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Foods Worth Traveling For Slideshow: Asia and the Pacific

Foods Worth Traveling For Slideshow: Asia and the Pacific

Australia: Meat Pies

The flashy neon lights and long lines at Sydney's iconic Harry's Café de Wheels contrast with the origin of meat pies, which date back to the Neolithic times. The outdoor stand makes classic meat pies, as well as new variations that draw locals and visitors alike for the flaky crusts and fillings like beef with peas and mash, and chicken and curry.

Bangladesh: Ilish Pulao

Ilish pulao, also known as pilaf, is typically served at family events such as weddings. It is made with seasoned rice with pieces of small ilish fish on top. Ilish fish is very common in Bangladesh and can be smoked, steamed, or baked with mustard seeds, chiles, ginger, turmeric, and other spices. Kasturi is one of the best places to try it is in Dhaka.

Bhutan: Ema Datshi

A good place to try the hot, spicy, and cheesy ema datshi is Plums Café, in Thimphu. There, locals and visitors will find traditional ema datshi — made with chile peppers, cheese, and cayenne and served with herbed rice — and other Bhutanese dishes.

Brunei: Ambuyat

Ambuyat has the consistency of thick paste and is sticky and starchy. This nearly flavorless Bruneian specialty is made from the pith of sago palms and is usually eaten with bamboo sticks called candas. To add flavor, dip it into a variety of sauces made from sour fruits. Try it at Aminah Arif restaurant in Kiulap, a local favorite.

Burma/Myanmar: Mohinga

This classic Burmese dish, which can be found on almost every street corner and in nearly every restaurant, is made from rice, noodles, and fish broth. Though mohinga is usually eaten for breakfast, locals say there isn't really a bad time to eat the dish. Head to Yangon (formerly Rangoon) for a bowl at Green Elephant.

Cambodia: Amok Trey

Amok trey is made of steamed fish with coconut milk and lots of herbs and spices. After the fish is seasoned, it is steamed in banana leaves. This dish is often called a curry quite often because of its saucy texture, not because there are any curry powders in it. You can find amok trey in many Siem Reap restaurants, but Khmer Kitchen is regarded as one of the best.

China: Peking Duck

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This Chinese specialty is known all over the world, but it is still appreciated in its homeland. Peking duck, a crispy duck served with pancakes and spring onions, was invented in Beijing and locals still argue over where you can find the best version. One of the better options can be found at Quanjude in Beijing.

China: Jiaozi

iStockphoto/thinkstock

Jiaozi is a traditional Chinese dumpling that's popularity has spread into Nepal, Japan, and other parts of Asia. It is made using ground meat and vegetables that are wrapped in a thin piece of dough. The dough is then crimped closed and it's then steamed, boiled, or fried. Sample jiaozi at Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu in Beijing.

China: Tofu

Tofu can be found all over the world and comes in many different varieties. It is said that King Liu An created Tofu in China about 2,000 years ago. Tofu is low in calories but high in protein and can be used in sweet and savory dishes, depending on the variety used. Try the fried tofu at Huguosi Snack Restaurant near the Huguosi Hotel in Beijing.

China: Hong Kong: Char Siu

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Originally Cantonese, char siu is flavored barbecued pork that has become a specialty in Hong Kong, and throughout other parts of Asia. Many of the char siu restaurants in Hong Kong hang their meat specialties in the window to show off for passersby. Hong Kong's Joy Hing's Roasted Meat arguably serves the most famous plates of it.

China: Macau: Minchee

Minchee, also spelled minchi, is a fusion of Portuguese and Macanese flavors. It is made of stir-fried ground pork with soy sauce and onions, topped with a fried egg. Macau's O Porto Interior is the ideal place to try a well-done local classic such as minchee.

India: Idli

iStockphoto/thinkstock

Idli is one of the most popular and iconic vegetarian items to order off an Indian food menu. It is a Southern Indian lentil and rice pancake that is eaten for breakfast or as a snack paired with chutney and spices. Try them at Bangalore's Om Murugan Idli Shop.

