In episode 381, Megan chats to Erica Hopper about ways in which you can apply previous experience to improve your blogging skills.

In this episode, we discuss how to break down tasks into manageable tasks, know you have to be flexible, apply skills you have from other positions to this business and be willing to outsource so you can focus on the things that fill your creative spirit.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

Write Blog Posts that Rank on Google’s 1st Page

RankIQ is an AI-powered SEO tool built just for bloggers. It tells you what to put inside your post and title, so you can write perfectly optimized content in half the time. RankIQ contains a hand-picked library with the lowest competition, high traffic keywords for every niche.

Guest Details

Connect with Salt and Sugar Co.
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio Erica, the creator behind the sugar + salt co., uses nearly 2 decades of professional culinary experience to create mostly gluten free, veggie forward recipes that anyone can make and the whole family will love. Erica has worked in all areas of the “food biz”, and for the last couple of years has enjoyed developing her own blog, diving into the world of food photography and recipe development, and really found she loves developing relationships with brands and clients to help them tell their stories.


  • Help people have an experience while they are making one of your recipes.
  • Start working backwards and see the goal and break it down into smaller manageable tasks.
  • Give yourself grace in your personal life and business life.
  • Mindset is important in this business. You need to stay in a positive mindset to see where you need to go to be your best you.
  • If there’s something that keeps coming up, it’s there for a reason. Lean into it.
  • Surround yourself with other people who see your value and are willing to tell you. But also tell you to get out of your own way.
  • Outsource when you’re able, so you can help your creativity flow in the things you enjoy about blogging.

Resources Mentioned

-Sam Adler’s Style Mastermind
-Loren Runion’s Emodied Framework
-Jamie Silva’s Food Blogger Business Blueprint

-Atomic Habits – James Clear
-You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero
-Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

-Tastemaker Conference

Additional “Tools”
-Daily breath work
-Daily meditation/hypnosis
-Daily exercise


Click for full script.

EBT381 – Erica Hopper

Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. The message that we get out of today’s episode is one that I preach a lot. Our previous experiences that we have prior to actually blogging matters. In today’s episode, Erica Hopper from the Sugar and Salt co joins me to talk about this very thing and how she used her previous experience to improve her blogging skills and you’ll love her story. It’s such an amazing one. This is episode number 381, sponsored by RankIQ. Let’s dig in. 

Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast, it adds value. And I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.

Megan Porta: I have Erica Hopper with me today. She’s going to talk to us about using previous experience to improve blogging skills. Erica is the creator behind the Sugar and Salt Co. She uses nearly two decades of professional culinary experience to create mostly gluten-free, veggie forward recipes that anyone can make and the whole family will love. Erica has worked in all areas of the food biz and for the last couple of years she has enjoyed developing her own blog, diving into the world of food photography and recipe development. She really found she loves developing relationships with brands and clients to help them tell their stories better. Erica, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for being here today. How are you? 

Erica Hopper: I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so, so excited to be here. 

Megan Porta: Yay. Me too. This is gonna be a really fun chat. We wanna know though, before we start, what is your fun fact to share? 

Erica Hopper: Okay. So it has nothing to do with food or blogging in any way. I am a very avid runner and actually, my very first race ever was a full marathon. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Are you serious? How was that first marathon? 

Erica Hopper: So I was 21, so it was quite a number of years ago, and I had no idea what I was doing. My only goal was to beat my brother, who is about four and a half years older than me and I did. I beat him by eight minutes. I actually came in third place overall amongst females in the race. 

Megan Porta: What? Your first marathon, you came in third place? 

Erica Hopper: Yes. My first race ever. 

Megan Porta: Oh my goodness. 

Erica Hopper: I won $750. I didn’t even know you could win money for races. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. That says a lot. I think about your character and just who you are as a human.

Erica Hopper: You are not wrong. You are not wrong. I tend to jump in with both feet and to go full force pretty much with everything I do.

Megan Porta: Wow. That story, that fun, fact shaped how we all think of you, Erica. So I love that you started that way and I’m so impressed You’re first race a marathon and you got third place. Wow. and you beat your brother. 

Erica Hopper: Yes, I beat him. Yes. I beat him by eight minutes, so I still rub it in his face now. 

Megan Porta: As you should, I believe. You definitely should continue that. All right. Let’s talk about your kinda career and job and where you’re at, because we are going to talk about how to use previous experience, whatever that is, to bring into your blogging business and improve your skills there. So where are you at now? What’s going on in your job life currently? 

