Episode 206: Creating Authentic Content with Chef Ben Ebbrell

Creating content is the ‘thing’ in recent years because of different platforms that encourage people to do it. However, creating great and authentic content is not for everyone but our guest today managed to do just that. Starting slowly in the beginning, Chef Ben Ebbrell’s desire to create simple and easy-to-cook foods for students has recently picked up steady growth. Sorted Food, a happy accident with friends according to Ben, has not only turned into a successful YouTube channel but also a dynamic community. In this episode, Adam Stott has Chef Ben Ebbrell talks about his journey as a content creator for Sorted Food as well as giving 3 tips for aspiring business owners.

Chef Ben Ebbrell is one of the founders of the hit YouTube Channel, Sorted Food. Presently, Sorted Food has 2.4M subscribers on YouTube and has been providing its own authentic content since 2010.

Show Highlights:

  • How far along Ben’s team and co-founders knew each other before the idea of creating a YouTube channel
  • What was Ben’s mindset when they were just starting to create content
  • How important it is to determine your audience before creating content
  • The role of Ben and his team’s friendship values 
  • Ben’s journey to 2.4 million YouTube subscriber 
  • Working together and collaborating with other content creators
  • What was Ben’s solution with them eventually running out of fresh ideas for recipes
  • How Ben handles suggestions and comments thrown at him as a Chef
  • not monetizing and building community at first
  • Cheap meal packs in the pandemic how it made a difference
  • Importance of authenticity in the content that you are creating

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events Members Network
If you haven’t been able to check Chef Ben’s Ebbrell YouTube channel, check out SortedFood


Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott:

Hello everybody and welcome to this evenings podcast interview. I’ve got a brilliant guest for you tonight, so super excited. The last couple of months we’ve that haven’t been completely live but we are completely live tonight. And literally, I’ve got a chap on tonight, who’s been in business or started a business. When he was in Uni 13 years ago, he took that business, and built it up on YouTube to over 2.4 million subscribers. So he’s used YouTube as a platform to get his business out there and gone and monetize their articles.

I’ve had a backstage chat with Ben, just a moment ago and he was telling me some really cool stuff, and he’s really open and really open to telling everyone about his journey, and he wants to talk about really how you as an individual can go and grow your social media and get great results. 

I think it’s a great opportunity for you to pick the brains of somebody that’s mastered YouTube to a business, and, you know, a long sustaining business being they’ve been in business now for literally 13 years and create some great results all driven through social media, which is what I love, and welcome Ben. So Ben Ebrell, how you doing buddy from SORTED food? Great to see you.

Ben Ebbrell:

Great! Nice to be here. 

Adam Stott:

I’m super excited to have a great chat tonight, Ben. So, you know what I’d like to do when we start off is just hear a little bit about your journey really your story. Obviously, given the introduction there then you started the business 02:19 to build the business up from really from uni and you’ve gone on after that to go and grow into this massive thing on YouTube. 

You got 2.4 million subscribers, which I think is awesome. And another my audience is gonna want to hear plenty about so I’m here to, you know, pick the brain tonight. 02:35 I think it’d be super interesting to the audience. 

So you want to tell us a little bit how you started, how did sorted food come to be what it is today, we’ll take it from there buddy, super excited to hear from you tonight. 

Ben Ebbrell:

Yeah, sure. So in a nutshell, what you see as a brand, what you see on screen actually goes back, 22 years we all knew each other from school myself and fellow co-founders, and we went to school. We grew up together, we have that kind of back history and authenticity but sorted food started when we went to university. So we did different universities different courses, between us had a specialist in different things but one common ground. When people go to university, there are struggles in life, everyday things that suddenly get thrown into the real world and you struggle with and food was one of those for most of our group. 

I was training to be a chef, and actually that’s kind of where sorting food started was, how do you simplify food, and at the time it was how do you make food for students by students, we were just like, cut the rubbish, forget, looking at all the pretense around food. How do I survive on minimal budget, simple, tasty food is going press and is really easy? 

Ben Ebbrell:

We actually did a self-published cookbook, was our first adventure, because we realized that it was more than just those of us that ran the pub table, I was scribbling recipes literally on the back of the 03:51 and saying that if I can fit on a 03:54. It’s easy enough for you to do, and we grew from the cookbook. And we literally printed a whole bunch of cookbooks, sort of, in the very first year, had 04:04 and then be like “well how on earth do we market them?”. 

We tried to make some videos and content for social media and YouTube, at the time was this free platform (it still is), to publish content too. We gave it a go, and that was literally it it was a group of friends trying to talk about something that we all struggled with, but we could all help each other with. 

Fast forward 10/12 years. Now, that YouTube community is one of the leading food cooking communities in the world. We don’t think of it like anything more than a community in a public place where this food conversation happens and it’s our job to curate and conduct that conversation and produce content every single week and that’s where we’re at. It was a good friends, and very much a happy accident that we started using a platform that really enabled us to showcase what we do.

