Entrepreneur: Vanessa Gordon

Biz: East End Taste Magazine and Hamptons Interactive Brunch 

Tilt: Food trends, culture, and events with a refined perspective

Primary Channels: Website, Instagram ( 54K)

Other Channels: Facebook (14K),  X (19.6K), LinkedIn (7K), Pinterest (3.7K), Instagram – HamptonsInteractiveBrunch (4.4K), Newsletter (5.2K) 

Time to First Dollar: 2 months

Rev Streams: Sponsored articles, banner ads, newsletter sponsorship, sponsorship packages for in-person event series

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Select a brand name that can work on multiple levels. Though Vanessa launched her magazine to write about the Hamptons, her brand name is agnostic of the New York enclave, allowing her to accommodate other locations.
  • Work with sponsors who don’t question your rates. These people understand and value your content and business. They will come back and give you more business. People who question your rates or try to negotiate are likely not people you want to work with. 
  • Use your connections. Don’t be afraid to sit down and ask questions and pick the brains of your network. Learn from their experience. Attend as many networking events as you can. You never know who you will meet and how they can help your business.

The Story of Vanessa Gordon

Vanessa Gordon has lived in the Hamptons full- or part-time for most of her life. But she took several paths before the location would lead to her content businessEast End Taste Magazine.

“Living in the Hamptons is not cheap, and it has only gotten more expensive. It used to be the playground for millionaires, but now it’s the playground for billionaires. People think that because I live in the Hamptons, all I do is party and eat out all the time. But the reality is that I had to work hard to survive,” Vanessa tells The Tilt.

In 2013, Vanessa worked hard at attending and teaching at graduate school. Pregnant, she was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, an illness recognized for causing extreme nausea and dizziness, and was forced to take off from school without pay. She didn’t return after her child was born.

“I knew I needed to keep myself mentally occupied, so I went back to my undergraduate days when I worked for Viacom and Psychology Today. I realized I could write, so I decided to go freelance,” she says.

Writing for local publications didn’t pay great, but it occupied her mind. But the work was seasonal and depended on other people. Vanessa strongly desired to do something on her own terms. 

In July 2016, Vanessa informally launched East End Taste as a passion project. After attending events and functions for freelance writing assignments, she wrote distinctly different articles for her blog about those places. 

“I would do a feature story on one particular restaurant for the freelance client and then do a round-up of stories on a similar angle or a round-up of similar restaurants. My blog was almost like my diary and something I enjoyed writing,” she explains. 

I can get paid for this?

Vanessa knew she needed a website for her blog. After receiving prohibitive quotes of $5K to $10K for a simple site, Vanessa’s videographer friend suggested someone who would do it for $100. “I said wow and yes immediately and to this day, have a working relationship with him,” Vanessa says.

Next, the brand needed a logo. She found someone to create it for $10. But Vanessa soon realized the plate image needed to be changed. People thought her business was a catering company. So, in 2020, she changed it to a simple two-line image. 

But even with a website and logo, Vanessa didn’t know East End Taste could be a full-time business. It was Glenn Vickers, a former marketer and now director at the YMCA, where she taught fitness classes, who told her she could make substantial income from her content.

They looked at her Instagram (5K at the time), and he explained brand deals and how she could improve her social media presence. As Glenn explained, Vanessa remembers feeling inadequate and asking, ” What do you mean get paid?”

He suggested rates that he thought were reasonable and fair based on her audience size, expertise, and experience. But Vanessa disagreed so she dropped them 20% so she would feel comfortable pitching her rates to brands. She also explained her rates when approaching potential customers.

Most brands never questioned her fees, and the ones that did weren’t ideal for her brand. In August 2016 – a month after launching her passion project – she earned her first sponsored brand deal to the tune of $2,000.


East End Taste grew and generated revenue, but the summer seasonality of the Hamptons limited revenue. In 2017, Vanessa branched out to destinations with a similar aesthetic and feel – full-on luxury. “I wanted to bring the Hamptons to the world and the world to the Hamptons,” Vanessa says.

The name East End Taste works anywhere in the world. Her business has become a high-end blog about food trends, culture, and events with a refined angle. 

The increase in audience and content provided additional revenue from the website and sponsorships. Sponsored articles began to roll in at a steady rate. At first, Vanessa wrote all the sponsored articles. It quickly became overwhelming, so she developed guidelines for sponsors to submit their own articles, which live on her website for at least a year.

East End Taste also earns revenue from Google AdSense and Gourmet Ads and banner ads purchased by companies around the world.

With steady revenue and a defined content tilt, Vanessa had an itch to start in-person events. Though they are hard work, she was sick of working from home as a solopreneur and knew they could generate revenue.

She saw a gap in the afternoons for social events in the Hamptons. And in 2018, Vanessa launched the Hamptons Interactive Brunch. She gave it a distinct name, though it falls under the East End Taste umbrella, so other media outlets might cover it. 

Partnering with an event production team, Vanessa held the inaugural invite-only event six months after conceiving the idea. She invited notable personalities and connections from her freelance work and made $3,000 in profit. She knew she was onto something. Now, she invites celebrities who routinely attend the successful events.

Vanessa continues to grow her audience organically. Vanessa taught herself how to optimize her content for search engines, a skill she didn’t need as a freelancer. She relies on Fiverr and other freelance sites to hire contractors. She hired a web developer and is close to hiring a part-time editor. 

“Hire the help you need. It is so hard to do it all alone,” Vaness says. “You need someone to bounce ideas off of.” She contracts hourly with an acquaintance who acts as her sounding board. 

Advice for content entrepreneurs

Vanessa has more advice for content entrepreneurs growing their businesses:

  • Contract with a person knowledgeable in growing audiences through social media. Let this person figure out the best strategy and worry about A/B testing, posting, scheduling, and responding to messages. Give them a trial period to test out their work. If you don’t like it, don’t be afraid to look for someone new.
  • Once you have an expert in place, stay off social media. Vanessa sets timers on all her social media accounts for 20 minutes each day. After that, her phone shuts off the access. It is like another assistant reminding you to stay off social media.
  • Don’t work for free. When starting, it is tempting to work for free or give away too much content to get your name out there. You have to make money eventually. Value your content and stick to your rates. Don’t consult for free. Partner with others that can bring value to your business. Two heads are better than one, but only if each brings value to the other. 
  • Repurpose content whenever possible. Your audience is not going to remember an article or advice you published two years ago. It’s ok to repurpose content. You have new audience members who have never seen it, and it is still valuable to existing audience members. If you pay a freelancer to make a video, use parts of that for other promotions or content pieces. You paid someone to create that content for you, so get the most out of it. 
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About the author

Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration.  He previously taught middle school for 16 years.  Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.