“How do I become an influencer?”

That’s what one of you asked us a bit ago, and TBH, everyone’s journey to internet fame is different. But to get answers to a few of those content creator questions, we sat down with Joy Cho (she/her), founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, as well as the most followed person on Pinterest with over 15M followers.

How the hell did that even happen? “In 2005, I left my 2nd job in NYC to move to Philly,” she says. “I was in a new city, newly engaged, and looking for a new job. I started my blog as a place to keep my inspirations during a time when I had a lot of transition. More and more people started to read the site and it helped me to be able to launch my own design studio due to clients I was getting from my blog. I didn’t initially plan to start my own business, but once I saw that I could, I took the leap of faith.”

Ok, so you gotta have some faith. What else? “The type of business I was starting—service-based graphic design—luckily didn’t require much start-up capital,” she admits. “All I needed was a computer, printer, scanner. Then, my presence on social media grew over the years. Oh Joy! evolved from a graphic design studio designing for other clients to a lifestyle brand where I have written 7 books, designed over 40 product collections through licensing, worked with tons of brands on creative content, and consulted for hundreds of other small businesses.”

Let’s hear more about her social media journey and special class she’s teaching where she’ll share all her brand-building secrets. 🤫

What were the first steps you took to start your career as a content creator?
Gaining experience! You will gain confidence in anything you want to do by learning more and trying it. Whether that’s taking classes, getting an internship, or an entry-level job, we all have to start somewhere. In college, I did summer internships every year at various types of design companies so that I would get to see what types of companies I wanted to work for and what types I didn’t want to work for. That helped me so much when it came to applying to my first job out of college, I had a more concrete idea of what to look for.

Did you face any financial obstacles in the beginning?
When I first started my business, I felt uneasy that I would even be able to make a living that could be the same as a salary I would make at a design job. Luckily, being a freelance graphic designer meant I already had the basic essentials that I needed to do the work I was pitching to clients. Once my income continued to grow, I was able to take more financial risks which included hiring employees, getting a studio space, and creating products.

What’s a good pitch to brands you wanna work with?
A good pitch is one that feels personal to you, shares what you do, puts forth your best work, and clearly explains how you want to work with a brand. To “collaborate” is not enough, being clear and making yourself seen is the best choice.

What social platforms should we devote our time to help build our own brand?
Which social platforms you spend your time on depends on what you do. You can’t be everywhere and please everyone. So, choose 1 or 2 places where your work shines the best. For me, that’s Instagram and Pinterest. But for you, it could be TikTok and Facebook.

Tell us about your new class “Pitch Please” on Skillshare!
The biggest myth about successful creatives or those who seem to have the best partnerships and clients, is that the work just lands in their lap. I’ve had that assumption made about my work, and it’s not true. So many of the partnerships I’ve had, especially product collabs, are ones that I have gone after. I learned early on from getting my very first job out of college, that to get what you want you have to go after it, and show people who you are and what you can do. That’s where a pitch comes in, and during my class on Skillshare, I show you exactly how to put an effective one together.

Lastly, what’s your advice for women starting their own business who feel overwhelmed?
Think about how you want to feel about your life in 5 years from now. What do you want to have accomplished? How do you want to feel—personally and professionally? When you get a glimmer of the goals realized, that can help to give you the motivation to take one small step to get to that point. Also, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by all the things we need to do to grow a business while also managing a personal life with friends and family. Focus on your priorities and let anything else unnecessary go. We can’t do everything and say yes to everything. Set boundaries of what you want and what you don’t as your guide on how to move forward.