Do you want to be a hot sauce or chile pepper reviewer?
You may feel a pull towards showing your spicy food passions on camera. It could be anything from trying scorching super hot peppers to sampling to reviewing hot sauces and BBQ sauces.
With today’s technology, its become far less cumbersome to get your mug in video formats all over the world, with social networks having full video integration. YouTube is still the major player, and along with a half-dozen other video outlets, all you basically need to do nowadays is open up the site or app, hit record, and you’re good to go.
Outside of technological considerations (more on that at the end of this article), what do you need to be successful?
Here are a few basic important things:
- Good camera presence and a clear, confident voice
- Having fiery passion and enthusiasm for the topic
- A good working knowledge of the fiery foods industry, hot sauces, and chile pepper science and growing (serious, do some thorough research before starting)
Outside of this, it’s easy to run into pitfalls that have caused many other video reviewers before you to stumble. Here are seven ways of avoiding those and becoming a reviewer fiery foods fan will want to visit again and again:
1. Don’t be afraid to give negative reviews
The chefs or sauce makers are not your friends, your audience, or your clients. You owe them nothing but your honesty.
Now in my case, AFTER I’ve tried some of their products and met some of them (and found out what great people they were!), many souls in the fiery foods industry have become my friends. Hopefully they’ve found me to be a decent fellow in return. But I can tell you this: whether or not they like my assessment of their products, a lot of them respect me for being honest.
They may feel a little butt-hurt or harbor resentment towards me, especially after they created what they thought was The Greatest Sauce in the Universe and I thought it tasted average. That doesn’t matter because they know I’m REAL. I have no reason to suck up to anyone. I’m not someone who is trying to mooch off of hot sauce companies by trying to get free product and automatically giving everything scores of 9 or 10.
Plus, you’re not being fair to the real audience, the chileheads who may buy the product. By rating everything 4 or 5 stars out of a possible 5 (or 8 to 10 on a 1 to 10 scale, if you so chose to use that), you’re doing them a great disservice. Not everything is a great product. In fact, most things are not a great product. You’re not telling them if a sauce is merely only average or sub-par in certain areas. Be truthful, and be tactfully critical when you need to be, and you’ll be come a much more respected and appreciated reviewer.
2. Get to the point!
There exists a sobering truth about internet videos, and once I tell you about it, you’ll be nodding your head in total agreement with me.
On the web, there is something called the Wadsworth Constant, which is a rule of thumb for videos. The gist of it is, you can skip the first 30% or so of any video, because the lead-in material contains unimportant or introductory material before you get to the real “meat” of the video. Reddit user Wadsworth (after whom the axiom is named) summed it up like this:
For EVERY YouTube video, I always open the video and then immediately punch the slider bar to about 30 percent. For example, in this video [in reference to a shirt-folding video where Wadsworth was making a comment], it should have just started at :40. Everything before :40 was a waste. This holds true for nearly every video in the universe.
Yep! The same holds true for most, if not all, hot sauce and chile pepper-eating videos.
The details of the video (such as the name of the hot sauce or variety of the chile pepper) are almost all clearly presented in the title and description of the Facebook or YouTube link. Why on earth does the reviewer have to ramble on for two or three minutes stating who he is, what he has in his hands and what he’s about to do? We, the viewing audience, already know this! That’s why we clicked on the video in the first place. Just eat it, already!
Being one of the earliest fiery food YouTubers around, I humbly admit that I have done this in, well…probably most of my videos as well! <hangs head in shame>
What can you do to to fix this? Start eating the chile pepper within 20 seconds of the beginning of the video. Start reviewing the hot sauce immediately, giving important details straightaway such as reading the ingredients list or giving it a thorough taste.
If you feel like you have to give shout-outs or mentions of companies and links, do so quickly, and then dash to that aforementioned “meat” we’ve tuned in for.
Also, shorten up the time that your opening graphics and title cards comprise! They in and of themselves can take up an easy 20 seconds of unnecessary time. I don’t care of you found an animated flame graphic and you want to show it off. Trim it down (or remove it completely).
3. Break things down and make things easy to understand
Don’t just say if something is good, tell why its good! If you’re covering hot sauces, judge each one on a huge number of criteria. It’s ultimately up to you, but you can cover aspects of a sauce like appearance, color, texture, viscosity, aroma, stickiness to food, the flavor with or without food, heat, ingredients, the bottle and label, the product’s name, and marketability.
