The Everyday Foodie talks Instagram worthy food photos
Baked goods, street food, cheese plates… whether it’s our friends or strangers who are posting their bites, we scroll past food photos daily. But not all posts are created equal. The Everyday Foodie is a food blogger and Instagram account with over 31 thousand followers.
Jacky Yoh, a Toronto banker, started The Everyday Foodie in 2013. The account came out of a conversation of brunch that Yoh was having about New Year’s resolutions. Yoh loves food and photography. He works hard to curate The Everyday Foodie on top of his full time job at the bank and says that in ways, The Everyday Foodie is like a love letter to Toronto and the city’s world class food scene.
Among all the food blogs and Instagram accounts dedicated to food, what is it that makes the Everyday Foodie stand out so much and makes it so popular?
That’s a good question. Sometimes I’m trying to figure out how to stand out myself, but I think it starts with just being authentic to your brand. I knew from the get-go, and even in my bio on my website I say there’s no culinary background, I don’t have a degree in writing, I don’t use any super high-tech gear to take pictures. It just started as an everyday person, everyday man, just going out to restaurants, loving the food, loving the artistic and creative side of it and just wanting to show that to you all who are interested. I don’t try to pretend that I’m some food critic or that I know everything that I’m talking about. I try to come off as an approachable person, friendly, just authentic to what the Everyday Foodie brand stands for. I think if you stay consistent with that and people can see it, you’re going to find that community that gravitates towards that brand to stick with you.
So as much as putting, hopefully, good content out, good pictures – people also come to try to find the next meal of where to go in the city – so trying to up your game on the photography you’re putting out, good content, but really staying true to who you are is what’s going to get you the furthest.
Would you say there’s a big difference between the kind of content that you put out today versus when you were getting started?
A little bit, but what stays consistent, I think, with what I’ve put out before is that the content was very smartphone photography focused. So when I first started, probably for the first three years or so, I was just taking photos on my phone and actually to this day I’m sure that many people still do that, and kudos to the phone makers because the cameras on the phone are pretty crazy. But I also decided that another aspect of me trying to up my game was to take the photography a little bit more seriously and use a DSLR and an actual professional camera and take that out to restaurants and buy some more props for home photoshoots for food or for products. So a bit more professional in the photography that I’ve taken. I think if you compare my old photos to the content I do now, I guess the professionalism I would hope has increased.
What would you say have been some of the differences between your expectations when you first set out in 2014, to the reality of running the Everyday Foodie now?
It’s a lot more work than what I first thought and probably what other people think from the outside because people, probably, think he’s just posting a picture. I didn’t expect to put all my energy into running something like this. So, it really at the beginning was just for fun and posting a picture not really worrying about captions or hashtags, or figuring out Instagram’s algorithm and how that all changes. It’s sort of a whole process because writing captions takes time. When I’m working with different partnerships, it’s a checklist of things that they want me to meet. They want certain pictures to look a certain way, or certain messaging to come across, specific target words that they want to be used. So figuring out and managing different expectations, its more work than I thought it would be, obviously it’s still fun, and I still enjoy it but the amount of time and effort engaging with the Instagram community, writing comments on other people’s pictures and accounts and answering questions through DMs or thing like that – It can be time consuming, and I could see how that work could really take hours in someone’s day to put out.
I think you can easily tell that if you compare accounts with someone who does quickly just whip something up, takes out a phone and comes up with a quick caption, versus someone who got props from a store to stylize a picture, and then makes sure the lighting is done properly, and you can see the caption is well thought out. There definitely is a difference, I think, that can be seen. And that’s where the work comes in. So, if you want to put out quality pictures and campaigns, you’ve got to put in the time for it.
Do you have future plans for the Everyday Foodie?
I think ultimately, I would want to be doing the Everyday Foodie only if it gives me the fun factor and the joy. I don’t ever want to turn this into something where I am dreading or not getting any sort of fulfillment anymore. I think the ultimate goal is to really make this a full-time gig. I am sort of doing both things as a banker and this on the side and I have some friends who had to take a leap and quit their nine-to-five jobs on the corporate level, and focus on their social presence. So, in the future I think that’s something that I always think of to take the Everyday Foodie to another level and I think that’s putting some more time in it.
It is a risk, it’s scary. But I think at the end of the day, you’ve just got to do what you love and that’s something that will definitely be on my radar for months and years, when I think about what this could be.
If you were talking to someone who was looking into getting into the kind of thing that you do or starting a different kind of Instagram account or blog, what piece of advice would you maybe give to them?
I think that at the end of the day, if you’re going to start off doing this, you have to love what you’re doing in the first place. You’re not going into this because you see that people are getting free meals at restaurants, or free products. Because that’s not going to come immediately, and I think a lot of the restaurants and PR agencies can see that authenticity of your account. If you have a love for food, that should come across in your posts and your pictures and how you engage with your followers.
The great thing about doing this is that the market is huge and there really aren’t any barriers to entry. Anyone can do it, really, with a smartphone and food is so common it’s universal. So if you find joy in photography and you want to share that with outside your friends group and your family, then yeah open up an Instagram account, start posting what you would take at a restaurant or at home. If you love baking or you love going out, start documenting it. I would say though, don’t have any expectations of what’s going to happen. All of this sort or came out of the blue for me and if you are consistent with what you’re doing, those things will come and just make sure that you find joy in what you’re doing because at the end of the day if you are engaging with your following and you like what you’re doing then everything else is going to come its way for you.