She talks about how when she started blogging, she struggled with finding her niche. When she did, she wanted to make sure she was honest in all of her posts.
In the ninth episode of Become a Media Maven, Lindsay talks about how she credits patience to her success. She kept blogging about food, even after moving to a different state. She kept telling more and more people about what she was doing. Those people told her about the Food Network casting, and even though she waited until the last minute to apply, she got it!
In this episode, you’ll learn what you can do to get on a reality TV show too.
Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:
- Guys Big Project on Food Network
- Lindsay’s website
- Lindsay on YouTube
- Lindsay on Instagram
- Lindsay on Facebook
- Pitch, Publicity, Profit waitlist
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For most of us, setting a specific goal(s) is how we gauge our success. Sometimes, we are successful and sometimes we are not. But for Lindsay, figuring out what her goal was and how to obtain her goal wasn’t so clear-cut.
Starting a Food Blog
“When I first started blogging I was kind of confused about what my brand identity should be,” Lindsay said. She knew she wanted to blog about food, but there was more to it than that. Lindsay had to ask herself:
- Should my blog be location specific?
- Should I be the South Florida food blogger?
- Should I try to be everywhere?
- What kind of content am I going to try to put out?
Lindsay decided to start her blog with recipes. Simple enough? Or was it?
“When I did start, I was posting recipes and I found it was a lot more time consuming than I thought, especially if you’re not a recipe developer like me.”
She said it started to get old really fast. “So, at the beginning, I ended up switching gears several times within the first three to four months.”
“The thing I like to do is eat and I love to cook too, but eating is really my favorite and I always knew that I had something to say about food. I wanted to give my opinion about the foods that I ate out.”
Lindsay felt with her, straight shooter and honest approach, she could deliver a compelling blog people could rely on.
“It’s funny, ever since I was younger, I loved, loved, loved to eat! Even in elementary school, I would have friends parents say that I couldn’t come over for dinner because they didn’t have enough food to feed me.” Lindsay laughs and says by the time she got to college, “My mom would have to make more food when she knew I was coming home from college.”
Growing a Successful Food Blog
As Lindsay became an adult, she began to realize she couldn’t pack on the food the way she had most of her life, but it didn’t change her passion for it.
“It actually kind of stressed me out transitioning out of that because you get to a certain age where your body can’t support all of this food the way that it used to. So, it’s been a constant struggle my whole life with truly loving to eat. Not just food in general, but a lot of food.”
Even with her food struggles, it didn’t sway Lindsay from sticking with her goals. She wanted to blog about food. She wanted to share her knowledge and passion for food.
From Food Blog to Food Network
Lindsay continued her blog and toyed with different formats. Then, she got an unexpected call.
“Out of the blue, a friend of mine in Atlanta sends me the casting call for Food Networks Guy’s Big Project. I remember specifically looking at it and seeing it was calling all home cooks and food bloggers.”
If you haven’t seen the show Guy’s Big Project, it’s a reality show where Guy Fieri challenges contestants to develop their own food TV show and the winner makes appearances on Food Network programs.
Lindsay contemplated responding.
“Normally, I would have never applied to something like this because I’m not a trained chef, you know, I haven’t gone to culinary school or anything like that.”
Her passion for food took over.
“Because it said food bloggers, I knew they were looking for more amateur type people. This was for a hosting position. I had always looked at my end goal of becoming a food personality. I didn’t want to just take pictures and post online. I wanted to be more than that.” she said.
The thought of applying made Lindsay super uncomfortable so she waited until the very last minute to submit her pitch video.
“A few hours before it was due I put it online.” She says, “Then they called me not more than a few hours later. I literally couldn’t believe it because I’ve never done anything like that before. Never been on camera. I wasn’t sure if I’d be good at it.”
But she says there was only one way to find out.
Promoting Your Blog to Get More Opportunities
There are two important points about Lindsay’s journey. Since the beginning, she worked hard to get the word out about her brand, blog, Instagram, and goals. This is a must for success because Exposure = Opportunity. If you’re not putting yourself out there, how will people know what to pass along to you?
Lindsay also waited until the last minute to apply for the reality show. Why? Because she felt uncomfortable. So many people in business don’t want to do what feels uncomfortable. To be successful, you can’t avoid it. When you step out of your comfort zone, that’s a sign you should be doing it. It means it’s the next step to grow your business.
“I had my initial phone conversation with producers, and then we Skyped, and then several more calls,” Lindsay says the questions producers asked were specific to her niche. Things like:
- What’s your relationship with food?
- Why are you so interested in food?
- What would her show be like? (since this is a reality show about hosting a show)
Lindsay says, “They just wanted to see how I was and how comfortable I would be on camera. They have to know you’re going to be entertaining and open and not just like closed up and not say anything the whole time… and that I had an actual show concept.”
