In episode 444, Jessie-Sierra Ross teaches us how to book TV food segments and why this will help us grow our audience and expand our brand.
We cover information on the value of providing value to your audience on TV, how you can diversify your audience through TV, how you should work with the producer to bring value to your segment, and tips to prepare the best recipe for television, and make your appearance smooth.
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Connect with Straight To The Hips, Baby
Bio Jessie-Sierra Ross is a former professional ballerina turned food blogger & home entertaining specialist. Originally from Boston, she traded in her pointe shoes for an apron, and hasn’t looked back since! A self-taught, cook and food stylist, Jessie is the personality behind her blog, “Straight to the Hips, Baby”.
Known for her step-by-step recipes, easy elegance, and light & bright photography style. Working alongside her photographer husband, Jessie creates food & drink recipes for her blog, and features in magazines, as well as on TV, via cooking segments on NBC, PBS, & BloomTV Network. Jessie-Sierra is currently working on her latest creative project, a floral-inspired cookbook with Schiffer Publishing.
- TV hosts are polished but you, the guest, can bring the personality.
- TV offers a greater chance for a diverse audience to find you so you grow your business on a different platform.
- Talent and skillset shine visually and audibly on TV.
- You can engage with different brands through television.
- Airing on TV can help you grow your network.
- A visit to a news station helps build your EEAT for Google.
- You learn to speak more confidently and helps you find more speaking engagements.
- Determine your specialty, and find what you’re passionate about, then share that.
- Find a pain point and highlight it. Be prepared.
- Create bullet points vs. a script to help guide you.
- Mine your network to help find someone at a local tv to get an introduction.
- Use LinkedIn or IG to find someone at a local station that will engage with you.
- Come from a place of service not demand. Streamline your visit.
Click for full script.
EBT444 – Jessie-Sierra Ross
Intro: Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the EatBlogTalk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you 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.
I loved this conversation so much with Jessie Sierra-Ross from Straight to the Hips, Baby. We had so much fun chatting. I can’t believe I haven’t connected with her before now, but she brought up the topic of booking TV food segments for food bloggers and how this can help you grow your audience, expand your brand, and make connections that are super valuable. Jessie digs into the nitty gritty details, like how to find a producer for a news station. What to ask the producer once you have found him or her. What makes a good recipe to present on TV? What do you do when you blank out and your words are gone and you’re on live TV. Things like this and so much more inside. Even if getting on TV is not at the top of your mind, you will still be inspired by this chat to maybe give it a try. I know you’re going to love this episode. It is number 444 sponsored by RankIQ.
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Megan Porta: Jessie Sierra-Ross is a former professional ballerina turned food blogger and home entertaining specialist. Originally from Boston, she traded in her pointe shoes for an apron and hasn’t looked back since. A self-taught cook and food stylist, Jessie is the personality behind her blog, Straight to the Hips, Baby. Known for her step-by-step recipes, easy elegance, and light and bright photography style, working alongside her photographer husband, Jessie creates food and drink recipes for her blog and features in magazines as well as on TV via cooking segments on NBC, PBS, and Bloom TV Network.
Jessie Sierra is currently working on her latest creative project, a floral-inspired cookbook with Schiffer Publishing. Jessie, thank you so much for being here. I’m super excited to chat with you today. Before we get to chatting though, do you have a fun fact to share with us?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Hi! Oh my god, I’m so excited to be chatting with you today. Fun fact, You would think with my time in dance and professional ballet that I would be fully coordinated, but honestly, I didn’t learn how to cartwheel until I was 16. I would trip over a blade of grass, and run into door frames. So I think that’s a pretty fun and funny fact.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Okay. So is it something you avoided or you just took the time to learn it?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It just never came up.
Megan Porta: Okay. Yeah, that’s fair enough. Cartwheeling isn’t something we do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, so that’s fair. I love it. Are you an amazing cartwheeler now? Cartwheelist? I don’t know what they’re called.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: A cartwheelist, I think we should term it.
Megan Porta: I think we should.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: I would say that I am moderate.
Megan Porta: Alright.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: I’m used to cartwheeling in heels and big costumes, so it takes a skill set. Yep. But I much prefer being in the kitchen or behind the camera or in front of the camera now.
