Hello! We are Corey Wagner and Sean Ely of the food review team: Number Six With Cheese. We’re based out of Chicago, IL, and we started making food review videos about four years ago, in the fall of 2016, and we’ve been doing it full-time for a little over a year if you can believe it. We’re still letting it sink in. Insane full-time job to have. Even funnier business card.
We had a super fun time coming up with the name of the show. Both Sean and I got together, and pitched five different show names apiece, and assigned each name to a FIFA team for Fifa ‘16 on Xbox One. Yeah, we’re serious. We’re huge fans of the game and always get into some epic battles while slugging beers and just hanging out. We played a tournament to decide which name we’d use for the channel and team, Number Six With Cheese ended up the winner! The name itself doesn’t refer to a specific combo meal on a fast-food menu, it’s just a catchy name that we both really clung to from the start. We’ve gotten nothing but great feedback on the name since the start, and people so badly wanting it to have a hidden meaning.
Sean and I both met at the famed Second City Conservatory where we were both training as improv comedians. We both had a deep background in live improv shows, scriptwriting, show producing, and creating online sketch comedy content. We wanted to team up to make some fun content together because we both instantly thought the other was so hilarious on stage and in-person. A partnership was born.
We actually started off making a comedy sketch video on a channel we made called, The Mahoney Boys, but after making our first fast food review video and seeing the insanely positive reaction and a fairly high number of views we decided to pursue the food reviews more seriously and regularly. It gave us a platform to just be funny, to hang out, and to show our relatable we were to the audience watching.
Sean had the brilliant foresight to utilize higher-quality cameras and video editing techniques similar to filmmaker Casey Neistat and apply it to the already-established food review community and format. Adding just a small bit of quality to our videos helped us get recognized and followed in the community rather quickly.
Think about a legendary food show on TV like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The show can literally play on loop on your television for hours and hours, and you mindlessly watch it, connect with the restaurant owners, the menu, and of course, Guy Fieri. So what if we made a show that had way better quality than every other food review show on YouTube, and also made it DAILY. We’re huge on consistency and being there for people every single morning at 9 a.m. CST. Not 9:01. Not 9:02. 9 a.m. on the dot. That’s how you build an engaged, interested audience. They know your show will be there every single day for them. A lot of our fans say how Number Six With Cheese is an escape from everything else, and they can just sit down and enjoy it for 10 minutes at work, on their commute, while they eat dinner, whatever. We love that people have responded so positively to it, and linked it into their daily makeup of each day.
Great question! We’ve used a few different platforms for brainstorming but recently we’ve landed on using Slack. Look at us, pretending to be like an office. We’re so professional, right? It’s a great way to communicate and keep our ideas categorized and has a fantastic app for the phone. We usually plan out our videos about a week or two into the future. We generally use a website called, BrandEating, to find the newest food items to review. The name of the game is to craft a well-rounded week of videos, Monday through Friday, hitting on new items, super thumbnail enticing foods, and anything that people are talking about. On Wednesdays, we always publish videos on Chicago’s epic local restaurants. Chicago is essentially the third character in our show, as our lives here are so reflected by it. We love the lake, the train, the vibe, the skyline. Everything about it. So when you watch our show, we want it to feel like you’re hanging out with us in our city, rather than just watching two monsters scarf down a 20’’ pizza in a sedan, ya know?
When it comes to our vlog channel, Corey & Sean, we don’t have a set content schedule, so we kind of just pitch ideas as they come. Living in Chicago, we have such an amazing city with amazing events for us to highlight, so the ideas are pretty plentiful. We kind of take the approach of showcasing how unbelievable Chicago is, and how it has something for EVERYONE from all walks of life. If you visit? We have plenty of ideas to make your trip special. If you want to move here? We’ll tell you where we love to live and what’s near it. If you’re just looking for great content online? We hope we check that box, too.
What I think works best is ALWAYS keeping a notebook with me. You never know when an idea is going to come and you never know if you’ll forget it. So I try to be very diligent when it comes to writing down any idea, the second it comes to mind. Plus, fans are constantly commenting fantastic ideas for us, so we try and keep a list as much as we can, so they feel like this show is a true living and breathing thing, and not just us jamming content down your throat. We’re two normal dudes you’d wanna have a beer with, and we want that to show.