Adam Stott:
Awesome, 04:55 when we went out and we first launched it, a lot of people when they first start out and they start using social media, especially, and I know you started 12/13 years ago now, so it might be slightly different. 

Even when we were speaking backstage as you were saying how many changes that you’ve seen and obviously I’ve been using social media especially Facebook since 2008 to grow businesses, and things have changed. But when you went and first put that content out weren’t getting the engagement you weren’t getting seen. You weren’t really receiving it blowing up. 

Did that ever put you off? Was that something that held you back or were you just like you know what, we’re not really doing it for this purpose of making loads of money we’re doing it to try and help people, and did that make a difference. Who was that between the lines? It sounds a bit like that really.

Ben Ebbrell:
I mean at the start we all pursued we’d go on to get proper jobs, and that key this is a way of almost adding something to our CV that other people wouldn’t have, but it was only over time that we realized there was more demand for and we want to carry on. But I think you can’t ever go out aiming to make a viral video, to be honest we’ve, we’ve published over 1500 videos on YouTube, and we have never gone viral. But in 10/12 years we have steadily grown this authentic audience who wants to be there, wants to spend time helping us shape content as you watch it, and that’s more valuable than suddenly getting a million views overnight.

Actually, that doesn’t necessarily help you find a mission for instance, you believe in, and stick to that as you create content and you’re right, it will be slow at start. I remember the first few was, you know, we knew that our mates were watching it and when mums were watching in, 06:29.
Adam Stott:

Is your mum still watching? 

Ben Ebbrell:

Still watching, and now I understand because back in the day we didn’t have a plan. So all of our parents were like “I don’t understand what you’re trying to do”, and we were like, we don’t really know either. We’re just waiting the way, I think is different now, but you just have to stick to being honest and truthful to what you want to do. 

Adam Stott:
What I actually love, you know when  we’re not doing these interviews, is you can actually decide to further a success story and obviously what we do is we train people on how to become more successful in their business. We might decide for it and I say, even just for the short amount some talking. You centered on that target audience very early. He said “right we’re going to create videos for shoes one understand how to cook”. So you’ve got this audience straightaway and that is what tends to build a community, when you can talk to an audience about what they want to hear, and they know they can come back and they can hear more of it, that’s how you actually feel that little teaser. 

It sounds like you really nailed that early on locking down now that a lot of people like, I’m not really sure what I’ve got to say because they don’t really know who they’re talking. How much would you tell the audience that some of that I’ve said a lot to people you really want to understand who is it you’re trying to have a conversation with them. 

One of the questions you asked me, because obviously you get this instinctively; how important would you say to the audience that you spend the understanding who your market is going to be before you get there and start creating content?

Ben Ebbrell:
It’s everything and actually, the thing to remember, we’ve always put front of mind is, given that our business is based on a friendship. It’s a friendship from school. We always put those same friendship values into the audience that we have. So it’s very important that we understand who our audience are, but you don’t know that initially. Well, and that’s what we were saying, it’s an open conversation, and that’s one thing that social media, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the whole lot. 

That’s what he can give you is an open door policy conversation, not to stand there and constantly preach and sell your business, just have a conversation. It’s what we’ve been able to do 12 years it basically asked our audience what they want to see what’s, what’s front of mind, food well to them what do they care about because it’s not about what we care about. 

We consider ourselves to be the hub of it, but we’re not there to preach, and I think that’s the difference between the likes of traditional media and TV back in the day, 08:49 was TV was very preachy. It was very much “hey we’re going to tell you, there’s this one way to do it do it this way”. Whereas we were very much like, this is our way of doing it. But how do you do it and we can learn together and we’ve learned more from our audience that they, they have, because it has to be two way. 

Adam Stott:
That’s awesome isn’t? You know, really good while looking at it. Actually we were having a conversation today actually with my marketing team so about marketing content, and this is one of the questions we get asked all the time. How do you come up with the right content? And how do you bring the right concepts for an audience? You got to think you just now that they’re gonna listen to your audience, you know. However, this is where a lot of people struggle, if they don’t know who their audience is; have they listened to the audience and how can I create your words in the first place? So they got to start off with that. 

When you start off the business and you go back all that time, my one question I must ask how many of the group of friends did you start with? How many were friends of yours that you started using just the two of you? Was there a few more involved?

Ben Ebbrell:
So, there are four of us you see on screen now. So Mike, 09:50 Jamie and myself, we were friends from school. James use the on screen as well as been this for eight years, so it wasn’t a full time for all of us at the start. I mean, when we started it was very much a passion project, then slowly but surely two of us started doing full time by myself. 

Mike and Jamie still had real jobs, and we would bounce ideas off them, in sort of weekends and evenings and bit by bit, it grew to a place where we could all jump on board, but we’re a team now of 15 or 16 people, but about 25% of that is the original core group and from there it’s grown out to like from 10:27 

Adam Stott:
10:28 from the original core group or is everyone still involved. 

Ben Ebbrell:
Everyone’s still involved. 

