Ok. You have a website. You have a blog you sort of update once in a while. You've even added all those little icon doohickies on your Instagram story highlights because that's just what you're supposed to do (or so everyone says). And yet...
The comments aren't magically rolling in. Your followers are still at the same level. Your designs are pure gold and though you've won multiple high profile awards for them, you can't seem to compete with the blogger babes out in the world for viewer attention. What gives?
In short, there are two different types of designers out there in the social sphere: one specializes in designing for clients (what we all usually think of as an "interior designer"), and one that specializes in designing his or her own projects in order to create a constant content stream (what we think of as a "design blogger" who may or may not do a few client projects or sell branded merchandise). If you fall into the first category and are suddenly thinking this whole thing is for naught, that you may as well give up now and admit defeat - please don't. I am here to tell you that there is a happy medium between the two extremes and it is possible to reach your content production goal - you just have to do like the bloggers do. After all, it turns out that they all tend to have a few things in common across the board, no matter their home style or ability to wield power tools.
So, read on for all the details. It's far more doable than you may think.
THEY HAVE A SOLID BRAND IDENTITY
When you head to Justina Blakeney's website, you know right away that it's all about saturated color, wild and tropical prints, and layers upon layers of texture. It's fun, happy, and whimsical. And she doesn't veer from that, no matter where she's putting out content. You know her style the moment you see it. And that, my friends, is the key to a successful brand identity. You are firmly rooted in it, you have no doubts about what it is, and you are not afraid to show it off.
Too many people "like" so many design trends and elements that they fear if they choose one to identify with, they'll be pigeonholed. But think about it - after all these years as a designer, do you willingly accept clients whose styles are waaaaaay outside the realm of what you enjoy doing? If you love ultra-modern aesthetics and a potential client tells you they want only antique furniture and traditional design, would you work with them? Or would you perhaps refer them to another designer more aligned with their tastes? I'm willing to bet the latter. After all, you chose this profession because you loved it - why spend endless hours on a project you don't feel connected to one bit?
Bottom line: figure out your brand identity and stick to it. Make a name and a look for yourself. The more specific you are, the more people with resonate with you.
THEY ARE REALLY ACTIVE ONLINE
When I say really active, I don't mean "post about once per week and do an occasional blog post." I mean post multiple times a week on social channels (if not every day), do it via a variety of methods (Instagram grid posts, Instagram stories, IGTV, etc.), and blog daily (or close to it).
In addition to that, I mean be active online with other people - as in, comment on other people's posts. Though you may not be into it, statistics show that the more you interact and form bonds online with other designers and people in the greater interior world, the more likely those people will be curious and click over to check you out. Love the lamp they chose? Tell them! Wondering which paint color they used? Ask them!
It's simple, but the more content you put out there, the more natural SEO you build up, and the more eyes you inevitably get on your brand. Likewise, the more you interact with other people and genuinely seek a connection with them online, the more likely you are to gain followers and interest. Bottom line is that you can't post twice a month and expect your followers to jump by 1,000. You have to do the work.
THEY EMBRACE THE IMPERFECTIONS OF THE DESIGN PROCESS
By the time a project install is complete and it's staged for professional photos, it is perfect (or as close to perfect as it is possible to get here on earth). Naturally, that's the part of your work you want to show off. You want your potential future clients to see the beauty and the full breadth of the work you can do for them.
But, I hate to tell you, that isn't enough. In today's overstimulated world, people are craving more than beautiful interior shots. They want to know all about how you did it. What challenges did you face? How the heck did you figure out that load-bearing wall problem in the original basement? Why did you opt for a vaulted ceiling there?
Successful bloggers know that every design has a story, and they also know that their followers love to follow that story from beginning to end. They have wholeheartedly embraced the imperfection of the design process and share with great enthusiasm every single step along the way. From before and after reveals on their blogs to quick Instagram story tours of a house during the demo stage, audiences eat that up and it is gold. So, you must must must ditch the need to be perfect. I promise it will make a difference.
THEY INVOLVE THEIR AUDIENCE AND TAKE FEEDBACK TO HEART
Speaking of audiences...another biggie successful interior bloggers have in common is their level of interaction with said audiences. No matter what they're sharing - be it an in-progress mood board or a final project reveal - they invite comments and feedback with open arms, knowing it's very likely they'll get a few negative reactions (and maybe even a couple of mean and out-of-place comments that truly don't belong). But, that is the internet for you, sad as it may be. Other than inappropriate responses that are out of left field, you should absolutely take your viewers' feedback to heart. I don't mean go and change the design because one person didn't like it, but what I do mean is that you should acknowledge that person's viewpoint even if it doesn't align with yours. This is, after all, about creating a community and gaining a higher following, so in order to do that, you must be willing to have open conversations with those people.
THEY SHARE MORE THAN DESIGN
Finally - and this one is pretty crucial - top-notch design bloggers share more than just design (gasp). Their brand is rooted in their work, sure, but people stick around because their personalities and interests have somehow captivated them beyond the usual pretty room shot. For instance, I adore Emily Henderson's design work, but I also really love to see her adorable family go on new adventures at their recently-remodeled mountain house. Another blogger I follow, Kate Arends of Wit & Delight, has gorgeous eclectic-yet-modern style, but she also frequently shares her love of cooking in her Instagram stories (which has strangely started turning this previous cooking-averse lady into someone who actually enjoys dabbling in it from time to time).
My point is this - we all feel a bit odd sharing our personal life online, especially if you're the type to keep work and home life separate. But, while you absolutely get to dictate how and when and what you feel comfortable sharing (especially more private things like kids or relationship details), you do need to open up juuuuuust a bit to remind your audience that you're more than your designs. Let them get to know you and you'll be well on your way to creating a true community and following online.
I know I said all of this was simple, and in all honesty, that's an unfair assessment because it does take a lot of work. But by the same token, I do stand by "simple" because what all of these rockstar interior bloggers have in common isn't some pot of gold they found over the rainbow and agreed to share with only a select group of people. It's hard work and connection - all things that are tangible and doable for anyone who wants to put in the work.
And if that still feels like too much to handle and you're getting writer's block every time you go online? Give me a call. I'm always ready to help you start churning out that content to get your brand up and running exactly as you imagined.