I recently had the opportunity to chat with Matt Taylor, known around Instructables and from his YouTube channel as In The Kitchen With Matt.
We had a great chat! We talked in detail about all sorts of topics, including a variety of issues related to being a content creator and sharing instructional content online.
He's a genuinely nice guy - just like he seems in his videos!! : )
After our chat we followed up with a series of written questions and answers, which are shared in the following steps.
Check out what Matt has to say, and absolutely don't miss his sweet-sweet dance moves in Step 9!
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Step 1: I Got My Start With Cooking When I Was Very Young
How did you get your start with cooking?
I got my start with cooking when I was very young, probably around 5 or 6 years old. I would come home from school and my mom would be baking or cooking in the kitchen.
My older siblings weren’t around, so to keep from being bored I would help my mom - mostly because she would let me lick the beaters, although she had a knack for cleaning the beaters in such a way, I barely got a taste. But that taste was enough to keep me coming back for more.
I was thrilled to take a cooking class in the 8th grade. We learned how to make cinnamon rolls, snickerdoodles, and Dutch babies, among other things.
In high school in order to earn money around Christmastime I would bake cinnamon raisin bread and my mom would take them to her work and sell them for me. She also bought all the ingredients; moms are the best! I kept up with cooking, here and there, during college, and after I graduated.
Now I do it more and more and teach others how to make various things on YouTube and of course here. :)
Step 2: My Instructables Journey Took Off
Image from Better Than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
What is Instructables to you, and what benefits do you see from being an active member of this community?
Instructables is an awesome community. And I will admit I didn’t quite grasp that concept at first. I came across Instructables while searching in google “where can I post my YouTube videos," haha.
My first few posts were literally just a link to my YouTube videos.
Someone made a comment that my video was cool, but it wasn’t exactly an Instructable. Then I started actually looking at other Instructables, and my Instructables journey took off.
It was really cool when someone on YouTube would ask if I had a website with the recipe. I would say no, but you can see step by step instructions over at Instructables!
I started cross-promoting and even started doing live shows on my YouTube channel where I would give out premium memberships to Instructables as prizes. One viewer constantly will remind me if I forgot to put an Instructable up for one of my videos; sometimes it is a few hours after posting the video on YouTube, haha.
While I am not as much of a content consumer as I am a creator, I definitely enjoy looking around and seeing what others are doing. Some benefits I see besides some views that I get on my YouTube videos, are of course the fun contests to enter into, and the satisfaction it gives me when I create an Instructable and it really helps someone.
Step 3: I Learned That People Learn Differently
Image from Easy Thick Fluffy Pancakes
In our chat, you used the word "teaching" several times. Please describe for readers your approach/philosophy regarding sharing how-to content online.
When I look at teaching others, I first think about how I like to learn.
I personally like video first, then written content second.
So YouTube was a natural fit for me. As time went on in my YouTube journey and just in life, I learned that people learn differently.
Some people like me enjoy video tutorials more, other people like to read and absorb the content, and then others are somewhere in between.
I think that is what keeps my interest with Instructables: there is something for everyone. However you like to learn you can find it here. :)
As it relates to my content that I teach, I tend to err on the side of too much content, or too much description.
When I am learning something I hate it when something is confusing, or there isn’t enough information to go on.
So when I am teaching I like to add as much as possible and make it as easy as possible to learn. My tag line I use in my videos and here on Instructables is, “If I can do it, you can do it.”
That pretty much sums up my philosophy on teaching.
Step 4: My Mood Is Instantly Brightened
Image from Easy No Knead Bread
What are the highlights for you, related to the type of feedback you receive from viewers/readers of your work?
Oh this is so rewarding, while there are lots of trolls on YouTube I would say 98% of the comments I receive are positive.
Most of the time they are something like, “Thanks a lot!”.
The comments that make my day are when a young person comments, “I am only 12 and I made these crepes. I made them for my mom for Mother’s Day and she loved them. Thanks so much!”