Adam Stott:
Well I think that’s really commendable. It’s really commendable because, you know, and I suppose that’s the difference between uniting around a mission and sort of doing it together. That’s a rare thing you know, having a group of friends sort of business together and stay together for that period of time. What would you say, I’m really interested to hear; you must have had over the years a few different lumps and bumps are a couple of disagreements about things but have you kind of kept that together. Would you say what’s the secret to that would you say from your opinion.

Ben Ebbrell:
The secret in terms of the way we run the business is that the four of us who have been there for this start that you see on screen, have very different skill sets. We kind of been empowered to run that part of the business, and we all deeply trust each other, to nail that part of the business. So, for example, Mike books the whole of production, you know what that is, end to end and works with a team very closely to deliver that whereas, Jamie is more kind. From PR to social media to account management with some of our sponsorships and stuff like that so he’s just kind of in that conjure a look after food and more increasingly now partnerships and strategic partnerships. A very local sort of branding and food photography and creative design and more of a vision in the narrative, and you put all those together. 

There isn’t too much overlap but disagreement is healthy because I think if we all constantly agree with everything, it would be doing something wrong or something very vanilla. I think you have to have a few times where opinions 12:04, not to the point that you can’t resolve them overtime. 

Now as today we can bet in a pub, so great. 

Adam Stott:

12:12 as of today, yeah. A lot of people in the pub tonight know that. But yeah, although I think that’s really cool because if you look at it, you know, a long, that’s actually quite a long period of time in business, you know, it’s been 13 years with a group of friends is really good you’ll stay together and make that happen, and you build that group up. 

Okay, so you’ve built the following. You said it was a stable journey. What did that stable journey look like because a lot of people are trying to break out. Same situation now you got in fairly early which is great, but wasn’t that journey up what’s been like to get into 2.4 million YouTube subscribers. It’s been nice, fairly stable has been difficult. Yeah. Was there some explosive growth? Was there some things you did that massively grew? You said you didn’t get any viral stuff but, but overall is that like?

Ben Ebbrell:
I think if you look, literally at a graph of the last 10 years, it is a, is a straight line, and it has been steady, steady growth. Now you drill in and have a look, you realize that for a couple of things we’ve done that, probably supercharged that a little bit, and that would be the length of collaboration. 

So, working with other people who are similar. Sometimes arguing on paper, you’d say competitors, but not in a way that you’re working with them in terms of trying to steal audience, or put them off. You just work together because it’s great minds think alike and actually come up with better ideas between you because luxury of being able to put entertainment and inspiration. First and foremost, it’s a very natural mechanism to work with people and everyone has an interest in food, so we’re kind of lucky in that sense. 

Ben Ebbrell:

One of the questions there from Anthony was how did you personalize gifts on my world. The very crux, that for us, when YouTube as well as YouTube, do you part of it is very important. It’s all about being you and having a personality not forcing a personality just letting your personality come across very naturally because that’s what people wanted because there are dozens and dozens of other people doing exactly the same as you are. But reason they’ll buy food because they want to be part of that friendship we call it but that kind of trust that authenticity and they like you. 

So you’ve got to find a way of delivering that you are us, that means that we can collaborate with other people, because they are different, and they might have the same product but we have different opinions and approaches and collaboration and audience sharing is really interesting.

Adam Stott:
Massive, I think in today’s world and if you look at, you know, today’s market in today’s business world, as maybe even suppose 10/15 years ago just wasn’t like that. I find that with pretty much everyone that’s creating great success they are working on collaborative marketing and finding ways to work with people and get the sales out to different audiences. 

One of the things that we talked for a long time, if somebody’s already got your group of clients, and they’ve already gone by and you can go work with them and get in front of them, why on earth wouldn’t? I think that sometimes people’s ego or their pride, just 15:07 where you could have actually a really easy, into working with somebody and getting your message in front of a great group of people very quickly so it seems like you’ve absolutely nailed that. 

So is we 15:18 is a straight line, you know, fairly straight line up but nice and stable collaborative marketing made a big difference to me of course as we’ve mentioned how have you amended your content over the years? I’d be really interested to hear about that maybe as well as it been, how have you kept it fresh?

Ben Ebbrell:
Yeah, I mean, I have to be honest when we first started we wrote the very first cookbook. As a chef, there was a part of me that was a little bit worried that I would run out of recipes. Because, how long can I keep coming up with new stuff, and that was back in the day when we were just starting we’re writing a cookbook and we hadn’t really started the whole social media thing and there wasn’t any interaction. 

So, it was naively thinking I had to do it all I had to project it all out there. The reality is as soon as you start creating content and collaborating, if it’s a team effort and you start to bounce ideas around. I would honestly say that we have the best ideas come from our audience, then they’re also the best judges of that because sometimes we put stuff out and they just go. Not really sure about this, well, that’s fine, we’ll do another one. 

