Guest Post: Holly from decor8

Hello fans and friends of Vicente Wolf! This is Holly Becker from decor8 (http://decor8blog.com) guest blogging while Mr. Wolf is on holiday. I am honored to be here! I was asked write about social networking for designers since I’ve found success using tools like Facebook and Twitter, so I’m going to give it a shot in this post. But before I get started I must share a real highlight of 2010 that took place in the home of Mr. Wolf…

 This past summer, I had the honor of working in Mr. Wolf’s gorgeous New York loft (I know, pinch me!) alongside interiors photographer Debi Treloar to style his inspiring home for my upcoming book, Decorate (http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,book-info/store,books/products_id,9211/title,Decorate/). In addition to sharing parts of his space, he so generously allowed me to interview him and so I am lucky to have some of his words of decorating wisdom in my book in addition to images of his home. Standing on his patio overlooking the city while enjoying lunch, on a beautiful July day, was a real highlight as I look back on 2010. And now a little about me…

Image by Yves Drieghe

For those of you who do not know me, I’m a “professional” blogger which basically means that I write on my blog decor8 (http://decor8blog.com) full-time and earn a living from it along with additional projects that I take on like teaching both online and off, working as an online columnist for Real Simple (http://www.realsimple.com) for nearly three years, and prior to that I was with Domino, HGTV and Cookie magazine producing content for their websites. I was also a Style Editor for the Boston Globe. 

I love what being online and putting myself out there has done for my life, as I wasn’t always Holly of decor8 but was once Holly the Executive Assistant, Holly the Space Manager and Holly the Project Manager when I worked in the corporate world for nearly 10 years. In 2005, I decided to jump tank and headed off into the great big ocean of freelancing – but more than that, I changed my profession entirely, attended design school for a few years, launched decor8 when design blogs were barely on the map, and now I have a pretty good thing going on and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in only 5 years. How did all this come about?

Outside of having passion for design and loving what I do, I’m not shy online – I put myself out there and network quite fearlessly – and that is why I think you should be doing the same if you want to spread the news about your work. I keep up with my colleagues, I’ve created a network, and I keep my name out there.

Social networking connects us online and off. You really “get” this when you’re at a party and someone asks if you have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, if you are on LinkedIn, etc. In fact, I get asked about the social networking tools that I use more than I’m asked for my phone number or personal website! If you aren’t using these tools then you suddenly fall into the dinosaur category and that great person you just met will come and and go quickly because if they don’t have a way to reach you post party, then you will simply be out of sight, out of mind. When you’re not online tweeting and linking up and whatever else, you also give the impression that you are old school (anyone young and hip is out there working their social networking mojo). Who wants to be old and out of style? Not a designer, that’s for sure!

Truth is, if you’re not online using social networking platforms as a tool to reach your colleagues, friends, customers and potential customers then you are definitely out of the loop and potentially losing out on some stellar opportunities. In such a fast-paced and highly competitive industry the movers and shakers are those who are doing just that, moving and shaking, and this means they’re networking or as I like to say, on the Net + Working. They are working the crowds and giving good pose on the virtual red carpet. This stuff matters.

When it comes to networking online, what should you be using? Definitely Facebook (http://www.facebook.com), Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com), but it is also a good idea to have a blog (I use blogger http://www.blogger.com and WordPress http://wordpress.com) – even if you hire someone else to do the work of maintaining them all for you. You can simply tell your PA (personal assistant) what you want the blog post to say, even speak it into a recording device, and let them compose the post for you.

But what if you are far too busy doing actual work to sit down and burn hours on the computer? Well you have a few options, I’ll cover two.

  1. If you are a designer and cannot spend huge amounts of time online, no worries — hire someone who can do it for you. Have your PA filter through your tweets and even tweet on your behalf, write and reply to Facebook comments, write your blog posts, read and reply to blog comments, etc. Each morning your PA can pull together a report,  a “must see” list, so that you can review it and respond accordingly.

 

  1. Your next option is to take on the wild world of social networking yourself and carve out time each day to get involved in these online conversations. View it as being just important as your actual work, because networking plays a huge part in promoting your actual work and if you are not promoting it then don’t bother making things because no one will know about it anyway! Even if you jump online for 30-60 minutes a day, you are doing good things for your business. If you have an iPhone, where there is an app for everything, install Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking tools so that you can create a little buzz from the road. If you find yourself waiting for a flight, use that time to jump online and work your magic.

