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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Framebridge Art Ledge Brians Office Masculine Office Guy Green Plaid Rug Workspace Modern Eclectic 1
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Custom Framing for our Home Office With Framebridge

At a recent Q&A, I was asked by an interior designer if I thought she should start a blog. My gut reaction was “no,” not simply because I know how unsustainable running a client business and a daily blog is in terms of time investment needed on both ends (BOTH are full-time jobs, FYI). But then I had to back off my pessimism, drawn from years of experience, and I decided to retract. Instead of jumping to answer, the real response comes in form of a question: WHY would you start a blog? We should ask ourselves “why” before embarking on any new venture, obviously, but when leaning into any creative business adventure/roller coaster, you really have to identify the root and purpose. Then based on THAT, I have different answers. Here are some of the most common reasons I hear, and what I would say to them in response:

Reason #1 to start a blog: As a creative outlet, to journal my projects/DIYs in a longer written form than I can on social media. A hobby. Maybe some people will read it, maybe it will lead to business opportunities, but I really just want to express my creativity and have a journal of my creative life.

My advice: This is a GREAT reason to start a blog, just don’t put pressure on it to be a financial success. This is why I started and why I continue. I love storytelling in the longer form. I love beautiful pictures. I love documenting processes and teaching what I’ve learned or warn off because of my failings. Ultimately, I love writing. I love having a voice and yes, I love that it’s widely read because having your work read is fulfilling. But honestly, I would and will write it forever even if the audience shifts completely elsewhere. I grew up journaling every day, so the need to write is fully engrained. If the blog hadn’t blown up, I’m not sure I would have kept up writing every day having two kids, but who knows, maybe I still would have.

Reason #2 to start a blog: I want to document my projects to grow my current business.

My advice: Maybe you have a store and you want to tell a larger story than your website does. You want to connect with your customers in a closer way. I used to say “yes” to this before social media became what it is today. But now with Instagram and Pinterest, I say just do all that there unless you are truly doing it for fun, not to create more content. Creating posts and running a blog is, needless to say, a full-time job. Trying to get eyeballs on a blog, or any website, these days is, well, chasing something you likely might not ever catch. Tell your story on Instagram and Insta-story. That is where there is more community right now and the ability to connect is higher.

However, I did want to add a good point that was brought up in the office. If “owning” your audience is important to you (or your business), then know that if you only build up a following on, say, Instagram, that that audience isn’t technically “yours.” If from one day to the next they decide to pull the plug, or something shifts, or there’s a glitch that wipes out your followers…that’s it. There’s no way to connect with those people again. Meanwhile, if you have a blog or an email list, those are YOURS. I know all of this isn’t as simple as I’m making it, but regardless, it IS something to consider.

Emily Henderson Lifestyle Would I Start A Blog Today

Reason #3 to start a design blog: I want to be a professional blogger/influencer and have that be my career because it will make me a lot of money.

My advice: Being driven by money in a creative field has rarely led to long term successes. This daily blogging business is HARD, it is saturated with people big and small trying to grab eyeballs, sponsors and advertisers. Chasing the dollar is not how we function. Oh sure, we’ve done some projects just for money when we’ve needed to, it is a business after all, but it’s not what drives us. It’s not our WHY. Boy, I wish I thought about the bottom line far more than I have (more on that later), but I’m driven by fun, creative expression in multiple forms and new challenges. There is very little authenticity in creating for the sole purpose of money and frankly, there is even less fulfillment in it. Now, becoming an influencer on social might be easier, less heavy lifting, more ROI but again if your why is money, then I think you should probably leave the design/style world and head into the finance world or head to SF and get into a startup (and then come and consult with me, please).

Reason #4 to start a blog: I have a unique voice, a missing perspective and feel there is a hole in the market for my talent/voice. I think there is an audience who needs to hear from me and connect with my story. I am nothing if not passionate.

My advice: YES. The world always has room for the truly unique and new, fresh creative voices and talent, in every single medium. You are never too old to start or shift into any creative career if you are passionate about it.

Example:

I recently met with a podcast producer and the first thing he asked me was, “why do you want to start a podcast in 2020?” My answer: Because I want to tell a story in a different way and be free to talk less edited, more conversational. I want to connect with my audience on a whole other platform and I feel like I have a unique perspective on life that people seem to want to hear. Also, I love talking almost more than writing, so I think it would be FUN. I didn’t have the right idea until this month and now I’m SO EXCITED.”

Once I told him my idea, he said this: “The podcast world is saturated, for sure, but that podcast, the Emily Henderson podcast, does not exist. There is indeed a hole for it because you are the only Emily Henderson.”

It was encouraging and made me want to write this post, to give a bit more hope.

