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Rachel Holtin Full Time Influencer @AustinFoodstaGram

Rachel Holtin's @austinfoodstagram account is one of the most popular in Austin. Find out how Rachel got started as an influencer and how she grew such a large audience.

Follow Rachel on Instagram @austinfoodstagram to discover great spots in Austin.
=> @austinfoodstagram

Check out Rachel's Website AustinFoodsta.com for more in depth articles on food and travel.
=> AustinFoodsta.com

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[00:00:00] Some of my campaigns might be like I have some six month campaigns right now that I'm working on with brands where we do a post every month. So plan that kind of out in advance of what dates we want to do. But then a lot of other brands will come, you know, one to two weeks in advance. They'll be like, hey, we want something on Mother's Day or whatever, whatever other holidays are coming up. So we just kind of plan the content fluidly that way.

[00:00:22] Hey, you're listening to the Friends in Austin podcast. I'm your host, Justin Tallant. And every week I bring you the stories of the people of Austin. Thank you for listening. Hey, welcome back to friends in Austin today, my guest is Rachel Holtin, and she's an influencer with the tag of @austinfoodstagram and she also has a website where she, I believe, blogs about shopping, food, et cetera. And it's all about Austin. Of course, it's AustinFoodsta.com. And @AustinFoodstaGram for the Instagram. Right? And I know you started on Instagram, Rachel, but before we get into that, I want to congratulate you on your recent wedding. Thank you. So when was your wedding? Where did you guys go? How did it go?

[00:01:09] So we had the ceremony on Sunday, March 21st. So twenty first twenty twenty one. And we were in Mexico in total. Santos, which is about an hour outside of Cabo.

[00:01:22] Cool. Cool. So was it one of these situations where you were trying to get married last year and you couldn't or was it actually just this was the timing of it.

[00:01:30] We actually got engaged at the end of last year, so I feel like our engagement was pushed back, more so by the pandemic.

[00:01:36] And then we just kind of rushed into the marriage thing. But life is moving fast. I'm actually 20 weeks pregnant, so it's again, thank you. Lots of things to celebrate right now.

[00:01:46] For sure. For sure. And the pandemic kind of coming to a close here as vaccines are really scaling up. A lot of people are upset. I'm honestly impressed.

[00:01:54] I mean, like just like I expected everything to be a catastrophe. I mean, we've never seen something like this before.

[00:01:58] So just the fact that they solved it in a year and the fact that they're distributing it at the rate that they are, I'm just thankful that that's even happening at all.

[00:02:06] Yeah, it's great to see the light at the end of the tunnel with all of this.

[00:02:09] For sure. For sure. So, you know, if it's a boy or girl, it's a boy. That's what you did.

[00:02:16] You have a preference or, you know, you were so convinced it was a girl, which is funny. So when we did the gender eval, we cut into a cake that a local bakery here made Brize. And it was a boy.

[00:02:27] And I was so surprised. But we're really excited. All we hear is that it's a healthy baby.

[00:02:32] Yeah, it's great. So funny story. I used to think a gender reveal party was someone that had a sex change revealing their new sex.

[00:02:39] That's funny. It is such a weird new thing and it hasn't even been around that long.

[00:02:43] I feel like I heard like last year that there was this blogger who started kind of a trend of gender reveal. So it's really a content play, I guess. But she started with cutting into a cake and then now they've gone really extreme where people do those smoke bombs and explosives. I mean, people have gotten seriously injured. So it's getting a little out of control.

[00:03:04] But, yeah, I heard it was a contributor to one of the California wildfires. I don't know if that was just hearsay or if that was.

[00:03:09] Oh, that's true. That's when it really got a lot of attention last year. And people are kind of people are kind of down and out on them. But we decided to go the traditional cake drought, which I think is is safe, be taken up.

[00:03:23] Yeah.

[00:03:23] As long as you're not cutting it with a machete. I mean.

[00:03:25] Yeah, exactly.

[00:03:27] Should be fine. So you built up an impressive following and you built a whole business around it. There's a lot of people trying to do what you do and have tried to do what you do. So I wanted to get into, you know, why is it that you were successful with it? But before we get there, I want to know really just the whole back story. When did all this start for you? Why did it start? But actually, my back back peddle a little bit more. How did you even get to Austin?

[00:03:52] I came to Austin for college and attended the University of Texas starting in 2010. So I've been here about eleven years now. But yeah, my first years were really just at UT and I spent a lot of time in West Campus and then kind of this bubble of Austin. That was the university that I never really got out of that comfort zone of campus life. So when I graduated, I was kind of like, there's so much to explore in Austin. And as you know, in the past ten years, Austin has just boomed. So especially at that time I was graduating at the end of 2013. So I was just seeing Austin opening all these new restaurants and businesses. And I knew there was so much out there to explore that I had already missed. So it's like, OK, now's the time, you know, recent graduate. I'm like, I've got to take advantage of my twenties and visit all these places. So Instagram was kind of my diary and I was very early in the game. Not a lot of people were doing food or fashion guy or, you know, just any kind of themed account outside of your personal life. It was pretty rare. It was.

[00:04:53] It was the very early days of that kind of thing.

[00:04:55] Yeah, exactly. So I it was anonymous with that. I wasn't even really like that. Proud to be out there doing food. I was just like, I'm just going to post plates, the food. I didn't tell a lot of my friends I was doing it at the time, but was my own personal diary. And I did spend a lot of time interacting. And I what I found was people were interested in this content. And so the more I posted, the more people kind of came over and they were organically engaging and looking at the restaurants and kind of using the account that I was just keeping. As my personal food diary is now a way to explore restaurants in Austin, though kind of. It was very organic in the beginning.

[00:05:30] And I think that's hard to say about a lot of social media these days. So, yeah.

[00:05:34] So, yeah, you were I was curious about that. So that was the early days. I mean, Instagram. Probably was what fairly even knew I don't remember when Instagram came out, but I mean, certainly Facebook is Facebook plaudit.

[00:05:44] So was that like the early times of the early times of Instagram? I remember getting Instagram in college, probably like 2011 maybe. But it was around a little bit before that, I'm sure.

