Oh JoyOh Joy

my new online licensing class!

Oh Joy! Academy Licensing Class

One of the most common questions I get about business is how to work with other brands to create products. I have been working in the design field for 19 years and have spent most of that time designing and creating products through licensing. Oh Joy! has had collections with Target, Band-Aid, Clorox, CALPAK, Petco, Freshly Picked, Alice & Ames, MixBook, Keds, and many more brands over the 15 years of having my own business.

After many successful in-person and live online workshops (which always completely sell out!), I'm excited to offer a video version to be able to watch and learn wherever you may be! You'll be able to watch the 76 minute class and pause each video as your schedule allows. Some of the things I'll cover include:

  • A deep dive into your style and how to decide which brands to pitch
  • How to make sure your website, social media, and work is ready to present to brands
  • How to put together a pitch deck and cold pitch to companies
  • How licensing works and what to ask for in terms of royalties, fees, and usage rights
  • And more!

The class is now available at a limited-time early bird price of $98. Click here for all the details!

oh joy academy answers: organic marketing...

Oh Joy! Academy Marketing Tips

So, what is marketing? Marketing includes all the ways you can promote your business and bring awareness to your brand. Whether your business is just starting or decades old, every company needs marketing on some level in order to grow.

Traditionally, marketing included: organic word of mouth, paid ads (newspapers, print magazines, billboards, bus stop posters), and online ads (on blogs and websites). But now, there are so many other types of marketing you can do (many of which are free and organic but still involve a little elbow grease!). Most small businesses don't have a ton of funds to spend on marketing, especially right now. So how can you still market without spending money? Here are a few of my favorite ways to organically market your business:

  1. Word of Mouth—This may seem like marketing from the old days, but for many businesses it still works. Word of mouth completely varies by your industry. Some people rely on it solely, and some don't rely on it at all. But if your business is a service that is unique or specialized, chances are happy clients and customers will tell their friends. This applies a lot to service-based businesses (like hair stylists, accountants, house painters, fitness trainers, lawyers, etc.) where the preferences or needs are specific and regional. But even if you think your business is not one reliant on word of mouth, you should still make sure every customer is happy so they can say great things about your business if it should come up in conversation! ALWAYS ask for referrals and testimonials when you have a happy customer or client.

  2. Social Media—This option is absolutely free, has unlimited potential, and can be completely run by you (at first). It's true that it takes time to grow a following on any social media platform. But the most important thing to do on social media (whether it's day 1 or day 4982) is to tell a story...in YOUR own way. How you choose to tell your story is what will attract more potential customers to you. Your feed should be a mix of organic, lifestyle content that fits with your voice and brand and informative and inspirational posts that showcase what you and your business offer.

  3. Email Lists—Email lists have made a comeback in recent years as we have less control over how many of our followers actually see our social media posts. You can't always rely on an algorithm, so email lists give you more control as you know that email will definitely land in their inbox. Email lists have evolved from super fancy to more basic. There's been a trend in recent years to keep email newsletters simpler and more conversational. The key is to still connect with your email subscribers in a way that feels like you, and make sure your emails are not only about selling things. Offer free content, tips, and have conversations they'll enjoy there, too. Also, commit to sending regular emails (once a week, once every two weeks, twice a week, etc.) so your subscribers know to look forward to them and feel like they are getting something special in their inbox.

  4. Cold Outreach—If you're a freelancer looking to attract more clients, cold outreach is the number one way to get businesses to know you exist. This could be through mailing the creative director a sample of your work, emailing a link to your reel, or DM-ing the brand to find out how to submit your work for their consideration. The same goes for finding retail customers to pick up your line at wholesale. Send them samples, line sheets, look books, and anything else that shows them who you are and what you offer. You can't sit around and expect brands and clients to find you!

  5. Networking Groups, Classes, and Events—Whether it's a regional groups of like-minded business owners, an online class for growing your business, or a fun event where others might attend (once the world is back open again), take the opportunity to meet people both virtually and in real life. While this may not naturally seem like marketing, getting to know others not only offers you a community in which you can turn to for advice and help, but it also exposes you to more people who can learn about what you do and potentially become word of mouth advocates as well.