Sometimes we put out stuff that we’re not sure about, and they love it. Basically, the community, and that’s the luxury. If you think about TV production, you know, there is one commissioning editor sat at the top of a TV channel, who pretty much makes all the final decisions. Well, we don’t have one question yet that said we have 2.4 million of them. So we just listened to what we want, and then create a one because they know the food trends before we do.

We’ve had some classic examples where comments are coming in telling us about something, and we’re going well, I don’t understand what that even is. We do a little bit of research we ask the back and find out and we find out this trend is just beginning to take off. Then we can create content and get it in nice and early, because we’re ahead of the curve, and we’re ahead of the curve, because we’re listening, our audience and that’s the key. 

Adam Stott:
Yeah active listening and really listening to them and hearing it from, awesome. Great point. So, if you had some 17:11 viewers, how’s it actually different questions I think it’s even more intriguing. How’s it impacted you as a chef, you know, having that ability to reach out and receive so many opinions, you know, professionally, how much you think that’s added to you and your group?

Ben Ebbrell:
I think, hugely in terms of a broad understanding of a little bit of everything. And because we’re always having in a publishing world, we’re always having to come up with something new and interesting and exciting and relevant is very different to a chef perhaps working within, you know, very top of their game that pastry chef. Working in a Michelin star restaurant, they practice the same thing, time and time again to get it absolutely perfect. 

I guess what we do is dip our toe in the water, we profess we’re not experts anything, we never have been but we were here to learn. Again, super humble about it, because that’s what opened my eyes to go you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to enjoy the journey, and that’s what with a group of us that’s all we do is enjoying the journey. 

Adam Stott:
I love what you just said, you know, for people that are clients of mine that have heard me talk about perfection a lot, and how that perfection really can just be an enemy, especially when it comes to social media and especially when it comes to marketing. If we look past social media and just saying marketing, I’ll say about testing, you know, and if you’re a great tester, you can get great results but if you’re not willing to try anything. We’re not going to test anything, we’re not willing to fail. You’re never going to break through anyway, so you’ve got to go out there and test those things. 

I think that fiction can be a real enemy of testing and what to shift your mindset from being somebody that wants perfection, because if you want perfection, you’re actually really hurting yourself and actually shift your mindset. It’s been solid tests. That’s when you get those breakthroughs right and it sounds like you’ve absolutely, you know 100% bought into that and, you know, of course. 

So one of the things we spoke about before we started tonight was obviously building it up and you built it out from Uni, and then it comes to a point where you know what this is going to go further. We’re going to get better results when you start making some money from there. So, how’s the monetization side of it, you know, how did you start to learn about that and bring it into your game and so if you tell us that maybe just a couple of the different things that you tried. Some of the things that have been more successful for you I think that’d be really interesting to the audience.

Ben Ebbrell:

Yeah, I think the key is granted we were very lucky in the sense that in the first couple of years. It wasn’t a business the big strategy we basically, we were lucky enough to have some initial investment. And kind of mentors industry, who kind of said, actually just kind of play with it and see where it takes you. So, the important thing for us was not trying to monetize it from day one, actually build a community, because once you’ve got the community then there are lots of cool things you can do. 

Nowadays, most of the content we produce has sponsorship and advertising around it, so feel free for the user, it’s still free for people to watch. The community is still asking for what they want to see and we’re going off in creating it and we’re giving it to them for free, because the platform’s they sit through a little bit of advertising. So that is one fundamental model, but that doesn’t really work until you have volume, and you have an engaged audience who are gonna be there to watch it. 

You can’t get much monetization of 100 views, you need 100 views or a million views, that is where baptizing works, but the other option is sponsorship and that’s realizing actually you don’t have to have big numbers, but you do need to have a loyal engaged community in order to work with sponsors. 

Adam Stott:
Yeah. So sponsorship advertisers be big for you. Yeah, so that sounds, also be absolutely right, you need that engaged following you need the people that you can have synergy with to go out there and obviously go and get big results which I think is really really important. So, having built the business now and this was your first business so straight out of Uni 13 years later. What kind of advice, you’re going to give some tips that business owners make mistake to say three. What would your kind of three tips of business owners be on building their businesses right now even from a start? Scope of a startup business, somebody the beginning looking at my grow, what would your three tips be for?

Ben Ebbrell:
I think one of the biggest things that we’ve always strive for it. I mean, we call it the 40-40-20 split, which basically means that all the content and talking again from a content driven business but the content we produce on YouTube and across all the other social platforms. 

We aim for 40% of that content to be aimed at exactly our current audience what it is they want, what is that demographic, what are they looking for. The other 40% is more of taking a step back and looking at bigger trends. What who else out there, can we bring on board to enjoy our content, and what are they looking for so you’re looking at trending topics. SEO topics, seasonal things might come and go throughout the seasons and create content that is likely to reach a new audience so that you can begin to grow this popular community. 

The last 20% is going to be something you believe in, you know, sometimes we get out of bed and we just go we’ve got to make this because this is really important to us, no one’s asked for it. No one’s looking for it but we think it’s important, and that is that continued means that even after 13 years, we’re still excited to go to work and create more content, and for us that’s 40-40-20.

