OMKV Fishing & Cooking is a YouTube channel run by Kochi based food vlogger Unni George. The channel has around 4.4 lakh strong subscribers. Unni in his channel presents traditional fishing and cooking of Kerala. Subscribe OMKV Fishing & Cooking to watch more videos from him. Follow Unni on Instagram and Facebook.

Jisham Ashraf

A talk with Unni George

June 2, 2020 · 8 min read • 

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1. Recently, you have crossed the 4.4 lakh mark with regard to your subscriber count. It’s a phenomenal achievement. Congratulations on your splendid success. 

Thank you. Thank you so much! I would rather not call it as splendid or sublime. Actually, anyone with the right mindset, and sincere hard work would be able to achieve good subscriber count and YouTube reach.

2. Tell us something about you. What do you do apart from vlogging?

I am a full time vlogger. Presently, YouTube is the only source of income. Earlier, I was a construction worker. In 2016, I was diagnosed with kidney failure. I had a Kidney transplantation. During the post operative phase, I had to incur almost INR 15,000 per month just for my medicines.

If I opt for any normal job, it’s pretty sure that I won’t be able to earn enough for even my medicines. As I had kidney transplantation, it was also nearly impossible for me to continue with construction work. So, I, myself, searched on YouTube and studied about YouTube well for nearly one month. I have only started the channel after researching well about YouTube. 
At the time, when I started OMKV fishing & cooking, there was not many fishing channels on YouTube. Today, there are a number of channels dedicated to fishing. As a result, I would rather say that I had an edge as I started at an early phase with a different concept and because of the quality of videos. I was shooting with the help of my friend’s camera. He had supported me very well. This is how we started the journey. Now, I am a full time YouTuber.

3. Where do you hail from?

I am from Kochi. I am hailing from a village named Kumbalangi. Kumbalangi for Kochi is just like what a caparison is for an elephant. You must have watched the film Kumbalangi Nights. The film, shot near my home, had actor Soubin Shahir in the lead. I have even done a vlog with him, when he came for the shoot.

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4. Tell us something about your education? Where and what did you studied?

Ha ha.. If I say about my educational background.. I have only studied till 10th grade. I was a 10th failed student. For my lower and upper primary education, I went to our local diocese school. My high school education was at Kumbalangi St. Peter’s School. When I failed in my tenth grade, I stopped my studies. Even from my childhood, I wasn’t much interested in studies…you know.. he.. he..

5. The channel OMKV Fishing & Cooking has a great fan following. In which year did you started the journey?

We uploaded our first video on 30 March 2018. So that was the the day we started our journey.

6. Looking back, how difficult was the journey? Is it satisfiying now?

I won’t call it as difficult. Because, you know, I am a person who like fishing and cooking very much. Not many are lucky to earn by doing what they like the most. With the grace of god, I am lucky to earn from what I like the most. That’s the big thing. Sometimes, it may take 4-5 days to shoot even one video. But if you consider it as your job and something which you like the most, It won’t be difficult at all. Looking back I am 101 percent satisfied and happy.

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7.  Months back, unfortunately, you met with an accident in the Gulf? How did that happened? You had a major surgery too. How’s the recovery?

We went for a fishing trip in Oman. It was a 20 day trip. The accident occurred on the 10th day. We were returning after a 4-day long trip from Salalah to Muscat. We started our journey at night and While driving in the morning at around 6 AM, there was heavy dust wind, and the vehicle we were travelling slipped and turned upside down into the sand. I had scratches on my back bone, wounds in my arms and legs. I was in ICU for 5 days. But, I was not operated upon. It was my friend who had a major surgery. He’s recovering now. I am ok and recovered well. I have restarted shooting.

8. The YouTube community had supported you very well during the difficult phase of your life. Do you have any moments to share?

During my kidney transplantation phase, people from my place had helped me financially through crowdfunding initiatives. I was not on YouTube at that time. Although there’s an old video dated to that period, I was not active then. 

After I met with the accident in Oman, my subscribers and well wishers offered me help. But as my injury was not severe, I humbly declined all those offers. But everyone called me and supported me well, enquiring about my health and well being. So, actually, there wasn’t really any phase where I required help from the YouTube community. My health and related issues were a problem before and not now.