[00:05:55] So, yeah, Facebook, I believe, came out while I was in college. At least that's what I heard about it. And it was like, oh, you can only sign up for the need to address. I thought Facebook was amazing in college. Yeah, terrible.

[00:06:06] Now I know it's so different.

[00:06:08] The social media is really like change over the years and now it's tick tock. There's always something new.

[00:06:12] But getting first on the platforms, people are trying to do that more and more often and like stay on top of things because if you can get in first and be one of these early adopters and then if you have interesting stuff, even though you weren't necessarily trying to do that, but like, yeah, people that are trying to do that, like getting in early, seems really work for people.

[00:06:28] Yeah, it helps with all platforms because I think what's a lot of these social media, as I've kind of learned too, is like reward your early adopters. So even with ticktock, it's like if you're consistently posting take talks right now, like eventually you'll probably have something go viral. I mean, there's little tricks to to making your videos go viral, like using the right song or hashtag. And they have trending topics every week. So if you're actually like playing into that, you can kind of quickly go viral, which is cool for people who have never had that kind of morality. And it doesn't mean you're going to get a million followers overnight, but it can definitely help and boost that. And then it also gives you that encouragement, I guess, to keep going.

[00:07:07] Yeah, for sure. So did did you learn some tricks of the trade as you kind of started organically and then you saw that, oh, this is becoming something that needed to start paying more attention to being more scientific about your approach to further build your audience?

[00:07:19] I'd say definitely. I mean, like I said, it was such a hobby in the beginning that I was just doing it. But, like, the one thing I was was I was always consistent about it, I think, because it was something I loved. I always was posting. Maybe it wasn't every day, but like there wasn't a week that went by since I started it that I haven't posted some sort of restaurant that I've been to. So I'm really trying to keep that content going. And then the other thing that I was getting a lot of positive feedback with was the interactions with other accounts of finding chefs, restaurants, other foodies to follow that were interested in the same places I was.

[00:07:53] So when did you when did you start to see it as something that can make money? I mean, obviously, when you saw that you were getting, you know, some organic, you know, engagement and stuff like that, did you immediately? Because, you know, the direction these restaurants, it probably clicked pretty quick. Right. Like I could turn this into making some money.

[00:08:07] Yeah. I mean, back then there weren't like influencers weren't really making a lot of money off of things. It was probably about two years in that I got offered and any type of monetary compensation.

[00:08:18] So you weren't pitching and asking for it or were you?

[00:08:21] Well, I was I wasn't actively doing that at all. I was just kind of going on my own to these restaurants and sharing in the beginning. The first thing before I got monetary compensation was I would get invited to restaurant so restaurant owners would reach out and be like, hey, like, we love what you're doing. We see that you're spreading the word about our business and we invite you in for a meal on us. So that was actually pretty common a little bit earlier.

[00:08:43] So you're getting comped meals at this point? Yeah. So comped meals is kind of the first thing. But like I said, this is early days. Like now, if you have a couple of thousand dollars, you might get a meal a lot quicker. You might get things rolling faster because it is a whole industry.

[00:08:56] But then it was so new that even these restaurant owners, like they did their marketing team, didn't know that influencer marketing was a thing necessary. Some of them were catching on that, oh, this could be good. But it wasn't like. Now, that's just part of the playbook.

[00:09:08] Exactly. Back then, it was like they might not have even known the value that we could bring in. So I think they they over time, like picked up on that. And social media, of course, grew and grew and grew, especially through Instagram. So, yeah, people learned quickly.

[00:09:23] So what was so fun about it for you? I mean, just kind of. I mean, I kind of like documenting things like the podcast, this is a documented conversation, I think that's really neat. Is it really that drive to like document and experience and kind of, like you said, a diary? I mean, that really that's what it is.

[00:09:37] Yeah, it was a food diary for me. And then also I was creating community because I was kind of attracting all these people that I wouldn't have met necessarily or had conversations with outside of the Instagram platform. So that was kind of cool. And then just food is something that brings people together. So I loved like when I was going out and documenting the food, I was going out with friends or, you know, trying new places. So it was just kind of like a to adventure and experience the city.

[00:10:02] Can you think of any good examples of some kind of connection you made with someone through doing what you do, that kind of maybe turn into a longer term friend or something like that?

[00:10:11] I've gotten like all kinds of different job opportunities and things through Instagram, obviously.

[00:10:16] But even before it was like like I wasn't making enough money off this, even like it was until I think the fifth year that I really took my Instagram full time.

[00:10:26] But before that, like you did for five years, before you felt comfortable doing it full time.

[00:10:30] Yeah. I mean, there was money coming outside, but like, you know, it's not enough to live off of that point. So, yeah, I did it for a long time.

[00:10:39] So you were part of it. You were in school, right. So then did you have to then go work while you were doing it?

[00:10:44] Well, I had graduated from UTI, so I was my first job out of UTI. I was a teacher at a school here called The Right School. So I was doing that. And then the Instagram was just kind of a side hobby at that point. But that actually transitioned pretty fast into like a total 180 of my career because I only was at the school for six months before I really realized that marketing was kind of my calling.

[00:11:08] So you're not sure marketing. Yeah, through Instagram is how I realized that. I was like, oh, this is awesome. Like, you know, there's all these businesses. And when I was realizing, like, people are interested in what I was doing, I was like, well, you know, I have like a special skills and knowledge of social media that I should probably take in and try to use more as a career path. So there weren't a ton of dedicated social media jobs at that time, but I took an unpaid internship at the Austin Chronicle and I worked as their social media intern for about three months. And I was nannying on the side to make actual money and just kind of like pivoted that way and started going in the direction of marketing.

[00:11:46] Then I got an agency job shortly thereafter, and then my first kind of big job that I was really excited about, I got offered to be the social media and influencer marketing lead for paper delivery, and they got really big. Yeah, I was there at a pretty pivotal stage for them. They had just raised a big round in their new CEO. Just come in.

[00:12:05] So so were they. What did they do? They immediately put you on Instagram or do they put you on.

[00:12:10] I was doing influencer marketing, which we were very early and bullish on. They had actually done some tests with me before they even hired me as one of their first influencers. So I kind of showed them like, hey, I'll put a promo code out there on my Instagram and they would get like one hundred new users. And they were, of course, ecstatic with that. So we kept doing that. And then they were like, well, what if we replicated this? At that time they had 18 market. So they were all over the country and they're like, let's do this.