Megan Porta: Okay. We should expect a video of you cartwheeling in front of your camera soon. To come, right?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Oh boy. Let’s stick a pin in there.
Megan Porta: All right. Oh, that’s funny. If you ever do it, please send it my way. Absolutely. Okay. We’re going to talk today about getting into TV segments. This is something that a few food bloggers do. I mentioned before recording that I’ve done it and oh my gosh, it was terrifying. I don’t know if I’ve ever had my heart rate go up so high, that feeling in your throat when you feel your heart in your throat, and you’re just like, panicking. Yeah, that was me during that. So you can help us out here because I think that is the case for a lot of people. When you see that live thing you’re like, oh my gosh, so many people are just about to watch me right now.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely so going on live TV is very much like theater. I will be very honest with you. My first time on film I was terrified because there’s so much that you have to do really within a three to four-minute block. Not only do you have to cook and educate and show and bring out the magic of TV sort of finished dish, but you also have to speak at the same time as you’re cooking and banter and crack jokes and answer questions. Sometimes you have a host, and sometimes you don’t have a host. So it is terrifying at first, but there are a lot of ways that you can make it easier on yourself. The more that you do it, the more that you practice, even on other platforms that have that filming capacity, the more you’ll be comfortable. It’s fun. Now I live for that adrenaline rush. I’m called One Take Jessie because whatever happens. I’ve burned a dishcloth on air. I’ve created a flour dust cloud. I’ve sneezed.
Megan Porta: That is funny. I suppose after a while all these things happen, right? It’s life, though. It’s life in the kitchen. That’s real.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It’s real, and that’s what viewers want to see. As much as the co-hosts are polished, the guests or in a large part, we’re entertaining. Entertaining and lifestyle sort of segments. They wanna see the real you, so it’s relatable. So if you do forget to take the cap off the honey before you pour it, just make a joke out of it. You just keep going and it makes you more lovable and it just shows how easy going you are.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love this. Okay, let’s back up a little bit. I wanna hear about your blog just a little bit. Give us kind of an overview of your blog.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely. So my blog is called Straight to the Hips, Baby, and as the name implies, I love all things sugar, butter, and cocktail related. Yeah, it’s, I really do believe in from scratch cooking with whole ingredients. I cook and showcase recipes that are seasonal, that are fresh and I try to show techniques that any home cook can replicate because I think when we get out there and we start cooking it could be very intimidating to jump in that kitchen and not know how to create a roux or how to dice properly. What does it mean to cook until nutty brown. It’s one of those things. So when I started this blog, I was teaching myself to cook and it soon became an outlet for me because I was home with two, then three little babies and I was going cuckoo banana pants. I love to cook and I love to talk and I love creating these beautiful scenes of my food, but also scenes at the table of cocktails of parties. It just morphed. It morphed into this amazing boutique content creation company that spread its wings into publications online, on Instagram and Facebook through now, a book is coming, TV episodes and segments. I love light and bright photography with lush floral elements and creating that beauty, that drama, that elegance that you see so often on stage from my ballet days, but now we’re transforming it into food and drink.
Megan Porta: Okay. I’m perusing your blog as we speak and you have such branded content. It’s so beautiful and it’s consistent. The colors, the flowers, the lighting. Oh my gosh. I don’t know that there’s any blog like yours, as far as that branding goes. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s so beautiful.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Oh, my goodness, that’s such a huge compliment because about three years ago, I sat down and I said, you know what? We need a look. We need to stay consistent. That’s something that you always advise so wonderfully through your chats and your podcasts about brand identity and who you are and who you are serving. It just transformed and we just, we got it. It clicked. It was so much easier as a creator to know what I was creating, what I was creating for, and how I wanted it to look. So thank you. That’s such a great compliment.
Megan Porta: You nailed it. It’s amazing. Okay, so I love learning about your blog. We have a little history there. Now, you mentioned TV segments, and that’s something that you do. Why do you feel like getting on TV could be important for a food blogger?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It’s a very good question. I always say to food bloggers, whether they’re novice or experienced, You’re trying to find an audience that gravitates to your work through social media, through your website, through sharings on Pinterest, but TV offers you a greater chance and a broader reach to many more diverse audiences.