Word of caution: When it comes to networking remember, a little goes a long way. No need to tweet every second of the day. View Twitter as a space for you to share quick, useful information. No one cares that you just ate sushi but if you just ate at the best sushi restaurant ever, then that is worth sharing. If you saw an interesting product, met a talented designer, heard something that inspired you, saw a great film, these things draw your fans closer and bring in new ones since you are providing useful information. When you blog, share from the heart, be honest, and don’t copy what is already out there — be an original. Think of what can add value to this great online conversation versus just throwing stuff out there. Most importantly, at least to me, is to remember that social networking isn’t commercial networking. Most people want to get to know YOU better, especially if they already follow your work. Plus, it can really turn people off if you are simply promoting yourself 24/7. Sure, you can tweet your recent blog posts, but also tweet about the work of others. When it comes to social networking, the keys to success include consistency, authenticity, sharing your work along with the work of others, originality, adding value and being “social” — you’ll need to comment on your favorite blogs, reply to comments left on your blog, etc. Mr. Wolf does this quite well, he has left a few comments on decor8 and that definitely made me value and respect him even more because he took the time out of his busy schedule to stop by and say hello.

A blog, especially for a designer, is an extremely useful platform for sharing your work and other valuable information, obtaining new work, connecting with potential clients and connecting with current clients, friends, colleagues and family members. Don’t sit around stressing over how personal you should get, or how many tips you should share, do what feels comfortable and use some of your favorite bloggers in your field as a guide — if what they do works for them then it could potentially be a good template for you to follow. Learn how to create a LinkedIn profile, try out Twitter and learn how to create a fan page on Facebook if you don’t want to create a personal account, for instance. When it comes to technology, you can bet that most of your colleagues are tweeting, linking in, facebooking (is that a word?) and blogging. If they’re online using these tools then they are reaching out to your potential customers — and you may get left behind.

I’d also like to add that you should include links to the sites that you’re on in your email signature (not all of them, but your blog, twitter and facebook are fine) and yes, you can even put them on your business card. To organize things a bit and to save time, link your accounts by using TweetDeck (http://www.tweetdeck.com), too.

If you are already using these tools, then a big high five to you – you know the value of them and perhaps you can share a comment or two below this post as to how they’ve helped you personally and professionally. This post is more for those who are just jumping in or considering to jump in on the action and hopefully, it encouraged the toe dippers to go for it.

So that’s it, a little advice when it comes to social networking from a girl who has been there, done that, and sees positive results. Are you using any of these tools? Would you like to connect? If so, tell us where we can find you online and talk about some of your experiences in the comments section below.

Thank you Mr. Wolf for having me! Warmly, Holly Becker, decor8.

39 comments


  • Great post Holly, thanks for your input. I use all these tools and am just trying to balance them all and figure out where to use my time wisely. This was very helpful!

    Ruthie

    January 11, 2011
  • Hi Holly,

    Thank you for these great reminders. I have enjoyed reading your blog in the past. I also appreciate Vincente’s candor and pep talks in his blog.

    While I have a blog, Facebook, and Twitter account I’m ready to take it to the next level and I see that interaction is the key. I get a little shy but in 2011 I will make the effort to put myself out there.

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences,

    Kari

    January 11, 2011
  • fantastic post Holly….a topic that is definitely a hot trend at the moment! you are right about Vicente he is one of the nicest people to think he even left a comment on my blog once……so humble and lovely! Thanks Holly and I think you are a true inspiration 🙂

    January 11, 2011
  • Very informative post Holly. Do you have any advice for people who are trying to utilize social network tools, but are more adept at expressing themselves visually than literally?
    Thank you,
    Theresa

    January 11, 2011
  • Great post Holly for new bloggers and those of us who have been around for a few years (we still have lots to learn). It’s a big world and changing everyday, It has finally got to the point where people don’t look at me like I am crazy and ask “what is a blog” so it is official………blogging is a great tool and your experienced voice will motivate more than a few to get going.

    January 11, 2011
  • Hi Holly – thanks for being so open and generous with yourself and your experience, not just in this post but in decor8 as well. Your post is such a great fit with the tone and style of Mr Wolf’s blog – you both make readers feel such a strong part of your world. I follow both of you and have learnt so much that has helped me in my little part of the design world. Thank you!

    January 11, 2011
  • Great advice, Holly. The web really does bring all of us design lovers together. I have a twitter, blog and LinkedIn but have yet to do a FB fan page.

    January 11, 2011
  • Holly, I plan to share your excellent advice and article. Vincent does a super job and overall your information is a great guide to the process and reason.. plus I love the Net + Working analogy.

    Thanks, Faith

    January 11, 2011
  • Love your advice, Holly! Tips I am still learning a year after starting my blog! Always great advice!xo-Jen

    January 11, 2011
  • Hey Holly, You are right on the mark! Although fair warning to anyone starting out. Be careful of falling down the rabbit hole of time spent networking. My dishes and laundry have not been done in months. With that send, the rewards have been beyond my wildest dreams. Hf,Kevin

    January 12, 2011
  • Thanks so much for sharing this great advice! I started a blog a few months ago about our new (to us) house, and I apppeciate your candid advice about what has worked so well for you! Thanks!