[00:12:37] And, you know, Denver, Chicago, Miami. And of course, there's food bloggers trying to pop up in all these cities. And since it was so new at that time, our cost to entry to work with these people was very low.

[00:12:47] So we knew we could they were cheaper than than they are now. Yeah, I like setting them free food. We're flying there and hosting them for brunches and different events.

[00:12:55] And so at that time, like that was really exciting and cool for the bloggers and also great for us. We got the exposure. So you were able to really do a lot in that space early on.

[00:13:05] And so that was part of my job. And then I, of course, ran the Instagram to you, but I really enjoyed the influencer side and building community and kind of seeing that industry start to grow.

[00:13:14] What kind of things have you discovered that have are most successful for you when it comes to building? You know, the engagement with the audience and and building communities?

[00:13:23] Obviously, you have to put in the time and the work on the platform or I mean, work, but it should be fun if you love what you're doing.

[00:13:30] Right.

[00:13:30] I was going to take a step back and mention that it's interesting to talk to people that are successful at something. And it's almost every time it's like this, you have to like that because that would be a grind five years. You know, if you didn't like that, like you just want to give it up.

[00:13:43] You know, it's easy to give up. And like a lot of people to start Instagram's or try to do it Instagram and go viral. And like the one thing that I think a lot of people feel is like if they just aren't consistent or they don't stay passionate about it long enough, like it's just never going to take off. But I've also seen a lot of people and it's harder these days, but I've seen people start since I have and have success because they are consistent and they find their audience and they find the community and people that are going to support them. There's a lot of people out there because like other influencers are probably my biggest cheerleader because they understand what I'm doing and like we all support each other on Instagram and kind of keep that going. But of course, you have to have those other people to you and the community. And so it's just been kind of continually engaging, liking other people's posts, commenting, following new accounts and finding new people to interact with. That's kind of a constant way that I try to stay engaged with my audience and community. It is harder these days because there's bots and different things out there doing this. And so you're like doesn't mean as much as it did, you know, five years ago. And it was truly, definitely organic.

[00:14:49] Yeah, I can you can see some of that or just like people scraping hashtags and then saying, yeah, check this out.

[00:14:55] So it's become more of a beast as the industry gets bigger, because now that there's money out there, people are, you know, cheating to get ahead and doing different things.

[00:15:02] So I heard that the band people pretty quick like that, like, yeah, they have algorithms and different like behaviors they can pick up on, but I mean, it's not perfect.

[00:15:12] It's a lot of accounts people get away with for sure.

[00:15:15] Still, there was a documentary recently on HBO called Big Famous, and they literally, like, made these people influencers just by, like, buying followers. Then they had to buy likes and comments after that because they weren't getting any. They had these huge following. So like they literally produced all of it and made these people influencers and they even got some deals, which is crazy.

[00:15:36] Yeah, I was going to say because I mean, to me, like building a fake audience is worthless because no, there's no metrics. And the only thing that you could do with the fake audience is convince other people that you're legitimate for them to follow you and then gain real followers through your fake credibility. You could also con companies into paying you. But like if they're using codes to go in to get a discount like that stuff starts to become people start to notice they don't buy.

[00:16:03] And so it is for a lot of people that are buying it like it is about that credibility of like looking like they have a lot of pride and then they do get some people. But like, you're never going to have a ton and like it catches up to you eventually.

[00:16:15] Your show after, you know, after building following like this. Is there anything bad about it, anything that you run into, any weird interactions with people online that are pretty?

[00:16:25] Well, you know, I'm very lucky.

[00:16:27] I haven't gotten a lot of, like, negative comments or just like weird things in general, like people sending in some sort of content. I've had some friends deal with that more. So I think maybe because that was mostly food and then, like, I've just more recently put my picture out there.

[00:16:43] But yeah, no, it has. I've been really lucky. Like, occasionally you'll get the mean commentary to you. And I experienced some of that when I transitioned from just the food to adding myself in, because some people are like, we only want to see restaurant content. It's like, well, you know, I've been doing this for four years and like, this is my life now. So I'm going to share more than just food because you have to keep it interesting for yourself as well.

[00:17:05] Yeah. And I want it to be true to who I am. So, you know, like I'm having a baby this year, so probably with babies on there, I like hopefully people will give that, but that's going to be a part of my life now.

[00:17:15] So, you know, still, of course, always want to incorporate food because that's where I started. But there's always going to be other element.

[00:17:22] Yeah, I mean, it's not sustainable. It's not fun for you. So you've got to find ways to work your life into it. Make it fun for you. Yes. All of us here remember you getting some followers there.

[00:17:30] Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that's what I've always experiences. Like people fall off and new people come. So.

[00:17:36] So do you have any advice for anyone else that is looking I mean, you've covered quite a bit of advice, just like intrinsically what we talked about. But is there anything in particular that you would say to someone that was looking at influencer marketing today? Would you would you even get into influencer marketing today if you had to start from scratch?

[00:17:52] I'd say I mean, like as a blogger and creator.

[00:17:56] Or as someone managing the program from a marketing perspective.

[00:18:00] Well, let's let's go let's go with the blogger and creator.

[00:18:03] Yeah, I've done both sides of it. So as a blogger creator, I mean, yeah, I definitely don't want to discourage people from I still think there's a ton of opportunity out there.

[00:18:13] It is a little bit harder than when I started. So you do want to make sure it's something that you're passionate about.

[00:18:19] But if the passions there and you love creating content for a lot of people can be a creative outlet on top of their nine to five job, even so, if you have the time and the will and it's something that makes you happy and fulfills you like, why not do it and put yourself out there, spend the time, you know, find the right people that also care about what you care about. Like, yes, it's going to take time. But I mean, if that's the thing that you really enjoy, it's definitely worth doing. And you can still take off and you can grow an account today.

[00:18:49] Yeah. And and maybe even as new platforms come out, you can jump on those, right?

[00:18:53] Yeah. Yeah. It's been a big one for a lot of people. Recently I noticed there's a lot of Austin creators that are smaller on Instagram that have grown and amassed these huge followings on Tick-Tock really fast. So really finding the platform that suits you and that you really enjoy using.