9. A food vlog might have many challenges? What are the important challenges you face during your shoot days?

If I talk about the challenges in relation to fishing, the main challenge would be frequent ‘not catching a single fish’ day. We often return empty handed after a fishing spree. Often, this is the case for almost 4 to 5 days. In videos, you only see that we use a fishing tackle to catch the fish. But in reality, it’s taking a lot of time. So, time, tide, and everything matters. During cooking, major problems are dark clouds, resultant drizzles and heavy rain.

I am not an expert in cooking. So, sometimes, food gets overcooked and burnt. But I am happy and won’t become desperate and sad during bad days. Even in my videos, if you notice, I used to say that some dishes are not up to the mark. Apart from these minor issues, there are no major ones.

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10. Coronovirus pandemic was a major setback to the whole world. How did it affected you? 

If talking about YouTubers, the main thing would be they are not able to go outside for their shoot. Everyone is opting their own surroundings for shooting. Actually, I think, lock down has affected those who are engaging in normal office works and hawks. They are not able to go out and earn. But YouTubers are doing videos and they are earning enough I think. Coronovirus is actually a big problem. I am not belittling it. Expat population are affected. Even I had some offers from abroad but I was not able to go. 
Also, there are not many fishing grounds near my home. Earlier, we used to go to nearby places viz. Alappuzha, Changanasserry, Kottayam, Chalakkudy etc. And used to change locations but now, we are not able to do that. So, now, we are uploading more of cooking videos than fishing ones. So that’s one difficult thing. We can only revive our daily routine after the corona virus pandemic is over. I know, many of our subscribers like fishing videos more than cooking ones but the situation is not ripe to shoot fishing videos.

11. In your opinion, does the title of videos, and thumbnails play a greater role when it comes to increased viewership.

Definitely. For a YouTube channel, thumbnail, title, description, tag etc. are all important. Actually, thumbnail and title are what catches the attention of viewers. In my opinion, 90 per cent, it is thumbnail, and title that decides the matter. Tag is also useful especially while when someone searches. Some do not use tags. Ultimately, thumbnail and title are the most important factors in the growth of a YouTube channel. People will obviously click, if the thumbnail and title are interesting and entertaining.

12. What are your suggestions to budding YouTubers who intend to start a YouTube channel?

Before starting a channel, study well about YouTube. Normally, people start a channel by watching other YouTubers and with a mentality that if he/she can do it, why can’t I. If you consider me, I am a tenth failed person. But I haven’t approached anyone seeking help on how to use YouTube. No one taught me. I, myself, studied well about YouTube well in advance. Sometimes, people may quit, tired of the intricacies they face while handling a channel.

Secondly, video contents are very important. Content is the king. We have to choose good content. You know, there are many channels dedicated to tech, travel, cooking etc. So, today, the success rate of channels based on those topics are very low. So, we need to incorporate new ideas in such niches in order to succeed. Apart from that, you must record, edit, and complete at least 5 videos well in advance even before you create a channel. There must be back up videos always. At least upload 2 videos per week. You must share it to everyone and may go even to the extent of touching their feet, if you are in a survival mode. I was like that. For me, if not YouTube, there are no way out, I had no other options. So if you are dedicated enough, then the channel will obviously succeed. And luck also plays a big factor.

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13. How supportive are your family members? 

My family is supporting me very well. When I told them about creating a YouTube channel, they were not aware about the same. I told them to allow me 6 months time to study about YouTube. And in that 6 months, if the channel did not succeed, I promised them that I’ll go for some other job. Everyone was in full support. My family, my friends. During my start, they were not pretty sure and doubted YouTube as a reliable source of income. But they never discouraged me.

14. What are the future plans? 

I used to write stories and scripts for short films and films. I have interest in writing. Actually, I am writing a story now. I also have a plan to start a new channel dedicated to a web series. I haven’t shared this plan with anyone. This is the first time. So that’s one thing. Also, I want to take my YouTube channel to newer heights by producing more quality contents. Everyone like fishing videos. So I wish to produce more of better fishing videos.

15. Do you have any plans to diversify the contents in order to suit the changing demands of your subscribers? If yes, what kind of videos you’ll produce in future?