Erica Hopper: So my job life, about six months ago, I was working on the blog. I was doing a little bit of contract work, kind of project management work. Then I started doing a little bit more food photography, recipe development, and really working with brands. So about six months ago, I quit doing anything that was not related to food, photography, recipe development. So now I’m doing that full-time working with brands, other bloggers, and really trying to dive into my own blog and grow it. 

Megan Porta: Amazing. I think that is something that a lot of people listening strive for, to be able to get to that point. So you have hit a goal that a lot of people want. Okay. So where did you come from? Take us back to where all of this started and give us some background. 

Erica Hopper: Yeah, so like I said before, I tend to jump in with both feet and just go really hard at things, and really just I take it, I guess to the extreme sometimes so when I was in high school, that was 20 years ago when I graduated from high school almost. I went to high school in New York. I’m actually from Tennessee, so I’m from the south. I still live in the south now. But I went to high school in New York and there, everyone I went to high school with was, they were deciding where they were going to college, they were going to all these small liberal arts colleges, Ivy League schools, just really fancy schools. It seemed like everyone knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I got a mailer in the mail from the Culinary Institute of America, which is in Hyde Park, New York, just a little bit north of New York City. I just had this aha moment and I was like, I went into the kitchen one night and I told my parents that’s where I was going to school and they didn’t think twice about it and said, that makes sense. So I went there right out of high school. I started working in a restaurant in high school. I was the only female in the kitchen at 17, 18 years old. So again, I just dove right in and went there and studied baking and pastry and then from there went to work at the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina for a little while.

Megan Porta: Love the Biltmore. Oh, I love that place. 

Erica Hopper: It’s amazing. I did my culinary school internship there and subsequently met one of my dearest friends. It was really cool this past year. I guess it’s coming up on a year ago. I have three kids now and so we actually took them back there to see all the Christmas decorations and do the tour and it was really special to see it through their eyes. Yeah, so that was where I landed in the middle of culinary school. I lived in New Orleans for a few years growing up. Like I said, I moved around quite a bit growing up and lived in New Orleans and it was such a food haven. So that’s really where, between that and my dad, that’s where my love of food and cooking came from. So when I graduated from culinary school, I decided to move back there. What I didn’t anticipate happening was Hurricane Katrina hitting three weeks later. So anyway, that brought me back up to Tennessee where I started working at Blackberry Farm, which is one of the top hotel resorts in the world now. So I spent some time there and. Anyway, long story short, I decided to go back to school, get my degree in nutrition, and have just worked through different food industries or all areas of the food industry. Met my husband. We moved to Birmingham, Alabama, which is where he’s from. So I got to work at Southern Living, Cooking Light and that’s where I really got my start in learning more about food photography and food styling and developing recipes for a reader. Which was really different from developing recipes for a restaurant. Yeah, so that’s where I got my intro into that and really loved it. But after we had our first child, we decided to move back up to Tennessee. I owned a healthy meal delivery service and sort of private chef business for a little while. All of these things I kept thinking that I really wasn’t providing the balance that I wanted in my life. We were growing our family and I felt like I was just working all the time and not really seeing any progress. So I decided to leave the job, working hands on with food for a little while, and went to work in corporate America for about a year. That’s about all it lasted. I pretty quickly realized that I’m not cut out for corporate life. So then I just on the side started this blog and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and then so many others, the pandemic hit. At that point I’d moved into more of that working from home, contract work, project management work, and when the pandemic hit, I really was like, I think I need to give this blogging thing a try. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I started on Wix and quickly realized that I needed to move over to WordPress. So that’s where we are now. I’ve, started networking and met so many people through social media and have really just continued to network and get to know people and learned more and more about pitching and have really loved making those connections with other people in the food industry and working with brands.

Megan Porta: Okay, Erica, that nobody else that I know in this world has such a diverse food related background. Holy cow. Your resume of food related experiences is incredible. You’ve covered everything. Is there anything you haven’t covered with food ? 

Erica Hopper: Truly, when it comes to the food world, I would say the only thing I probably haven’t done on a full-time level is maybe working in a butcher shop. Otherwise, you name it. I’ve done it pretty well. When I went back to college, I even worked, I waited tables and did a lot of front of the house work as well. So I pretty much have done anything you can do in the food industry.

Megan Porta: Yes you have. I think this makes you the best kind of food blogger because you’ve got every facet of it in your mind and in your experience in history, right? So this is just the coolest story ever. I’m so glad that we dug into all of that. Of all of your experiences, what would you say was your favorite?

