There are foodies and people with blogs, and then there are experts. Jane Ko is one of those experts. Discovering her love of culinary pursuits and digital storytelling early on, Jane honed her blogging and food discovery skills and now spends her time catering to these two passions in Austin, TX. Here she dishes on the key elements of her success and advice she would give others looking to enter the space.
Name: Jane Ko
Twitter or Instagram handle: @atasteofkoko
Location: Austin, TX
University: University of Texas at Austin
Secretly Obsessed With: French fries & ice cream (but I guess that's not a secret)
On My Nightstand: Chocolate chip cookies
Last Thing You Read: A restaurant menu
How did you get started?
I was studying my undergrad in Nutrition at the University of Texas Austin when I decided I didn't want to become a dietitian. In 2010, no one was blogging in Austin so I started a blog. I knew nothing about web development, photography, writing, or social media so I learned it all.
What key elements played into your success?
(1) Focusing on beautiful photography. I've never taken a workshop on photography but I knew since day one that I wanted to showcase beautiful photography and run my blog more like a magazine.
(2) Focusing on a niche, which was restaurant coverage in Austin. Since then I've expanded into travel and lifestyle.
(3) Learning everything on my own. A lot of bloggers hire a web developer, photographers, etc. to help them with their blog. I chose to learn everything and because of that, brands enjoy working with me and companies have hired me as a consultant.
What what's your favorite part of your day?
Early mornings are my favorite part of the day but I hardly ever get to experience them. I usually have to work late into the night and then end up sleeping in.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
Trying to get a social media marketing job. I received my bachelors in Nutrition but I really wanted a business degree from McComb's School of Business at UT. So I interned at a start up, worked at different agencies and consulting firms while growing my blog, and now I've launched my own social media agency, Happy Social Co. Oh, and McComb's invited me to speak to the business students earlier this year.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
Really anyone who has created something for themselves. I've met CEOs of successful companies, business owners of local restaurants and shops, and entrepreneurs who are creating their own startups - and they all inspire me to do more.
When do you feel most successful?
When my readers ask for advice. I'm always super flattered to receive emails or even have people ask me in person for advice on their careers, businesses, ect.
What's the best advice you received when starting A Taste of Koko?
'Stop what you're doing because you'll fail' is what I was told over and over. Fortunately I'm rather stubborn and thrive from proving people wrong.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My current partnership with UberEats. Even since my boyfriend moved to San Francisco, we've had to transition to a long-distance relationship. Because of that we have virtual date night using UberEats every week. I mentioned to UberEats a couple of months ago about how we use their technology, and they were beyond thrilled. We created a video to showcase the story and UberEats is currently sharing it with all of their users worldwide.
This was such a private milestone that I didn't feel comfortable sharing but the response has been overwhelmly positive.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry?
Find something that you're passionate about, become an expert in it, and share your knowledge.