So there’s so many people who don’t use the formats that we tend to really utilize. So TV allows you to, in a moment, get in front of those audiences, show them what you’re making, you’re creating, but above all, your personality. Because in the end, when you’re in a medium where you’re either, it’s just audio, like a podcast or Clubhouse or whatnot, or your audio visual, you can’t help but showcase your brand, which is, you. It’s your personality. It’s you, the persona, but also you the talent and the skill set. So as a creator, TV provides greater opportunities for more diverse audiences. It also helps you engage with different brands. It’s a very attractive facet of your resume and your kit to be able to offer to a brand, Hey, I have this relationship with these TV studios or these programs. If you ever want to do a branded content reach or a program, let’s do it. Let’s collaborate. It’s excellent for creating optional revenue. It also can lead to new and great connections, even from a sponsored post, to meeting new faces in the community. New partnerships, but also if you aim for it, your own television show.
So I always encourage creators, if they’re at that moment, if they’re at that point in their career, if they feel comfortable enough, to check it out. To start exploring, because it’s one of those things that the TV stations and the TV programs are always looking for new personalities. If you feel comfortable enough to showcase yourself as well as your work, the sky is really the limit.
Megan Porta: Those are all such great points. Thank you for talking through those. I always feel like there is so much value in honing your speaking skills, even if you’re not like, I’m going to start a podcast or I want to be on the Food Network. Even if those aren’t your goals, there is so much value. You can show up anywhere and you can talk freely and comfortably. So I always say that alone. I think that starting a podcast or going on TV is reason enough. Then also the EEAT thing, if you’ve been on a TV segment, even just one, you can put that on your about page. That is a huge signal to Google that, oh my gosh, this person has been on TV on this big station or whatever. All of the things that we’ve mentioned are such good reasons to just try it, right? Just give it a try.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely. Creating that specialist credibility, this is something that we emphasize quite a bit in this industry, but not only to Google, but also to your audience and potential brands. If you were able to book and compete with everybody else and get on those programs, that’s a huge feather in your cap, and it just lends credibility. Absolutely. When you speak on camera, it’s a skill set that will help serve you in almost any format. Because when you speak, you have to be able to think quickly, to articulate, to roll with the punches, but also you’re creating this vocalization, this way of interpreting and providing information in a way that’s easily understandable and in small bites for your audience. So that can be used on any social media platform, as well as podcasts and radio and all of that jazz.
Megan Porta: It also translates over to real life. I’ve found the more I do my podcast, the more I find that in just everyday real life, interacting with my neighbors or people in the store, whatever, I’m just more comfortable, I’m more confident. I speak better, I articulate better. I don’t say as many of the likes or, you just start speaking better in everyday life as well.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Completely agree. You become known as the speaker. The more comfortable you get speaking on camera or speaking into a microphone, the more it’s going to serve you for your public, cooking events or speaking engagements, lectures. It just keeps growing and blossoming.
Megan Porta: It is scary. Just to acknowledge that going on TV is a scary thing. So how do you overcome that, Jessie? Because that’s a biggie for me.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It’s a biggie. It’s still something that, I still get butterflies. I still do it. I still practice. I still make my notes. I do a lot of blogger and TV foodie education. What I like to tell my friends, my students, my colleagues is to think about it in small bites. All right. You’re not going to set out to eat a complete layer cake in one sitting. No, you’re going to take small bites, small plates. So we’re going to work up to getting on TV. So the very first thing you want to do is really establish, what are you a specialist in? What are you just passionate about that you could talk about forever? If it’s bulbs and you’re a gardener, fantastic, talk about daffodils. If you are a foodie or a cocktail maven, start talking about shakers and how to make a meringue. If you are a specialist in your chosen area, it will come across. Whether you’re speaking to your mom, your sister, your best friend, or an audience of hundreds, you will find something to say, and those people will come to you because they’re interested in hearing what you have to say. So that’s the very first part.