Erica Hopper: Oh, goodness. I would probably say that each thing has, each area that I’ve worked in has their wonderful memories. But I would say that probably working at Blackberry Farm was the most influential in my culinary journey. I learned so much. I learned so much, not only about food and even more about cooking than I learned in culinary school, but I learned a lot about truly caring for others and taking care of other people and helping other people have a really wonderful, just memorable culinary experience. That’s when I’m developing recipes, that’s really where I try to go with the recipes I’m developing, as I want people to have an experience with it. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s such a great motivation to have, right? When you have that motivation, I feel like everything pans out so much better. 

Erica Hopper: Yeah. 100%. I agree. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. Okay. So how has all of this experience helped to shape the way that you are today, how you run your business today, how you develop your recipes today, et cetera? 

Erica Hopper: So I I guess I can start with the day-to-day, the list making, the making sure I’m checking things off, that was working in a restaurant, there’s so much pressure and you have to move very quickly. So I don’t move very slowly. I almost have that ingrained in my DNA at this point that, when I’m developing recipes, when I’m working on a blog post, when I’m cleaning up my kitchen even, I have to do it all quickly. Truly because I have to condense my day so much because one of the main reasons that I really love what I do is because it also allows me the ability to be able to drop my kids off at school and go pick them up from school. So I have a very finite amount of time before I have to go back into mom mode. So really prioritizing my days has been a key to getting my work done in an efficient way. 

Megan Porta: So if somebody’s listening and they don’t have the experience that you have, or even a fraction of it, and they don’t have that prioritization mindset, how do you recommend that they move more efficiently through their day, I guess?

Erica Hopper: I would say that the biggest thing is to start working backwards. Look at what you want to get done for that entire week or even, if you wanna chunk it out to a longer period of time, you know what you wanna get done in a month or even in a quarter and start breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. That’s really been key for me. I wouldn’t say that I’m the best at batch working because I’m so used to having to do so many things at one time, and so I think just breaking it down into digestible chunks of time throughout your day and not necessarily putting so much pressure on yourself to get five blog posts written or three recipes photographed. What can you do in a certain amount of time? Just think about it from that perspective of, you don’t have to get everything done all at once. You can break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s great advice. You’re busy, right? You have a family, you’re a mom, you have a job, you have other things in your life. So do you have other tips for just managing all of that? 

Erica Hopper: My number one tip is to give yourself grace. Things happen. Sick kids happen. Like today I was gonna photograph a recipe and it’s just rainy. My mindset is not really in it. So I’m like, okay, you know what? I’m gonna just shift my focus and give myself grace to do it again tomorrow. So that’s honestly the biggest tip. I think we can be so hard on ourselves sometimes, and I think that it’s so easy to just give up and think, oh, it’s never gonna happen, or I can’t, I’m never gonna get this done. But if you just give yourself grace to be flexible, then you can see how much progress you actually can make.

Megan Porta: I like that. It’s so important in this space because there is so much to do and there’s so much competition and we see other people doing more or doing better or whatever, and we get caught up. I say we, lovingly and collectively like we all do this at times. Just getting caught up in caring too much about what’s going on around us and not having grace for our own situations. Don’t you see that too, Erica? 

Erica Hopper: Oh, all the time. I’ve really started to, I don’t wanna say step away from social media, but I’ve really stopped putting pressure on myself to make sure that I’m posting every single day, or make sure that I’m following all the rules that you’re supposed to follow. Because who knows what they actually are, because the algorithm changes so often. Really being able to take that step back from social media and not comparing myself to others has been such a huge shift for me and it’s been a really big positive shift for my mindset. 

Sponsor: Are you ready to learn, grow, and build relationships in person in 2023? Eat Blog Talk is hosting a 2023 spring retreat for food bloggers. This is super exciting. In-person retreats are an opportunity for food bloggers to convene in an intimate setting to learn, collaborate, and connect. These retreats involve mastermind style, peer-to-peer collaborating, and they are such a powerful way to grow your business, expand your network of peers, and make lasting friendships. Apply to attend the Spring 2023 retreat. Go to to fill out the application. I hope to see you there. Now back to the episode. 

Megan Porta: I’ve taken that concept to an extreme lately. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, maybe somewhere in the middle, but I just don’t care about some things. Like I don’t really care about my Instagram page. Maybe that’s horrible to say, but I think it’s okay to not care about things, even if it’s for a season just to see what happens. To see that nothing’s going to implode. Your business is still gonna keep running. You are probably gonna be better off. So do you recommend taking little snippets of breaks just to experiment and see what happens?