 So, keep the community you have really engaged the other 40% go out and find new audience find by tag, what’s trending. And then also make sure that you’re not sort of drill yourself into the ground by not enjoying the process yourself so little bit of selfish, and the people who follow you because of YouTube, they’re following you because of you if you’d like it, the chances are 22:44. 

Adam Stott:
Awesome, we’ve got existing clients for a reason I got new clients 40% and then we’ve got, you know your ideals or your mission and before we get into the second tip. Yeah, what is that 20? I’m interested in your 20% if you can give a couple of examples of some of the 20% stuff that you did that you weren’t sure about. But you know that you wanted it and why did you want it? What was it was driving that?

Ben Ebbrell:
Yeah, we did some fantastic work and I think food is becoming more topical than ever before and I think 10 years ago we just did it and it was cheap food was good. We were students and it was all about what’s cheapest good. But more recently, we have a meal packs offer as part of their subscription membership and it’s designed to make midweek cooking really simple. It’s about hassle free inconvenience and it will save you money because it reduces food waste.

Somebody reached out to us from a school in Liverpool actually said last year. Right now, during the pandemic that we’re aware that there are a number of families and parents who are really struggling on very limited budgets and sometimes food bank offerings. He was a fan of SORTED he used our bill packs, and loved the mechanism of it. He said, but is there a way of making the meals even cheaper, you know. He found the time to reach out first, and we thought actually maybe there’s something we could do. 

So we set about doing it and weeks later, we really sort of best value pack offerings. There was a fraction of the proportion that we normally aim for, but this is very much like how can we help this bunch of people who increasingly are really struggling with food. Nobody asked us to do it in terms of the audience and say there wasn’t necessarily a huge trend for it but this one person reached out. We just thought actually, we can make a bit of a difference here, and that result is rolled out in the last couple of weeks. As of February half term there are kids and parents in the school now cooking along to this best meal pack, and that’s made a difference. 

I mean we make a difference every day but we still like those handful of people for some reason, it was more important to us than the 10s of 1000s, cooking from our meal packs every single day because of that connection that we just, we just wanted to do it. It has made a difference. 

Adam Stott:
Can you give us an example why particular meal packs with like like just a quick. 

Ben Ebbrell:
Really simple, we still use brains; a lot so things like couscous, things like polenta. Really cheap cheerful, but you can do some amazing things with the use of cured meats and little bit meat goes a long way because of its flavor. Then loads of seasonal veggies. 

We’ve been structuring the meals so that basically if you cooked, let’s say, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you might use half of butternut squash on Monday, but the other half is used on Wednesday so nothing goes to waste and it’s really important to do that. 

Adam Stott:
Awesome, you said I mean it’s another interesting thing we’ll come back to those clips we’re gonna get there but I’m enjoying hearing I think you said you’ve gone pretty much worldwide now you’ve got clients all over the place. You know, across all countries as well, which will be really interesting to tonight?

Ben Ebbrell:
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the beauty of something like YouTube, is it’s pretty much every single country. I think US, UK and Canada are kind of big demographics, and then a lot of English speaking countries. But we’ve got huge engagement in Southeast Asia where food is so important to have even more cultural and we think food is. It’s such a part of people’s identity. 

Adam Stott:
I love the food in Southeast Asia, brilliant food as well then they cook amazing food. So grabbing spices like, you know, Thailand, stuff like that the search is phenomenal. The amount of effort they put into it as well. 

Ben Ebbrell:
We don’t have to be a thing that you think everyone. How many times maybe not in the last few during lockdown but how many times do you socialize around food? You say, should we go and grab a coffee? Should we go for lunch? How about dinner? Where people socializing on food, even if they’re not foodies. And we do that three times a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But somewhere like Singapore, they dropped their day around sort of like five meals a day, much smaller snacky bits, and that’s why it’s so important. It’s just part of life. 

Adam Stott:
Yeah. Awesome, brilliant stuff. What was keeping number 2, let’s get it to number two, right in that love the first one, 40-40-20 which 26:58 shared with you, just great tip. What would you say your second tip for business owners out there will be?

Ben Ebbrell:
So food right now is really very serious topic. The world is in trouble, and looking at food waste whether we’re looking at a choice around veganism or animal rights. It can be very serious but I think my tip is don’t take things too seriously. Even if they are serious topics and you want to approach them in, and it might be the USP of the product you’re selling that might be important that this sustainability responsibilities is there. But never take yourself too seriously. 

We started to students on YouTube, but now, in our mid 30s sometimes we dress up because why not? It’s a bit of fun and we will cook a recipe, and we’ll do fancy dress and we look at silly trends. We’re not afraid to make fools of ourselves, because we enjoy it as a group. It makes us laugh so hopefully it makes other people love. That’s really important is that you can take things seriously in a fun way and not too preachy.