India: Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken comes from northern India, but it is really a national specialty. A tandoori is a type of oven that is used to cook flatbreads and meat dishes. Naan and tandoori chicken, which is marinated in yogurt and spices prior to being put in the oven, are the most common dishes made with this kind of oven. Various menu items made with the tandoori oven can be sampled at Bukhara in Delhi.

Indonesia: Gado-Gado

Gado-gado is a vegetable salad with peanut sauce, hard-boiled eggs, and a crunchy topping such as friend tempeh or tempura pieces. However, there are many variations of this dish found throughout Indonesia. One of Jakarta's best examples is served atGado-Gado Boplo.

Indonesia: Nasi Goreng

It isn’t clear whether or not Indonesians customized classic Chinese fried rice to make their famous dish nasi goring, but it's a local favorite. It is usually enjoyed as a flavorful street food topped with sweet soy sauce, tamarind, chile peppers, egg, chicken, and shrimp. Try nasi goreng for yourself at the famous seaside La Lucciola in Seminyak.

Indonesia: Satay

iStockphoto/thinkstock

Satay is reportedly inspired by Arabic shawarma and Indian kebabs. It is made from meats such as beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, and for non-Muslims, pork. Some say that the best versions of this dish come from street vendors, but you can try some of Bali's finest at Denpasar Badung Traditional Market in Bali's capital.

Japan: Japanese Curry

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Japanese curry is not the same as Indian curry. It is made from a thick vegetable-based sauce and meats such as beef or deep-fried pork. It is typically served with rice, udon noodles, or bread. The Japanese eat it for any meal of the day and it is found in almost every home and restaurant. A good place to try it at is Manten in Tokyo.

Japan: Ramen Noodles

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Ramen noodle soup is usually made of ramen noodles served in beef or fish broth and also includes toppings like sliced pork and spring onions. One popular ramen shop in Tokyo is Ippudo. However, deciding which ramen shop can truly be named the best is a hot debate among locals.

Japan: Sushi

Sushi can be found all over the world, but its home is Japan and it can be found everywhere in the country, from Michelin-starred restaurants to street markets and everywhere in between. One of the most famous sushi restaurants in Tokyo, which opened in 1936, is Ginza Kyubey. A three-Michelin-starred option is Sukiyabashi Jiro.

Laos: Larb with Sticky Rice

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Larb is a term for a traditionally Laotian-style meat salad served with a special ground toasted rice and sticky rice. It is usually made with pork, chicken, beef, or duck and mixed with mint, chiles, and vegetables. Try it at Makphet, a traditional restaurant in Vientiane.

Malaysia: Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia and can be eaten with any meal. It is a rice dish that is cooked with coconut cream and topped with meat or fish. The most important ingredient is the pandan leaf because it infuses the rice with a unique flavor. Madam Kwan's Restaurant is known for its nasi lemak, and is one of Kuala Lumpur's best-known restaurants.

Mongolia: Buuz

Buzz is a very important part of Mongolian history and is traditionally eaten at home during Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year. Buuz are steamed dumplings filled with meat such as beef or mutton and flavored with salt, garlic, onions, fennel, and herbs. During Tsagaan Sar, restaurants such as Hishig Mongol 2 in Ulaanbaatar will also serve the dish.

Nepal: Dal Bhat

Dal bhat is a typical Nepalese dish. Lentils (dal) and rice (bhat) create the base of the dish and are combined with potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, spinach, and other vegetables to complete the meal. It is served with a crispy cracker. Sample it at Kathmandu's Third Eye Restaurant.

New Zealand: Pavlova

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Pavlova was officially declared to originate from New Zealand in 2010. Before that, there was much debate about whether it belonged to New Zealand or neighbor Australia. The dish, a light meringue dessert topped with fresh fruit and cream, is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Many locals enjoy it at Euro in Auckland.