Erica Hopper: Oh, 100%. Like I mentioned, I love the flexibility of being able to be with my kids when they’re not in school or pick them up. During the summer I didn’t post, I almost never posted on social media. I still spent a little bit of time there, and it was great. Now this past month, I’ve done a little bit more because I felt inspired to, not because I wanted to keep up with anyone else or any other creators. I just felt inspired to create some videos and so I posted them. So I think, yeah, I think giving yourself breaks is a really important piece of keeping your motivation, keeping your creativity alive. For all of it. 

Megan Porta: Sanity. Not getting burnt out. All of those things. Being productive. We could go on and on. So everyone or people listening probably do not have all of this collective experience that you have, but I do believe that everybody listening has something to bring to the table that will help improve their blogging skills. Do you agree with this? 

Erica Hopper: Oh, absolutely. And that’s one of the things I’m actually really passionate about is one of the things I’ve learned in working in the food industry, whether it’s in restaurants or in the blogging space or in just the content creation space, is that so many people did other things before they came into this creator world. So looking back on your past experience, whether it be, what I’ve done in the past, which yes it’s food related, but anyone can look back at their past experience and take little snippets of lessons they’ve learned, whether it be working efficiently, whether it be knowing more technology because that’s one of the areas I struggle is, but the behind the scenes because that’s just not something that’s been a part of my world as far as my career is concerned. But any of those things I think you can take from your past experiences and see and use it to make your work better, more efficient, and you can put your own spin on it. 

Megan Porta: This is something that people ask me all the time when they ask about coming into my mastermind groups. They’re like, I just started blogging a year ago. I don’t know if I have anything to bring to the table. I don’t know if I have value. This is always my answer. Yes you do because you’re a human and you have some experience that led up to the point where you’re here today. So whether it’s a marketing background or whether it’s being a mom to three kids and managing a busy life, there’s always something that you can use that can help to shape your business and to make it better. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what that is. So how do we figure that out? If we’re listening and we’re like, I don’t know. What do I bring to the table? How do we go about figuring out what value we bring? 

Erica Hopper: So this is something that I have really been leaning into. I work a lot with Loren Runion on, I know you’ve done a podcast.

Megan Porta: Love Loren. 

Erica Hopper: She’s just a wonderful human being. And I actually work with her on a monthly basis, on a one-on-one monthly basis. One of the things that we’ve learned is that if there’s something that keeps coming up, like something that you’re thinking about doing, something you want to change, a shift you wanna make, it’s there for a reason. So my biggest piece of advice would be to not shy away from that. So if you have a desire to start a blog, if you have a desire to start a podcast, if you have a desire to just do food photography, if that keeps nudging you, then it’s there for a reason and you really, you need to explore it. You don’t have to make a huge investment. You don’t have to completely quit your job. You don’t have to make a monetary investment or huge one at least. You just need to explore it and you need to give yourself some time to explore it and to really lean into why that keeps coming up in your mind. I agree with you. Everyone has something to bring to the table. We’re all here for a reason. We all have a gift and the world deserves to know what that gift is. 

Megan Porta: Listen to those nudges. I love that. Those nudges come for a reason. I was thinking as you were talking about this one member of my mastermind group who when she started, she was of the same mindset. I don’t know what value I have. I’m a newish blogger. And I said the same thing, like everyone has value. So fast forward a year, and she is now crushing it. So she leaned into the community aspect and just like everything that we were telling her, you have value in this area. She was a really good, knowledgeable marketing person before she started blogging. She was like, oh, you’re right. I could use that knowledge to apply it to blogging. So now she’s starting this marketing for food bloggers coaching business, which is so amazing because a year ago she was like, what? She just didn’t know the value that she brought. So I think that leaning into a supportive group of peers or friends, someone who can tell you and see from another perspective what your value is really vital too, don’t you think, Erica? 

Erica Hopper: Oh, 100%. I think that it’s so easy when you’re in a situation to not be able to look at it from the outside. I think surrounding yourself with other people who see your value and who can point it out to you. Also, who is not afraid to tell you to just get out of your own way, is really important. I’ve got some wonderful friends that you know, that are not in this space at all, and they’re so encouraging. But then I also have met, like I said earlier, I’ve met so many amazing people in this community. That is one of the great things about social media. While I don’t necessarily love to be on it, it has given me that community, and I definitely, there’s a few people that texting all day long with, we’re sending voice notes to each other all day long. It’s been really impactful in not only having someone that you can ask questions in a safe space, but also that you can share some of your struggles and share some of your successes.

