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Wanna learn how to start an interior design blog? Fabulous!
Wait a minute, here. Are you really sure you want to know how to start an interior design blog? You're going to have to commit to keeping it alive. It's basically a digital baby that will need your attention constantly. Good news, you can drink and babysit at the same time, if you wanna. But if your content comes out sounding like gibberish, don't look at me!
Now that you're committed to the idea of creating the greatest decor blog on Earth, how in the hell do you actually get started?
First, we gotta start with the big question: Why are you starting a blog?
Are you going to be using your blog to get clients for your interior design business? Fabulous!
Do you want to express how you feel about the trends you see and why you'll never put shiplap in one of your client's home? Awesome.
Do you wanna become a professional decor blogger that gets to go on fancy trips that other people pay for? Go for it, honey.
All of those things are possible and when you remember why you started this blog, you'll always have that to guide your way should you get lost (code for that 3 am thought of 'why did I start this in the first place?!')
What should you blog about?
This is an easy one! You can blog about design and decor. Within that big ass topic, you should niche it down a bit. If you're starting this blog to get clients for your design business, then what is your niche? That should dictate the topics you should be addressing.
For instance, if you're a decorator that specializes in bachelor pads, you shouldn't ever be blogging on nurseries. You want to become known for that area where you're the expert. Not the jack of all trades.
The best part is that there is so much inspiration to inspire your blog posts. You've got magazines, TV channels with endless shows about design, catalogs, showrooms, etc.
You want to be THE person who is an expert in your specific niche. That is your ultimate goal.
Is starting an interior design blog cheap?
Relatively. You can pick up a domain name for $10 a year (sometimes the host/platform you choose with include a free domain for the first year). Hosting will run you anywhere from $75 to $150. If you want a prettier theme (if you go the Wordpress route), that can run you an additional $60 to $100 for a good theme, but that's not necessary to get started with.
How to start an interior design blog. technically speaking
Pick a domain name
Your domain is going to be the address for your new virtual pad which will also host your blog (yes, you only need one domain for your website and blog to live on). If you haven't yet, read my post on how to name your interior design business.
I'd suggest that you use your name because you may find that you'd like to change your business focus in the future. When you've put a lot of time into the domain name you choose today, it may not work for your future. And aim to go with a .com. Any other extension could confuse things for people trying to find you online. Unless you live in a country like Germany and .de is more popular than .com.
If the name you want to use isn't available for your domain, you still have options.
You can try to buy it. Go to Whois.com to see if you can find out who owns the site. If you're lucky, you can ask them if they would like to sell it to you (may not be cheap) or you can use a domain name broker which could be even more costly.
You can add "design", "designs", "designing" or "decor" to either the front or end of your name.
Add your location to your name like JayneSmithNYC.com.
Use your initials or a phrase you use.
A couple things to watch out for:
Avoid using homophones - words that sound the same but have different spellings.
Skip hyphens, they are a pain to explain.
Don't pick a name that someone else is using for their business (that happens a lot).
Choosing a platform
I am only going to recommend two platforms to you, those being Wordpress and Squarespace. I do not recommend any other platform because they have various issues that you will not want to deal with months or years from now. Trust me on this. Save yourself a headache and avoid those platforms like the plague.
You have two options with Wordpress that confuses most everyone when they first find out. Wordpress.com hosts sites which are free, but you have limited control over what you can do with it. I like to think of the .com version like renting an apartment. You can't just do whatever you want with it. If you're a hobby blogger, it's okay but if you're using this for business, stay away from this option.
The other option, which I do recommend, is a self-hosted Wordpress site that sometimes is referred to as the .org version. You need to pay for your domain and hosting to use it, but you can do practically anything your little heart desires when it comes to the look and functionality.
I just love me some Squarespace and created a course about creating your own website using Squarespace. It is what I use for this website. I still use Wordpress to run the Society because the functionality to run a membership website isn't available on Squarespace.
I switched over to Squarespace in June 2015 for this website because I was looking for some drag and drop action in a time when the Wordpress themes that offered that made my website super slow. But, I'll say that some of the designers in the Society don't dig it and still prefer Wordpress.
It's a personal preference so make sure you try out both platforms to see which one will float your boat before you commit.
Choosing a host
Choosing a host shouldn't be too hard. Whichever company you choose as a host you will also want to get a domain from them as well. Makes it much easier to get everything set up.
Your host is the place where you'll be renting space from a company so you can be found online.
If you choose to go with Squarespace, hosting is included with their packages. If you choose to use Wordpress, you need a host that does that and I recommend Bluehost. Yes, I'm an affiliate, yes I will earn a commission when you click on that link for Bluehost (at no additional cost to you) and I've been a customer since 2011. Here's why...
Like I said, the Society is currently based on Wordpress and hosted with Bluehost. I've tried a lot of other big-name hosts over the years (pain in the ass!) and Bluehost has my loyalty. Click here to start your own interior design blog with Bluehost. You'll see an image like this and all you need to do is click on the green button that reads "Get Started Now":
After you click on that green button, you'll have to pick a plan.
I'd suggest going with Prime plan because of the Domain Privacy option (meaning that if someone does a Whois search on you, they won't see your address or other personal information).
After you select your plan, you can choose your domain name. If you're still stuck, you can still sign up and add the domain name later.
Next, it's time to enter your payment information. Yes, you have to pay for the year up front and no, don't complain about this. The other hosts that offer those "low monthly payments" usually end up costing you more in the long run. Think about it, your own website for less than the cost of a sexy pair of jeans? Deal. Your jeans aren't gonna make you any money unless you're working the corner *cough*
After you submit your payment, it's time to choose a password. You surely know how to pick a password, so let's skip to the part after you pick a password, picking a theme.