[00:19:10] Yeah, the last person that was on was an artist, Jeno, and he also has a cheerleading gym on Sportive here in South Austin. And he has got like he's like, yeah, I've got like four X as many people on to talk as I do on my Instagram just because I thought I think I mean, I think that the fact that he's posting tumbling, which is very engaging for a video and then artwork, it's like I don't know how much better you could do besides like food and fashion. Those things art and sport and food and fashion are really good for, you know, things like tick tock.

[00:19:39] Yeah. You're going to have a lot of people are interested and want to see those topics. So, yeah, I also like I would rather do more of the still photography. I don't do as much video. So that's why I haven't focused on tick tock as much as I probably should, honestly.

[00:19:53] But you think you're doing all right.

[00:19:55] It's whatever you're comfortable with. And you know, one platform might speak to you more than others. You really want to go where your talents calling you makes sense.

[00:20:04] Have there been any points in your career, though, I'm doing this, like you said, you know, you do like it, but have you not hit any ruts to where you're just like, oh, I don't know, like definitely it's hard.

[00:20:13] Like when I like taking it full time was like an extra challenge. And then I think about like a year into being full time, I had a little bit of Iraq because it's like, OK, now that I'm doing this full time, it's like you can't really stop and like, take a break.

[00:20:27] Are you like you lose momentum. That consistency matters.

[00:20:29] Yeah. Because now you're like, OK, I've got to like get the next deal. And so I've become more like about the business side at one point. And I'm like, you know, you want to still be able to enjoy it. So you want to be in a comfortable spot where it's like, OK, yes, this is a business and I do still have to like, find the right partners, but I don't feel like I have to just take every deal or like, you know, this is just become like Dr. Deol thing for me versus like going in covering places I enjoy and doing more that are organic content. So I'm definitely this year trying to find more of a balance of that.

[00:21:01] Are you are you able are you able to balance work and life?

[00:21:05] Well, because this type of business, it's it's a business based on you doing what you would do normally only turning that into a business. So is it a situation where your husband's like, honey, can we just we just go out to eat and like, just go?

[00:21:19] I feel like I force that barrier on myself.

[00:21:21] Like, I'll definitely have meals now that I don't take any photos. And so that's nice. But then of course, when we go cover, it's like there's going to be a lot of photos. So it's kind of like deciding like, OK, what's the boundary of like, you know, what am I going to go for fun and when am I going to go and do actual work? So we're both entrepreneurs, my husband and I. So it's really, you know, we have to put up those barriers because he loves what he does and he gets to work in the sports space, which is also really fun and can kind of consume you something you enjoy. So, yeah, I work. Life balance is something that we have to work on. But we also are really lucky being entrepreneurs as well, because you have that flexibility in your work. So we're able to kind of we could take a Monday afternoon off or we can take, you know, a Wednesday randomly off and sometimes we might work the weekends. But, you know, our schedule can kind of ebb and flow.

[00:22:11] I would rather work some weekends and have the ability to take kind of whenever I want off, always have the weekend off and always have to work Monday.

[00:22:19] It's nice to have a little bit more of that flexibility. And I think with the pandemic, even like some of these more structured companies are allowing a little more of that flexibility because we can all work online and they're seeing that like, you know, work still gets done when people are at home and work remotely.

[00:22:34] I hope some companies either go for remote or they at least let their employees go remote a couple of days a week just to make those people happier, less time in the car or less carbon emissions. It's kind of a win win. I don't know what at least do a partial work from home after this. You know, they've been training for it for a year now.

[00:22:52] So, yeah, I mean, I think for the employees that really prove themselves and can do it, like, why not with, you know, the flexibility, it's a nice job.

[00:23:01] It'll probably keep people around longer. Having that, I think it would be really hard to go from full remote back to the office full time. So I'm hoping that they'll listen when people back to that are going to be jarring.

[00:23:11] Yeah, yeah. My dad has a two hour commute like one hour into work and one hour back every day. So it's been really nice for him to not have to go to the office. And I'm hoping they don't make him come back every day of the week or they slowly go back.

[00:23:26] Do you want to talk about your husband's sports application that we talked about before the podcast?

[00:23:30] Or I mean, do you talk about a little bit?

[00:23:32] I'm not as good at pitching it as he is, but you just the idea was interesting, but yeah, you were too far away from the mic and started not now, but when we started or else I would just like that you were farther away. We started. I just it's an interesting idea.

[00:23:45] So yeah, I can definitely talk about it. So yeah. My husband's app company, it's called Partake and they are in mobile ordering apps. So they actually have come to work with a couple of different businesses here in Austin. They're like small bakeries where you can order food and beverage from what is DOA. And then one is cookie rich, but they're more in the sports space. So they do more ordering for stadiums and venues in golf courses so people can go out and enjoy a sport and not have to worry about going back to get their food from the restaurant. They can actually have it brought to them. Yeah, yeah. And they're also now getting into the game like betting and all that mobile game application stuff that's new and Brazil right now.

[00:24:29] Yeah. And that stuff should continue to grow.

[00:24:31] Yeah, I think so. So it's really exciting for him. I love, you know, being with someone who's also an entrepreneur is really inspiring. So, yeah.

[00:24:39] I mean, I guess I'd imagine situations where maybe it would would not work depending on the kind of people, those entrepreneurs where maybe it'd be better if one of them was a stable, you know.

[00:24:49] Yeah. I mean, that's a one definitely. The hard part is like I'm always like, oh, one of us needs to guide just like a stable job or a consistent income. Monthly health insurance benefits, especially being pregnant right now. I'm like, oh my gosh, if we had health insurance. Well, I mean, now I have health insurance, I had to upgrade mine, but it's yeah, being self-employed, it's not a it's not as cheap as health insurance or an employer.

[00:25:12] Yeah, sure. It's one of the big benefits. It's so annoying. It's like it's almost like it's discouraged. I wish you could just, like, go and try to be an entrepreneur and still have affordable health insurance, like, why is that so hard?

[00:25:23] I know I would think as like it becomes more common for people to work for themselves, that things like that would get easier. But even things like buying a house have been challenging.