Like I said earlier, my subscribers like my fishing videos more, and the adventure in it. Our channel’s name resembles the same. OMKV Fishing & Cooking. So everyone like to watch fresh fishing and cooking. I also like to do related videos. When corona virus threat subside, we would like to visit more places and do quality videos.

16. We, indeed, heard many stories about income from YouTube. What is the reality? According to you,  Is YouTube a reliable source of income? Are you satisfied with your present income from YouTube? Is it worth your effort? Does money really matter in content creation or is it just a passion?

From YouTube, exactly each month on 23rd or 24th, I receive my payments. YouTube will send you the amount once the threshold reaches $100. YouTube is a reliable source of income. My family is entirely depending on YouTube for livelihood. I am satisfied 101 percent about my income from YouTube. Honestly, I think I am getting enough or more than enough for what I am doing. 

For videos, yes we are spending a hell lot of money. But we are getting it back. We are also paid for our older videos. Really, I was doubtful in the beginning. But when I have received the first payment, I became confident. But now, each month, I am getting the payment regularly. YouTube is providing double than our effort. It’s my opinion. Others may have a different take on the topic.

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17. What are your advices to budding YouTubers?

They must do videos regularly, do hard work, study well about YouTube, do handle seniors as well as budding YouTubers with respect. Do communicate with your subscribers. Do videos which subscribers like the most. Reply to subscribers’ comments, talk to them, spend quality time with them, so that, it’ll look like a give and take relation. By doing so, even if the channel do not succeed, you’ll be friends with many people. For me, the big thing which I gained from YouTube was a lot of friends.

18. Do any others help you in the technical aspects of content creation?

Initially, our camera man was doing the editing work. He is the biggest asset and strength for us. He was editing the content. It is in his camera we shoot. After about 15 videos, he told me to learn editing and buy a system. Then I bought one and started learning about editing from YouTube itself. Now, I am the one who is editing my videos. But my friend is handling the camera.

19. How you get ideas for each of your videos? What sources are helping you out?

We are only doing what some one has already done. But we try to improvise by providing our own inputs. Then only it’ll succeed. Subscribers used to advice us in the comment section to do certain things in certain ways. Initially, I used to get advices from older people. I also watch YouTube videos related to cooking and fishing. After learning and understanding, I improvise with my own style. As I said earlier, I am not a good chef. But I am trying my best to learn more.

20. What are the prominent changes in your life after you have crossed 4.4 lakh subscribers compared to a phase where you had only 100 subscribers?

As far as I am concerned, there are no particular changes. But when I go outside, people identify me, and try to talk with me. That’s a better change. Also, financially, it’s not like earlier. It’s better now. 

21. What was your favourite fan moment? 

First person to call me after watching my video was Unais. He was working in Abu Dhabi at that time. That was a beautiful and happy moment. Also, when people recognize me, I am very happy. I enjoy present moment more.

22. Can you name a few of your ardent followers?

There are many. So, I cannot name a few or single out some. I can remember a lot of names but if I mention them, that may affect others. So, I do not want to mention anyone out of respect to all of them. I know many who comment frequently and whom I do not know directly.

23. What resources do you use for editing and enhancing your video content? 

I use film aura. It’s a simple application. We can take ‘out’ in super quality. So, for beginners I recommend it.

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24. Which is your most favourite YouTube channel?

I like many channels. As I said earlier, I cannot mention anyone in particular. I like all channels because I know how much hard work they are putting in for each of their videos. I respect all of them, their effort and hard work and I cannot take names.

25. Who is your most favourite YouTuber?

Just like earlier, I like all. But as a brother, I have huge respect for Food N Travel fame Ebbin Chettan, and also Firos ikka, Haris ikka, Nisam ikka etc. It is difficult to name a few. I like Ebbin chettan because he was the first YouTuber to call me to appreciate after watching my videos. We have a good friendly relation. Also, with Firos ikka.

26. Which video of yours do you like the most?

If you ask me, I like my latest videos more. This is because I expect these videos to go viral. So we do maximum hard work for our latest videos. Tomorrow, it would be another video. I cannot name any video in particular because we are producing all videos with care.

27. Thank you so much. It was great talking to you!

I am very happy to share our story with you. Thank you for the opportunity. Be with us and support us always. Thank you.

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image courtesy: Unni George

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