So that’s what I’d say: if you are looking around and you say “I have a unique set of skills, I have a voice that people want to listen or read, I can create a blog that doesn’t already exist and I’m willing to work VERY HARD EVERY SINGLE DAY” then YES, YOU SHOULD DO THIS. Telling your unique story is what will get you traffic and while it may not lead to your blog being a huge financial success quickly, it can lead to so many other opportunities to expand your own personal brand and your life experiences. Know this: the key is authenticity, honesty, being human and willing to be vulnerable. Before you start, ask yourself if you can handle that. 🙂

Otherwise, use social media for your shorter stories that are supported visually. It’s so much easier to succeed there and is kinda built for just that—connecting with an audience, telling your story in a brief, bite-sized way. Tag the brands you want to work with. Use the hashtags to be seen. There are so many more tools that can lead to so much more success than starting and running a full daily blog.

But I’d surely love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

  1. My takeaway from this: AN EMILY HENDERSON PODCAST IS (maybe) COMING! Thanks Emily, you’ve made my Tuesday.

    1. RIGHT?!! Let’s do this thing!!

    2. Yes!!!!! I’m so excited!!!

    3. Yay!

      But please don’t use the close-to-the-microphone-whispery-affected-“podcast” (I’m talking to you, Gwyneth) voice. It makes me want to pull my hair out.

      xo

      1. Oh my gosh, yes Elisa. And please no theme music that sounds like it came a Massengil commercial.

  2. I’m in a different profession (speaking, consulting, and facilitation) but I get asked this question fairly often and tend to answer similarly. Many people nowadays also explore the website blog/newsletter subscription combo where you publish some posts to all subscribers and others to only paid subscribers. For people with a sizeable audience and quality content this can be an effective way to get a direct financial ROI. I pay for content from several folks who run share their content via Substack or Patreon because of their consistent quality and value.

    I also think it is important to note that as the blogger, we get to determine our publication frequency. You’ve conditioned us to expect daily posts here (and now twice daily), but many successful blogs publish far less frequently. Daily (or multiple times daily) does seem to be more common with major design blogs/sites.

    I blog when I have something in longer form that I feel compelled to share rather than tie myself to a set schedule and use other social for shorter, more frequent sharing because that works for me. Others mileage may vary.

    1. I think you are exactly right. We’ve discussed paid subscriptions and in digital media nothing is ever off the table. But with 3 people on the editorial team + me, we thought we’d try this to see if it has the same ROI (plus we have A LOT TO SAY). I’ve never heard of those substack or patreon platforms, interesting … would also love to know your blog 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtful comment xx

  3. Thank you for this insight. So helpful.

  4. You’re starting a podcast?! This makes me so happy! As just one of your followers I promise there is an audience out there waiting for you to brighten up their morning commute! Yay!

  5. Thank you for the advice! I’m just getting started and even though I feel like I’ve missed the boat, should have done this TEN years ago- I’m going for it because interiors are my passion and I’m excited to share the story of making over our home. Hoping I’m not too late in the game here!

    1. GO FOR IT. There is also room for people with passion and talent. ALWAYS. good luck (and send it to us and we can help promote). xx

  6. Can’t wait for the podcast!! Can Orlando be your permanent guest on your podcast, i.e. cohost??

    1. ok I’m here to second this idea! And yes, I can’t wait for your podcast- I would be SO into this.

    2. YES!!! That would be AMAZING!!!

    3. OMG YES. Emando? Orlanily? I am here for this mash up, please and thank you.

      1. OMG. Orlanily made me make that gross inner throat laugh (funny, but tried to not laugh). Surely this will be a crowd sourced title 🙂

  7. I’m so excited for your podcast!!!

  8. An EM podcast may be in the works? Yay! 🙂 You’ll do a great job. As to this post, authenticity is indeed hard to maintain if one is just in the blog field for money. I remember reading about a fashion editor bemoaning the fact that so many fashion bloggers are apparently basically paid models for clothing brands. “Stop doing that!” she said. “It’s the death of fashion.” My takeaway was that because fashion tastes and looks are so personal, being paid to put on previously agreed upon outfits was the opposite of authenticity. One blog in particular that I’ve seen has the tag line, “This post was sponsored by _____ , although all opinions are my own!” on almost *all* its posts. That’s not authentic, and we can guess what the basic gist of all her “own” opinions will be since she’s paid to promote the clothes; she just has only to choose different sets of words each time to describe how wonderful they are. I’m not one much for being or following an “influencer,” at least not for the sake of…being influenced, for lack of a better expression. I think we’re all influencers, even if we don’t get paid to do it. While the practice is basically legit, there’s still something non-kosher to me about the whole thing. This post will be helpful to many, I think.

  9. I’ve been blogging since 2007 or so. My mom and sister read my blog, and a few other people on occasion, but I basically have no audience. I am very happy that way.

    I see so many blogs abandoned, like a weird ghost town, as most people really can’t keep up with writing regularly and no one really reads blogs like they did ten years ago. The death of Google Reader was sort of the apocalypse for blogging.

    Whenever I get people to read my posts, it’s because I stick them on Facebook. Besides email subscribers, people will only read your blog through social media or really good SEO. And getting those email subscribers requires that you have good SEO or a good social media following–and then again, do people really look at their emails? Good SEO depends on other people linking to and looking at your site. That means you are basically left with social media to really grow anything.

    It is rare to make money off of blogging, writing, making videos, and being an influencer. You might see a few successful people and think it’s possible, but you miss the thousands of other people who have tried and failed.

