato into French fries. I can show people what I got at the grocery store. I can show people how I prep kale to put it in the fridge.

I can show you my favorite way to make tomato soup. Your favorite way may be different from mine. Yours could be from a can, right? You could be showing people how to make it from a can. I put oats and some cashews and some spices and some tomatoes in a blender. If it’s a Vitamix, you can heat it up in there, or you can use a hot blender. If you are a cake decorator or a cookie decorator, and I have a student who does amazing cookie decoration, and she’s a chocolatier. I said, I don’t want you to make a whole cake or a whole cookie. What I want you to do is to make a bunch of cookies, and I want you to show them a different frosting technique every day. So the first seven days, make seven different icing colors. One every day. There’s your seven days. Now you’ve got seven icings in the fridge. You make two dozen cookies. You can put them in the freezer or you could keep going with daily and you can decorate one cookie a day. you could have a whole day that you show how to make the cookie recipe.

Megan:

Just really simplifying, breaking it down to the smallest element possible. I remember you talking about this in one of your clubhouse rooms, Kathy, where you literally did, was it a live video or a cooking class? I don’t remember, just chopped mushrooms. Obviously like some live situation where you were just like, Hey, let’s chop mushrooms together. I was like, that is so simple. But you said that people really loved it

Kathy:

It’s true. I call them chop and chats. So you guys are welcome to use my term. I don’t know if I coined it or not. When the pandemic started last year, I went live every day. So I knew I wasn’t going to be cooking a whole thing every day. Sometimes there were a couple of times I literally sat down and said, we’re just going to eat lunch together and chat. So I pulled out my little lunch and we’d be on live and I was still on Facebook live or whatever. But one day I was like, I have all these onions that I’ve been procrastinating chopping. I’m going to chop them. They hung out with me for two and a half hours asking questions.

Megan:

That’s so great.

Kathy:

The same thing with mushrooms. What are you going to talk about? And this is what people say. So with the mushrooms, we talked about where I got them, where I like to source mushrooms, which is the Asian market. Which there’s a lot to talk about there. We talked about the oyster mushrooms versus the Shataki mushrooms versus the different kinds. Some of those mushrooms, the Shataki and the button mushrooms, ,I slice and freeze as is pull them out when I need them. So during the pandemic, I only have to go out every once in a while to get these mushrooms that are super good for your immune system. We can talk about mushroom recipes. I can point them to recipes on my blog. Usually there’s the discussion, well isn’t there too much water when you freeze mushrooms and then saute them. Then we can get into the minutiae that doesn’t bother me. I would try a little bit and see if it bothers you. But also another thing I do is then I take those sliced mushrooms, frozen, pulse them in a small food processor and add it wherever I would want a beef substitute.

Megan:

Super detailed. It’s one tiny little ingredient, a mushroom, a simple mushroom. It provides you with so much conversation. If you just think through it ahead of time. I’ve done this before, you go in and you’re like, Oh, I can wing it. Then I’ve told you about my caramel, my stirring of the caramel. Where I was doing a live cooking class and caramel takes a long time to stir and to melt. So I was like, Oh my gosh, I have nothing prepared. What am I going to say? So I was just pulling out the most random things. I wish I would’ve prepared beforehand because I probably could have thought of some of those things, like what you just did to break down the mushrooms. I could have done that with how to stir different types of desserts or what happens if it starts burning to the pan? I could have gone through all of that, but I was not prepared beforehand.

Kathy:

Here’s the thing. Your seven days, it’s going to tell you this, but they’re all different kinds of people. Some people like to have things more prepared ahead of time and are very structured. Some people do really well and actually script out their lives and read them or do them from a teleprompter. They’re not really reading it. They’re just so natural. I am not that teleprompter person. I would just be so caught and then I wouldn’t be able to go off on a tangent because somebody asked me about something, about a mushroom. Then I’d be like, Oh, I can’t talk about that because it’s going past me.

Megan:

Sorry! Bye!

Kathy:

I have other friends who make them very comfortable and let them be their authentic self, having that there. Whereas it stymies me and I come up with those things as I’m going along. So it’s good to have your notes, especially in the beginning, but the more you get used to doing this and I’ve been teaching classes for almost four years now. I have a student who’s taken every class and she will be totally right before things are happening. Right before I say, beans are the variable. She’s typed it out or any of my catch phrases. You just get more comfortable because things are repeating themselves. But in the beginning, everything is new every time. So give yourself some grace that you’re like, Oh, I should’ve thought about that. So Megan, you did great. You got through it and that’s the most important thing. The people learned what you were teaching them.