  6. Referral/Affiliate Programs—If you have a product-based business, signing up for a referral or affiliate program puts you on the radar of bloggers, editors, and influencers who use those programs to earn income. It allows them to find you to potentially promote your work in their gift guides, round-ups, daily looks, and more because they also have incentive to earn commission should one of their followers buy your product. While this will cost you a small percentage of your profit, these are sales you're making that you wouldn't have otherwise.

  7. Gifting—Bloggers and influencers have become a major player in helping to market both products and services as they have their own set of trusted followers who love to see the influencer's favorite things to buy, wear, eat, use, and live with. This option requires a bit of budget by way of the cost of your products and shipping and handling. Or, if you offer a service, gifting it will could include your time and any tools or equipment you may use. I wrote a more in-detail PDF about gifting and pitching Influencers right here

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below in the comments, and I'll answer for you! Also be sure to sign up for our Oh Joy! Academy mailing list (mid-way on that page) if you want first dibs on new classes when they launch!

oh joy academy answers: growing your business...

Oh Joy! Academy

Growing your business is a topic I LOVE talking about because "growth" can mean SO many things. You might be thinking, "Isn't it a weird time to even think about growing a business when so many businesses are just trying to make it with the current economic climate?!" It is okay to think about growth right now. And if anything, now might be the best time to think about parts of your business that could contribute to various (and new) kinds of growth. Here are some things to consider...

Size of business — This kind of growth is when you are ready to scale your business, and you need help with more employees and/or need a bigger or better work space. This kind of growth is typically the sign of excellent numbers and means that the monetary growth of your business is strong. Be smart and cautious about what you're ready to spend to add more employees or add additional expenses (like an increase in rent). Also, when comparing your year-over-year numbers, make sure to analyze net profits (vs. only gross) as those numbers are more important in looking at what you can truly afford.

Focus — Analyzing your focus could include expanding your offerings, services, range of products OR honing in on what is working best for your business and putting more time, effort, or money into that. When you're thinking about growth, this is the time to look at numbers and also get a good look at what's helping your business grow. In some cases, you could be realizing what's really making money and what's not. If you have a part of your business that isn't making a ton of money currently but you love and see potential in it, that could be a great reason for keeping it going. However, if you have a part of your business that isn't profiting and you don't enjoy it, now is the time to let it go.

Quality of life — During the early stages of any business (and even beyond), we often sacrifice a ton of our personal time to pour our hearts and souls into getting a business off the ground. The life of a business owner is not a standard 9-to-5, and those who love what they do are okay with that. When thinking about growth, consider how your quality of life fits in with your business. Also, if you're quality of life isn't what you'd like it to be right now, then what is your goal and dream situation for the near future?

Here are some specific questions that you asked...

What are your best tips for growing your business?

  1. Assess what's working and what's not.
  2. Decide if you need more help to grow.
  3. Focus on quality over quantity and your true area of expertise.


How do I gain a larger social media audience for my business?

  1. Figure out what your story is and ways you can tell that story.
  2. Stay true to what makes you stand out (your style, your product, your story) and stand by that.
  3. Don't compare yourself to others. What works for others won't always work for you (and it shouldn't!).
  4. Post regularly on social media and make sure to engage with not only your followers but with the accounts you follow as well.
  5. If budget allows, you can gift or pitch to social media influencers to market your products (which can help grow your following) or put some money behind social media ads (this can be great for new launches or brand new companies).


How does a small business offer robust employee benefits keeping bottom line in mind? 

For me, I added benefits as I could slowly and organically. I always did my best to offer the same things that larger companies could offer (paid vacation, maternity leave, IRAs, etc) because I wanted to make sure my employees were being taken care of as best as I could. Plus, I wanted to be a legit business and offer good benefits.

Keep in mind that the cost of every employee is roughly an additional 30% on top of their salary. That includes employer taxes, benefits you may be covering for them, insurance costs from your business to protect them, and other things. So be mindful when adding benefits and analyze your full costs to feel confident you can easily cover it. 


How do you get new clients and retain current ones?