    January 12, 2011
  • Wonderful and useful advise! So good to see you here!
    xoxo Victoria

    January 12, 2011
  • Wonderful and useful advise! So good to see you here!
    xoxo
    Victoria

    January 12, 2011
  • Great Post, even for a second year blogger (ok, so I’m just entering my second year… ), and always interesting knowing what the pros think and do!!

    Northern Light

    January 12, 2011
  • Thanks for the great tips Holly. It’s amazing how easily we can communicate through social media and the web. It just takes awhile to master the details.

    January 12, 2011
  • Thanks for all of the info, Holly. You are one of the experts, that’s for sure!

    And, of course, Vicente is a force unto himself. It’s wonderful that you both take the time for us.

    January 12, 2011
  • @Theresa – Hi and thanks for your question. You asked, “Do you have any advice for people who are trying to utilize social network tools, but are more adept at expressing themselves visually than literal?”

    Yes! I do! Flickr.com can be a great way to express yourself visually. You can upload photos, tag them, connect with others, and soon you will find yourself totally immersed in this amazing world of photography and people who are out their shooting some amazing things. If you are a designer, you can photograph the spaces that you’ve worked on to upload and then join specific Flickr groups for interior designers or that show interiors photography and that can help you to find others with a common interest more quickly.

    I have a Flickr group called Interior Styling — this helps me find others who style and decorate their home because that is a passion of mine and I like to connect with others who share the passion. Here is the link to that: http://www.flickr.com/groups/interiorstyling/

    So you can join a Flickr group, and that can help you to communicate visually online while also networking.

    Another tip is to use a site like Pinterest.com to catalog your finds and group them into “Boards” and network in this way. It’s another way to communicate visually.

    In addition to Pinterest and Flickr, you can try twitpic.com — and upload photos there that you want to share on twitter.com with few words.

    If blogging and writing isn’t your cup of tea, consider using a Tumblr blog. This is great for communicating visually — and Tumblr has a very blog-like interface so you are able to catalog your finds in a single space.

    I think the future of social networking will change and more live chat and possibly new technologies will be introduced to take the anonymity out of so many of these largely text-based methods of communications. But for now, I think the above ideas could be a great start for you!

    Holly

    January 12, 2011
  • Sorry for the typo in my above comment to Theresa. In line 6, their should be there.

    January 12, 2011
  • Excellent article! I’m using all of these tools, and learning, learning, learning as I go. 2011 is about maximizing the time I spend opposed to spending maximum time! I’ve been blogging since July and it is the biggest challenge for me – learning to let go and that it’s not about writing a perfectly edited ‘book’ are the hurdles I’m working on. Thank you again for sharing your expertise.

    January 12, 2011
  • For someone who is new to the social networking world, your blog was very helpful and motivating!

    Thank you for being open and sharing with the rest of us who are trying to figure all of this out!

    Just subscribed to your blog!

    Staci

    January 12, 2011
  • Great info. I jumped on the blogging/FB bandwagon and am surprised by A. how time consuming it is
    B. how each supports the other
    c .how much I enjoy it!
    I am so inspired and in awe of such great talent!

    January 12, 2011
  • I’ve started my blog in September and I am growing and growing… I’m truly grateful to my readers for that, but this isn’t happening by “luck”, it’s working by hard work. I spend hours every single day commenting on blogs and twitting. People are coming to my blog and see that I am a simple girl that loves interior design and loves to be in contact with my readers… it’s a FUN relationship!

    So, the important thing to think is: You won’t grow by being “lucky”, but by working hard… the more we work, the “luckier” we get. See?

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

    January 12, 2011
  • Great advice Holly. Thanks for being so generous with your expertise. I am one of those writers that is hired by other designers and design retailers who do not have the time and/or ability to put together a blog and social media plan. The only thing you left out is the fact that all of this takes time so be patient and enjoy the ride. One day you will wake up and someone will have linked to you, seen your blog, commented etc and you will be on your way.

    January 12, 2011
  • chantel d

    Thanks Holly for your great advice. I’m an illustrator with very little web presence. This is partly my fault as I find the whole social networking thing quite overwhelming. I know that I’ve lost opportunities because of this so I’m going to change things in 2011. This article was a good kick up the butt!

    January 13, 2011
  • Awesome Holly,
    Thanks for all the info. I can be really confusing to all us newbies out here in blogland. Can I ask you..what about tools like Hootsuite? helpful or not so much?

    January 13, 2011
  • @Luciane – You are right, there is no such thing as creating a blog and sitting there waiting for thousands of readers to find you and see what you’re doing. You really have to work hard to have success in any business, but online promotion can be even more of a challenge because it’s not so much in “who you know” as offline — you really have to work hard to gain trust and earn a name but it is worth it.