I had a guy in Brazil thank me for my cinnamon rolls video and told me he started a whole business around them there in Brazil.
There are times when people in other countries don’t have access to certain ingredients like we do here in the States, so it is very rewarding to share with them food hacks that they can make where they live that are substitutes.
Of course it is always nice to hear when people comment, “Matt you should have a Million subs!” Then I reply, “hahaha well start sharing my videos! lol”.
It validates me, in a way. Sometimes I get frustrated with my channel and start comparing myself with others, and get all depressed, and then I will hear that notification in my email, and see a super nice comment from someone on one of my videos or here on Instructables, and my mood is instantly brightened.
Step 5: I Bet I Could Recreate That
Where do you get inspiration for your next recipes to share?
When I first started I had a slew of ideas and first started with things I have made for years and years growing up.
During that time I started getting requests from viewers and so I created a folder with the requests and slowly started doing those.
A few times I have been at restaurants and thought, “I bet I could recreate that.” Other times I saw something neat on Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook and would think, “I bet the people who follow my videos and Instructables would like to see something like that.”
Other times, although not often, I get inspired by movies coming out. That really hasn’t been my thing, keeping up with pop culture and making dishes and creations around those, although I have done some of that.
When I run out of ideas, I go back to my requests list. I have tons and tons of them still.
Step 6: I Have a Workflow That I Have Developed
Image from Triple Berry Pie
What does your creative process look like . . from learning/adapting new recipes, to figuring how best to present the information, to the actual shooting and documenting for viewers and readers?
When I need to learn a new recipe I do research and try and find the several that I like.
Then I will change things a bit/tweak them a bit, to fit my individual tastes.
Then I will make it and do further tweaking of the recipe as needed.
I have a workflow that I have developed that I have used for quite awhile. Before I would stand in my kitchen, but since it is really small and there is not a ton of room, it was hard to get the camera angles I wanted.
So I moved to sitting down at my small dining room table, there I can get all the angles that I want. I love showing clean in-focus closeups of the preparation. Ideally I would have a second camera so I could cut back and forth from a wide shot of me at the table, to the closeup of the food…someday!
If you go back and see the Triple Berry Pie Instructable of mine, I happened to have a second camera for that shoot, and my friend Kelly was with me as a guest co-host. I really like that style.
Then after filming and editing the video and uploading to YouTube, I go to work creating the Instructable.
I scrub through the video and take screen shots of the different steps, then upload them and write out the Instructable. I try and write as much information as possible so readers don’t get lost, almost as if they were watching the video.
Of course I include the video as well. :)
Step 7: I Didn’t Want to Be Too Specialized
You mentioned that you are a "generalist within the cooking space" - please describe what you mean, and perhaps share a little about how you see yourself within the spectrum of content creators online.
What I mean by “Generalist” is that if it is related to food I will probably do something with it.
I would say 70% of my content is treats/desserts related, then the rest has to do with other types of food, food news, product reviews, etc.
I don’t only do one thing, like cakes. There are other content creators who specialize in only doing cakes and cake decoration, and they keep up with pop-culture and have a new cake for almost every Disney movie, etc. They keep up with the trendy cake designs, from the really tall cakes to the dripping of the ganache all around, which is a cool look.
I like to make a variety of things, so I knew going into it I didn’t want to be too specialized. This has hurt me a bit - usually more focused content tends to do better.
At some point I want to be at a position where if you think of something, I will probably have a video/Instructable on it. At least that is what I am thinking right now. I do love chocolate, so if I ever did specialize I might make my content “All Things Chocolate”.
I actually do have my first mini-cookbook ebook out with that same title. I created it because people kept asking me for something like that, and as a way for followers and subscribers to show some support if they wanted.
If you are interested you can find the ebook on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/31U2DYB or for a nicer layout PDF design it can be found on my Etsy shop here: https://amzn.to/31U2DYB
Step 8: I Grew Up Playing Dungeons and Dragons
Although you share primarily cooking-related content, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I am a bit of a nerd/geek, and not a closet nerd - I have no problems sharing with the world that I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and still play about twice a month today.