Getting new clients depends on your exact area of expertise and how much pitching is part of that industry. In some areas (like in advertising), pitching is a constant practice. And in others, people have so many word-of-mouth referrals that they may not need to pitch or be active on social media to market their work. Regardless, the best way to get new clients is to continue to contact brands or companies you want to work with and let them know who you are, share your work, and make it clear how you can help them. People don't just automatically find you. So help them find you! This can be through cold calls, cold emails, or friendly conversations on social media. Put yourself out there so more people find out who YOU are!

For current clients, make sure you follow-up after a finished project or job to make sure they were satisfied with your work together. If they were happy, here's a great time to ask them for a testimonial (or a public review) while it's fresh in their minds. Testimonials are great for your own reference if you ever need it for a future potential client or for your website. And, reviews are great if you have a public listing (like a Yelp or Houzz page). If a current client doesn't need your services again right away, be sure to keep them updated as you have new work so they know what you're up to as well. You may have assumed a past client will know to contact you if they want to work with you again—but sometimes they simply get busy or forget—so a reminder or update every so often is helpful. 


To what point should you scale your business?

This is a very personal question and answer. How big do you want to grow your business? What does success mean to you? I surround myself with lots of other small business owners in various sizes and durations of business. I have some friends and colleagues who want to grow a business to sell, some whose goal is to get investors to truly expand, some who want dozens of physical locations, and some who want to earn enough just to live a simple, happy life. The range is wide, and all options are possible.

I used to think that I needed to keep making more money every year to feel successful in my business. But then what I realized was that physical growth wasn't what I wanted anymore. I wanted to grow as a person, a business owner, as a parent, as a friend...but that didn't mean I need more employees, more space, and more things. Earlier this year, I reached a fork in the road with my business where the current model that I had wasn't working for me anymore. I had a choice to either truly scale things up by going after an investor or scale things back to a size I could better manage staying self-owned. I chose the latter. There's a lot of pressure these days on small businesses to go bigger and bigger. It works great for some, but for others, that may not be what you want—and that's okay. 

Also, businesses have phases of their lives. Some parts may be small and nimble, some may be robust and full. There isn't one way to be and one size to be, and it's okay for all of that to evolve over time. Take growth day-by-day and as it makes sense to you!

(Photo by Lily Glass)

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

Back in March when COVID-19 became wide-spread in the U.S., many small businesses came to a standstill, slowed down, closed temporarily, or quickly pivoted. What we thought was a temporary inconvenience turned out to be a worldwide pandemic that we're still going through right now. The difference between now and a few months ago is that we've all adjusted to a new version of what our day-to-day looks like. Whether that's working from home while managing kids or working partially in an office with less people, it's a much different day-to-day than we had before.

I recently asked you on Stories how I can help you or your small business right now during our new normal. We received lots of questions, so I have a multi-part series planned over the next several weeks answering some of your most asked questions and sharing tips and advice you requested. Today is about balance and juggling work and life right now...

Overall, when it comes to juggling work and life, my key tips are the same as they have always been and were pre-pandemic:

  1. Focus on Your Priorities
  2. Divide and Conquer
  3. Block Off Time
  4. It's Gonna Be Okay

Those four things working hand-in-hand are super important always but even more so right now. Whether that's because you are: dealing with a new baby or have multiple kids at home, working from home, running a business from home, trying to get a new job, trying to start a new business, or getting a side hustle off the ground, you're trying to do it ALL while also trying to stay safe and healthy.

1. Focus on Your Priorities. This means taking inventory of what parts of your life (both personal and professional) need your daily attention the most. Right now, many of us who are parents are stretched thinner than ever with possibly little or no childcare, no school, and no summer camps. Your children need you, and your work needs you. First, when and for what do your kids need you (and only you)? If they have online classes on Zoom or a certain amount of help needed with daily activities, get a good grasp of when you need to be fully available for them. This will obviously vary based on the ages of your kid(s). For example, ages 5 and up can do a lot more on their own than a baby or toddler.

This priority focus also applies to work. Whether you work for another company or run your own business, it's nearly impossible to do your normal full-time schedule during your normal hours if you're also home with your kids. So focus on the parts of your business that are most active and continuing to bring you income. For some of you, this may now be a good time to focus on parts of your business you never had a chance to take care of (like updating your website or filing all your business papers away), especially if certain parts of your business have slowed down or are on hold due to COVID-19.