New Zealand: Bacon and Egg Pie

Bacon and egg pie can be found at many locations throughout New Zealand, but Little & Friday is a favorite among Auckland locals. This savory pie is made of a flaky crust that's filled with bacon, egg, and sometimes onions, peas, tomatoes, and cheese.

Philippines: Adobo

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Filipino adobo, not to be confused with Spanish adobo, is a popular long-cooking dish made with meat, fish, or vegetables that are marinated in vinegar, garlic, oil, and other spices. Some consider it the unofficial dish of the Philippines. Adobo To' in Pasig City or The Aristocrat in Manila make excellent versions of this dish.

Philippines: Lechón

Lechón is a whole suckling pig roasted over charcoal, and while it is served all over the world, it is a Filipino specialty. Anthony Bourdain even featured it on an episode of No Reservations filmed in Manila, where he claimed the lechón he tried there was the best he'd ever had. Because lechón is time-consuming and requires an enormous amount of effort, it is usually seen at festivals or special occasions. However, Manila's General's Lechón serves it year-round.

Singapore: Chilli Crab

Chilli crab is sold on almost every street corner and café in Singapore. The dish is made using mud crabs, which are stir-fried in a thick tomato and chile sauce. However, the dish is not all spice; the sauce is actually rather sweet. Try it at Long Beach Seafood.

Singapore: Hainanese Chicken Rice

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This dish is originally from China, but it was adapted and is now prepared in a specific way in Singapore. In the Singapore adaption, the whole chicken is boiled in a pork stock with garlic and ginger. The rice is cooked in coconut milk and everything is topped with a spicy chile sauce. It can be sampled at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice.

South Korea: Kimchi

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Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made with various vegetables and seasonings. It is the national dish of Korea and there are many different variations. The vegetables are usually used in stews, fried rice, and soups. Gwanghwamun Jip in Seoul is a good place to try it.

South Korea: Bulgogi

Bulgogi is a Korean dish that is made of marinated, grilled lean beef and served with rice and mixed vegetables. The name literally translates to "fire meat" in English. the dish has a long history that reportedly dates back to 37 B.C., but you can sample it today in Seoul at Bulgogi Brothers restaurant.

Sri Lanka: Rice and Curry

Rice and curry is one of the most popular combinations in Sri Lankan cuisine. It can be accompanied by meat, vegetables, or pickles, and the type of rice varies, as there are more than 15 different types on the island. Sambols, a version of an Indian pickle, is commonly served with rice and curry and can be flavored with chili powder. Head to the Nor Lanka Hotel for an upscale rice and curry experience.

Taiwan: Beef Noodle Soup

iStockphoto/thinkstock

Beef noodle soup is one of the most commonly served dishes in Taiwan. Depending on where you get your soup, the broth varies from darker to clearer, and everyone in Taiwan has an opinion about which version is the best. Commonly made with stewed beef, broth, vegetables, and noodles, the soup is often served alongside other dishes like braised tofu and seaweed. There many variations available, such as Sichuan-style, which is spicy, and Northern-style, which has a clear broth. Try this dish at the famed Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup Restaurant in Taipei.

Thailand: Pad Thai

iStockphoto/thinkstock

This ubiquitous Thai dish is meant to be sweet, salty, and sour all at once with ingredients like radishes, peanuts, egg, and dried shrimp adding to its flavor. Although pad thai dates back to ancient Siam, it truly gained popularity after World War II. The dish can be easily found throughout the country, but for an authentic Thai experience, try it at We’s Restaurant in Chiang Mai.

Thailand: Tom Yum Soup

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Tom yum soup is hot and spicy dish made with vegetables, shrimp, and mushrooms. Flavors like lemongrass, Kaffir lime, galangal (Thai ginger), chile peppers, and fish sauce are also used to give the soup its restorative quality. For a good version of the soup, try Bo.lan in Bangkok.

