YouTuber helps Malaysians in difficulties during pandemic, through her recipe videos

  • Family
  • Saturday, 09 Jan 2021

Normah often lists a cost breakdown of the food she makes in her videos to help those who wish to use her recipes for business. Photo: Che Nom

Malaysian cooking and baking YouTuber Normah Bakar – better known as Che Nom to her followers – is one vlogger who has helped those going through difficulties during the pandemic, to earn a living with her recipes.

“Many people have lost their livelihood during the pandemic, and some of them have started businesses with my recipes to earn an income to support their family, so I’m glad that I can help them during this difficult time, ” she says.

Normah makes it a point to give a detailed breakdown of the cost of producing her dishes in her videos to help them.

To her, one of the best moments as a YouTuber is when her followers successfully try out her recipes and receive good feedback from their family, friends and customers.

“They always send me a thank you note, and even berdoa (pray) for me and my family. I receive such messages almost every day and I feel really blessed, ” she enthuses.

Normah making cream puffs as seen on her YouTube channel. Photo: YouTube/Che NomNormah making cream puffs as seen on her YouTube channel. Photo: YouTube/Che Nom

The 39-year-old vlogger – who currently has over 900k subscribers on her channel – first started posting cooking videos on YouTube for fun in 2006, but it wasn’t until May 2019 that she started to get serious about YouTube.

Normah, a former telecommunications engineer, has always been interested in cooking and baking. Before her YouTube activities, she already had her own recipe website where she posts recipes once in a while. She ventured into YouTube because she wanted to spend more time with her family. Her work as a telecommunications engineer meant often being “on call” and working late.

“I wanted to try something new in life. I also thought that doing this full-time would enable me to spend more time with my family, ” says Normah, who is married and has three children aged four, eight and 10.

Navigating the pandemic

Normah cooking Butter Fried Rice for her children. Photo: Che NomNormah cooking Butter Fried Rice for her children. Photo: Che NomLike many Malaysians, the pandemic has not been an easy time for her.

“Schools are temporarily closed and the kids are at home so I’m busy helping them with home schooling and remote learning. This means having to adjust my recording and editing schedule in between my family responsibilities, ” says Normah.

But the plus point is that she has gained a lot of views and subscriptions during this time.

“People keep sending me messages, asking for more videos, because they’re also stuck at home. They find YouTube to be another form of entertainment, and the recipes are also helpful as they have to prepare more meals at home, ” she says.

While she has many fans, Normah says that her family is her strongest supporter.

“My kids love my YouTube videos so much, and my husband helps me to record and do the final editing for the videos, ” she says.

Her sister-in-law and nephew, both students, also help her with the video editing.

Read more: This Canadian YouTuber loves Malaysian street food, and is more than happy to show it

According to Normah, one needs passion, determination and originality in order to be a good YouTuber.

“You need to have passion and determination to survive. That’s what helps you to get going and keeps you going when things get tough, ” she says.

“You also need to be yourself, be original. Don’t try to be someone else or copy other’s style or content, ” she adds.

“But of course, you can be inspired by others. There are so many talented YouTubers out there who can be inspiring and motivating. It also helps you set a benchmark to ensure your content is up to mark, ” says Normah.

“My baseline for measuring my content – before I post the video on YouTube – is if I enjoy watching my own video, then it’s good to go online. But if I feel the content and quality is not up to my standards, I will look into how it can be improved, ” she says.

When asked what is a good YouTube video to her, Normah says she has several criteria.

“To me, a good YouTube video, especially a cooking or baking video, involves several things: the technical aspects of good audio and video quality, a good recipe, trust from the audience, and a strong reputation that can’t be built overnight, ” she explains.

Normah says her videos especially target viewers who are new to cooking and baking.

“That’s why I explain everything in such detail for each dish I make, in my videos, ” she says.

Wide appeal

Her fans vary from children, those in their early 20s, husbands who cook for their families, and also older mothers in their 50s.

She doesn’t usually feature herself in her videos, just her hands preparing the food, and she says there’s a reason for that.

“My initial plan has always been not to feature myself or my face in the videos, and see how people react with just focusing on the food that is being prepared rather than a person. And the response is good: people still like my videos and subscribe to my channel even though my face isn’t featured, ” she says.

Normah makes a variety of Asian food such as this Bihun Goreng Tomyam on her YouTube channel. Photo: YouTube/Che NomNormah makes a variety of Asian food such as this Bihun Goreng Tomyam on her YouTube channel. Photo: YouTube/Che Nom

Despite having a huge following on her channel, she says that the only online marketing she does is posting on her social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – every time she has a new video on YouTube.

Normah’s advice to aspiring YouTubers is “don’t ever sacrifice your education as it’s really important to shape your future life”.

“You may think that just because you want to become a professional YouTuber so you don’t need to finish your studies but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My past working experience has contributed a great deal to what I’m doing now. It has helped me to be better and more resilient too, ” she says.

Read more: Malaysian home-chef Sara Khong's recipe for success during the MCO

In 2006, when she first started posting videos, she already earned some money but “not much”, she says.

“Back then, it was easier because YouTube (which has been bought over by Google) had no restrictions in terms of minimum views and subscriptions in order for you to monetise the content. Now there are some basic rules.

“YouTubers first have to establish a partnership with Google. Then, you can earn money based on your viewership (per view). If you maintain a clean track record (no copyright strike or breaking of any rules), then you will get the green light from Google to freely post content on your channel, ” explains Normah.

“You can get a promising number of views per video, based on your subscribers and loyal viewers each time you release a new video.

“But the most important thing for a YouTuber if you want a steady income, is not to just rely on the virality but to focus on a consistent number of views per video.

“It may seem easier than office work, but the truth is that it’s not going to be easy, especially at the early stages. You’ve to work really hard to achieve all the criteria, ” she concludes.

More info at: Che Nom

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