WARNING: This is a pictureless post. I know, I know. . . Hopefully, you'll find it interesting anyway :)
I'm getting lots of emails these days asking me for advice on starting an interior decorating business and/or blog. It pains me to not be able to answer each of these individually, but I've found that as my business grows, I'm having to work on setting my priorities more and more each day. Some days, this means not answering every email so I can spend time with my kids in the afternoons instead of sitting on the computer. Or, forcing myself to focus on client projects when I have those one or two hours of uninterrupted quiet time after everyone here goes to bed. It's definitely a learning process for me, and if you've sent me an email that has gone unanswered, I hope you understand. What I don't respond to personally, I'll try my best to post about on the blog.
So, I know lots of bloggers have posted tips on growing a successful blog. Some of what I say may be repetition. I certainly don't claim to be an expert but I can tell you what my experience has been so far.
~When first starting out, write often. I was told to post at least once everyday, and for the most part I still post most weekdays. I'm not going to lie; it's a lot of work. If you're doing it for a hobby, blog when you want. If you are doing it to grow your business or get your name/work out there, then blog a lot.
~That being said, don't just post to be posting. Have something to say. Readers are quick to see how much effort (or lack thereof) you have put into what you post.
~I know it's been said 100 times on 100 other blogs, but I believe original content is key. Although there are some very successful blogs that primarily post pictures straight out of magazines on a consistent basis, I personally would rather see somebody's real house that is decorated "just alright" than pictures of a perfect designer showhouse that has already been in a magazine. Part of this is just because I'm nosy; but I think there's lots of other people out there that feel the same way.
~Consistent original content is alot of work. I would love to show you a new project that I've completed around my house every day, but that's not real life. It takes time to do the project, photograph the project, edit the pictures, write the post--you get the idea. Keep an ear out for friends/family members who are doing projects you may be able to write about. Ask other bloggers if you can feature their work.
~Set aside a specific time to blog. Believe it or not, when I started my blog, I would wake up in the morning, get the kids settled, and then scramble to think of something to post about that day, spend way too long searching for pictures to support my post, etc. It was time-consuming and I'm sure my posts weren't all that great. Now, if I don't have my post done the night before, I won't have a post go up the following morning. Find a schedule that works for you. I don't think it's necessary to post at the same time every day, but I like to. I have some of the same readers comment every morning soon after I post, and I don't want to disappoint them :) (Although I'm sure they would understand.)
Some bloggers also plan their posts out weeks in advance. I only wish I were that organized/creative. I kind of have a running mental list of topics I would like to blog about, and a general idea of what I would like to cover that week. However, nothing is really in concrete. It's all just kind of floating around in my brain. . .
~In the beginning, guest post whenever asked. It's a great way to reach a totally new set of readers that may have never heard of your blog. If you're blog is brand new but you have a cool project to share, approach some of your favorite bloggers to see if they would be interested in sharing your photos.
~Speaking of photos, include lots of them and work on getting the best quality pictures that you can. I know this post is an exception to my own rule, but in general, I always try to include more pictures than writing. After all, most of us who read design blogs are really just wanting to look at some pretty rooms, right?
~Get personal (or not). This one's really up to you. Whether you want to share bits and pieces of your personal life on your blog is, well, a personal decision. If your blog is centered around design and/or your design business, my advice would be to keep the overall tone professional but let readers know who you are, what you like, etc. I think readers become loyal over time if they feel like they know you. This doesn't mean they have to know the full names of all of your children or what you like on your pizza, but a general idea of who you are helps people to relate. Basically, people like real people.
~Invest (alot or a little) in a good blog design. I think this is really important if your blog is an extension of your business and wish I would've done this sooner. Even if you just invest in a professional-looking header at first, it gives the impression that you know what you're doing (even if you don't).
~Decide who you are and stick to it. I think this is my most important piece of advice. There are so many design bloggers out there, and I like so many of them. Ultimately, I had to decide that I was never going to be the girl who blogs about $300/yard fabrics because I'm the girl who would never buy a $300/yard fabric. I know that my audience ranges in age and tastes, and I definitely can't please everybody. Instead, I try to write as though I'm talking to a friend who cares about all of this design "stuff" as much as I do.
I'll plan on doing a future post on building your interior decorating business and what I've learned thus far.