Megan:

You know what I mean, though, when you’re like in the moment, looking at this caramel, Oh my gosh, this is never going to melt thinking, how am I possibly going to fill this? Then when you get into that panic mode, that’s not helpful. That’s never a good situation.

Kathy:

You feel the color coming on your cheeks and you feel your stomach. You’re just like crap. So I just try, I start looking around, what’s here, what can be talked about and always revert back to technique, ingredients, equipment. Because you have some of that somewhere. Even if you don’t have a show and tell pile, maybe you’re cooking that caramel on an induction burner. How is it different on an induction burner than it would be on a gas stove. Right. So whenever you see something, then think of the questions somebody might ask if they knew as much as you did.

Megan:

I wish you had been in my brain during that moment because it is scorched into my brain. It was so uncomfortable. I can’t even tell you what I talked about. It was probably about my dog or something totally unrelated. I was like, just pulling stuff like yeah, the weather looks, I don’t know. I mean, who knows what it was?

Kathy:

I bet you were charming and people like you. That’s another thing, one of the things people say, they feel like you’re just shouting out into the ether, right? Because no one’s saying anything. You have to tell them what to do. So like, when you were talking about the weather, I’m like, I talk about the weather at the beginning of every class that I do. Almost every live that I do. Why? Because I’ve trained my people to tell me where you’re from and what the weather’s like today. Then they start talking themselves because I’ve got people in Canada that it’s still snowing. I have a pollen storm outside of my window. I’m always like, I have a window right behind my kitchen, which is not ideal for lighting, but it’s what I have and it works fine, but I’m always moving out of the way, do you guys see that out there?

Megan:

Okay. I have to share this with you because I, in one of my live cooking classes that I did, my step-mom was there and afterwards, she was like, you did great. It was so good. But I think that you probably shouldn’t talk about what’s going on outside of the camera, because I did talk about something like, someone came to my door and my dog barked. I think I muted the audio for just a few seconds because of it because he’s super loud. Then this storm came through, Kathy, that was insane. It was like, I looked out my window and my trees were angled at 45 degrees and it was super dark and it came out of nowhere. So my face, I looked out the window and then realized that my face was shocked. So I’m like, Oh, I’m sorry, there is a crazy storm. She was like, I don’t think you should have mentioned that. And then I felt kind of, self-conscious like, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that. But then I was talking to my husband. He said, you totally should have mentioned that. I think it made you real. It explained why you looked off, you know? So what are your thoughts on that? Should I have said that?

Kathy:

Absolutely. I agree with your husband. I do not agree with the other lady at all. Here’s why. Because you’re, you’re trying to bring them into your world. So next time you might be able to do it a little bit better. Do you know what I mean? At first I literally did a lot. I’ve had everything go wrong during lives and we can talk about that if you want to. Because the more that goes wrong, the more you’ll I’m just like, I can do it. It doesn’t matter what happens. But like I had someone pull into the driveway who didn’t leave, so the dog wouldn’t stop barking. So I had to actually leave my live, go see what this guy needed. Then come back to the house. I’m not going to stop my life and I know something has to happen. That’s one of the reasons I have a wireless mic. Actually this happened not so long ago, there was a big wreck on the corner, which is just right almost in front of my house. So I said, I just started this but I’ll be right back. I just need to make sure someone’s calling the police. So I went outside. I told them what was happening. I’m chatting along. I chat when I come downstairs and forget something in the freezer.

Megan:

Oh my gosh. I mean, it all happens, especially if you do it regularly, those things are going to happen because you’re a human and you’re living a real life.

Kathy:

The internet’s gonna go down. Don’t do an air fryer and an Instant Pot at the same time. I’ve blown a fuse multiple times. I’ve blown the fuse during a paid live when I was being sponsored. I blew part of a fuse, a different part of a fuse so I lost all my lights, but my camera and internet were up. So I had to go try to fix that so people could see. It was night and they needed to see what was going on. Your mind’s like, why didn’t you just end that, nobody’s gonna be there and you come back up and there’s like 40 people just hanging out. I forgot to turn my mic on one time. I talked for three minutes and no one could hear me. I just said, I wish I had a prize for all of you guys for hanging out for four minutes, listening to nothing. Because nobody left. That’s the thing. So in the beginning, you’re developing this relationship so that when something goes wrong, instead of them being like your judges, they’re actually your support system. That’s the magic.

