We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we caught up with Lynja Davis, aka Cooking with Lynja, a TikToker with over 10 million followers who describes herself as “a regular mom with killer cooking skills.”
Despite being on an app where the top creators are teens and twenty-somethings, Davis holds her own with an unforgettable personality and fast-paced short-form video style. She stays on top of internet humor and keeps her audience engaged with memorable rituals. One ritual includes her regular series called “Bussin or Nah,” where she tries and reviews unconventional recipes.
Davis’s videos are edited by her son, Tim, who has crafted a unique video editing style for the page. The style includes quick cuts, sound effects, pop culture references and comedic visual choices—like having Davis hit a prop version of their family dog with a baseball bat with “home run” graphics added over.
Davis spoke with Passionfruit about her TikTok origin story, how she chooses recipes for her videos, why brands come to her, perfectionism, and more.
What got you interested in TikTok?
When the COVID pandemic started in March 2020, my son Tim and I were quarantined at home due to COVID-19 and needed something to keep us busy. Tim came up with the personal goal of making 30 short videos in 30 days to keep his videography skills sharp. He made a few videos of him, me, and my husband Keith doing everyday chores such as playing with our dog, landscaping, and filling the birdfeeder. Tim and I started shooting some cooking videos—we called them “Cooking with Lynja” segments. It was fun planning and taping them and it filled the time! Before we knew it, 30 days of quarantine had gone by. Since the lockdown continued, we started shooting just “Cooking with Lynja” videos. Tim started posting our videos on TikTok around May 2020 and the rest is history.
How did you come up with your unique video editing style?
Tim just kept making videos and his unique style developed over time based on what “worked” for our subscribers.
How do you choose which recipes to make for your videos?
I subscribe to a daily newspaper’s food newsletter. When I see an interesting recipe for the family or for Cooking with Lynja, I look at the recipe. Then the newsletter directs me to additional recipes I might enjoy and then I end up in a “recipe vortex!” If a recipe has a minimal number of ingredients, easy to obtain ingredients, and has a minimal number of steps, Tim and I discuss and if we both agree, it goes on the recipe list for the future.
You’ve scored brand deals with Bush’s Beans, Ancestry, Tubi, and others. What is your best advice for other creators who are looking into working with brands?
Produce entertaining videos on a regular basis and the brands will come to you.
What inspired you to start the ritual of “kicking” your dog Charlie out of your videos?
We are dog lovers so we have always had Dobby and Charlie in videos. We knew we could incorporate the dogs in more comical ways if they each had a “stunt double.” It was much easier finding a “stunt double” for Charlie than Dobby.
Have you always been interested in comedy?
For most of my life, I have been very serious and staid. When we first started Cooking with Lynja, I wanted the videos to be educational but over a few months’ time, I started realizing that it was important to have fun if we were going to film 4-5 days a week. I started to relax and enjoy the moment!
What are your favorite ways to stay in touch with your fans?
The few times I am recognized in public, I am very happy to take selfies with fans. But I am actually looking for ways to interact more with my fans.
What do your friends and family think of your internet fame?
My friends and family were so thrilled in 2020 and early 2021 as Lynja became somewhat famous. But by now, that has worn off! I am just one of the pack like before.
If you could go back to when you were first starting out on TikTok, what advice would you give yourself?
Production is more important than perfection—keep producing on a regular basis as you’ll learn so much. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes—you will gain confidence and resilience from your mistakes.
Thank you, Lynja, for speaking with us!
Grace Stanley is a reporter covering creators and influencers. They were previously the social media manager for Nautilus Magazine and attended the University of Texas at Austin.