We each use different editing software. Sean uses Final Cut Pro X and Corey uses Adobe Premiere Pro. Both are fantastic and have the great benefit of having thousands of tutorials on YouTube to help one along with the learning process. We each learned through trial and error over the years. Sean’s been editing professionally for brands since 2010 and even moved to Chicago to be the Director of Videography for Chicago Tribune’s RedEye brand. Both of us were creating on our own over the past decade and became proficient with editing before we even met. When you can shoot all your own stuff, edit it yourself and market yourself? You’re golden. And the only reason someone can’t do that is that they’re too lazy not to learn it. The internet is full of free content to get you there. You just have to WANT to do it. TRULY WANT it. Not just “oh, it’d be fun to have my own YouTube channel.” If you really want to do that, you’ll take the time to learn it. And that’s how we both were; never majoring in this realm in college or anything.
When it comes to the platforms we use, we try to be on just about everything. Kind of the nature of the beast right now in this world. We currently upload content regularly on YouTube (every weekday as we said, plus extra videos constantly), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok. We’ve also recently started a Discord for our fans to hang out on. To us, it’s all about finding a good balance. Each platform takes up administrative time with uploading and curating content. Our goal is always to create; so take the time to find the platforms that help you reach an audience while not taking up too much time to manage. At the end of the day, your audience is NEVER going to know how much work you put in behind the scenes. But it’s all necessary for the well-oiled machine to run properly.
I don’t think either of us had too many fears going into starting our Number Six With Cheese channel. We had both been creating content for years before we started working together and being in the comedy world, we were both used to getting in front of people and looking like a pair of idiots. Plus, we had each other to lean on, and to play off of, so it makes it a lot easier when you’re not alone in the space. There’s no world where either one of us would have pursued a food review show without the other. This works because we have each other, always in the other’s corner, and always excited to make more videos. Such a solid foundation.
I guess if you have any fears with putting up content online, maybe try doing some live comedy first. If you can survive failing in front of a live crowd, you won’t have any problem falling in front of a digital audience. Trust us, because we’ve both bombed in front of crowds in the past. If that happens? Your skin will forever be thick. That’s just the initiation into gaining confidence in entertainment. The highs are only high because you’ve felt the lows. Cliche? Sure. But very accurate.
For us, having a content calendar was key! Posting often and on a regular schedule was the best way for us to find our audience. We had both been creating content for around a decade before we started working together and Sean had built up a fairly sizable audience on his personal YouTube channel (about 3,000 subscribers or so) and we were able to jumpstart our new channel by featuring the first season on Sean’s channel, The Social Media Pessimist.
Once we started our own channel for Season Two of Number Six With Cheese, we were able to bring over a large chunk of the audience we had been building and were able to keep growing our audience through some really great collaboration opportunities with other YouTubers in our same genre, such as Joey’s World Tour, who’s an incredibly kind dude.
The best advice we can give anyone is to just start doing it! You aren’t going to learn until you start, so get to work! Don’t worry about the camera. You have a phone. Don’t worry about a $250 microphone. Or a drone. Or the best computer for editing. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the reasons you shouldn’t start. Phones are so unbelievable now that a majority of YouTubers use them for their content, and literally clip a $19 lavalier mic to themselves that pairs to the phone. If you can do that? You’re in business.
If there were tricks to speed up the process of being a content creator, everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and there is no “get rich quick” scheme that works for building an audience.
Just find something you love making and start making it. Do it smartly, watch and learn from others, and try to outwork everyone. If you do that, it’ll all work out.
Keep in mind: We found a niche. There was already a huge section of people online watching food reviewers. It was nice because it was food EVERYONE could get. It was cheap, easily accessible and everyone feels like equals. It’s not some high-paid post on Travel Channel who isn’t even the one picking the restaurants. If you find your own little corner online, or in a niche that already exists, and you do something unique within that, you’re going to be doing fantastic. Just don’t be worried when you don’t get 1,000 subscribers right away. It takes time. Make sure you LOVE doing the work, and through that passion, results will come.