Megan:

I love that. I wrote it down because I love it so much. Your judges, they’re not your judges. They’re actually your support system. If we can just reframe that, everything changes and we’re not like, Oh my gosh, they’re being critical because I just mentioned a storm or my dog is barking. They are cheering us on and they’re there to hang out with us.

Kathy:

Because you didn’t lose anybody. Nobody stopped watching your class because that happened. The thing is, the proof is truly in the pudding. I came back up after fixing my fuse. Everybody’s still there. I lost no one.

Megan:

Yeah. And they liked you even more because you were real. And you’re Kathy.

Kathy:

My brain was going, you’re stupid. I can’t believe you did that. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Because I’m like, I tested it. Somehow it didn’t blow the fuse. I thought I could get away with it. But when we do classes, because sometimes I’ll have four or five Instant Pots going, we’ve dropped cords all over the house. It’s not a normal thing that you’re doing, but people are going to be really kind. I have my cameras right now on manual settings, which is great 90% of the time. I’m having a class during the day, I’m having a class at night. Well, when a storm comes up, it can go from super, I have clear story windows and everything can be super bright, super dark.

Megan:

Like where is she?

Kathy:

This is killing me. Do you know what the other people are noticing? Oh, what am I doing? What they’re actually paid money to come. They didn’t care if it’s a little bit overexposed or underexposed. They want to know how to make the dishes I said I would show them how to make. Or that we would get to hang out and cook along together. They just want the experience and the experience is not and will never be us being perfect on camera.

Megan:

Oh, perfect words to end on. I hate to rush this, but I don’t want to get too far behind in my interviews today. It was such a pleasure, Kathy. I’m inspired. So as you were talking, I was like, Hmm. Maybe I should actually do her seven day challenge because it’s been awhile since I put my face on live video. I do Clubhouse and I do this podcast. But as far as going over to my food blog audience and talking to them, that is lacking. It’s been awhile. So I should probably re-engage with them. So I might just do this and try for seven days and you know what? I could even do it on both platforms. I could do it on Instagram for my podcast and for my food blog and just see how it goes and then go from there.

Kathy:

I love that. You know what else you could do is you could do little mini Instagram interviews to promote your podcast.

Megan:

Good idea. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m writing that down too, like five minute interviews, really snapshot little bite sized nuggets that people could just have in their feed. Oh, so inspiring. So I hope everybody takes Kathy up on her challenge of doing seven days. Then after that evaluating and then moving forward with a more regular schedule of being consistent, showing up for your people, being real, don’t feel like you ever need to be perfect. Then take Kathy’s recommendations to have a list or a show and tell pile as she calls it, to talk about so that you don’t run out of things and that you can always be helpful. They’re not your judges. They are there to spend time with you, hang out with you and support you. So this has all been really great, Kathy. I feel like I could talk to you forever. You’re so fun to talk to and so full of passion and knowledge. So thank you for taking the time today for us, for food bloggers. You’re amazing. Okay, Kathy, I know you have a takeaway and a favorite quote that you want to share with food bloggers. Why don’t you say that real quick?

Kathy:

The number one takeaway from this podcast is that you need to start doing live video right now, where you are imperfectly. My favorite quote is they can’t say yes if you don’t ask them. So that voice in your head that says, Oh, they’re not going to want to partner with me, or they’re not going to do this with me. If you ask them, chances are they’re going to. And the worst thing that happens is they say no. So go ahead and ask those questions and try to make those connections.

Megan:

Amazing. Thank you so much, Kathy. We will put together a show notes page for you, Kathy. If anyone wants to go peak at that, you can find it at eatblogtalk.com/Kathy Hester. And Kathy is spelled with a K. All right. Tell everyone where people can find you online. I know you have a few different areas, but where’s the best place to find you?

Kathy:

If you’re looking for live video stuff, go to kathyhester.com. If you’re looking for food recipes, go to plantbasedinstantpot.com and healthyslowcooking.com.

Megan:

Awesome. Well, go check Kathy out. Thank you again so much for being here and thank you for listening today, Food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Outro:

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk for more resources. Based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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