Be clear and expound upon what you like and don’t like. Be descriptive. Again, don’t just say that you liked or disliked it. Give simple reasons. Is it too tangy? Does it have a chunky texture? Too much vinegar? Do the fruit flavors play well with the chosen chile pepper? Is the product label too busy looking? Do you think the sauce’s name is highly clever? Tell us why!
4. Keep it professional and clean
This is where a large percentage of YouTubers deviate from good advice. Yeah, you know these guys…they don’t care anything at all about couth (they probably don’t even know what the word means), will do and say whatever they want, and esteem themselves as being the chile pepper version of Howard Stern. They rarely give a thought about what they say and who they piss off, and never consider the consequences for their actions. A few extreme examples of these guys have embroiled themselves and others into feuds, bickering and online drama.
Young video reviewers, I implore you…take the high road instead. Be courteous. Act professional. Know deep down that what you do now might come back around to bite you at some point in the future. Tone down the language. Be kind and gracious. If you do this, you will have a body of work you can be proud of years from now, and you will have much more longevity and success as a reviewer. Plus, others will see you as someone with integrity and class, and will want to work with you again.
5. No one cares about gimmicks or challenges anymore
This point can easily go hand-in-hand with the previous tip.
Attracting eyeballs to your videos is the object for many of you guys, and you might figure that an insane stunt or a wild eating challenge will crank up those viewership numbers. Temporarily, yes, it will seem like your fan base is increasing because of these ploys. But in reality, people will only be there to stare at you like they do smoldering accident by the side of the road. Once they get their 8 minutes of quick entertainment out of you, they’ll drive past that burning wreck and go blazing down the highway.
Not only that, but some of these gimmicks can be downright dangerous. Once you dive into super-hot chile territory, how much further can you go in terms of heat, volume or intensity? Ingesting large amounts of pure capsaicin, chewing on a cactus, or smoking a chile pepper in a bong is incredibly stupid. And not “stupid” in a wacky, fun, endearing way, but a facepalm-inducing, “hey, I’m gonna stand in the road to see what it’s like to get hit by a car!” sort of way.
And, it’s boring. Just…don’t.
6. Be ready for the negative comments.
If you don’t know that the internet is full of dissension, then you must have just joined up yesterday.
You’re going to get your fair share of barbs and flaming arrows flung your way, no matter what your approach is. You can be Nice Guy Eddie, Esteemed and Educated Edward, or Crazy, Flame-Mouthed Ed, and someone will invariably disagree with you.
Of course, the more abrasive your personality and tact are, the more negativity you’ll attract. But you are going to to follow my advice in points #4 and #5, right? I hope so! Even if you do, gripes and complaints will still come your way.
What you should do is grow a thick skin. Don’t be offended by what you hear. The armchair warriors and trolls of the web can pelt you with an endless onslaught of bashing, but it’s your job to let it roll off your back. Do not engage in any way with these folks. Don’t get into wars in the comments section. And if you absolutely have to reply to some of the nicer ones, do so with class and professionalism, in a clean, well thought-out response. Always, always, ALWAYS, take the higher road in matters.
7. Technology matters
Here’s something I would be remiss is I failed to mention it. I’m not going to get into technological specifics on how to get great lighting and sound for your videos, as there are 1,001 articles and tutorials online addressing this topic. But make sure you:
- Have clean, even, bright lighting all around you with no harsh shadows. Set up an extra lamp or two around you to help out in this regard.
- Have an adequate microphone set-up. If you don’t own a standalone mic to use and are forced to use the mic on your phone, tablet or laptop, please thoroughly test out the placement of the device and where you’re seated so that it clearly picks up your voice and it doesn’t sound like you’re yelling from across the room.
- Try to eliminate as much excess noise as you can, whether it be children in the background, household sounds like a loud air conditioner, restaurant noise, a room with a lot of echo, or annoying noise from the wind if you’re recording outside. In very small amounts these things can be forgivable, but after six minutes of being subjected to listening to gale-force wind sounds or machinery or screaming in the background, the average viewer may never want to watch you again.
What you you think?
Do you have any advice for either up-and-coming or established video reviewers? Do you think I’m wrong about anything? Let us know in the comments section below!