The second part is in how you prepare. I like to use notes, like bullet points, different aspects I want to make sure that I hit, and then I use those bullet points to refresh my memory, and I’ll elaborate on those bullet points to provide the lesson, the insight, the technique. So if we’re going back to that layer cake, I’m going to show, this is how we make a batter, what’s the difference between a cake batter and a muffin batter. Then I’m going to skip ahead to this is how we smooth the cake batter out in the pan. Here we go, we’re going to step ahead to decorating and assembling. It’s about finding the pain points for your audience and highlighting them. So bullet points are great. If you want to do a script, absolutely go ahead. There are applications that you can use, but oftentimes when you’re on live TV, you won’t have access to a teleprompter, so bullet points are great, or if you’re super comfortable, fly by the seat of your pants.
Megan Porta: Do you ever have moments when you just blank, you blank everything out and you’re like, okay, what now?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: That’s when I come in with a little witty joke, or I’ll tell the co host what to do.
Megan Porta: Ooh, I like it.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Because you’re the boss, and what you have to remember is that when that camera goes on, yes, you could get a retake, not on a live. A live is live. That’s it. Whatever happens, and you fly with it. But if it’s a pre-record, yeah, you might get a retake. But really, just go, perform, play, be yourself, and manage that situation. You are in control of that room for that three minutes, and you can do this. If I can do this, you can do this.
Megan Porta: The people they’re helping you, first of all, they’re really good at covering those flaws because they’re used to people being nervous, I imagine. Also, like you said earlier, they’re there to help you. So just be bossy. I did that when I was on my first TV segment, I blanked out. I was like, okay, you know what? I was having the news guy, he was scooping cookie batter into cookie sheets. So I just said something like, are you working or getting busy or something like that. It was really funny at the time. I was just like, say something, get something out.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: That’s brilliant.
Megan Porta: Oh gosh. At the time it didn’t feel brilliant. I was like, Oh, that was terrible. But yeah, you just keep talking, right? Keep moving, keep talking, act like a friend is in the kitchen with you and you’re at home. What would you do there?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Exactly. And the thing is, before you even set the camera on rolling, you should have had a discussion with the producer, with the co host. Just touch base. For any creator coming into a TV studio, you want to introduce yourself and really have a conversation with that producer about expectations, about the finer points of the segment, what we’re showing, what they want to be shown. Co-host, no co host. Is the co-host working? Do they feel comfortable? Are we bantering? What are we doing? And then when you get into that studio, To have a conversation with the co host, see how comfortable they are, what they would like to do, tell them the rough layout of what you are proposing to do on camera. This can be done the day of, it can be done through an email several days before, but it’s a multifaceted preparation, right? It’s not just you getting your talking points together or your ingredients and your prep, but it’s also the content being shared on camera, that’s a prep too. It’s easy once you get into the rhythm of it, you’ll find what you need to talk about. But I really want to emphasize that being prepared and planning ahead is the key to creating a beautiful and smooth segment.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s great advice. So how do we find the right people to talk to about doing this opportunity?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Excellent question. There’s a couple ways to do this. The first one being to mine your network. Many of us have connections in the greater food and entertainment world to magazine editors, television producers, but not even just the producers. If you know the co-host or you know the cameraman or camera woman, if you know the stage manager, mine those opportunities and say, Hey, I’m interested in getting on TV. Who should I contact?
There are many ways to contact producers and television stations directly. Often, they’ll have an intake form on their website, which is great. Fill it out. You may have to do it several times because it has to land in front of the right set of eyes. That can be tricky sometimes through those forms, but definitely do it. The other way is to jump on LinkedIn and research who’s the producer for your local morning TV chat show, who’s the producer for your lifestyle show, but also online and on Instagram. I have found Instagram to be the most fruitful. I will start following a show that I enjoy and really interact with their content, with life, with true comments that are engaged and specific to what they’re showing, as well as the co-hosts or producers on those shows. Start to create the conversation and the relationships before popping into their DMs. You don’t want to go in there cold.
Megan Porta: Yeah, no, that’s great advice, too. Is it true that a lot of producers are looking actively for people like us who want to go on?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Yes.