2. Divide and Conquer. Every home is different so your available childcare/help will vary. Maybe your partner also works from home, and you need to figure out how to split each of your days so that someone is fully available for your toddler. Perhaps a parent or nanny has been part of your pod since quarantine started, and you have some hours of childcare help available. Once you have your home team assessed and everyone has their own new normal schedules figured out, this is where team work makes the dream work. Coordinate with your home team a schedule that works best for everyone in helping with not only your kids but also meal prep, cleaning, and all those household things that now need more attention than ever. You can then go about giving yourself set times for work and life within your day.

3. Blocking Off Time. While a normal day for you might have been a nice 9-5, adding in being a homeschool teacher doesn't usually allow for your work hours to be standard at all. Based on the priorities you have set above, you'll need to block off the time needed for your family and then fill in work in the other times around that. Whether that means you can work while your kids get a couple hours of downtime, while they are on a Zoom summer class, while your baby is napping, or while you have someone else at home available to be with them, this is your time to get your own work done! Now, this could be 1-2 hours a day or 6-8 hours a day depending on your own family's schedule and needs. This also might mean making time in the evenings after your kids are in bed to really get a couple hours of uninterrupted time to either finish work, start on a new project, or work on your new side hustle.

4. It's Gonna Be Okay. Even if you get yourself set-up with all of the above, some days will not go perfectly. And it's okay! I have had days where I was on a phone or Skype interview, and my kids come screaming into the room. I've had moments of peace thinking that everyone was doing great only to have everyone in full meltdown mode fifteen minutes later. These times are not normal, and we are not expected to be perfect at handling it all. Not today...maybe not ever. I have had moments where my stress of trying to DO IT ALL at the same time wore on me, and I found myself being crabby to everyone in my family for the rest of the day. But now I try hard to remember that we're all trying the best that we can. And tomorrow is a new day!

Now after keeping the above in mind, here are some specific questions I received...

How can I find time to kickstart a new business with a young baby? This time will come from a combination of when you have help and when your baby is sleeping. Basically, how much time do you have when your baby doesn't actively need you? Is that one hour a day or is that more? If you have help available, take it! Many new parents (especially Moms) have a hard time asking for help. Not only do you need help to find some rest (if you're still doing nighttime feedings), but if you are trying to start a new business or side hustle, you need some regular time to keep feeding into your career goals (again, if that's a current priority for you) as well.

I am juggling three different hustles and having a hard time balancing them all. Help!
This is when priorities come into place. Do you need to be doing three side hustles right now? Are they all working? Are they all growing? Are they all making money? If not, focus on the one or two that are doing best, earning the most money, and making you happy. You'll be much happier, less stressed, and those hustles that have your focus will thrive more.

Do you have tips on working from home while parenting?
If you didn't work from home before (which most of us didn't) then it's time to set up a new work-from-home area. If you don't have a home office, this could be a corner of your bedroom or an area of the dining room. Ideally, this is a closed off space to provide a bit of separation when you do have blocked off time to work (more WFH office tips here). Having just a bit of separation helps physically indicate for everyone that it's work time.

When should you take risks in your business? COVID-19 changed my entire structure.
Lots of business have seen major changes over the past three months...some small and some major. I have seen small businesses take major risks with appropriate pivots that majorly paid off. I have also seen some play it safe and stick to what they know and what their customers are still coming to them for during this time. Taking a risk right now is most likely a good move if that risk doesn't require money that you don't have or are unable to get. Some risks simply involve time and the execution of new ideas, and those are great risks worth taking. Some risks may require bank loans and extra capital. Those risks are only worth it if your business has managed to stay on course fully (or even grown more during this time), in which you may be in a great place to take a loan with interest rates being extra low right now as well.

If you have any other small business questions or advice needed, please feel free to ask in the comments below!

(Photo by Lily Glass)

what's one quality you need to succeed as a small business?

what's one quality you need to succeed as a small business? / via oh joy!

