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.
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.
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. 🙂