Thailand: Khao Soi

This traditional soup originally belonged to the Chinese and was introduced to Thailand by immigrants. Since then, the Thai people have made the dish their own. Khao Soi is a salty noodle soup made with fried noodles and spicy coconut curry, served with slices of lime and chile paste. Although it is available almost everywhere, one highly recommended spot is Kao Soy Nimman in Chiang Mai.

Vietnam: Pho

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This dish is the quintessential noodle soup. The soup consists of rice noodles, seasoned with lime and mint, and sliced beef or chicken. Eat some of the best pho at Pho Hung in Ho Chi Minh City.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.


This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

It&rsquos June 28, 2017: Jessica Hirsch&rsquos last day of school. She&rsquos spent the last seven years as a full-time math teacher.

As a teenager, she thought teaching was her calling. (Her mom is also a teacher.) While she says she&rsquos loved the job, when she started her career, she never could have imagined the other passion she would develop -- Instagram and its ecosystem of influencers didn&rsquot exist back then.

Then about two and a half years ago, she started posting food pictures on a personal Instagram account. As she consumed more indulgent meals and treats and posted images of them, the foodie Instagrammer lifestyle began to consume her. She found herself working on her account during any free moment she could find during the school day, then spending all evening on it once she got home.

Today, Hirsch has 351,000 followers on her main account, @cheatdayeats, and more than 7,700 on another, @yourroomservice, which showcases luxury travel experiences. She also has a blog as well as Facebook and YouTube accounts, but Instagram is where she built her brand and is the platform she remains focused on. Brands she&rsquos worked with include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Kellogg&rsquos, American Express, Delta Airlines, Uber, Samsung, Oreo, Godiva and more. She recently became the first food photographer on a team of about 80 Sony camera brand ambassadors.

&ldquoEvery day, I look forward to it. I&rsquom excited about it. It&rsquos never like I&rsquom &lsquohaving a bad day at work,&rsquo&rdquo Hirsch says. &ldquoI don&rsquot even realize that I&rsquom working, but I&rsquom constantly working.&rdquo

Entrepreneur caught up with Hirsch, who shared tips for Instagram success, common misconceptions about sponsorships and how she&rsquos evolving her brand.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had always been weirdly the person of my friends who took pictures of their food and was obsessed with where they were going next, and no one really related to me. So when I saw that there was this whole world who did the same thing, I was like, wow, I need to be a part of this. I remember the first year was pretty slow, and then once I hit 10,000 followers, it shot up to 100,000 within a few months. I was just showcasing who I was, and I found that people really related to it.

My first paid post was like, &ldquoOK, wow, this is something interesting. I&rsquom getting paid for something I probably would&rsquove done for free.&rdquo I didn&rsquot realize the potential and the worth my brand had. Then, the first time that a brand that was outside of the food world approached me, I realized a different level of my audience, and how much a brand could reach through getting featured on my feed.

The world that I&rsquom really focusing on right now is travel. The press trips since September have been nonstop. When I was invited to my first press trip and I was on it, I was like, &ldquoI&rsquom in Bermuda right now and seeing this water and having this experience, all because of Instagram.&rdquo

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
Instagram is my main focus. I do have Facebook. I just usually send posts over to Facebook. And I have Twitter also, but I feel like Twitter&rsquos not really relatable to what my feed represents, because my feed is very visual. I do have a blog, and in the last few months, I&rsquove been focusing on it more. When I&rsquom 100 percent, I&rsquoll be pushing people towards that, too.