Megan Porta: Okay, so it’s not like they’re hiding from us. They’re there.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: No, and the thing is, they, again, rolling back to the top of the conversation, they want personalities, they want human interest stories, they want that lifestyle content, because they have a show to fill. You can become a cog in a greater mechanism on that set for them, and if you show yourself to be really entertaining, to be reliable, to be prompt, courteous, and polite, they will keep rebooking you. So definitely reach out. Oftentimes, I’ll lead out with those DMs to the producer or even the co-host with a, Hey, my name is Jessie Ross. I caught some of your food segments. They look amazing. If I can ever help you out, please let me know. Here’s my blog. I love sharing my knowledge of A, B, C, and D. Thank you so much for your time. Cheers. It’s just simple like that. Come from a place of service, not from a place of demand. That’s crucial because these co hosts, these producers, they can tell when someone is genuine or if they’re not.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I love that service, not demand. That’s a reminder that I think we all could use sometimes. We are here to serve, right? That’s like in every aspect of life.
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Megan Porta: So if you find the producer, what are the things that we need to know or ask him or her before we actually go to the studio?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Excellent question. So say that we’re booked, we’re coming in, and later this month, what you want to ask first is if they prefer any seasonal content or recipe that’s on your site, or you can suggest several recipes that would work for TV. On your end, you need to recognize which recipes or which pieces of content will translate easily onto the screen, and that could be a side conversation in a moment. So you want to give them a range of recipes or content to choose from. Then you would like to ask, is this live? Is this taped? Because it’s two different modes with two different expectations. Are you going to be working with a co-host or are you working on your own? How long is this segment? Is it going to be two minutes? I’ve done many two minute segments, which is very difficult when you’re baking a pie.
Megan Porta: That’s fast.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Or is it going to be a five minute or is it going to be a dual segment where you check in at the top of the hour and then the end of the hour? Because that, again, will instruct you in what type of recipe you can provide. You also want to ask if they have a functioning kitchen. I have several sites that have a prop kitchen, meaning that it looks like a kitchen, but there isn’t an active stove. The outlets aren’t necessarily active. So you may have to bring in an induction burner or several extension cords. It’s very important that you know what you’re working with before you step foot into that studio.
Also, in regards to props, do they have a mixer? Do they have a blender? Do they have plates? Oftentimes, I will bring in my own plates, silverware, props, anything that will make the scene pretty. I’ll rely on the stove if they have it, or the oven, but if not, I will do a lot of pre-prep and do a magic of television sort of moment. I may not be able to bake the cake at the studio, but I can certainly pre-bake the cake and bring those cakes with me. Also, very important, and I don’t want to forget this, whether or not they will mention your website, your blog, your business on air, or if you can, and if they’ll link it within their website when they put that segment on their website. This is very important because sometimes they don’t do this, roll with it. Because the free advertising is worth it. But to get that sort of, the Google gods love it when we’re linked back to larger entities, it is just amazing if they will say your business name on air, or if they’ll link you back from their site to your site.
Megan Porta: Do you find that they more often do or don’t link, give you a link?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It’s interesting. So it’s really dependent on the station and the station ownership. I have probably a 50/50 split. There are some stations where I can mention my brand point blankly. They’ll always introduce you, Jessie from Straight to the Hips, Baby, but I can go further and mention my socials or the website exactly. But there are others that just stop at where I am. Then they’ll link the recipe, but they don’t necessarily link it back to my site. So it’s 50-50, but again, the reach and the free advertising and the potential connections and experience make up for anything that’s lost in that moment.
Megan Porta: But it’s worthwhile to know, going in.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s a question to ask. Politely.
Megan Porta: Okay. So you mentioned layer cakes, probably, you’re not going to have time in five minutes to go through an entire layer cake, but what would you say is an ideal type of recipe to make?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Ooh, good question. So if you’re just starting out, you want to find recipes that are low stress for you, that have feasible points of prep to showcase, meaning techniques or different variations that might be of interest to your viewership. In the end, that makes a pretty picture. So for me, that’s often cocktails. I love showing cocktails on air. I love showing desserts. So if you have a cookie recipe, that’s a fantastic one. I would not recommend making macarons on air until you’re really experienced with both being on air and macarons. Anything that really, you know the yum factor that we always talk about in blogging and food photography? Choose a recipe that has an undeniable yum factor from the beginning to the end. So if you’re making brownies, it’s simple, yeah, I mean we’ve all made brownies. But what are you going to do to make those brownies special and then showcase that on air for your viewership, and they’ll become hooked on what you’re creating. I would not do anything that’s super complicated. Even a layer cake, you truly can show that in five minutes if you’ve prepared and really done the work beforehand. It means that you might end up with three layer cakes at the end of the day.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: But you can do it. I just want to emphasize you can do pretty much any recipe you choose with enough preparation.
