Sponsored by Zappos
Photograph by Glitterary
It’s been 7 years since I launched A Taste of Koko, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Believe it or not, A Taste of Koko was not an overnight success. When I started blogging in 2010 on college student recipes, I had no readership for two years and it was awesome. What kept me going? I’m really not sure. In 2012, I transitioned into restaurant coverage with help of my very first restaurant invite. As a college student, eating anywhere that wasn’t fast food was a luxury. I wish I could remember which restaurant invited me because restaurant coverage was the defining point for A Taste of Koko. Fast forward 5 years later, I am now the official restaurant expert for Visit Austin TX and just launched my very first texting service where anyone (even you!) can ask me for restaurant recommendations. Just shoot me a text at 512-400-3637.
SEE ALSO: Dolce Vita Fall Collection on Zappos
I’ve partnered with Zappos + Dolce Vita to share how I fulfill my dreams and support the causes that I’m passionate about.
Walk This Way
That’s the message that resonates with us, not only this season, but as an internal mantra for us at Dolce Vita. Standing out has been in our DNA since the beginning, and we want to invite some of the most aspirational (and inspirational) women we know to join the conversation. Its a call to action, to be uniquely you, empowered and strong, carving out your own place in the world. We’re looking for women that embody that fearless nature to join our campaign to encourage women and young girls everywhere what it looks like to #walkthisway
Dolce Vita just launched their fall collection on Zappos and I’m wearing the Dolce Vita Tay booties that keep me on-the-go while looking stylish and comfortable. Here are the 7 lessons I’ve learned from 7 years of blogging. Come take a walk in my shoes.
Photograph by Glitterary
1. YOU BECOME A JACK OF ALL TRADES
My everyday duties include photography, videography, photo/video editing, copywriting, web developer, social media editing/managing, customer support, business consultant, graphic design, accounting (my new accountant is soon to be relieving me of this responsibility!), business management, and a million other things.
Did I learn this overnight? No, but to anyone who thinks blogging is easy or to any new blogger that respond to my answer with, “Wow, this is a lot of work.” Yes, yes it is a lot of work. Can I outsource some of this? Yes, but my type A personality makes it very hard to do so.
I recommend starting with what your interest and strength is. Is it copywriting? Photography? Offer what you’re good at to another blogger that is starting out or another business owner, and you can help and learn from each other. I spent hours on the internet researching photography tips, blogging tips, website development, best practices for social media. Even now I still spend hours researching and learning new skill sets.
2. PROFESSIONAL MULTITASKER
I’m pretty sure I have a mild case of ADHD (not medically diagnosed) because it’s become challenging for me to focus on individual tasks and in-person conversations. Currently, I work with 9 – 12 brands every month on different campaigns for sponsored blog posts and social media posts. This means I’m a creative director for 9 – 12 different brands a month. An agency will contact on behalf of their brand with a project pitch and it’s my responsibility to present that brand to my engaged audience in the most organic and authentic way possible. Whether that’s through photography, editorial, or even videography. Not only do I think about multiple projects throughout the day, I have to constantly switch physically and mentally between projects.
Multitasking may seem unproductive, but it’s become key to my workflow. Typically in the middle of a recipe photo shoot, I’ll work on a blog post draft, edit photos on Photoshop, and draft social media copy on my phone – all at the same time. And then halt everything because a phone call comes in. P.S. I also have the TV on for background noise.
Photograph by The Hungry Chronicles
3. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT EMPOWERMENT
Having women reach out to me on a weekly basis for mentorship and advice wasn’t something I anticipated and I definitely don’t think I’m qualified to give mentorship or advice. It’s been an honor to have college students write their research papers on me, and to have boss babes tell me that I’ve inspired them to quit their 9-5 to pursue their real passions. It’s also been interesting to have husbands tell me that I’ve made them heroes because they have date night planned every week thanks to me!
This is why I try to answer every single email and message that I receive, and try to at least jump on a quick phone call if they’re asking for advice. You never know who you’re going to influence, inspire, and empower.
