Chelsey Hauston: A Teacher Turned Viral Food Blogger
here’s a huge push right now for micro-influencers because the engagement is really good. They’re smaller and still have influence. Though bigger influencers are going to keep getting opportunities. I think there’s a huge shift to more social media influencers coming in and less of the old media. TikTok is growing. We’re going to see a lot more brands showing up on TikTok.
Who is Chelsy Hauston?
Chelsey Hauston is a food, travel and experience blogger best known as founder of the Let Them Eat This social media pages. She has 39,000 Instagram followers and 232,000 TikTok fans. She has a bachelor of education degree in educational studies from Arizona State University and masters of global management, business administration and general management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. She lives in Phoenix, AZ.
Chelsey grew up in Boston, MA then moved to Arizona. She spent 13 years in the education industry but had to quit when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Chelsey would subsequently start her food blog Let Them Eat This in 2019.
Let Them Eat This
Chelsy Hauston always had a passion for food but she also chose to be a food blogger because it was a topic everyone could relate to.
“Everybody needs to eat to live. And I think all too often, people fall into the mundane where they go to that regular restaurant around the corner from their house. There’s so much more out there. It was kind of like a journey of me discovering new places, but also showing places that I love that have been a huge part of my life since I moved here to Arizona.”
She started the blog as a hobby and to make new friends. It grew rapidly and is now her full-time job.
“I was like, ‘Let’s make some new friends and let’s see what’s out there’. Then as things grew, there were media events and suddenly I’m getting paid for content. And then it just took off from there. The monetization came after.”
Trying to find her space and figure out her unique voice was a key challenge at the start.
“There’s a million accounts created every single day of people saying ‘I’m a food blogger’, ‘I’m a travel blogger’ and ‘This is what I cover’. I was trying to find out what made me different from other people. So mine was creating food porn and colorful stuff. It was being fresh on the pulse, knowing what was new, what was upcoming but also places that have been around that have really unique things.”
Chelsy Hauston creates the content and manages the pages herself with help from her husband. The audience is mostly young people.
“I’d say I have a good mix of people. 18 to about 35 is my key demographic. I’ve got the younger nerdy crowd that loves anime, video games and things like that. But then I have a lot of couples looking for dating ideas and a lot of girls looking for awesome places to have brunch and things like that.”
She has worked with multiple brands.
“I get about 10 brand deals a month on average. Some big brands I have worked with include Albertsons, QuikTrip, Oreo, Freddy’s and Warner Brothers.”
She considers her collaboration with Albertsons as her most successful so far.
“It was supposed to be a one-off. They liked my work so much that they hired me three times. It was a long-lasting partnership over a couple of months. And every time I negotiated good deals with them and that way, I still made money from it.”
The campaign was about an Albertsons app.
“They had healthy recipes. So you could download the app and choose the recipe and the app put together the entire shopping list for you. You could have it delivered to your house or you could drive up and pick it up. It was super convenient especially for families or people that still want to eat healthy but don’t want to do all the work.”
She came up with three videos for the campaign.
“One minute I showed my fridge empty and the next minute it was like magically full of all these good things. Showing the process and everything. Talking about why it was unique and it fit our lives. It was really fun.”
Finding Success with Video and TikTok
Chelsey’s content is almost exclusively in video form.
“When Instagram Reels came out, I wasn’t sure if it was going to last. And then I got on TikTok in late 2020. And I was like, if I’m already making videos for TikTok, I should also do them for Instagram. When I started posting on Instagram, the growth was huge compared to photo content. I had a video go viral on Instagram and got about 5,000 followers in like a week. I feel like with a video, there’s a lot more to see when compared to a picture.”
She currently gets most of her brand deals via TikTok rather than Instagram.
“Once you hit the 100,000 TikTok follower mark, there’s the Creator Marketplace. Brands can hook onto your account on your video. You can approve them to run sponsored ads on the video. That’s a huge movement right now. I’ve been getting a lot of requests from businesses and companies to do that.”
Her most watched video on TikTok has about a million views and is about an establishment that sells spaghetti in buckets.
@letthemeatthis do you love Spaghetti enough to eat it by the bucket? #spaghetti #payson #arizona #meatballs #roadtrip #italianfood #foodontiktok @aznomnoms ♬ Italian Dinner Party – Italian Restaurant Music of Italy
“They are filled with spaghetti and meatballs. And some people are like, ‘That’s so cool. You’re living my dream’. And other people are like, ‘This is an insult to Italians. Do not post this garbage’. It was really funny seeing the different points of view.”
Still, it’s hard to predict what content will go viral, Chelsey notes.
“One time I just sat and edited some plans in my car and posted. It got like 900,000 views. Sometimes the stuff you put the least amount of effort in, that’s the stuff that takes off and performs extremely well. And the things you worked really hard on or you thought was great, that’s sometimes the stuff that bombs.”
She does look at engagement metrics to gauge campaign success but goes further.
“So, the shares, the likes, the comments, the views. Looking at overall views is great but only if you’re getting a good ‘likes rate’. It’s the likes-comments-views ratio. If your video gets a million views and only a thousand likes, that’s kind of weird because your ratio should be higher. You want a good amount of people liking your videos because the more the engagement, that keeps the video going and they’ll keep pushing it into the algorithm.”
Lessons on Working with Brands
She considers a number of factors before accepting a brand deal.
“Do they own the rights to my content? If it’s something I want to use again in the future, I have to make sure I can use it.
Are they going to be running ads on it? Is my likeness going to be out there? If something happens with this company later, my face is all over this brand.
Can they give me a list of competitors? If they’re asking for exclusivity for like a week or two or 30 days, that’s not bad. But once it gets beyond that, it’s cutting into who you can work with.
Those are big things I look out for and negotiate for more.”
She has some advice for brands working with influencers.
First, provide brand clarity.
“I love when they lay out their brand guidelines, the brand voice, the dos and the don’ts. It tells me the tone of the content. Even though it is my content, it still needs to fit their aesthetic or brand. If they’re a fun and outgoing brand, I know I can be more playful and wear really fun colors in the video. If it’s a more serious brand, then it’s more matter-of-fact.”
Second, provide parameters.
“Brands drive me crazy when they don’t give all the parameters. Be straightforward, put all the parameters in and take the guesswork out. Because if not, when the influencer goes to shoot and shoots the entire thing wrong, they’re stuck with unusable content. They have to go back and shoot again which is a waste of the influencer’s and everybody’s time.”
Future Trends and Plans
Chelsey observes several trends in the influencer industry.
“There’s a huge push right now for micro-influencers because the engagement is really good. They’re smaller and still have influence. Though bigger influencers are going to keep getting opportunities. I think there’s a huge shift to more social media influencers coming in and less of the old media. TikTok is growing. We’re going to see a lot more brands showing up on TikTok.”
She has several plans herself. First, she is working on a YouTube channel. Second, Chelsey’s looking to diversify from sponsored content for brands.
“Affiliate links. I’ve been working on getting a lot of those together. I’ve been redoing my website and want to send traffic there so affiliate links for sure.”
Third, she hopes to collaborate with a cheese brand in future.
“I love cheese. So a big campaign with some of the big cheese companies would be awesome. Like doing a huge fondue set or something fun like that.”