Adam Stott:
I think the important thing you just said there was that you enjoy it. You know, you actually enjoy it because I do think you can become a little bit, you know, there is a danger. I mean especially, I don’t know how you’re using TikTok actually check that out, and I’ll show that in a sec, but there is a danger with things like TikTok. You can become a little bit of a performing, you know, a dancing monkey for the audience or whether you’re just trying to keep up to the tune of everything they want. 

A lot of people are then posting videos and I think it’s been criticized for that open. We’re really not actually producing much or not getting the message across base, entertaining, but I think that entertainment value is often overlooked. But I think if you enjoy doing it, then it’s a completely different situation. 

You understand what I mean, like if you’re doing it to try and if you’re, if you’re doing crazy stuff to try and get likes we’re trying to get follows, that’s not necessarily the best business practice. If you enjoy doing at the same time and it’s entertaining your audience, because it becomes a win-win, isn’t it, but you mentioned Dan was too serious. What else would you say was the benefit to you when you don’t take things too seriously? What flows from that? Be really interested to hear. 

Ben Ebbrell:
I think it’s authenticity and connection, we even when we produce our content, we will believe bloopers and stupid bits in at the end of the video. One because strategically, it helps retention because people stick right to the very end, they don’t go I think I’ve watched most of what I need to do and off I got it. So there’s a strategic point putting them at the end. But more importantly, it’s not shying away from them, you know, we all make mistakes we’re all human, sometimes things like TV is too perfect. And what we actually like to do is to keep the mistakes in. 

Sometimes the mistakes happen throughout the whole video and we see something go wrong but we showed you how to fix it, because that’s reality and that’s what people at home it will go wrong for you at home sometimes. Here’s how to fix it. It’s not shying away from those mistakes and just being genuine rather is the authenticity that forms a connection, even if it’s silly stuff, and behind the scenes and what we get up to when the cameras aren’t rolling. Which is what you might see more of on TikTok or other platforms, and Instagram lives we’ve been doing more and more recently from home where you get to see Jamie and Barry cooking with their kids. That is real, you know they are dads they’re part of, you know that that is real life and people connect to that. 

And it comes back to that YouTube, if people connect with you, then they’re more likely to engage in your content, your products and whatever it is you’re sort of building a business around.

Adam Stott:
Yeah, that’s awesome also you’re looking at in that way, let me ask you this so when you went out on first did it, because this is what a lot of people really struggle with a lot of people get struggle with the getting started. When you went out and first studio, were you able to just go out there and naturally just crack off without having any fields that you feel bit fear about being judged? Did you feel a bit of fear about what the audience would say? Do you remember that back when you were first kicking that off? How did you feel about that? Because I think there’s a lot of people that have this genuine fear about being judged. 

I have a genuine especially using video when I run our trainings we have a social media webinar that we run regularly. When I run it, you know, one of the biggest fear is actually get on video. The source of that fear is that they fear being judged by other people, you know, what would you say to that, did you have that fear would you say yourself or is that something that you have?

Ben Ebbrell:
Yeah, I think it’s a reality. I think we, again, we’re very fortunate, as a group we kind of had each other’s back. So I remember and again winding the clock back years and years. When we first started, there will be times when we kind of went on camera and one of us would suddenly start sort of over 40 or 20. Trying to be something we weren’t and the other three would look at go what are you doing? Just stop. Just be useful, and actually being yourself. There’ll be people who don’t like you, but that’s fine. In a world of 7 billion people, there’s always going to be people who don’t want to you but that’s fine. 

Now the scary thing is in the internet and lots of anonymity as people can sometimes be quite rude and harsh about that, but you’ve got to just in the early days, turn a blind eye to that and just build up a positive community. You get to the stage and we have now for many years where, if anybody comments on our videos and says something that they personally don’t like they are entitled to that opinion. 

There’s now 1000s of people around the world who really do like what we do, and they jump on that person’s back and say, actually, you’re wrong, because this is what we do and this is what we’ve done it and we find the community now are on our side. 

Adam Stott:
32:48 When you do a great job with other people that are more than happy to stick up to you on social media, take it with them haters in the early days. A lot of the you know the questions that I’m driving tonight as well, because we’ve got so many people that are learning how to this is really like a dream conversation with them what they’re looking to do. I want to hear it from another voice because I’ve been through this journey myself.

 When you’re going out there and you started to get the haters, as you say your group of mates did. You have a few laughs about some of the comments like, if one of the boys got slightly, did you kind of have a bit banter about and stuff? Yeah, but how did you handle it? Was there any other things that got you a little bit, or that was ever something that shook you a bit, that made you want to stop, or was it nothing that impacted you that bad, or do you think you kind of put yourself together?

Ben Ebbrell:
I think nothing that serious, but I think sometimes there’s a bit of a wake up call, in the sense that we sometimes realize and I think it’s come to light, even more so in the last year or so that when you live in a bubble, you don’t necessarily think about other opinions. So sometimes we will completely wholly genuinely go into something have an opinion. 