I am really interested in developing my YouTube channel, for which I&rsquom also creating a lot of videos currently. So once I get that basis on there, that&rsquos something that I&rsquoll be focusing on also. I&rsquove been approached by a lot of people in television, and I just want to have the content up there for reference.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
Instagram basically has it all, now that it has taken over a lot of the aspects that Snapchat has. You could see my story, you could see my entire feed, you could see my one post. It&rsquos well-rounded. It&rsquos really visual, it&rsquos a good place to tell a story, and the audience will get a full experience with the person that they are watching. I think Facebook is visual still, but it doesn&rsquot have that storytelling aspect to it as much as Instagram does. If I&rsquom posting a video on the Cheat Day Eats Facebook page, it kind of stands alone. It&rsquos not part of the whole entire feed, like in an Instagram Story.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
Any time I had free time at work, I was spending it on it. So probably an hour during school and from like 3 to 10 p.m. each weekday. There&rsquos typically an event every night. On the weekend I would say literally, that&rsquos all I do. I go to brunch, which might not seem like work, but I&rsquom photographing from brunch, and I&rsquoll go to a few places during the weekend, so I can get a lot of good light. I go to two to four places. They might not all be sit-down restaurants. They might be more of like a grab-and-go or a bakery, and I&rsquoll take some stuff home. And then, I&rsquoll probably edit for the rest of the night. I use Photoshop. I also use Snapseed on my phone.

5. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
Tagging the right people. For example, if I post something that I think would attract attention of let&rsquos say, Food and Wine (@foodandwine), because it&rsquos a beautiful shot, and hope that they would regram me, and they have a couple million followers, then reposts are going to help build and attract new followers. I&rsquove seen accounts who don&rsquot tag, and I&rsquove noticed that their growth is actually a lot slower. It&rsquos an annoying thing to do, but I think it&rsquos worth it. Plus, sometimes people might look to see who&rsquos been tagging @foodandwine. So it&rsquos kind of like a search engine.

Hashtags are a good way, also, for a search engine, although I&rsquove been hearing lately that they could not be helpful, because a lot of them have been banned or something. So there&rsquos a lot of back and forth about that.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I read all my comments and I try to respond to them, even with just a little smiley. Now Instagram allows likes on comments, and that&rsquos a great way to let people know that I see what they&rsquore saying. I want to make sure that my audience knows that I&rsquom interested in what I think about the photo or if they want to know more, I&rsquom always happy to answer it.

People DM me, or direct message me, all the time. Sometimes they ask me about my recommendations, or what I thought of a dish, or, if they&rsquore coming to New York, I have a lot of people who are always saying, &ldquoWhat&rsquos your favorite place?&rdquo or &ldquoWhere should I go in New York?&rdquo So I actually read all of my direct messages also.

In terms of engaging with my peers, the food community is pretty small. It&rsquos a big community in New York City, but I&rsquove met so many different people in different worlds. I love meeting different people and seeing how they work and what they do. Some of them have already worked with a lot of brands, so I like seeing how they&rsquove done it and what has worked, how I could apply that to my brand, too.

7. How often do you post?
I typically post two to four times per day. Usually three, but if I&rsquom traveling, sometimes it might be a little harder, if I can&rsquot get Wi-Fi. I try to post during the high-volume times. Saturday mornings are usually good, and then maybe Saturday night. Sunday is kind of a busy day, so I&rsquoll post maybe four times, because I know a lot of people are on the platform then and they&rsquore going to see it.

It&rsquos really interesting to post and see what does well when. I see Instagram Insights through a business profile. You have to connect it to Facebook, so not everybody has it. Insights tell you so many things. They tell you engagement, how many likes and comments, who&rsquos following you from what cities and so on. It&rsquos really helpful information. Working with brands, they want to make sure they&rsquore targeting the right audience, so that&rsquos a really helpful tool.

8. What's your content strategy?
My content strategy is trying to execute a photo or video that really showcases an experience. Showcasing who I am and what the food is, and maybe where I am and when. Every photo that I post is a little different depending on what it is and where I am, and obviously I don&rsquot want it to get dull, so my content strategy differs based off of that information.