[00:25:32] Yeah, that makes it it's it's like the whole system is designed against it. But the entire economy runs on entrepreneurship because if there weren't entrepreneurs, there won't be any jobs.

[00:25:40] So I don't I don't know. But yeah.

[00:25:45] Do you care if we like break down, you know, your system for kind of how you kind of keep your influence or your account going, like I'm sure you have it down to a science.

[00:25:56] I think that may be interesting to dig kind of further in. Yeah.

[00:25:59] I mean, sure, I can definitely share like kind of what my content creation side looks like and then the business side a little bit. I mean, I'm pretty like free flowing, so I don't have it like super structured, like I wake up on Mondays and do X, Y, Z, but I mean, there's definitely a process to it. I work with the talent agent, which could be kind of interesting to some people. What do they do? So my agent, Lauren Seegars, actually started working with her. I was her first client here in Austin and she, like Carrie Caulkins, she was working with at the time, who's a big PR person here in town.

[00:26:32] She works with Bumble and Kendra Scott and some other really busy brands of Buzzi Brand.

[00:26:38] Yeah. I mean, you know, just rolls off the tongue.

[00:26:45] She kind of saw the opportunity with the influencer marketing space and she was like, you know, it'd be interesting to take on an influencer as a client and see if we could build out some sort of like agency model where I take a percentage of deals that I can bring you. And so she was like really bullish on that. And so she kind of helped me take my business full time. And I started sending deals over to her and she was able to negotiate them up for me because that's the hardest part, is like knowing you're worth two in this space. The rates are all over the place.

[00:27:13] Oh, really? And like, you almost want to be kind of like putting yourself up there a little higher because, like, if you undervalue yourself, well, then, you know, you're never going to have to kind of grow your business.

[00:27:23] So you have to kind of understand, like, what the space looks like. What are other people charging? What are brands willing to pay? And like, you know, what kind of value they're getting. So she was really good at breaking that down.

[00:27:34] Well, that would be really valuable. I mean, I didn't really think too much into that. I mean, I didn't you'd have to be sitting there negotiating with people and messaging different people. That's a lot of legwork. And then. Yeah, and it's also nice to like I'll put that on another person just because it's like relieves from responsibility. It's like, well, we can talk to my agent about. Yeah, yeah.

[00:27:52] Having someone else help you and on your team is like so big for you know, it's just so nice and not all influencers have that. It's actually pretty like there's not a lot of talent agents that are working here in Austin or in Texas, really in general, they're all in L.A. or Chicago or bigger cities. So I was really lucky to have someone kind of championed me in that way. And, you know, she was able Lauren worked undercover at the time, but she ended up being the one who was super into this and kind of ran with it and has built an entire agency out.

[00:28:21] And she just hired a second employee. So she's got a ton of business going now, different people that she's working with. So that's cool.

[00:28:30] Yeah, smart of her.

[00:28:32] Yeah. It is really smart to jump into that space. And I know a lot of other influencers I'm friends with here in Austin are always like, oh, I want to find an agent. And it's, you know, there's just not enough of them out there. So there's other people who want to it's not easy.

[00:28:44] But if you are golden. Yeah.

[00:28:48] And you know, there's a lot of work that goes into it is probably why more people don't do it. But, you know, it's kind of unique in each gig.

[00:28:56] So outside of, you know, the agent, which helps, you know, negotiate rates for, you know, companies and whatnot. What is your content look like? Do you do you have a schedule or you basically just kind of like, you know, I'm going to post six times a week when those times are I don't plan ahead.

[00:29:11] It's just kind of I try to play my content out like one to two weeks in advance, especially things that I'm working with brands on. Sometimes it could be a month or months in advance.

[00:29:20] Oh, wait, hold on. Because it's like they'll contact you and they're like, you guys decide to work together. So then you have to come up with like, OK, maybe I'll do several things on them. And that goes over a couple of weeks period.

[00:29:30] Some of my campaigns might be like I have some six month campaigns right now that I'm working on with brands where we do a post every month. So I'll plan that kind of out in advance of like what dates we want to do. But then a lot of other brands will come, you know, one to two weeks in advance. I'll be like, hey, we want something around Mother's Day or whatever, whatever other holidays are coming up. So we just kind of plan the content fluidly that way. And then the organic stuff that I just want to cover on my own, or if there's like a new restaurant opening I like and I throw that in or filter content.

[00:30:00] Would you be cool with sharing an example of someone that gives you a six month thing like that, like a price range of what they might be offering you? You don't have to.

[00:30:09] I mean, yeah, it's always going to be variable because every brand is the different size. So, I mean, my rates like Kapos like versus. Brand might start around like five hundred dollars a post to like a larger bank. Two thousand dollars a post. So it's super variable.

[00:30:26] Yeah, and that makes sense.

[00:30:27] And it's like there's not enough of those big brands for you to be doing two thousand dollars every time. Right.

[00:30:31] But it's like you need to try to charge a higher dollar for them because they want to have a bigger budget negotiation comes into it, like figuring out like, you know, how big is this brand? Also, what do they want?

[00:30:40] Because there's so many other factors like we do white listing.

[00:30:43] And so it's like white listing would be them buying the rights to the content to put ad money behind so they can run ads through my page and kind of reach more people through that. So that's something they can buy the rights to. They can buy the rights to the images for a different ad outside of Instagram. They can buy exclusivities. So if they're an ice cream brand, they might want to say, like, OK, we want to work with you for six months, but we don't want you to work with other ice cream brands for six months.

[00:31:09] So then they're only eating this ice cream for six months to eat at home.

[00:31:14] Exactly.

[00:31:14] And that kind of goes back to like the original influencer was like the athlete or the celebrity. Right. So they've been doing kind of these kind of deals for a while where they're like a Nike rep and they only wear a Nike.

[00:31:24] So, you know, sometimes you want that with their influencers. And it is kind of smart to get an exclusivity if you're working on a longer term deal with someone. And you know, that can feel it's a little more authentic like versus if I was out promoting a different ice cream brand every day, you build a bit of a relationship with them and you have a work relationship with them the last months. Exactly. So it's kind of a Win-Win for the brand and influencer.

[00:31:46] How is your website doing for you? I know that you were Instagram first and then later made the website. Has that been a big benefit to your business? Is it a small part of it? I'm definitely glad I have the website.

