TV host Kelly Rizzo of Eat Travel Rock visits Detroit for the first time. We talk first impressions of the city and what she is going to report back to her Chicago and L.A. friends. We’ll also dig into what it’s like to turn your passions into a brand, monetizing your Instagram account, how to handle rejection and what advice her boyfriend (Bob Saget) has given her about the entertainment industry.

In the Foundation Studio at the Detroit Foundation Hotel we’ll be drinking with Detroiters and those visiting the Motor City. We guarantee you’ll hear stories you haven’t heard before and feel the spirit of the city. Cheers to Detroit!

Listen to full podcast interview here.

Kelly Rizzo on lightbulb moment that sparked Eat Travel Rock:

I remember exactly. I was sitting on my couch in 2011 and I was just going through a divorce. I had been in real estate for 17 years and I was so burnt out. The market had just crashed and I’m thinking, “God, what do I want to do? I think I’ll start a blog, everyone’s starting a blog. So, what do I love? What am I passionate about? What do I know about?” You can be passionate about something and not really know about it or vice versa. I wanted it to be both. I thought, “I’m obsessed with food, travel and music,” and I literally went on and bought It just sounded kind of catchy. At the time it sounded almost basic. They were just three simple words, but when you put it together it really encapsulated what I wanted to talk about. People started responding to the writing aspect of it, but I knew writing wasn’t necessarily my thing. I knew I wanted to be on camera, so that’s when I started doing a lot of backstage interviews, a lot of country music and that went to a food show. Finally, when I teamed up with my producer, Chantel, we thought,  “Let’s create our own content.” … I think in the back of my mind I had hopes that it would become something bigger than a hobby and little blog, but I had no idea at the time that it would be something that turned into my full-time job.

“God bless my days in real estate where I had to be in sales and hustling for every sale and be my own boss for 17 years. A lot of people — especially if they’re in a creative field — don’t understand the sales aspect. They think, ‘I don’t want to sell,’ and it’s like, ‘Well, you’re selling yourself.'”

Kelly Rizzo on boosting Instagram engagement:

Before [the Instagram algorithm change] everybody would see your picture no matter what based on the chronological order of when it’s posted. People aren’t seeing [photos] the way they used to. You have to boost that engagement now as much as possible within the first 30 minutes in order for it to be seen at all. You have to make sure you get as many likes and as many comments in the first 30 minutes and then it might catch on … [I post] based on the time, but also you have to really be on call. I know I have to be available for the next 30 minutes after I post to reply to every comment. It can’t just be, “Cool,” or, “Thanks!” It has to be some kind of an insight like, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it,” and actually engage with the people that are commenting. You have to ask for comments, too. For example, “What is your favorite place? Tell me below.” There are new tips and tricks, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s just hit or miss. I’ll have posts I didn’t think were that exciting that’ll get over 1,000 likes and then another I’d be hanging off a cliff in Sicily in a bikini on a white mountain that get two likes and I’m thinking, “How did that not break the internet?” [Laughs] …  There’s a difference between a celebrity with a million followers versus someone with a million followers who is a content creator. The content creators have noticed a big difference in their engagement, celebrities not so much. They could post a picture of their foot and they’d get 100,000 likes. Content creators and bloggers— no matter what their following is— noticed a drop in engagement.

Kelly Rizzo on brand partnerships and taking Eat Travel Rock to the next level:

Sometimes there is content where I’m working with a certain brand and it’s such a great opportunity to work with them that I don’t get paid. I know that creating that content is going to be incredible and helpful to my brand as well.

“If you’re going to stop at the first no or if you’re going to give up after a year of doing it… you have to keep doing it and keep doing it. Because if you believe in it, you love it, you’re good at it and you have faith in it, then it’s going to happen in one way or another. It might not be how you originally envisioned it but something is going to happen.”

Kelly Rizzo on having support from boyfriend Bob Saget:

He has over 40 years of experience in this business. Not only has he had huge successes, but he’s also had moments where he feels like, “This isn’t going my way,” and he’s had disappointments as well. Granted, a lot of his are on a bigger scale, but because he’s had these huge highs and huge lows he’s helped me put things in perspective. It’s funny because if I had a big bummer one day he says, “Yeah, I had it yesterday, too. We all have it. It happens.” He takes it with such grace and has such a good attitude about it. He’s like, “Well, you’ve gotta brush it off.” He really doesn’t let me pout and sulk. He says I get two minutes of pouting time. He’s really taught me that that’s the business. Even though we do different things within the business it’s still the same business.

“I’ve been rejected a ton, and you can’t let it get you down. As many times as you get rejected, there are going to be people who believe in you and believe in your product and your concept. You just have to wait until you get to the right people at the right time and not let it get you down.”    

Photography by Aaron Eckles

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