Jeremy Jacobowitz, founder and president of the platform Brunch Boys, calls his endeavor a “new media company." Spoiler alert: Brunch Boys is really just one Brunch Boy.
“Yeah, it’s pretty much just me,” he says with a chuckle.
He never knows what to call himself, but this is indeed his full-time job.
“Since it is an actual company I had to make up a title, so I’m president. But I hate calling myself that. I think it’s so stupid. I just call myself…I’m the Brunch Boy. I don’t know…I do everything. There’s no good way to say what I do.”
Jeremy had previously worked in the TV industry for a decade—first sports and then food TV as an assistant on set, then a producer. He worked as a freelancer, jumping between food competition, travel, and cooking shows.
Brunch Boys was never a serious thought, and when it started two years ago, there weren’t many food Instagrams out there.
“It wasn’t supposed to be anything. I got bored during the freelancing gigs so I thought ‘I’ll make an online brunch show’. The only reason I made the Instagram account was because if I had the name I wanted to own it across all platforms.”
And that was his only thought. He made a couple of videos, went back to work and forgot about it, posting on Instagram about once a month. There was no incentive for him to post.
Then about a year and a half ago, Jeremy ended up working on three straight food travel shows, which entailed him eating at hundreds of restaurants across the country in a span of six months. As a producer, he had the opportunity to take photos on set.
“I’d get back to my hotel room and have literally hundreds of photos of food from that day. I thought ‘I have this food Instagram account, so maybe I should upload the photos there. Why the hell not’.”
It was good timing. He started uploading his photos, and his following grew and grew.
About a year ago, Jeremy was burnt out from his TV jobs, so he took two months off and started focusing on the account. More opportunities kept arising.
“I thought ‘ okay maybe I could keep going with this’. Then the money started coming in and I thought ‘okay maybe just another 2 months’. Then it just became so all consuming and I started making real money too. I thought ‘I guess I don’t have to go back to TV’.”
But, the thing is—Jeremy really did love TV, and he still does. When Instagram switched from 15 second videos to 1 minute videos, he thought ‘now I can actually produce real content.'
He doesn’t call himself a professional Instagrammer, because he thinks its sort of silly.
“Your career shouldn’t be something that’s gonna be over in a year,” he says.
“Influencer” is also a weird word to him.
“I understand that that’s what I’m doing and that’s how I make my money, but the way I view it is that I’m producing food content. I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done, but my platform is Instagram and Snapchat and the website. That’s why I call Brunch Boys a new media company. I’m producing media but not for TV, or magazines, or really not even that much online. It’s really just a social platform.”
How have you made this into a career that’s economically sustainable? Brand partnerships? Sponsored content? Anything else?
“No, that’s the only way I make my money. A lot of people ask me if I charge restaurants. I would never charge a restaurant. Wait—9 times out of 10 I would never charge a restaurant. Restaurants don’t have any money.”
His goal when he goes to restaurants is to get as much content as possible.
“I’m popping out tons of content every day. So if I go to a restaurant and I say give me $50 and I post one photo, I’ve just screwed myself. Because now I’ve sat there for 3 hours, I can’t post any more than that one photo, and then that’s just the worst thing ever. So yeah it’s all brand stuff, partnerships, content—whatever that is.”
What specific brands have you worked with?
“A nice mix of everything. A wide range of food and not food and everything in between. What I try to do is always go a level beyond when I’m working with sponsors. At the end of the day, they’re gonna pay me, so I don’t really care what they have me do. If they have me post a photo, that’s easy. I try to push it in other directions also, with events like puppy brunch. There are a lot more ways to get the public involved than just a post.”
For videos he charges brands more money, because they involve a lot more work and get seen by a wider audience.
You wrote on your website that brunch isn’t just brunch—it’s a lifestyle. Can you elaborate on this and tell me how that storytelling component is embedded in your work through your social media channels?
“Honestly, I think the biggest thing is the audience. I know who’s watching TV and a) it’s less and less of anyone and b) it’s certainly no one my age or really specifically anyone younger. And that’s the audience I'm producing content for. So if I want to continue producing food stuff—whether it’s travel, in the kitchen, straight up food porn—if I want to reach that audience then it’s not gonna be through a TV show anyway.
He says he’s not trying to do anything that’s considered out of the ordinary now. He’s just looking at the landscape.
At the end of the day, he says, certain TV food media outlets are only reaching a demographic that ‘doesn’t give a shit about them’.
Jeremy knows what his Instagram audience is and Instagram has backed it up—the majority of his followers are females aged 22-28.
“Like, they don’t a TV. All the content they’re getting is on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. So I think that’s the platform—that’s the medium anyway.”
Do you focus more on catering to that specific demographic, or are you putting out content that you really care about personally? Do the two converge?
“I think it has to be a balance. Yeah, you would love to have the creative freedom to do whatever you want but at the end of the day that’s something that’s gonna screw you. If I wanted to have the most followers on Instagram, I would just post photos of mac and cheese and pizza every single day.”
There are accounts that do that, and they have “a hundred thousand more followers than [he]”. But, at the end of the day his goal is to always stand out. He admits having a lot of followers helps you stand out, but says it will only get you so far.
“So I think it’s about that and about realizing that ‘hey—a picture of mac and cheese is gonna do really well'. So I’ll put that image between a food that I really love or something I think is a beautiful photo. I think it’s about finding a balance.”
Walk me through your day right now.
“Every day is sort of completely different. I do have to work out every day because it is a lot of food (*laughs), so I start there and then it’s kind of a mix. Today I’m not really doing any shoots. Honestly I’m sitting at my computer, editing videos, doing emails, expenses—really boring shit. I have meetings all the time.”
Jeremy enjoys the "fun stuff" like photo-shoots at restaurants, but says he doesn’t have the time for a 3-hour meal.
“It becomes this thing that’s unnecessary and over-the-top.”
At night it’s a mix of events. He could go to five a night, he claims, but he tries to avoid that.
“If I wanted to just be an influencer then I’d just run around and go to all these events and meals and stuff. But at the end of the day I’m really trying to build something that takes more than that.”
On the weekends he brunches, and he really does love it.
That seems like a pretty cool lifestyle to me—being able to do something you love, eating, working through social channels you’re passionate about. Any kind of challenges you’ve had to overcome?
“I think the hardest thing about all of this is that you’re constantly spiking for money, not knowing where it’s coming in from. It’s a very hectic lifestyle, but I think what has helped me is knowing that this has been my life anyway. Working in TV, you’re constantly fighting for money, and that’s the scary thing about this role. But I’m used to it.”
Oh, and working out, he says. That’s definitely a challenge.
“That’s where all my money goes now…Literally every cent is spent on tequila and going to the gym.”