But we went to school together. We went to school together and hardship, and that is a very small bubble of the world. Sometimes you put the content out there and we’re being 100 is how we see the world. Sometimes people go, you do realize that this other side that you’re missing here, and we’ll go, oh, yeah, well actually, how and irresponsible is not to realize that. But that’s where the community can help us. 

Okay, well we’re gonna look into that research it, and then it’s time we bring this topic up, we mentioned it, there was an example. We had a we have a series on our YouTube channel, that looks at reviewing kitchen gadgets. It started off as a bit of a tongue in cheek joke it’s really rubbish stuff you can buy on Amazon for a couple of quid, like why do you need a pineapple corner or an automatic tin opener. Or, you know these are one new products that we can go. Is there really a need for it? We kind of took the mickey out of them a little bit, and then some of the comments said you do realize that some of these are designed for people with dexterity issues, and suddenly we might consider that. 

Now, the only we can learn from the audience, so you have to look at the comments and some of the hate is actually helps shape you into better people. 

Adam Stott:
Yeah, so really what you’re saying sometimes people you’re talking about sensible people they’ve got a point, not the crazies that just want to come out. I’ve actually loved what you said is that you just turn a blind eye to it, and that is what you have to do is. Whenever I actually sometimes laugh because I’ve read quite a bit funny enough on TikTok and TikTok is actually the worst. How are you doing on TikTok? Are you using TikTok a lot for your business? 35:39 

Ben Ebbrell:
I’m barely new. I’m literally in the last couple of weeks we’ve started, and it’s more kind of montage, or teasers or bloopers from our main content that we’re putting up there so it has a different purpose. We started very quietly and slowly like the two TikTok algorithm with one video get half a million views and think why did that one get half a million? 

Adam Stott:
Yeah, it’s crazy. So, you know, it’s great platform we’ve, you know, we’ve only been using it since January, I’ve been using it personally since January, and build with it, you know, a decent following off the back of it, but actually more importantly got a ton of clients out of it a ton of new clients come from TikTok, it’s actually really good audience but you do get some real funny kind of trends and different comments and stuff on there by liking, like what you say in terms of turn a blind eye to it for sure. That’s great advice. 

So you said you’ve got a subscriber opportunity for people as well. Do you want to tell us a bit about that? So people are watching can understand how they could actually, you know, first of all, the first thing I’ll be doing after this ends is I’ll be jumping over to YouTube and and seeing if you can teach me a bit of cooking. I’m not very I’m not very good cook, Ben, so I’m not going to handle that. Okay. Do you think?

Ben Ebbrell:
That’s I mean that is really sentiment of what we do is that I’m a chef and I’m a trained chef, but the beauty of everything we do on camera, is that chefs are weird right we think in slightly weird ways like when we talk about certain dishes and using leftovers here and there we think in strange ways entire channel aimed at normal people that just are not normal. I’ll put my hand up, we are not a normal, but that’s the point is kind of 37:15 

Adam Stott:
37:16 I will say the show, I work very when I was very young. And they’ve ever mentioned this but when I was very young when I was only 15 I went to work in a restaurant right. And these restaurants actually a really lovely restaurant up the road called the Blue strawberry still a nice restaurant so we started. 

Some of the chefs, they were crazy. Now one thing chefs, can be quite well known for is it simple, Ben, I can’t imagine you having a temper, buddy. If you got a chef’s temper or no?

Ben Ebbrell:
No I just now I like to 37:47 to get annoyed at people, 37:50 not disappointed. I’m not upset I’m not annoyed; I’m just disappointed, go for that angle. 

Adam Stott:
So you don’t have that famous chef’s temper. Okay cool, I don’t know where we got to tip number three I suppose we better. We’ve covered that off before and we’ll talk about how people sort of get to hear more from you then we’ll show you a third tip will be buddy. 

Ben Ebbrell:
Again, it’s almost like a bit of a bit of a pun around food, but I think the best recipe we’ve ever written, and this is based on literally 1000s and 1000s is a recipe for humble pie. And that’s realizing that you will never ever have all the answers, and you will never ever be the best at anything.

So instead, actually learn from others. And I think that’s really important as soon as you go out there and you’re big and you’re brash and you’re trying to be salty. That’s when the trolls will start keyboard warriors will come for you because they want to knock you off the pedestal. The reason we don’t get much hatred is often go in there with this, we think is really cool it really interests us. Let us tell you about it and see new things. Well, no one can get annoyed at that because we’re not saying this is both best I’m we are amazing because we’ve been waiting into you on we’re special actually just take a slice of humble pie and just realize that the world is full of amazing people. And collectively, our community will always know more than we ever can dream of. 

So just kind of accept that upfront and actually just join the conversation rather than preach, and I think that’s, that’s probably number three. 