    @Karen – I don’t use Hootsuite (yet) but I may. Like any social networking platform or photo sharing website (like Flickr), because they are free, unless you need additional services, then I think there is nothing to lose by trying them out. There is no obligation and you don’t have to stick around if you end up disliking it. Different platforms work for different people, naturally, and you will start to see which one gives you the best results over time. For beginners though, I think having a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account is a great start but sure, experiment and see which ones you end up REALLY using in 6 months…

    January 13, 2011
  • Hi Holly,
    Thanks for sharing your blogging experience with us! I really admire what you have built in just 5 years! Even though I think 5 years is a long time, but if you really think it’s probably not! I get impatience sometimes with the lack of readers in my blog… but, I guess I just have to keep doing and blogging for quite a few years more until it happen, right?! Sometimes I am afraid that I wasting my time, even though I LOVE blogging!
    Oh, about Vicente Wolf?! My BIG inspiration!!!
    Cheers,
    Renata

    January 13, 2011
  • Fabulously useful article Holly, and full of really useful tips. I have barely used my twitter or facebook except to promote my interior design blog – which is doing well but I am going to take on board your tips to use twitter differently so as to build up a more interactive profile, which in turn should make the blog busier. All interlinked, as you point out!

    January 14, 2011
  • lew wat

    Gosh, I’m such a dinosaur! I love looking at blogs but nope, I don’t have my own, have never looked on facebook (I’m scared about how much time everyone tells me it takes up) and I don’t have an iphone. I will need to take that facebook plunge but when??? Panicking I’m getting left waay behind here.

    Lew W

    January 14, 2011
  • Hi Holly – I am into my second year blogging and believe me, I was pulled into it kicking and screaming! To my surprise, I found it to be a wonderful creative outlet for my writing and images. A whole new world has opened up to me thanks to the incredible technology you have so well described. It is a treat to have you on V’s blog sharing this valuable information!

    January 14, 2011
  • Holly – thank you so much for explaining in detail the benefits of social networking. As someone in their mid-fifties it can sometimes be difficult to stay with the technology of the moment but when I do, I find it fun and interesting. You provided such valuable information!

    January 14, 2011
  • Holly- Wonderful post.

    But tough to swallow on the personal assistant part. When I get a comment on my blog, and it’s from someone I know has a very very busy life, I have to wonder. Is the comment real or is it not?

    Loretta

    now off to visit your blog…

    January 15, 2011
  • Hi Holly,

    First off, wooohooo on the Vincente project & meeting; I can’t wait to see your book!

    This article is great, succinct and to the point. I have written on the same and am super excited that I will begin teaching for Drapery & Design professional in March so decorators and workrooms can learn how to do the same.

    Thanks so much… tweeting this now! 🙂

    January 16, 2011
  • Roberta DAvis

    Thanks, Holly! Very useful advice, I think. I do agree with Loretta above, though. I read Vicente’s blog but not his facebook for the same reason.

    January 24, 2011
  • great article, holly- i’m a social media convert, and have found tweeting, facebooking and most importantly, blogging, to be a great venue for both professional networking, and obtaining new design clients. in fact, i doubt i would have survived the post-2008 downturn without the clients i made via my blog- the old methods of word of mouth referrals dried up there for a bit! now i’m back to business, and almost- but not quite- too busy to maintain the social media side of things, so your advice on getting a PA involved may have to happen at some point; but i don’t know if i could surrender my SM to anyone else- i like it way too much!

    January 26, 2011
  • Holly,

    This was so helpful. I am new to blogging and found this information quite inspirational. I am also grateful for the encouragement of the fabulous Franki Durbin,editor of http://www.lifeinaventicup for sharing similar designer/blogging tips. I had no idea that you wonderful bloggers are so willing to share ideas and tips with new bloggers. I hope I
    am in a position to “pay it forward” one day. Thank you Holly.

    January 26, 2011
  • Great information. It inspires a social networking illiterate like myself to take that next step.

    February 15, 2011
  • Thank you Holly!

    I know this was written awhile back but it was a very informative post! This past year I’ve really started to put more effort and time into my online presence with my website and social platforms and incorporate it into my daily routine. I think that everyone who owns a business needs to start making this part of the equation. It’s not a choice anymore, it’s just the way it is. Anyway, I have been following you for some time and really enjoy your blog and design inspiration. Also a big fan of Vicente too. Take care!

    February 01, 2012
  • I realise this is quite late to post for this, but what I love about social networking and twitter etc is that we keep aware of everything that’s going on around us and in our lives.

    Some complain the digital world makes us spend too much time behind a screen, not communicating properly etc. but I think it makes us more actively engaged and thinking about what we do and where we’re going and who we’re meeting so that we can share what’s interesting!

    March 22, 2012

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