If you see an option to skip this part at the bottom of the screen, please do. You will want to do a little bit of research before you pick a theme because a lot of the free themes available for Wordpress aren't always up to date which will leave you vulnerable to hackers and other sleazy a-holes. There's already a pre-installed theme that you can use for now and switch it out later when you've had to time to check out your other option.
The next button to look for is this one with a blue button that reads "Start Building", click it and ignore going to your Bluehost account for now.
Once you click that blue button, you'll see this. Guess what?! You've got yourself a Wordpress website that is ready to go!! That wasn't hard at all.
Now, if you chose a domain name and it isn't showing up yet, don't worry. First, there may be an email in your inbox waiting on you to confirm something, if not, know that this process usually takes between 24-48 hours for it to start working. In the meantime, you can start working on your new website right now.
What you see here is your Wordpress dashboard. The black section on the left is where you're going to be able to access all of those things you'll need to create content, manage your plugins and themes and virtually everything else.
Now, you see that part to the right of the black section that is asking you if you need help to set up a Business or Personal website? Skip it. It's easier to start with a blank slate and you don't want a bunch of crap pre-loaded onto your website.
Wordpress Set Up
There are a couple things that I recommend you do right away before you start working on your website...
Double check your username and if it's "admin", you need to get rid of it because hackers use that username to do awful things all the time.
Go to the section in your black sidebar that says "Users". If you don't see the word "admin", then you're good to go. If you do see "admin" next to your name you need to add a new user. A dialog will pop up and you will create your own username (do not use "admin", use something else that isn't so easy to guess) and make sure that you check "Administrator" from the drop-down menu at the bottom of that page before you click "Add New User". Now, log back into your website with your new username. Once inside, delete the old "admin" user. If it asks you if you'd like to delete all the posts and links related to the old "admin" you can say yes UNLESS you did write content before you did this. If you have content you need to attribute it to the new user you just created.
Install a security plugin to keep bad guys out. Sucuri is free to use and highly recommended.
Change your domain from HTTP to HTTPS once your domain is working. That "S" on the end adds a level of trust to your website and if you don't have it now, Google will spank your website. So, just make the switch on this.
Now that you're feeling a bit overwhelmed I also bet you're feeling mighty proud! Look how far you've come. Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty!
What interior design blog content do you need?
A plan for design blog ideas
First, choose between 5-7 categories which are the general topics you're going to touch on. You could have categories of furniture, color, trends, accessories, finishes. So when you blog about cute little bookends you could stick that into your "accessories" category.
When you write your first blog post, you'll encounter something called "Tags"... these are just way to describe your post in more detail. If you blogged about those bookends, you could tag it with the words "blue", "accessories", "bookends", and "agate". If your reader clicks on "blue" they would then get lead to other blog posts with the tag "blue" and maybe that is where you blogged about painting a room blue. Make sense? Good. Now let's talk about the types of posts you can write.
Solve a problem
The first thing to remember is that when people go searching online, they usually have a problem and need a solution. Homeowners always have questions about design and decorating that those silly ass TV shows never really address. This is your opportunity to steer them the right way and prove that you're an expert.
Calm Their Fears
Another thing you can touch upon is their fears when it comes to hiring an interior designer or decorator. People hear horror stories all the time about bad designers and decorators who have wasted their hard-earned money or made fun of their prior decorating choices. This is your opportunity to show them that you're different.
Help Them Do Something
People love to learn how to do something and this is where you can help them. While it's impossible to teach them everything they would need to know to design or decorate their entire home, you can help them learn how to accessorize a bookcase with a tutorial. Sure, you think that's easy for you and why would anyone want to read about that from you? Guess what? It isn't easy for everyone. Trust me. The things that you think are simple to do aren't as simple for everyone else.
You ever run into a blog post about decorating and you could've sworn it was written by a math teacher? It's boring, dry and it makes you want to stick paperclips in your eyeballs? Yeah, don't do that.
Have fun with your blog. Poke fun at a TV show or a catalog. You're a cool person and we just want to get to know you through your content.
Write your About page. It's not about you, it's about your reader which should make it a little bit easier to write. I've written a blog post to help you write your About page.
How to make money from interior design blog
I've written a little about making money as a home decor blogger here. I also have an entire Masterclass on it in the Society. But for a quick overview here's how you can get paid to blog:
You can put ads on your site. You need to have substantial amounts of traffic to your site and if you're not a full-time blogger, but a full-time designer, I'd skip this idea in the beginning.
You can promote other companies products and get paid a commission when your reader clicks on your affiliate link.
You can sell your own products and get paid when someone buys your stuff.
You can get hired by your readers who love what you do and need you to do it for them. Trust that this is one of the main ways designers get clients!
To play it smart, you should employ more than one of these strategies to grow your bottom line when creating a home decor blog. I will tell you though that if you start your blog with the main goal to make money from ads on your website, it will be a hard road. This is a long-term journey you go on and seeing traffic growth takes time.
The important thing to remember in all of this is that you shouldn't really be too worried about how to start an interior design blog, you really should be more concerned with how you're going to keep it going. It's a job. A job that where you'll be publishing content at least once a week, 52 times a year. If you decide to blog twice a week, that's 104 posts per year. That's why it's important to make sure you're in this to win it. That you love this topic and you know you'll always find a way to get inspired to blog about interior design.
Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in helping soulful interior designers attract clients with clever marketing strategies. Celebrity gossip whore.