Want to be an online food sensation? Post on TikTok.

eitan bernath making cookies
Eitan Bernath making cookies
Screenshot: YouTube (Other)

There’s a lot of competition to become the next big thing on social media. I’m sure by now you’ve seen tons of food-related videos on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, all vying for your attention with flashy production, impeccably manicured kitchens, and charismatic people looking to soak up the spotlight. But if you’re really looking to catapult your food video career, you might want to consider downloading one app we write about frequently on The Takeout, and that’s TikTok.

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The New York Times examines just how people have been using the short video app to launch themselves into a certain kind of food stardom. The piece starts with 19-year-old Eitan Bernath, a TikTok user who has been on the platform since 2019 and now has more than 1.6 million followers.

Bernath’s videos feature easy recipes that beginner cooks can create at home, encouraging his fellow teens to hop into the kitchen to give them a shot too. And just like many people (myself included), he learned many of his tips and skills from Food Network and YouTube.

“The thing that makes TikTok outstanding compared to any other platform is the speed of scale,” Eunice Shin, head of media and entertainment at Prophet, a growth strategy firm, told the Times. “If something goes viral, you can go from zero to millions of followers in a matter of months. That’s really hard to do if you take a traditional trajectory.”

And Gen Z has pounced on it. Rather than get crushed in restaurant kitchens, this new generation is taking matters into its own hands and building content. Some get paid via TikTok’s creator fund, which pays TikTok users money based on views. Others have advertising and sponsorship agreements.

Of course I’m sure you’re wondering how much some of these content creators get, and it can get to be quite a bit. Like, millions of dollars. Addison Rae Easterling produces lifestyle content and earned more than $5 million in 2020, according to Forbes. Damn, I’m in the wrong line of work, aren’t I? Other TikTok stars branch out by writing books and manufacturing their own lines of chocolate bars. Every one of their stories is different, but what they all have in common is that they don’t want to work for someone else.

This is a really informative New York Times piece, and maybe even inspiring for those who want to venture out on their own, since the landscape of social media careers changes so quickly. I’ll be honest and say it’s easy to roll your eyes at what’s out there, but if you think you’ve got something fun to say, you might as well give it a shot. Read the piece here. Maybe I’ll finally download TikTok and follow you.

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Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

elgordo47
elgordo47

what they all have in common is that they don’t want to work for someone else.

This isn’t entirely true. They may not work for a traditional business owner or manager but they work for the zeitgeist, for lack of a better way to describe their collective boss.

I am a content creator (but not a big deal) in the real world and have been for decades now. I love my platform. And I don’t begrudge anyone else their fame and fortune via whatever medium they choose. I mean I’ll shit-talk with the best of us, but if I don’t like online personalities or watch them, it’s not as though they cost me money or my own opportunity through their fame so as they say, you be you.

But using the success stories of the relatively few to promote TikTok as the way to get famous and make money is disingenuous. Like telling people to just go be an actor or a pro athlete or buy Gamestop. It just ain’t that straightforward.