As my brand has evolved, my content strategy has changed dramatically. Originally, I was posting straight up food porn, like chocolate dripping, and of course I still do that, because I still love it. That&rsquos who I am. But today, I try to incorporate a lot of lifestyle photos and pictures of me and have my personality really shine through on my feed. So it&rsquos kind of a mix.

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
I always try to incorporate any of the new features that they have. With Instagram Stories, I was so happy, because I was on Snapchat and on Instagram, back and forth, and now this one platform has everything. I probably took 1,000 photos the weekend I was in Toronto alone, and I&rsquom not going to post them all on Instagram, so I can put a bunch of them on Instagram Stories, kind of like a &ldquobest of.&rdquo On this past trip, I tried to incorporate videos as I went through each day. I originally started with a focus of food videos, and now I&rsquom kind of taking a step back, and I constantly am taking videos of myself.

10. What's your best storytelling trick?
Obviously a photo tells a story, but a video gets more in depth, and it really gets the audience involved and lets them see a little bit more to what I&rsquom doing. I love to post how-tos, or show how a dish is made. I think it gets people much more interested in the video than if it was, let&rsquos say, just a cheese bowl. The more of the experience that people are able to have themselves, the more traction it&rsquos gonna get. I try to do it as much as possible, but it&rsquos hard to get into the kitchen sometimes.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
I think @cheatdayeats is really relatable. I find that I get audiences from all over the world and all different types of people. It&rsquos because, at the end, everybody loves food, and I think everybody loves to have an indulgence. It&rsquos kind of like a combination of luxury and indulgence, and I think people really love to see that.

There are other people who have 350,000 followers, and, at the end of the day, are they paying attention? Are they engaging? And my audience is. And I think that&rsquos because I&rsquom engaging back with them and I&rsquom paying attention to what they want to see.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
Every partnership&rsquos a little bit different, but what&rsquos important to me, at the end of the day, is that I&rsquom working with brands and destinations and products that I love. I&rsquove learned, and I&rsquove spoken to many people who have said this also, that the money&rsquos not worth it if it&rsquos not gonna be part of who you are and what your brand represents, because you&rsquore going to lose people in the end.

I&rsquove worked with a few different airlines, a few different destinations, credit cards, food brands, restaurants. When opportunities come to me, it&rsquos very humbling, and I&rsquom very grateful. I think they see something in me, and obviously they see I have a large audience, and I think that they see that my audience is paying attention.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Be true to who you are. Post things that you love and that you want to share, because if you&rsquore just posting things that you think are going to do well that don&rsquot relate to you, no one&rsquos gonna relate to them.

And networking: I&rsquom constantly trying to meet people, and work with different influencers, different brands. That doesn&rsquot happen out of nowhere. I&rsquom constantly trying to network at different events and go out and meet new people, because you never know where it&rsquos gonna lead.

14. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That a sponsored post is just someone getting paid and that it doesn&rsquot relate to who they are. A lot of people have that negative connotation with &ldquosponsored&rdquo and &ldquoad.&rdquo I had posted recently, about Oreo, and it wasn&rsquot an ad, it was just a post about Oreo. I&rsquove posted for Oreo a bunch, but I&rsquove also posted about Oreo a bunch where it hasn&rsquot been an ad. But someone was like, &ldquoOh, I thought this was an ad. Good thing it&rsquos not.&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWhy wouldn&rsquot I want to work with Oreo? I love them!&rdquo I&rsquom not going to not post Oreos unless it&rsquos a paid one.

So I think the most important thing is helping the audience and the followers realize that an ad and a sponsored post is the way that I&rsquom going to be making my living, I&rsquom staying true to who I am, the brands that I want to work with are the brands that I actually love and I&rsquom sharing them because I think that people would love them, too. That&rsquos the bottom line. I think eventually, that&rsquos gonna be more accepted. I think the negative part will go away once people realize that, the people who they&rsquore following, if they trust them, that is the case. Obviously, some people are gonna just take any opportunity. I want them to realize that&rsquos not who I am.