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Life & Work with Jordan Zelesnick

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordan Zelesnick.

Hi Jordan, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always had a passion for cooking and a lover of food. I started my Instagram account in 2014 as a hobby (food was pretty much all I was posting anyways!). It was mainly focused on the Baltimore restaurant scene, with a few of my own recipes sprinkled in. My audience started asking for my recipes so I would type them out and email them individually. Eventually, I created a Facebook page and posted them all there in the captions of photos.

In 2016 a friend of mine (who is now my mentor) suggested I start a blog for my recipes so I can earn money from ad revenue. I didn’t put any “real” effort into the blog until about 2018 when I started posting more consistently. When I started to see growth, I knew I wanted to turn this into something more. I saved up some money as a cushion and left corporate. I gave myself one year to turn my blog into a profitable business. In May, I celebrated my two years anniversary of working for myself full-time!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Nothing worth having comes easy, right?

Being a food blogger isn’t something I learned how to do in school or in any of my corporate jobs, and neither was food photography. I am lucky to have a good friend who is also my “blog mentor”, she has helped me along the way since day one. I also took a few photography courses that helped me advance my skills.

I didn’t go to culinary school, but I did grow up cooking with my parents and learning how to cook without a recipe from my dad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him open a cookbook. He wouldn’t even write any of his recipes down because he wanted to do things differently every single time he cooked.

I also had to learn how to deal with the “haters”. Whether they were strangers, I’ve never met or people who I thought were “friends”. I wasn’t used to people hating me and wanting me to fail for no reason. I had also never dealt with people being so vocal about it. I dealt with bullying like I hadn’t seen since middle school and high school. Eventually, I learned to ignore the people who think they know more about myself than I do.

Although there’s been plenty of obstacles, I am so fortunate to have been able to turn a hobby into a profitable business and incredibly lucky to have the support of an amazing community in the blogging industry.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a Baltimore-based food blogger known for developing easy to make recipes. While I am lumped in the category of “Baltimore bloggers”, I don’t post the same restaurants everyone else is posting about. I do highlight the restaurants sometimes, but only on my stories. On my feed, I share my recipes and occasionally a life update. On stories, I also share pieces of my life with my audience like my wedding planning, furnishing of my new home, cooking tips and tricks, behind the scenes of photoshoots, and lots more.

I’m so proud of the community I’ve built on Instagram. It’s truly amazing to see how many people care about me, my family, supporting my business, etc. I’m also proud of myself for seeking out resources to help me learn how to do all of this and actually succeeding — I grew my blog by over 350% in a year!

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Nothing is guaranteed. After spending almost an entire year working tirelessly to build my business, it was all gone within 24 hours. My ad revenue plummeted, most of my sponsors and clients dropped me because the world was so uncertain. But things picked back up quickly when advertisers realized how much time people were spending online because of the pandemic. It was scary, but I was so fortunate to have only experienced loss for a very short period of time.

During the pandemic, I spent a lot of time putting an ebook together that is currently for sale on my website for $15.99. 

https://jz-eats.com/downloads/rotisserie-chicken-dinners/

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photos of me in the white sweater were taken by Lauren Daue, all other photos were taken by me.

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