4. ISOLATION IS REAL
As a team of one, there are many times when I miss collaboration and meetings. When I worked the 9-5s, meetings were incredibly useless with people sitting around the table with nothing getting done but there’s something to be said about teamwork and conversation. True story: I had a conversation with myself in my bedroom last week trying to decide between oxford blue color or evening gray for a new bed collaboration.
Majority of my time is spent behind the computer, phone calls with agencies and brands, interviews, and in-person meetings. By the end of the day, I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and not wanting to talk to anyone. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to set aside time to catch up with my friends. One of them even said to me, “Jane, what do I need to do to hang out with you? Open up a restaurant?”
5. IT’S ALL ABOUT DISCIPLINE & DEDICATION
My friends often ask me, “why do you work so hard?” I work for myself so I really could take the day off, the week off, or heck, take the entire year off. There’s something addicting about results. In the past couple of years, the more work I put in, the more results happened. Before I knew it, I was working 80 hours a week for myself as I did for my 9-5.
If you ever ask me to hang out, expect to receive a Google calendar invite in your inbox within 5 minutes. I live and breathe by my calendar. Events ranked by importance are:
- phone calls with brands and agencies
- in-person meetings
- events that I’m hosting
- photo shoots
- restaurant tastings
- misc events
What you don’t see on the calendar are the time gaps that allow me to do photo shoots for the blog, write blog posts, edit photos/videos, and hang out with friends.
From day one of A Taste of Koko, I was dedicated to producing quality content. Since I wasn’t a strong writer (still not a strong writer), I chose to focus my efforts on producing magazine-quality photography. This required investing in a DSLR camera and Photoshop, and shooting photos over and over.
Photograph by Chelsea Bucklew
6. EVERYONE WANTS YOU WHEN YOU’RE “SUCCESSFUL”
But nobody cares when you’re not.
I know you are a big-time blogger/influencer these days and I’m sure brands pay you a lot of money to try their stuff. I’m just a small business person but I can give you..
Hey lady! Congratulations on all of your success…
Hey! Let’s get coffee, I’d love to hear about all of your success!
3 years ago, I thought I had a pretty stellar resume. 4 years of social media marketing under my belt – working for different consulting firms and digital marketing agencies. The healthy food brand that I worked at managing marketing/branding/social media received a nod from Google for having the best branding and social media, and they gave their kudos to the agency (aka me). My blog had just hit 5 years old and a couple of big companies were inviting me over to talk to their teams on entrepreneurship and creating an authentic brand. My boss at that time told me,
That’s great that the community sees you as a leader but that’s not what we want [for you].
So I quit my job with a plan B expecting to find a new job soon. Wrong. Nobody wanted to hire me full-time. So I kept blogging.
The thing is, working for yourself is scary, unpredictable, and really hard. But sometimes you really do just need to take a leap of faith and keep working at it to make it happen. And when it does, people start calling.
Photograph by Chelsea Bucklew
7. & EVERYONE WANTS TO TELL YOU HOW TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS
This has been a new lesson that I’m still trying to learn is responding to unwelcome advice. I am surrounded by many talented and successful business individuals that work at million-dollar companies and/or make millions in their business.
Hey Jane! You’re killing it right now. How are you going to scale? Let me tell you how to scale into a million-dollar business.
I am also guilty of giving people advice when it’s not asked for.
My response to advice and feedback is to listen, smile, and kindly thank them for their expertise. I do listen and digest feedback and take inspiration to generate ideas. At the end of the day, I know my business best and I will grow and scale in the best ways I see fit.
For me, success isn’t defined by how much money I make or how many brands I work with or how many vacations I take. For me, success is defined by writing transparent blog posts like this that get shared and generate conversations. For me, success is defined by having strangers pull me aside in the grocery store and tell me how my blog has inspired them to pursue their passions.
Are you thinking of starting your own business? Starting a blog? Please leave any questions or comments below. Happy to help if I can!
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Zappos. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Taste of Koko!