Corey: “For me it was easy, I got fired from my day job and never looked back. Hahaha. Once you’re in a position where you need to figure out where to get money from, you’ll figure out. And if you don’t and need to go back to working a dumb job that you hate, oh well, that’s life.”
Sean: “In fall 2015, the Chicago Tribune offered voluntary buy-outs to anyone who wanted to take them. I had been toying with the idea of leaving and starting my own social media marketing agency anyways, so once I found out I was going to be PAID MONEY TO LEAVE?! I jumped on it. I started doing videos for brands and then synced up with Corey in 2016 and the rest is history. Number Six With Cheese became my passion, along with all the acting/entertainment benefits that came along with being a host of a show.”
Corey: “This is a tough one. Making all my income from YouTube was a great milestone. Honestly other than that, I’ve been a little too focused on the work to pay attention to milestones. We just want to make fun and entertaining content. So we don’t get to bogged down by the rest of it. Just keep making the stuff you love and the good stuff will follow!”
Sean: “Honestly, for me, it’s to continue to pay the bills from being a creator. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, and I was constantly around kids my age whose parents literally handed them money whenever they wanted. My parents were and still are both blue-collar, hard-working, make your own money in the 9-to-5 world. So that grit and dedication to providing for yourself, and not taking handouts, is just in my DNA. My family thinks it’s completely wild that I can make a salary having fun with my friend Corey every day. They treat me like I’ve “made it” and all I do is make dumb jokes on YouTube. So, my milestones are just to continue to push hard, grow the channel, and get amazing opportunities from this lifestyle every year. Because of this dumb little show, we’ve each hired a manager, an agent, been in national TV commercials, traveled the country. I just want to keep pushing and making the most out of life because of our chemistry and passion together as friends first, and co-hosts second.”
We chose a genre of videos that has built-in marketing like we’ve touched on a bit already. We review new fast food items two days a week so the marketing is kind of done for us. People want to know how Shaq’s new Papa John pizza tastes before they go and spend their own $12 on it. That’s where we come in. We’ll tell you, and we’ll (hopefully, heh) make you laugh in the process. I really think if you make great content the world will find it!
Also, we’re constantly pairing the daily videos with our own branded hot sauce, T-shirts, a Patreon page, a podcast, etc. All of these things feedback into the show, and they all help each other out.
We don’t just sit back and make videos and hope that success will come. We’re constantly digging deeper and seeing what we can do to stand out. It’s like a muscle. You have to consistently put in the work for it to grow.
Nowadays, we have an absolutely badass manager and director of brand partnerships that we hired, named Patrick Welby. He’s been involved in the brand sponsorship realm for years now, working with a special event, an on-site marketing company called Pro-Ject. Since hiring Patrick, we’ve been able to pitch massive companies that he has a foot in the door with, as well as lean-and-mean Chicago companies that we’ve been dying to team up with for years. Our goal is to always find brands that believe in great content above all else and want to stand out with the influencers/hosts that they partner with.
We’ve been fortunate enough, a lot of the time, to have brands specifically reach out to us to work with us, such as Arby’s, AT&T, Fresh Thyme, UberEats and White Castle, to name a small handful. Brands seem to immediately dig our chemistry on camera, and the way we approach content online. We always ask upfront: What are your goals for a digital campaign? What are the items that we can attack to make their higher-ups happy, to feel like working with us was worth their while? We don’t just care about making a couple of grand and moving on. We want to create lasting partnerships that work well for years. Traditionally, we price out our brand deals on that criteria: What will make their brand shine most? Is it making their bottom line go up? Is it utilizing OUR audience of 30K people? Is it a call-to-action link to get people to their website? We craft campaigns based on their answers to these questions, and then we build video packages, social media posts, and a complete roll-out/content calendar to attack that.
Above all us: WE JUST WANT TO CUT THE BULLSHIT OUT OF BRAND DEALS. We’re all humans, and we’re all trying to benefit from working together. So traditionally we love to get on the phone with marketing departments and just talk like humans. We feel like so much of this world gets lost in the “game” of it all; so we focus on eliminating that and just speaking from the heart and showcasing that we’re two dudes from Chicago who love making videos and creating content that no one else can do, but us. That means the world to us when we find brands who understand that mentality. It makes doing this job so much more rewarding for both sides.