Megan Porta: Do you ever offer your food to the news crew?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Yes, and this is such a big, important sort of tip. People love being fed. Frankly, a free lunch, a cookie. They love it. So when you walk into that studio, again, polite, courteous, clean up after yourself. Be a good guest. You are walking into someone’s home, really. Clean up after yourself. Ask for help, but also leave the food. Leave it. Let them have it. They will remember you and have you back. I swear, when I walk into my studios, they get so excited.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love that.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Not only because we’re working, but because they’re going to get to have the food!
Megan Porta: The food lady’s here!
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Exactly! So leave the food and leave a couple business cards. Yes. And really make yourself valuable. Make yourself known for being that person that is a team player.
Megan Porta: How many segments do you do regularly and how many different stations?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Interesting. So during the pandemic, I had three to four stations because I was able to zoom into a lot of these stations, which is another element that you can incorporate into your content production. Stations are using less zoom these days. They would like you to be in person, but it’s still definitely an element out there. I tend to do four segments a month at this point, just because my content creation, and the book and other TV opportunities are presenting themselves, so they’re taking time away. But during the two or three years of COVID, I was doing eight segments a month.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Working with three to four stations, some live, most were pre-recorded then, but now I’m back to pretty much just doing live shows, which I love. I just finished doing several episodes with Bloom TV Network, where over two days I did eight segments, about five to 15 minutes each. It just, it grows. It grows in your confidence. It grows in your skill set. The more that you work with these television stations and producers, you’re going to tell fellow producers, Hey, I have this lady or this guy out here who makes incredible food and drink. And they’re funny, and they’re helpful, and they’re team players. I think you should have them. You keep going up the ladder.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Oh, I love all of this. This is so good. Okay, I want to ask you, Jessie, do you have tips for just speaking when you’re talking? Do you talk to the camera? Do you look at the camera? Any just kind of general speaking tips?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: So for speaking, I always tell my friends and colleagues, you want to slow down your tempo. See how I did that? So when I’m speaking to you on a podcast, I’m actually speaking at my normal pace. I’m from Boston. We speak very quickly and I have a little bit of an accent. But when I’m on camera, I’m going to slow it down and make sure that what I’m really trying to emphasize is clear and direct. Over here, we’re going to pour the flour into the mixer, and we’re going to be on high for two to three minutes. All right, so you don’t want to slow it down. That gives you time to think as well. Accents are great, be you. For me, I tend to lower it down just because a Boston accent can be, it’s there. Also, when you’re speaking, I have found, depending on the scenario, if you are alone and you’re speaking just by yourself without a co-host, speaking to the camera or slightly above the camera is very helpful, if it’s intimidating to look directly into the lens. But you want to imagine that camera is your friend. That’s your friend, your colleague, your mother, your sister, your brother, because you’re not scared to talk to them. All right, so speak directly to camera when the scenario allots it, but if you’re working on a set with a co-host, oftentimes they’ll tell you to address the co-host or to look beyond the cameras when you do a sweep. It depends on if you want to break the fourth wall. That’s a question you can ask the producer or the co-host when you get on set.
Tips for speaking. Also, start practicing on camera. It could be via social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram and do lives, do tapes, do stories, but film yourself speaking and put it out there because the audience is ready made, right? You already have a follower set who wants to hear from you. They’re waiting and willing. So start talking to them. Ask them what they want to hear. Start to pretend that you are live on camera. Look at the way you speak, how you’re using your hands. Are your hands coming up near your face or are they staying below your chest? Do you have any odd sort of verbal tics? I know that I tend to go, I’m still in the process of getting rid of that. See, I did it again.
