Jane Ko (more commonly known as Koko) is the blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin’s top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. She has been featured in featured in O Magazine, InStyle Magazine, OWN TV Network, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Woman Magazine, KXAN, Travel Channel, and more. We love her tenacity and are so excited to learn a little more about her through this coffee talk.
How did you get into food blogging and food photography?
I started my blog when I was studying my undergrad at the University of Texas Austin for my B.A. in Nutrition. I wasn't as excited as my classmates to become a dietitian so I started a food blog. At that time, there were no bloggers and Instagram/Twitter weren't even invented yet. Even though I wasn't a photographer, I knew I wanted beautiful photography for my blog. I hate asking people for help so I bought my first camera and started taking photos.
What are some of the challenges in your job? What do you like the best? Can you highlight one of your favorite experiences from the past five years?
The biggest challenge I had when I started my blog was being taken seriously. It's interesting to now see bloggers having the same if not more influential voice than online and print media.
It was challenging to have close friends and colleagues doubt you when you want to launch your own "brand" and host events. I'm happy to be able to look back and say A Taste of Koko is Austin's top food and travel blog that has collaborated with Carnival Cruise Lines, IKEA, PayPal, KitchenAid, and more. I've also hosted the largest Food Crawl at SXSW with over 10,000 participants. Thank goodness I can be stubborn and a terrible listener.
In the past three years since I’ve lived here, I’ve seen you go from being an Austin food blogger to THE Austin food blogger— a very business-savvy one, at that. How did you get to that point and how have you stayed motivated? Did you have any mentors or role models that helped along the way? If so, who were they?
It was challenging to stay focused and driven to continue the blog over the years, especially when I see fellow bloggers give up and move on to other ventures. I am extremely thankful to have had positive reinforcement along that way that encouraged me to work on A Taste of Koko. Within two months of blogging, I was featured on the Mutual of Omaha's AHA Moments national tour.
I wouldn't say I've had any mentors or role models but definitely been inspired by the people I've met since starting my blog. I've met different CEOs of million dollar companies, local entrepreneurs, even bloggers that inspire me to create something for myself.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I try really hard to not sleep in, feed Beethoven (my cat) and Basil (my dog) while enjoying my first iced latte of the day, and then check emails. I typically have a restaurant tasting (or two) and then finish the night with Netflix.
Do you cook at home? If so, what are your go-to meals?
I do not since my week is filled with restaurant tastings and my refrigerator is packed with leftovers. My go-to meal is avocado toast and an iced latte!
How do you like to unwind on your free time?
Netflix and tons of salty snacks.
What have been some of your current favorite reads (or of all time)?
I haven't had any time to read any books (terrible excuse) but I do read several national websites/blogs like Refinery29.
What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts?
Be honest: if one only had 12 hours in Austin, where should that person eat?
What are your goals for the next two to three years?
As a blogger, you are constantly given opportunities to grow your brand. Whether it's a book, home decor line, or TV show. We'll see!
What’s your advice for people who want to make a career out of blogging and social media?
Don't do it for the money. That's the biggest misconception is that every blogger is making millions. The truth is, only a handful are.