[00:31:56] It's great for certain things where I want to really expand upon what, you know, I'm sharing with people. But for the most part, I definitely still focus on Instagram and it's where a majority of my traffic is. So that's kind of why I could probably do a lot more than I currently do with my website. But it's more about like where do you want to spend your time and energy? And Instagram is the biggest thing for me right now.

[00:32:16] Makes sense.

[00:32:17] Yeah, it's great to have a website. I think everyone who wants to have a brand should have some sort of place where people can go back to you on the web and like see what you're about. Yeah.

[00:32:26] I mean at the very least it's just a place to go and look at that stuff, you know.

[00:32:31] Yeah. And I do have some post up. I'm I saw you have some post up there. Yeah. Yeah. Not enough but. Well I mean it's all about doing what makes it sustainable. Right. And what gets worked for you.

[00:32:41] It's nice to branch out do extra but at the same ends up being that I thought was really cool this past year. That almost is like Pontin. I would normally want to put on my blog, Instagram Launch Guide, so you can actually create like a list of your favorite Mexican restaurants in Austin or your favorite. You can do more expandable content. So it's something that like maybe you need a blog post for before, but now you can just do it on Instagram.

[00:33:04] Have you considered coaching other people on how to build an Instagram following or selling courses, selling an e-book?

[00:33:09] Yeah, I mean, I have influencer friends who do things like that and I think it's super awesome. I personally just haven't done it yet. I don't know. I'll get coffee with people sometimes. Just give them free advice almost. But yeah. Yeah. It's not something I've built out yet. I know the channel I could pursue, but you're like I'm showing I'm good.

[00:33:28] Yeah. I like it, you know. I'm trying to very now anyway. So the baby is the next big project.

[00:33:34] But you know, maybe one day. I mean it's definitely fun.

[00:33:37] I love coming on podcasts and talking about what I do and sharing strategy and tips.

[00:33:42] Well, so when you go to a place and you know, maybe you have this deal worked out with this brand, they probably tell I mean, obviously going to go to their shops because you have this deal. It's like a shoot look like for you. I don't know where you call it, but like you go in, you take pictures. I mean, you do video and photo, right?

[00:33:57] Yeah, I do some video and photos. It just depends what the brands want, obviously. But yeah, we usually all schedule ahead and so every shoot could be different.

[00:34:05] I like sometimes we might show up and they have like their PR person there or like you're meeting with the owner. So sometimes I'll get more involved, things like that, or sometimes they just send us on a road and we go and get content. So if it's a restaurant, you know, we might sit down for a meal and then they might find out like dishes they want us to cover or maybe like they're like whatever order, whatever you want, and then just kind of freestyle the content. So it just depends. Every brand has different things that they're wanting and some of them know what they want more than others. And some of them give you a lot of freedom, which is good in some ways because as a creator, it's like, you know, speak to your audience. So if you are a marketer and you're almost too regimented, it could probably hurt you because you're telling these creators who are very successful, speaking to their audience like exactly how to say something.

[00:34:52] And I think that can be restricting to most brands over time. I've kind of learned not to do that or to give a little more flexibility.

[00:34:59] That's why they're following Rachel Holden tonight is ice cream because one of them is a human and the other one is the voice. Exactly.

[00:35:05] And I appreciate when brands come with like themes and campaigns because it gives you like an idea and a starting place.

[00:35:11] But like not if it's like where the word like, used this caption, like that's not going to work.

[00:35:16] That would annoy me to. Yeah, yeah, no, it's no, I'm going to go I've been doing this for however many years, like I'm going to go to your place, I want to take the pictures. I'm going to write what I'm going to write. Yeah, exactly. You take them all straight from a cell phone. I mean, I don't imagine you would need anything better. So I said the way I mean, my friends a great these days.

[00:35:32] Yeah. A lot of my content still shot on iPhone. I have a nice Sony camera that I'll use for some shoots, too, but yeah.

[00:35:38] Did you ever study photography or anything like that?

[00:35:41] No. No professional photography classes or anything like that.

[00:35:45] I still don't call myself a professional photographer. There are many, many amazing your professional photographer in a particular way, content creator. But yeah, I mean, I work with other photographers in Austin that are way more talented than myself. So they you know, that's the great thing about social media, though.

[00:36:02] And doing what I do is like people almost like some icons are. I feel like that level of crazy professional, but like most influencer can't follow, like they're kind of going more raw and candid. And I think people appreciate that because it's more relatable.

[00:36:16] Oh, hey, everyone, this is your host, Justin. I just wanted to thank everyone for listening and give those that are new to the podcast a reminder to please subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast player. If you're on YouTube, please like the video share with the friend that helps us out. Thank you. So you've been to a lot of places in Austin. Do you have any true favorite places?

[00:36:37] Oh, so many amazing restaurants here. So this is always such a hard question to answer.

[00:36:42] But I do have a lot of the current sponsorships.

[00:36:45] You have noticed I was going to share restaurant recommendations and like for the most part, I don't get paid by restaurants. Most of my brands are like, you know, bigger brands like Coca-Cola or whatever. So in order to assure whoever. But yeah. So for restaurants, it's changed throughout the years. Like at one point my favorite restaurant was.

[00:37:04] I love Sway the type place and so it's close.

[00:37:08] I know they close their main location, but they have the lowest lake location.

[00:37:11] I didn't know they had one. It was like, I'm wondering if they close the domain one. I think they may have had only had seen or known about the one that's on s first route. Yeah, I know that's the Oji spot because that is the original post. Yeah, weird.

[00:37:25] The pandemic I think has hurt so many businesses, which is really sad. But there was Westlake location has been very, very popular I think, because there's not a lot of restaurants in that area.

[00:37:35] Yeah, true. Have other ties to. Yes. So good. The Tiger guys whenever I go to orders. Oh yeah. And the son in law. Yeah, yeah. Yes.

[00:37:44] Another favorite. So yeah. I love that restaurant. That was definitely one of my favorites at one point. And then IMR and REI, the team behind Imuran REI and now Hestia, they're amazing. Chef Kevin Pink is the lead over there.

[00:37:57] But where's the Murnighan. It's on Rainy Street underneath Scios actually. Interesting.