Megan Porta: Yeah. No, it is a process. I’m always correcting how I speak. Exactly.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: And in the end, though, some of those habits are what make you. So just decide what can stay, what can go, and if you’re really serious about it, you can also look up media training.These are professionals that will help you with the way you stand, the way you speak, how you use your hands in your chosen sort of content focus. It can be very helpful. I’m looking into that right now just to clean up what I’m doing now. I feel, because of my theater background, my dance background, there’s definitely a lot of jazz hands and performers in me. But you never know when you might need to streamline your presentation. So that would be my advice.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. Two things. So I’m a huge hand speaker. When I talk, my hands are flying everywhere. Is that something you just have to tame a little bit when you’re on TV?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: It’s taming, but not eliminating. So what I like to tell people is if you are standing at a counter and this goes through the whole body, you want to ground yourself. As a performer, we’re often taught what our body language is telling the person who’s in front of us. In this scenario, it’s the camera or our audience at home. So ground yourself. Place your feet slightly apart, sit up straight, lower your shoulders. No one wants to listen to someone who’s stressed out about making cookies. Breathe, relax your neck, and then with your hands, you can use your hands. I use my hands all the time, it’s a little ridiculous, but it’s part of me. So what I do is I try to keep my hands below my chest level. I can use them to showcase, to direct attention, very important to direct attention where you want it to go, but use your hands, just keep it down. Then when you’re not using your hands, ground them on the counter or hold. an item. You could be holding a bowl, a spatula. Not threatening. But something with your hands. You don’t want to be fiddling with your hair, or if you have those fidgety habits, I used to fiddle with my rings. Don’t do that.
Megan Porta: Oh, yeah. Fiddling.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Ground them. Just ground them. Yeah, have fun.
Megan Porta: Oh, this is good. Then I was going to mention one other thing, which is how this makes you aware of some of the things you do or say that you don’t know until you do things like this. My having this podcast has been really revealing for just some of the annoying, unnecessary words that I say. But I had somebody recently leave a comment on my Apple podcasts saying that they wouldn’t listen anymore because of my harsh S sounds. So now I’m super careful and I didn’t know that before. So I listened back and I’m like, Oh my gosh, they’re really hard. They’re really sharp. So I talked to my podcast editor and she’s yeah, I’ve done pretty much like basically I need to just fix it or just live with it, so it’s humbling. You just don’t realize some things. Maybe it’s you’re a fiddler or you speak with your hands or you something comes out wrong or in a way that you don’t know. So just to have a little grace with yourself too because it’s Oh, have I been living like this and everyone’s been like, Oh, Megan and her sharp S’s? Like it’s a little humbling, you know what I mean?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: I want to tell you something I haven’t noticed, and I have sharp S’s and I have different vocals, let’s say specifics. Specific to me. I think that we need to remember, yes, we want to be concise. We want to have a clean presentation. We want to have that sort of directness that allows us to create the content, share the content, and connect through the content. But you are still you. You’re not going to be able to please everyone. I have had fan mail. It’s been delightful when people call in or write to the studio or write to me directly, and I’ve had criticism. But in the end, you will weigh how much that means to you. If your hard S’s are your hard S’s, you see how my Boston accent came out? If someone said, Hey you’re saying odd. It’s going to come out because that’s where I’m from. It’s your choice if you want to continue to listen to me or not. I’m going to keep providing. and creating content and programming that I adore to people that appreciate it and want it. I want to make sure that people understand that, yes, you’re in the public eye. People are going to be critical. You are going to be critical of yourself, but you have to love what you’re making. Otherwise, you’ll burn out.
Megan Porta: Oh, that was so beautifully said. Oh my goodness. Thank you for that. Jessie, do you have any other tips, just kind of general tips, if somebody is wanting to do this, just like gearing them up, maybe encouraging or technical tips, anything?
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Oh my goodness. I want to, again, emphasize being prepared. Make a list. Know what you need to bring with you, know what steps of the recipe you want to highlight so that you are, again, I keep saying streamlined. You want to be streamlined in your process. You want to remember that you are special and people want to hear you. Then I’m going to give this phrase, which is something that pushed me to leap into television because I was coming out of a time in my life that was very outside of content creation. I was trying to get back into it and find that passion again and find that fire. The two words were, why not? Why not? So if you get an opportunity to go on television instead of thinking, Oh, I’m not good enough, or those little gremlin voices that are always self doubt, just look at them and say, why not? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You say you have a branded content deal that wants to put you on a commercial. Why not? Because if you choose to do, why not? That frees you from the little gremlins. It frees you from self doubt, and it also allows you to prepare, to research, to reach out to your network of colleagues, of other content creators who might be further down the road where you would like to be in a year or two, or those in the professional venues that sort of gravitate into our world. So there’s a lot of cross sections between food and entertainment and blogging and podcasting. It allows you to reach out to them for advice, for knowledge, for assets, and your whole world will open up both personally and professionally.