Megan Porta: We have blind spots in our, just in what our personalities, our characters are, but also our business. So to have somebody that you trust point out those blind spots to you is so valuable. So lean into a group wherever. Whether that’s Instagram, I don’t know, Facebook, the forums, wherever. I think that is a huge piece of this to figuring out what you need to lean into more. 

Erica Hopper: Yeah. Oh yeah, absolutely. And finding people that are willing to be honest with you about what you need to lean into, I think is really, is very valuable. 

Megan Porta: Where are you going from here? So now you’re into blogging and photography. What is next for you? 

Erica Hopper: So I am continuing to work on the blog. This is something that I think and some that other people could maybe take away as well when it comes to blogging, I have actually hired someone to help me with some of the writing. So I’m trying to figure out little ways that I can outsource, because really my expertise lies in the recipe development and then the food photography. I’m just getting started with all of that, but I feel like that’s really where my expertise lies. So I’m really working on the blog and having that person has really helped me to be more consistent with blogging. It’s helped take some of the pressure off and taking some of that pressure off has really allowed my creativity to flow a lot more. So I’m saying that as a that’s where I am now, but also as an encouragement for other people to be able to maybe outsource when you can so that you can see your creativity flow a little bit more easily. I guess the flip side of that is that because my expertise and my creativity lies in the recipe development, I’ve really started actually reaching out to other bloggers and have started doing photography and videography and recipe development for other bloggers. I continue to do brand work as well and I’m continuing on that path. But it lights me up so much to be creating for other bloggers because I know that I’m helping them tell their stories and helping them share what they wanna share on their blog. It’s such a personal space on the internet. So just being trusted with that, it has been really impactful for my confidence and for my work. So that’s an area that I’m really leaning into a lot more. 

Megan Porta: Yes. I love that. Just anything you can do to relieve a little bit of pressure and enjoy your work more. This is why we started to enjoy it, right? Then we take it to a place sometimes where it’s like just nitty gritty work. SEO, keyword research. So I love that you’ve taken it, taken some pressure off in different ways. Is there anything you wanna mention before we start saying goodbye? 

Erica Hopper: I guess just that this space can be so overwhelming sometimes, and so just the reminder that, like we have talked about throughout this podcast, is that we all have something to share. Just don’t forget that. Don’t forget why you’ve started doing it. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Don’t forget why you started. Go back to that. I think we should do that like weekly, right? 

Erica Hopper: Yes. 

Megan Porta: Remind ourselves, this is why you started. 

Erica Hopper: Yes. Maybe even daily. 

Megan Porta: Maybe even daily. Yes. Thank you so much for being here, Erica. This was super fun. I loved connecting with you and I think this will be an extremely valuable chat for people to listen to. So thank you for taking the time for us today. 

Erica Hopper: Yeah, absolutely. I hope it is valuable for others. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with? 

Erica Hopper: When I lived in Birmingham, I worked, like I said, at Southern Living and Cooking Light and they had a cookbook publisher at the time as well. So I worked in their test kitchens and I met the most kind, sweet person. Her name is Kathleen. She actually also now has a very successful food blog. On her blog and her about Paige, she said, dreams can come true, and they may just look a little different than you imagined. It may look even better. So I think that throughout my journey, I’ve obviously taken lots of twists and turns and pivoted several times, and so it definitely, I never would’ve imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing now, but I can 100% say that it is even better. So I just hope that is inspirational for other people as well.

Megan Porta: Love that. Super way to end. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Erica. If anyone wants to go look at them, you can go to Tell everyone where they can find you on your blog, social media, and anywhere else. 

Erica Hopper: Sure. I am the Sugar and Salt Co everywhere you go. So that’s the name of my website, my Instagram, my Pinterest. I am a little bit on TikTok, but I’m not on there a whole lot and Facebook. All right, well go check Erica out. Thanks again for being here, and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

💥 Join the free EBT community, where you will connect with food bloggers, gain confidence and clarity as a food blogger so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS!

Want to achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible? Stop by Eat Blog Talk to get the details on our Mastermind program. This transformative 12-month experience will help you accomplish more than you would be able to in 5+ years when forging ahead alone.

Click the button below to learn what a mastermind program is, what your commitment is and what Eat Blog Talk’s commitment to you is.

📩 Sign up for FLODESK, the email service provider with intuitive, gorgeous templates and a FLAT MONTHLY RATE (no more rate increases when you acquire subscribers!).

Read this post about why I switched from Convertkit to Flodesk!

Pinterest image for episode 381 how to use previous work experience to improve your blogging skills.

Similar Posts