[00:38:03] Yeah, but it's a really nice restaurant and they do a lot with like grains and pastas. But everything's very innovative when at the time that I opened, I think it was one of the most innovative and like Ansara, like both food experiences in all.

[00:38:18] And I think there's a lot more of that now.

[00:38:20] But they were kind of early on that and so. Yeah.

[00:38:23] Do you do a bar? I mean, obviously you're pregnant now, but do you do bars much before that or.

[00:38:28] Yeah. I mean I love covering bars and cocktails and my husband was a bartender at one point with like amazing drinks.

[00:38:35] So I believe in this thing being able to have like when we were in Mexico, just the margarita or something.

[00:38:41] But soon enough, what are your hobbies when you're not working?

[00:38:45] Oh, so I mean, I love movies and different things. I mean, the pandemic, we've been like, so boring, but we love going on the lake. We went on the lake this past weekend.

[00:38:56] So that's one of the best parts about Austin. Yeah.

[00:38:59] There's so much to do outside here in Austin. So we love hiking. We love, you know, traveling, of course.

[00:39:05] And also and all.

[00:39:08] Yeah, there's also hiking. She's she's really better.

[00:39:11] I shoot them for so long. I'm like, oh, Denver, you're on foot and you're walking. It's not a mountain but it's still hiking.

[00:39:19] Enchanted Rock. She's like, this is just one big rock.

[00:39:23] But I mean, there's a to go and yeah, there's good I mean, in my opinion, as long as it's scenic and I'm walking, that's all I care.

[00:39:30] A lot of trails in nature in Austin, which makes it the best Texas city by far.

[00:39:36] Yeah. Is there anything that you can think of that would be interesting to share about you, that your followers on Instagram may not know about you and that they could get in this format?

[00:39:46] I'd be, yeah, I guess I could talk. I was like such an introvert through high school.

[00:39:51] So that was like I was such a different person growing up in in high school. I never went out and did a lot of things. So it really brought out that social side of me. And it's so funny seeing, you know, what I do now and having to put myself out there so much.

[00:40:05] Did you have any high school friends that were like Rentschler, like, how are you so social now?

[00:40:09] I mean, I'm sure people that likes to follow me on social and like, still see what I'm doing. Like, it's funny, like some of the more popular kids from our high school, like talk to me now on Instagram, we're like, that's the joy of our end of things. And we, like, never converse in high school. But, you know, I went to a big high school, too, so it's kind of easy to, like, lay low if you wanted to. And it's not like I was not able I just my mom was a teacher at our middle school. So it's like when your mom's the teacher, you kind of got to be like the good kid and lay low and.

[00:40:37] Yeah, exactly that. Exactly.

[00:40:39] And I was a little shy, but I've definitely been able to kind of break out of that since being more in the spotlight and just going out more in general.

[00:40:46] What high school did you go to? The Woodlands High School and which is where? And The Woodlands, Texas. It's north of Houston. OK, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:40:54] Funny enough, my dad lives in Houston now and I'm in I'm from Indiana. All my family's in. Well, not all of them, but most of them, my core family. And then I moved to Austin in 2013 just because I was going to go to Silicon Valley, decided that it was not right over there.

[00:41:08] Yeah, probably a good decision. You can get to Austin before everybody else. So glad I did, because now everyone's moving here. There's so much tech here, like there was already some tech here.

[00:41:17] And I had a coworker that was here and he said, like, yeah, there's there's enough tech jobs here and it's growing like that. You should be fine to move here. There's not gonna be as much like venture capital and all that stuff. They're not going to get quite the startup culture or maybe the opportunities you would get in San Francisco, but also. There is opportunity here is growing, and then here we are like, you know, eight years later and it's like I'm so glad that I came here because I just moved here.

[00:41:38] Now, I promise you, people give up on California. Eventually, they all come to Texas now, it seems.

[00:41:45] Yeah, exactly. Is there anything I mean, you like Austin? A lot. Of course, there's a lot to do around here. Is there anything about Austin that you just see lacking to be places? Could be part of the culture.

[00:41:57] I mean, I think it's been hard with the infrastructure here in Austin because I don't think the city was built for the amount of people coming in now and then. I think, like, you know, you can go into politics and everything else, but which I won't go too far into it.

[00:42:10] But, you know, I think there's definitely things that could change. I'm like big on the camping ban being lifted with like that's an issue I feel like.

[00:42:19] So I know there's a lot of things like that that people are very you know, I have strong opinions on right now.

[00:42:24] Yeah. I mean, it's such an issue as in it's caused a problem. Yeah. I mean, I believe it's caused a huge problem and I don't think that should be like that's not a party issue either. That's just a general health and safety issue. And just because you don't want people camping downtown doesn't mean you don't care about people. There's a difference.

[00:42:40] Yeah. And people want them to get the help and resources. And so I know that there are two sides and even the people that, you know, are OK with them being on the streets now, obviously still want them to get resources. And I think they need more help than they're getting.

[00:42:52] Cell supposed to be interviewing Matt, the guy that started Austin now. Oh, well, tomorrow.

[00:42:58] Yeah, yeah. That's a great movement. And I know the vote's coming up soon and I think it's beer.

[00:43:04] Yes, it is. It is. It is probably. Yeah. The vote there's an early vote in April, but there's the voting in May.

[00:43:11] Yeah. The official voting for me. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:43:14] I hope that because I mean again, going back to the California thing I've talked about on the podcast before, but it's just like we don't want that. That's what everyone's running away from, you know.

[00:43:22] Yeah, definitely.

[00:43:23] We just because we don't have a perfect solution now doesn't mean we should make the problem worse.

[00:43:29] Yeah, I totally agree with that.

[00:43:31] It's crazy. We were living downtown when that kind of got lifted and we were on E tape in thirty five. And so there is a huge, you know, a ton of homeless people camping under that bridge right there. And just like I had a down time view, but I could watch them every day. And you know, just by things breaking out, you know, their living conditions aren't great and they could be in a better place.

[00:43:53] But yeah. But also it's like, yeah, let's not pretend that it isn't dangerous. I mean, yeah, I know several people that have felt uncomfortable being threatened by just being in the vicinity, you know what I mean.

[00:44:05] Yes, definitely.

