After working in the content creation space for years, Jay Acunzo saw firsthand how important it is to create something personal in order to achieve success. Equipped with this realization and the desire to help creators create meaningful and valuable content, Jay co-founded Creator Kitchen to help creators improve their storytelling.
What inspired you to create Creator Kitchen?
Before Jay Acunzo became an author, speaker, podcaster, and co-founder of Creator Kitchen, he started as a sports journalist. After, he worked in content marketing for companies like Google and HubSpot.
What Jay has seen throughout his experience is when someone creates something personal or pulled from their lived experiences, when someone understands how to tap emotional and personal reasons, others would care about their work. But if someone creates something generic like everyone else, that person becomes replaceable.
Because Jay has been on a mission to help other people make what matters to their careers, companies, and communities, he came up with Creator Kitchen alongside his co-founder, Melanie Deziel. Together, they created a platform that helped people create connections instead of merely creating content.
Can you tell us more about the key features of Creator Kitchen?
Some of the key features of Creator Kitchen are its co-working sessions, master classes, and special guest interviews. Because Jay grew up playing basketball, Creator Kitchen was designed similarly to the sport. He and his team pick a theme that they believe is transferrable and personal — similar to how basketball players would work on one strength at a time — and focus on that theme collectively as a membership for a period of about seven weeks.
All of the features offered by Creator Kitchen are present in a “Menu,” so users can pick and choose what they need to guide their work. For example, creators who need to immerse themselves in ideas they’re exploring can maximize the masterclass. Anyone who wants to receive feedback or talk with their peers can use the platform’s small group round tables.
Jay and his team designed Creator Kitchen to provide an experience that’s similar to an open studio that an art class. The platform helps users improve the flow of their actual content by giving them a shared focus with peers who are also at their level and guided action to give users momentum.
How do you support and empower creators in building their businesses or projects?
Creator Kitchen empowers creators by looking at different themes and applying those that fit the creator’s theme and audience. This way, creators don’t sound like they are reading content to their audience but rather feel that they’re effortlessly talking to their audience.
Jay cites an example from Jenny Blake. She’s a best-selling author who creates 16 podcast episodes in a month and wants to increase the power of these 16 episodes, not the volume.
Creator Kitchen helped Jenny achieve that goal by helping her focus on her personal storytelling and strengthen the connection she has with her audience.
Do you think there’s any specific type of creators that would benefit from joining Creator Kitchen?
Creators who are intrinsically motivated to make a lot of content can benefit from Creator Kitchen. However, those who would stop creating content and focus on doing something else after someone told them that that would work better won’t find Creator Kitchen as helpful.
Jay explains, “Our membership feels like creating content is a means to grow their business and their business and their personal brands. It’s also about them finding ways to fund their desire to create content, and so they’re craftspeople at the core.”
Creators who have five or more years of experience in creating content online — whether that’s trying to reignite or continuing to make content like Jenny — will also understand and appreciate the features of Creator Kitchen. Presently, two-thirds of the creators on the platform have at least ten years of experience.
Lastly, Jay says creators who have a healthy skepticism of the common advice and techniques they find on social media will love Creator Kitchen. The platform is built for creators who care about equality online and want to work with individuals eager to find their tribe online.
How do you stay up-to-date with the trends and best practices to ensure that Creator Kitchen remains a valuable resource for creatives?
For Jay, there are two things creators can do to keep up with the trends, and none involves reading the news. One, creators should constantly lead with their own curiosity, and if they see themselves frustrated, they should definitely go for it.
For instance, creators should think about what’s not setting well with them in the status quo and what’s broken with the current approach. Driven by that curiosity, creators can use their creative practices to answer those questions. In short, they should act like explorers first, not an expert.
The second strategy Jay believes in terms of staying relevant is to use systems to interact with the audience, which can be done through social media or newsletters. He vouches for the effectiveness of newsletters as he has been using this medium to offer advice, ask questions, and get one-to-one responses from his audience.
Are there any plans to expand or diversify Creator Kitchen in the future? If so, can you share some insights into what members can look forward to?
As of this writing, Jay and his team are focused on the current membership. After launching at the beginning of 2023, the team behind Creator Kitchen has been committed to making things work.
Jay shares that they’re thinking of ways to offer cheaper price points to their members. They started with premium rates but would like to offer ala carte services in the future where members can only pay for a specific service as opposed to spending a lot for the whole package.
What Jay and his team are most excited about is finding unexpected ways to push people when they no longer find their own content helpful or good enough. He wants to provide more opportunities for creators to connect with their peers, so they wouldn’t feel lonely when creating content.
How did you foster membership and collaboration among the members of Creator Kitchen, and why is it important to you?
Creator Kitchen aims to build a membership where members connect with each other. But the beating heart of the platform is all about content and ensuring that that content works better.
Most of the members of Creator Kitchen rarely connect live but benefit from everything they watch on demand and everything they download and use for their solo work. Jay adds, “We’re not building a community so much as a membership, but I think both of those words carry the same overarching idea: shared purpose.”
Jay and his co-founder, Melanie Deziel, lead Creator Kitchen members with their values and beliefs. He proudly shares that Creator Kitchen focuses on craft and quality and about creators getting better creativity.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges creators face nowadays?
Jay finds many creators having a momentum problem, not a brilliance problem. Creators are often clueless about what to produce next after their last piece.
Jay also cites creators’ fear of being replaced has become a common issue in the industry. But he believes that creators don’t have anything to worry about as long as they focus on two things: their posture and practice. By mastering these two, creators can eventually find their own processes and not get stuck on the things that someone else said they have to do.
How do you see the role of technology evolving in the creator economy, and how is Creator Kitchen contributing to this shift?
One thing technology can’t do is tell creators what they should do, their vision for their work, where they should go, and if they know they know what they’re trying to achieve. Jay sees technology as a tool that can improve a creator’s process but has become a dividing line — are creators at risk of being replaced by bots? Or are the creators acting like bots?
Many creators nowadays use AI and other technologies to unblock their creativity and imagination. Jay sees this practice as creators assessing their creativity and imagination, which means that their human traits and talents don’t matter to their work.
Jay encourages creators to see that they matter in their work to prevent technology from taking over a creator. He reminds them that the goal isn’t to become the biggest or the best in the industry — it’s to become a favorite among an audience and produce irreplaceable work.
What advice would you give to aspiring creators and entrepreneurs looking to make an?
Jay advises aspiring creators to think about the premise. Instead of grabbing topics everyone else is talking about, they should develop great content — one that stands out — by determining what they want to discuss, how they want to discuss it and give their audience reasons to care.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Jay will speak at the Creator Economy Expo in May, where he’ll talk about two topics: how to communicate and create with greater power and how to develop podcasts that stand out. The first topic is about storytelling and the idea of a premise, and the second is more of a workshop.