Over at the Oh Joy! Academy, everyone who has taken a class, session, or downloaded a product with us has access to a special Facebook group where they can ask me business questions at any time. It's been a fun way to get into specifics with people and also chat with them in our monthly Facebook lives! Today, I wanted to talk here about one very important quality that you need to be able to succeed in running a small business...and that's...the ability to take risks.


craft workshop at the oh joy! studio...

craft workshops at the oh joy! studio... / via oh joy!

Happy Monday! Up till recently, the Oh Joy! Academy has largely been geared towards business owners and entrepreneurs, so today, I'm super excited today to share that we've added two CRAFTING workshops to the academy!

Julia and Jess from our Creative Content team are hosting two workshops (Make it Dazzle and Wrap Stars) in Los Angeles to teach you how to make some of our most popular DIYs of all time. Both workshops will be at the studio and make for a really fun craft night out with friends or solo! Here's everything you need to know...

craft workshops at the oh joy! studio... / via oh joy!

Make it Dazzle! Who remembers when we took pearl beads and turned plain cardigans into amazing embellished works of art?! Or the time we took large sequins and bedazzled a tule skirt?! Both projects show you how to give new life to a piece of clothing you already own, and in this workshop, Julia and Jess will show you how to do just that. Just bring a piece of clothing that you'd like to embellish, and they'll show you how to add your own sequins or pearl beads to make it totally amazing and one-of-a-kind. 

This class will be held in Los Angeles at the Oh Joy! Studio on Sunday, November 3rd from 7-9PM. Save your seat here! (There are only a couple spots left!). These workshops are a fun way to grab your friends and have a ladies night of crafting and fun! Hope to see some of you then!

{Photos by Lily Glass. Written by Joy Cho and Traci Michael.}

what are you waiting for?

what are you waiting for? / via oh joy!

Do you know what stops us all from achieving our goals, our next big accomplishment, or that thing we’ve been wanting to do forever but haven’t? It’s the feeling that the timing needs to be just right. Or that our website has to be PERFECT. Or that we need to have just the right amount of savings in our bank account to be able to make it happen. 


oh joy! academy love...

oh joy! academy love... / via oh joy!

It's only been six months since we launched the Oh Joy! Academy, and it's been super fulfilling for me to help you with your goals and businesses in so many ways. I love getting feedback from our courses, workbooks, and sessions, as it helps us here at Oh Joy! to continue finding ways to grow our academy to help you the most!

So today, I wanted to share some of the incredible feedback we have received so far which makes me truly so happy to see how much you have all gained from it...


the pros and cons of licensing your artwork...

the pros and cons of licensing your artwork... / via oh joy!

One of the most common questions I get asked about Oh Joy! and our business is why we choose to create products through licensing vs. manufacturing them ourselves. So I thought it would be fun to breakdown the pros and cons (to me) and tell you why we license...


so you want to write a book?

How to Pitch a Book Idea by Joy Cho

Whether it’s been a dream since you were a kid or something that just got added to your bucket list last week, turning an idea for a book into a reality can seem completely overwhelming. How does it happen? Who do you talk to? Do you find a publisher? Do you self-publish? I'm here to help! I’ve pitched, developed, and written a range of books (6 in total published by next year!), and I want to share everything I know with YOU! My new 40-page downloadable workbook, "How to Pitch a Book Idea" is here!

How to Pitch a Book Idea by Joy Cho

In the guide, I'll offer insight on...

  • Concepting and refining your book idea
  • Getting a publisher versus self-publishing
  • Researching publishers for your book idea
  • Everything you need to know about book agents
  • Putting together the book pitch!
  • Submitting the pitch
  • What to do if you receive a no or a yes!

We're offering it for a limited early bird rate of $10 for the downloadable workbook. So get it now, and let's get your dreams of being an author realized!

P.S. If you're in Los Angeles (or want to travel here to hang out ;), I just added TWO in-person business workshops in September (about freelancing and licensing your work). See more details and come join me right here!

Oh Joy! Workshops

{Photos by Lily Glass, Photo Concept/Production/Styling by Julia Wester, Production Assistance by Jess Hong. Workbook written by Joy Cho.}