    It’s almost impossible to get your own space of the internet and have anyone listen. For me, my writing is now just a hobby because it’s just too hard to build up a following. I’m getting an economics degree.

    1. thank you for your comment and I don’t doubt that an economics degree has better ROI, but I love that you still blog because you want to. That’s why we should do anything creative – because we want to. I never don’t want to write. sometimes deadlines are closer than I wish they were, but I LOVE writing and I LOVE engaging so it honestly doesn’t feel like a job. Sure, the business feels like a job – it doesn’t run itself, but the love of the blog will never end for me. xx

    2. I’m in the same boat here. Virtually no readers (thank you family), no real schedule and don’t really care anymore (40 does that to you). I start blogging maybe thinking it could be something but then realized along the way I didn’t want it to be something. I wanted it for me. I wanted to document “us” while we renovated our house and have a place to remember mistakes, mishaps, successes and well, our progression as human beings. So sometimes I say something.. sometimes I don’t. And I’m okay with that. I read a TON of blogs though, so don’t think they are anywhere near dying or really hope not. It’s undoubtedly true though that today’s climate REQUIRES you be on IG and social media and you have to show your face.

  10. I feel like I missed the boat on blogging but, i’m still trying because I think I have a point of view that I haven’t seen a lot of.maybe some one will want to read it maybe not but it will be out of my head

  11. This is SO helpful, thank you! I’ve been on the fence about starting my own content channel, be it blog, newsletter, podcast… maybe the untapped carrier pigeon market? My biggest question (and fear) is how much do you need to dig into the data of your channels? How often do you check Google Analytics and the reach of your content? Do you manage your own SEO or do you have someone on your team to handle it? Would love to know more about the nitty-gritty behind the beautifully creative exterior.

    1. Great questions Sarah. I didn’t really have a team that cared about numbers until a year and a half ago. I went on gut. What ‘hit’ was based on comments and general love, not numbers. I suppose if you were smart you’d set up all those analytics from day 1 and check them, but it does shift your ‘why’ by doing that. I didn’t do it and I don’t keep doing it based on numbers. Sure, I know that some posts will hit more, but pajamas – i just wanted to review pajamas and it got more traffic than the mountain house living room reveal, which is both hilarious, awesome and WTF?? Point is, don’t do it for the numbers. Do it for the love of the game. I’m pretty sure that was some sort of sports movie subtitle, but its not bad advice. xx (and most people on the editorial team manage the SEO , we don’t have someone outside because if we did they would change the titles to be like ‘holiday living room cheap fun family decor’ and well, thats not our game.

      1. Haha no! Promise the living room did better than pajamas! 🙂

  12. Start a podcast!!!! I would 100% listen!

  13. Hi Emily,
    LOVE your blog!! Love the room with the cream sofa (seen side-on) and (darkish, reddish wood) chest of drawers (seen face-on) and patterned rug. Could you tell me what sofa that is?!?
    Thank you!
    Sally

  14. Yes podcast!!! I would love to listen – some of my favorite podcasts are by bloggers I follow because I ALREADY like their voice/perspective. So this seems like a natural next step – and one that should certainly give you a good following. Good luck!!

    1. thanks. I just like to talk. A lot. and its terrifying what comes out of my mouth but if its in my own context and not written (which can be taken more out of context) I think i’ll have freedom to do something i’ve always wanted to do – TALK OPENLY ABOUT LIFE. 🙂

      1. HUGE YEs to this!!!!!!

  15. I will definitely listen to The Emily Henderson Podcast!

  16. Emily…this was SO helpful. I have been asked before if I was going to start a blog and my answer was always probably not. Then there are moments that I thought maybe because I do love connecting with people and sharing encouragement and design. I really appreciate your honesty and the points you shared. Thank you!

    P.S. Looking forward to your podcasts.

  17. I’ve been poorly blogging for almost 10 years! I have next to no following, I know all the things I should be doing, but definitely do NOT have time for. But I still do it. Every year I tell myself This.Is.The.Year I really throw all of my eggs into one basket, but, alas, it hasn’t quite happened yet! I was afraid to read this post, thinking it might be the final straw to tell myself to stop. But instead I felt good reading this post – I know I’m doing it (sporadically at best) for the right reasons. And maybe one day, other things will align and I really will find the audience I think is out there, waiting to find me.

    And OH YES to Orlanily please!

  18. Emily, I enjoy learning new things regularly, and Girl, you never disappoint! This post was so enlightening.

  19. Emily, I enjoy learning new things regularly, and Girl, you never disappoint! This post was so enlightening.

  20. I always recommend to people who want to connect with their consumers/clients in a closer way without a TON of work, and still own their audience, to do a monthly newsletter, free of charge. A monthly newsletter is everything, and most people are okay with a monthly email.

  21. Your podcast is desperately needed! There aren’t a lot of design podcasts that speak to the end user (the person who just wants to make his or her house pretty); most seem to be geared toward the interior design business professional. We NEED your voice! Help us make our houses pretty!

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