Three weeks after the phone calls and Skype interview, while at a wedding in New Orleans, Lindsay got the call. She was cast in the show and taping would start in a week and a half.
Lindsay’s original concept would have the show’s contestants going to fairs, festivals, and food truck events to pick their favorite dish. They would bring it back to the studio for all of the contestants to try and they’d decide on a winner. Producers told her to change the concept because it needed to focus specifically on her.
Lindsay says she had to come up with plan “B” quickly.
“I honestly didn’t really know what my concept was going to be on the way to the first challenge for the show. So, I’m kind of sitting there trying to reimagine what I wanted to do.”
Food on Instagram… on TV
She says Instagram immediately popped up in her my mind.
“I thought, okay, what are the things I like about Instagram? And it came to me, all of these obnoxious things that we see. You know things like ice cream that is fish flavored. They look cool but do they actually taste good, So I would try them out on my show.” Lindsay says producers liked it. And although she didn’t win in the end, she says the experience was life-changing.
Lindsay tells me that no matter how much she reviewed it in her head, once the camera started rolling… She just had to do it!
“It was like the mecca for being professionally uncomfortable. Lots of strangers around, and here I am in front of Guy Fieri and other Food Network stars and I’m literally standing in front of them having to perform on the spot.”
“These experiences definitely help you. It’s just about continuously showing up to these places that you don’t necessarily want to be in, knowing that it can get you in a better place in the long run.”
A much simpler challenge was keeping the secret. Contractually, Lindsay wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about her involvement during the 5-month taping. Lindsay laughs, “I am a terrible secret keeper. Keeping the secret was almost as impressive being on the show.”
Becoming a Food Influencer
As you can imagine, once the show aired, Lindsay’s life and business changed. Her social media went crazy, her website visitation exploded, and her expertise and passion for food were on full display.
Lindsay says “The process was so overwhelming and fulfilling at the same time. It took a lot to step into the unknown and succeed. But it’s important to note that just because you get on a TV show that doesn’t mean you’re going to skyrocket because that’s not necessarily true.” she said.
It’s been a year since the show aired and Lindsay said, “I still have people saying, they saw me on the show. It gave me more credibility as a food blogger. But you know it’s not like a magic pill you take and your successful forever, I still have to work hard every day to achieve my goals and keep my brand going, but being on TV doesn’t hurt. That’s for damn sure.”
Earning Credibility as a Food Blogger and Influencer
As a PR professional, if I wanted to work with an influencer, of course, I would choose someone who has been on a Food Network show over somebody who hasn’t. They would be considered more credible and have authority in their industry.
So, I asked Lindsay if the experience changed the way she works as a food blogger and influencer.
“Oh, absolutely. Before the show, I had not done any video content. I mean I had done some video content in the form of light food videos, but nothing with me in front of the camera. Being in front of the camera and knowing what it felt like, it just excited me. It energized me and it made me happy. So when I got back, I was on a mission.” she said.
Bringing the Food to YouTube
After the show, she started making YouTube videos.
“It took a while to find my groove, but after trial and error, I’m now more specialized in the type of video blogs I’m producing,” Lindsay admits if it hadn’t been for the experience she gained from the show, she likely wouldn’t have gone the video route.
Getting Paid as a Food Influencer
So adding video content to Lindsay’s brand has helped to step up the quality of her influencer appeal. She has over 25,000 Instagram followers because she is good at what she does. She has an amazing engagement rate. She gets over a thousand likes on her posts and gets dozens of comments. I asked her how her Instagram is turning a profit for her.
“It’s mostly brand deals. I get A LOT of offers but I’ve chosen to work with only a handful of them because I am an honest blogger. I have a long way to go financially before I can completely support myself with the blog because I’ve limited myself with who I will work with.”
There are actually tons of different influencer agency platforms that connect influencers with brands. It includes lots and lots of networking events.
Lindsay finds them helpful. “I mean, it all helps you get connected in one way or another. That’s basically been my strategy thus far – finding these brands that I love and I can stand behind and create content for them.”
My conversation with Lindsay was interesting for several reasons.
First, of course, sitting down to chat with someone who appeared on a reality show is interesting. The details are like a mini-movie. There was a beginning, a middle and end.
But Lindsay’s interview is also interesting for another reason. It paints a picture of perseverance and taking a risk in life even when you don’t want to. Unless you are independently wealthy, stepping outside of our comfort zone is rare.
I asked Lindsay if there was any final advice she wanted to share. This is what she said.
“Each month I ask myself what have I done to make myself uncomfortable and to educate myself. Because that’s when I have grown and improved the most. Immediately following one of those two things. Because as soon as you stop trying to become better, you start getting worse. YOU have to make things happen for YOU.” Lindsay said.