Adam Stott:
I love them. I love the way you applied it to learning as well, which is kind of like being coachable and actually understanding that, you know you can learn from others and I think it’s a big thing that impacts people you’re not open, and you’re not open to ideas and you’re open to other people’s opinions, then that really can hold you back in a big way. So I see that being so, so prevalent in so many areas right, and people actually respond really well to people being humble, they really do respond well to it not that you do it for that reason, but people do respond to it in a really good way because you know what, because I’ll tell you the truth, there’s not a lot of people that are really successful that are really humble, and I think, you know, I’ve been through that myself where in one of my businesses I had a nice fall from grace. Before I bounce back, and I think that makes you humble right so you do get these ups and downs along the way. 

You’re never perfect, so I actually love that tip I’m just really good advice, it was really good advice. I must ask you as well is, you know, you’ve had to learn business along this journey, because you’re in college, you’re sorry in Uni, you’re a chef, and you’ve gone through this stuff with social media. You’ve built this business out and you’ve mentioned some of the business festers which really, I will say that everything you said, has been very personality based, which I really liked, I think that’s awesome. What about sort of business guidance and business strategy? How much have you had to go and learn to really push the song? You said you’ve had some good mentors. Have you learned a lot that from mentors are you a big book reader your big podcast listener, what are some of the things you’ve done to develop yourself as a business person?

Ben Ebbrell:
Yeah, I think all of those things you mentioned, definitely. But I think one of the things I would say is surround yourself with people who are better than you. Is comes back to the Humble Pie thing but if you always want to be sat at the top, and looking down at people then you’ll never grow. 

So we surround ourselves with great people, and I think over the years, thinking about some of the tasks that we’re not as good at, we kind of bring people in to do it better than we ever could, and so that we can focus on the bits we aren’t quite good at and when I say that I mean, perhaps the legal the contracts, the finance. We can do it, we did it in the early days ourselves but very quickly we realized somebody else could do it twice as well in half the time. 

So maybe we should bring in people who are better than us, that kind of idea, and then when it comes to the mentor. I think the guy retailers with this very star. He always says about his exact approach, and that’s, people will look at that straight line and see huge success, but what they don’t see is all this exactly to get there. 

We always have this strategy of three or six months exact, which is kind of like, let’s gather as a group, go into an amazing off site and work out where we are, we look what’s happened. Consider what we’re going to charge for the next three or six months, and make them plan a strategy for six months and then we’re going to go away and work in our silos but with great communication between us and we’re just going to drive the business for six months. Then we come back, and we’re going to reassess and by doing that we have these lots of mythical zigzags we couldn’t get it all right, but you can still run 100 miles an hour to get a little bit wrong, because you’re going to readjust and then, whereas, like you said before if you wait until it’s 100% perfect. You never get out the stocks, you’re always stuck. 

So just constantly run at things and keep reevaluating and these kind of advice has come from people I’ve been mentoring. Surround yourself with people who are better themselves and with experience.

Adam Stott:

Yeah, absolutely things some great advice there, tell us a bit about the subscriber that you were telling me about before we jumped on that we always would probably love to know and you know certainly over too.

Ben Ebbrell:

This was on the basis that I think on YouTube, there was a worry that you could spend your entire time chasing what you think the world wants, and this was coming back to the 40-40 we knew we had a huge audience who would tell us what they want. So we wanted to find a way of creating it for them, and that therefore became a subscription model. So rather than rely on advertising or sponsorship and they’re having to take on the agendas of responding to you to go down there, their key messaging. 

We just want to create the best content for our audience, as per them telling us so that we set up a subscription model and a membership club, and the point really is to provide the tools. So we always say that YouTube is kind of the entertainment, the inspiration is there to lift spirits and to share and inspire. 

But actually if you really want to change your foodie life for the better then come on board to the club, because it’s primarily a cookbook app, and a meal pack that and that will help you live a better 43:58  by doing all the planning for you by taking the stress out of all the difficult decisions, whilst continuing to inspire you. 

So that’s that’s a simple membership for five pounds a month you get access to all of that, exclusive content. 

Adam Stott:

Will all all go and sign up then. Sounds good to meet you, buddy. Sounds good. Well, no you know you’ve been an awesome guest I think it’s been some some fantastic advice and guidance there for the audience, so I want to say a big thank you to coming on. 

For everyone watching whether you watch live that’s awesome hope you hope you’ve enjoyed everything that we’ve been fruits and I had some really really good advice from Ben if you’re listening on the podcast now, whether it’s iTunes or Spotify, make sure you go over to subscribe and give us a five star review that’d be super appreciated. 

And I just want to say a big thank you to Ben for being a fabulous guest, and make sure you go over and you check out sorted food, you know, on YouTube is usually the best place for people to get in contact with you, Ben or to go and look what we do? 

Ben Ebbrell:

Yeah, whichever platform you like we are saying everywhere, SORTED food.

Adam Stott:

SORTED food, so brilliant stuff. Okay Ben, thank you. You’ve been amazing, really enjoyed it I think got some great advice there if you just come on now on your own you just caught on to what we’re saying. Maybe go back to the beginning and watch this one again because I think there’s some fabulous value that can be added from what Ben’s had to say. And you’ve been a fabulous guest so thank you very much.


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