To get a glimpse into the world of D&D, check out this video which documents our epic 4th of July weekend which we do every year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6afGtNzwpto.
I also love playing sports. I play basketball once or twice a month. Volleyball is one of my favorite sports to play. I took a handful of classes in college and played regularly in leagues for quite some time. My preference is 2 on 2 sand. I grew up in California and have many fond memories going to Santa Cruz and playing volleyball.
Fishing, I love to fish. I grew up going fishing with my dad. Fly fishing is probably my favorite type of fishing, but don’t get to go that often. Whenever I am in San Jose visiting my dad, we grab the rods and head to Aptos and fish off the old pier over there.
I enjoy being outdoors playing disc golf or hiking or walking around the park. I probably spend too much time watching TV. Cooking shows like “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Guys Grocery Games,” “Chopped,” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” are some of my favorites. And of course shows like “Stranger Things,” “Suits,” “Supernatural,” “The 100.”
Board games are something I really enjoy playing. I usually can’t say no to a rousing game of “Settlers of Catan”. I don’t normally play the classic games like Monopoly that much, although I still enjoy them. I tend to stick to games like “Lords of Waterdeep,” “King of Tokyo,” “Shadows Over Camelot,” “7 Wonders,” and “Smallworld”.
I also enjoy trying new restaurants. I am part of a foodie group that gets together once a month and tries out new places to eat. While I don’t go to movie theaters that often anymore, it still holds a sense of magic for me: the big screen, the crowds, the reclining chairs.
I am fairly well rounded when it comes to my interests.
Step 9: I Am Like, Man, I Have No Skills at All!
All images from How to Dance Like a Boss
Are there any creative disciplines you're not yet experienced with, that you'd be interested in exploring the future?
Currently I am trying to learn Wordpress. People keep asking me if I have a website, and since I don’t want to pay someone to make one for me, I am going to learn.
I would love to take a couple of months and go to Europe and do a deep dive into local cuisine, especially French cuisine, maybe take a few classes, and of course document everything in the form of video, haha.
I also enjoy singing. I'm not very good at all, so would love to learn how to sing.
I am not going to lie, I really enjoy watching “America’s Got Talent” and sometimes after watching or during, I am like, man, I have no skills at all!
Which, is of course silly to think.
Speaking about food again, there is this guy on Instagram that I follow that does crazy-awesome things with chocolate. His designs are phenomenal, edible art at its finest. He teaches a high-end course in Las Vegas, that I would love to go to.
Don't miss Matt's awesome dance video!
Step 10: It Takes Time and Lots of Work
What advice would you give to other instructional content creators (whether YouTubers, Instructablers, etc.)?
I have been doing instructional content since late 2013. Even before that, my career as a video producer has been in the training and marketing video space since 2010, and I have learned quite a bit.
If you want your channel or presence to grow, you need to be consistent.
Pick a topic that you are passionate about, and don’t go into it thinking you are going to be the next YouTube star or Instafamous, or get 1 million views on your Instructables overnight.
It takes time and lots of work.
Also try and not compare yourself with other content creators. There are so many variables that go into these things as to why someone’s content gets more views then others. Sure, you can learn tips and tricks and techniques that will help, but at the end of the day, if you make great content, they will come.
"If you build it, they will come.” Kudos if you know the movie where that line came from.
It is so easy to get discouraged, but don’t let that discouragement keep you from creating.
Also it is about the mindset. If you establish in the beginning “Why am I doing this? What is my goal for this? What outcome would I like to see?”, then that can help you go where you would like to go.
When I first started, I thought my channel was just a creative outlet to combine my love of video production with my love of cooking. Then I saw where it could lead and the possibilities, so my view and goals have shifted. Which is totally okay to change, in fact it is encouraged.
Try new things, get creative, be okay if something doesn’t go the way you plan, and keep trying! :)
Thank you Matt, for taking the time to share a little more about yourself with the community.