Megan Porta: Oh my goodness. I could just keep going on and on with you. This is such a great conversation. Thank you for all of this today, Jessie. What a pleasure it was to connect with you.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Oh, this was truly my pleasure. You are amazing, just a teacher and instructor and podcaster and blogger and foodie. I could rave on it, but this is just, it’s lovely to connect with you and to the foodie audience that you really have in your world.
Megan Porta: Oh, that was the nicest thing and the nicest way to start my day. So thank you. In addition to the words that you just left us with, do you have other words to leave us with? A quote, a favorite quote, words of inspiration, additionally.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Words of inspiration. Yeah, I think, let’s say this. I have an exercise for you. I want you to pick three words, two to three words, write them down. What are those keywords that you want to aspire to? So it could be items. It could be points of, in your career, like TV, book, movie. It could be creating my blog, connecting with my audience, things like that. Pin it up on your computer. Put it up on your calendar. These are your motivations. These are your goals. Because sometimes we get bogged down in the work and we forget why we’re doing it. They could be as simple as I want to conquer this to have a new skill. I want to learn how to make macaron. Which was my Mount Everest two or three years ago. Or I want to start creating food photos that make people drool. How do I do that? So it’s more of an exercise of wisdom. It’s more a to-do list, but it’s a to-do list from the soul.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, again, beautiful. That’s amazing. When you said write down three words, my hand just started writing and I wrote down fun, love, creativity. So I’m going to put those on my computer.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Yes. It just serves as a reminder and it doesn’t have to be a fully formed thought and they can change. You can go back a month later and say, Oh, I achieved that. I didn’t quite get that, but I refined what I wanted from that word.
Megan Porta: Yes. Refining, always refining, which is one of the themes of our chat here, right? Always refining.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Okay, Jessie, we’re going to put together a show notes page for you. If anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/straighttothehips. Why don’t you tell everyone where they can find you? Mention anywhere.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Amazing. Yes. So you can find me on my website straighttothehipsbaby.com, where I focus on light and bright photography with step-by-step recipes and cocktails and home entertaining advice. You can also find me on Instagram at Straight To The Hips, Baby, as well as Facebook. Add straight to the hips, baby. I’m on TikTok, S T H baby. I have a book coming out next year, and it’s super exciting. I’m collaborating with Schiffer Publishing to bring you a brand new type of cookbook, and I think you’re going to love it. It’s featuring all new recipes and photography and tips and tricks and tablescapes. So keep your eyes peeled. You can find updates on that through my Instagram. Also, and this is new, this is brand new, I haven’t mentioned it to anyone yet, we are in the process of pitching and developing a TV series. So if you want to follow the journey wherever it goes, because who knows, you never know in showbiz, but if you want to learn how we do this, and how the process works, definitely follow along on Instagram at Straight to the Hips, Baby or on Facebook. I would love it if you would come with me on this journey, both the highs and the lows, because in the end, I am a forever learner at heart, but also an educator. I love to show people how to do things so that they can go out and do even better.
Megan Porta: You have so much coming up that is exciting. Congratulations on all of that, and I’m so excited to see where it goes. This is one of the reasons why TV segments are so important because they can lead to other opportunities, ventures, connections, and relationships. That’s the whole gist of this conversation.
Jessie Sierra-Ross: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I have to say my work with Bloom TV network really helped kick this off. They’re a wonderful space for creators, both in food and floral and life and on May TV. Those TV segments that I started off with in the regional areas, they bloomed into collaborating with bigger networks. It’s just been an astonishing ride. I think that every creator should try their hand at it.
Megan Porta: Oh, I’m super excited for you. It’s so great to connect. So thank you again for being here, Jessie. 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. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like minded peers. I will see you next time.
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