Since starting The Design Hub in January I’ve been introduced to a whole new world of social media from sharing forums and Twitter streams to Facebook business pages and Linkedin profiles. I’ve realised that I’m not at as techi savvy as I thought I was. The first few weeks on Twitter I was completely baffled with trends, lists, hash keys and just general letters stuffed in random places!
So I thought It might be a good idea to get a feel for how others used blogging and social media. I began to read other peoples blogs to see how they set out their pages and posts, also what extra tools they used to make the blog more interactive and user friendly such as; top posts, latest posts, popular search terms, RSS, archives and links. This research gave me so many fantastic ideas about what I wanted to include on my blog I couldn’t wait to get started!
Then, when I finally took a second to breathe in between my excitement, half of these things I had no clue what they were, what’s RSS I panicked! If you’re now thinking the same don’t worry, after you’ve used old friends Google and Wikipedia, you’ll be up to date with all the weird and wonderful names for things which you can add to your blog.
My research revealed to me one major point that everyone was linking their blogs to their personal websites, Twitter, Facebook and all other kinds of social networking. I now realise the importance of doing this in order to gain a bigger outreach, connect with as many professionals as possible and of course get people reading my blog because there was no point wasting my time if nobody will read it. If you’re wanting to project your name or business name out there this is the way to go. It’s fee, direct, fast and effective, so avoid this piece of advice at your peril!
I found especially within the Interior Design blogosphere, there were two popular templates and styles, you either went for a minimal Dezeen type look or a French-chic style with lots of pretty and dainty pictures of interiors. I confess this did dampen my confidence because I’m not a professional photographer, world renowned designer or have a long list of friends in high places to help me create a blog which would be serious competition for the likes of Decor8, Apartment Therapy or DesignSponge.
Now I know I was completely wrong and there is a place in the blogosphere for any blog no matter how small. But to make your blog successful means embracing new technology which you may not necessarily know anything about or would touch with a barge poll, pure dedication because blogging is very time consuming and keeping an open mind.
A few weeks into blogging I was constantly changing the style, format, background and playing around with different texts. It wasn’t until around February when a friend designed the headers that I was completely satisfied. I still faff about with it now and then, that’s only because I’m a perfectionist and nothing is ever right! So if you find yourself doing the same it’s normal!
One key piece of advice is get feedback from friends, family and also keep looking at other blogs, if you find one you love don’t copy it exactly just take the elements you like and incorporate them into your own, keep your blog fresh and avoid merging into the heard of sheep. I was always looking on Decor8 for inspiration because well, if you’re getting hundreds of thousands of views per day that’s a pretty good bench mark to set!
Once you’ve got about three months into blogging it will become easier and you’ll have built links with designers on Twitter, become addicted to you Facebook business page and every night checking your blog views which I do all the time. When you’ve got your blog and social networking activity off the ground its always a great boost when someone who you admire, aspire to be or just a normal fellow blogger, comments on your posts or follows you on Twitter. I just love it when people comment on my blog, it gives me such a confidence boost to know that someone has actually read my articles and taken the time to respond.
The Ideal Home Show and New Designers have contacted me to get involved with their events, they had seen my articles on Twitter and loved the blog! That day I tell you I celebrated. It may seem small to you at first but when you’ve spent a lot of time attending events, networking with other designers and of course sitting down to write in between your projects, it feels amazing.
The Design Hub has actually exceed my own expectations and in just four months smashed 10,000 views, attracted fantastic followers on Twitter, loyal subscribers and a great fan base. All I can say is that I set myself a goal to blog twice a day, tweet about other great things not just my blog, keep true to my Broadcast Journalism routes with adding video reports, event reviews and interviews from various designers which people seem to like.
So I’m not going to change, even though I’ve had many thoughts about conforming to other styles The Design Hub is me and this is what I’ve learned from embracing social networking and the blogosphere. I wish you all the best of luck and please contact me if you want anymore advice or information.