[00:44:06] Like living downtown and being so close to you know, we were out on the east side of downtown, but we could have walked to the west side of downtown, except for you really didn't want to go past some of those areas so restricted that.

[00:44:18] Yeah, I mean, Austin's not the only city and it's not just California. Denver's got a little bit going on now to where my girlfriend previously lived in Denver. She began to feel unsafe there. And like, you know, there was someone that was like trying to rifle through her stuff and, you know, people camping around the building and just I can't even live here anymore.

[00:44:37] Yeah, yeah. It's too bad. And like, there's so many, like Austin so great. But yeah, it's definitely putting a damper on certain areas and it's going to cause people to, like, move out more if it's not fixed.

[00:44:50] Yeah, yeah. I mean maybe then the traffic will be better.

[00:44:53] But still I joke that everyone is going to be coming in.

[00:44:57] Everyone is going to move from California to Texas. Texas is going to get like California and then California is going to get their act together.

[00:45:04] And then we're all going to move back to California. Yeah, exactly. I like California or somewhere. I was always like, oh, well, maybe I would live there one day and be like now everyone's coming here from there.

[00:45:13] But yeah, I'm like, they have the beaches and like the pretty views, though, if they could get everything else together, there's a YouTube or not.

[00:45:20] I wish I can remember his account name, but he just he's lived in on Venice Beach his whole life and he's like his YouTube channel is now getting like millions of views because he's like he's been documenting and he's like, it's just this is where, you know, they shot the film White Men Can't Jump. And, you know, it's Wesley Snipes was standing right here. And then it's just like a shitload of tents and all this other stuff. And it's just like he was just selling all these iconic spots for all these things were filmed.

[00:45:45] And it's there's not it's can't do anything like that anymore. It's totally different. It's so sad. And he's like, yeah, I mean, you know, he's like, you know, the cops will stop someone for drinking, but someone's doing heroin. They'll just walk right by. Yeah.

[00:46:00] Like it's like, well, there's pockets of L.A. that have gotten really bad. It's been a minute.

[00:46:05] I've been but I once visited San Diego because I was considering California yet again, even after I decided not to go to San Francisco like I loved Austin. But I just wanted to make sure I wasn't drinking too much of the Kool-Aid. Yeah. So I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to check it out for like a smaller vibe city. And then I went and checked out San Diego, California. But then I realized I wasn't drinking the Kool-Aid like Austin was just better. Yeah, yeah.

[00:46:29] No, great. I really. The only reason I would ever want to live somewhere else that I have been in Texas my whole life.

[00:46:34] I feel like I should experience other places, but we do travel a lot, so we get to speak. And I like the different cultures that are out there. I don't know. Nothing's caught my eye out of Austin yet.

[00:46:45] So, yeah, I know it's hard to compete with. I am just because the people are so nice and there's so much that doesn't have beaches and it doesn't have mountains. That's really the only two things. Yes, it's got traffic, but I've never lived in a city that didn't have traffic, really. I mean, just getting a big city. Yeah, exactly. I mean, Austin's still not even that bad, considering 35 is the only road to get from, you know, certain parts of the city. Because I lived in Chicago for a bit. I mean, it's no point even trying to drive in Chicago. You just don't even have a car.

[00:47:15] Yeah, but I can get better public transport here, too, if we do need to work it. I mean, in the past. But for the railway, it did Prop eight passed.

[00:47:25] I mean, unfortunately, that meant that I think they should have done it without raising property taxes.

[00:47:29] I won't get too political on you face just like you have a home. Right.

[00:47:32] So we're actually going to be buying this year. We're looking at. So we would outside of the Austin City Limits, technically.

[00:47:41] Well, Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the entire country in Austin. That is true of Austin as well. It's it's horrendous when you look at like a mortgage you could get in Colorado, you could get quite a bit more expensive of a house, probably 30 percent more and still pay the same price because all the money that you're paying here is property taxes. It's really bad. It's because Texas doesn't have a state income tax, which is nice.

[00:48:05] But I don't think offsetting all of those costs your homeowners is like part of the American dream is like you raise a family, you buy a home. But it's like, well, sorry, you're doing like we wanted you to, but it's hard for anyone trying to buy a home in Austin right now.

[00:48:21] That real estate market. So insane. Yeah, the taxes and everything else. You know, unless you're doing super well, it's going to be a challenge.

[00:48:30] It's getting to the point where you almost have to be a millionaire to buy a house here.

[00:48:33] It's crazy. Yeah. Yeah, I do like a little side gig and I run pocket listings. I buy luxury homes in Austin, so I get to see all the ones that come on. And there's so many now. I'm just surprised by how many people we have buying and a million dollar plus category.

[00:48:51] It's pretty wild. It's pretty wild. I mean, I don't like to complain too much because it is what it is. It's a cool place for people to come. I don't discourage anyone from coming here. I have no rights to this place. I wasn't born here. Even if I was, I wouldn't have any rights to this place country.

[00:49:04] But I just hope that we can encourage good, good behavior and maintain some, maintain the sense of what Austin is, whatever that is.

[00:49:14] I don't know exactly what it is, but I hope it's maybe and weird and weird. Oh, yeah. And affordability is a growing problem. Hopefully someone figures that out. Yeah. It's not going to be any more healthy.

[00:49:26] But I had the CEO of Austin, Habitat for Humanity and Phil Snodgrass. That's an interesting episode for anyone that wants to dove more into housing and what they're doing for people to make health care more affordable and awesome.

[00:49:39] OK, well, I think we covered a lot, really become more than I had written down and everything flowed really well. I really appreciate that.

[00:49:44] OK, yeah, I love doing these. They're always fun.

[00:49:46] Yeah. Rachel, thank you so much for coming on. I had a lot of fun. Thank you for taking the time. Congrats to you on building your following. You are a really good hearted person from sitting down with you for an hour, as far as I could tell in an hour. I can see why you have grown your following. And it's really interesting to hear kind of your whole story and how it grows organically. The more that I talk to you, the more sense that makes, you know, with your background in teaching and everything else. So I really enjoyed this conversation. And congrats on the wedding. Congrats on the baby. Best of luck in the house hunting. I hope everything turns out well.

[00:50:17] Thank you so much. It is a pleasure being here today.