I really didn’t know where to begin when I started writing this blog post, as 2021 has been a mixed bag for me when it comes to social media, my blog, and my home. As you all probably know, after 7 long months, we finally moved house at the beginning of March to a new renovation project and I was really excited to see what the year would bring, especially with my interior design and social media!
We quickly found out that moving just after Brexit and a worldwide pandemic would prove quite problematic when it came to finding builders, paying for a renovation, and finding a mortgage good enough to be able to release some funds. I wrote about the first part of moving house and how we funded our renovation here.
But actually, what I found really surprising and difficult was to keep running an Interiors Instagram account and blog whilst we were doing up the house. I thought that doing a renovation would be content gold (and no, we didn’t move house just so I could have more pictures for Instagram, a question I got asked several times and amused me greatly!)
This is my 4th renovation project and I do them because I love it. I love breathing new life into a house and realizing its full potential. Unfortunately, social media would prefer to see the before and after shots, or the finished polished images and as weeks grew into months with no movement on the renovation front, I had very few after shots to share!
Being a full-time blogger and Instagrammer meant that my income also took a sharp nose dive and I spent a lot of 2021 questioning my role in social media and whether I wanted to continue. I fell out of love with Instagram, the algorithm, the comparison, and the consistent need to post.
I think a lot of us feel the same!
However, it wasn’t all bad. My Instagram account still grew, albeit painfully slowly and I won the Best Home Styling Award in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. I also posted more on TikTok and started to enjoy making content again. It certainly feels like there is less pressure on TikTok and it feels like the good old days on Instagram, but more on that later…
So here are the main things I’ve learned in regard to social media, blogging, and interiors.
Interior Design and Social Media
The interior design and home decor niche has taken the world by storm on social media over the last few years and we can’t escape kitchen renovations, DIY paneling, and IKEA hacks.
For all the bad press social media gets, it goes from strength to strength and brands are increasingly looking towards Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to promote their products.
I have really struggled with Instagram this year and in all honesty, completely fell out of love with the app. Unless you are a completely dedicated DIY account, followers do not want to see the progress photos or even the behind-the-scenes images on their feed.
Moving house is also a harsh learning curve in realizing that people do not follow you because they like your personality or daily musings. They follow you because they like your green sofa or pink bath and when you are no longer posting them, they’re quick to press the unfollow button and you have to work hard again to build new followers around your new décor!
It’s not all about moving house though. It feels like Instagram has completely lost its way and instead of trying to be good at one thing, it is trying to be good at everything! Not content with being the no. 1 app for photo sharing, it felt like it was being greedy and trying to grab a slice of the pie from other social media sites like YouTube and TikTok.
However, according to the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, this is what users want. Video-sharing apps like TikTok have seen an explosion in growth and this is one of the main reasons why Instagram started heavily pushing and prioritizing Reels (I wrote about Reels here).
The Instagram community went into complete meltdown when it was announced that Reels would be prioritized and I think a lot of us saw our engagement dramatically reduce overnight. Accounts initially raced to produce near-identical finger-snapping videos and quick DIY hacks all to the backdrop of the same tune over and over again.
Instead of encouraging creativity with our videos, Instagram created a copycat environment where we saw one Reel go viral and then another 1,483,097 accounts trying to do the same. I should know, I was one of them! 🙂
Thankfully, the Reel scene started to calm down and I actually enjoy creating short videos, when I have the time! I also really enjoy seeing other Reels when they pop up in my daily scroll but I have to admit, I rarely go to the Reel feed itself and watch the videos.
I still enjoy a static post just as much as a thoughtfully put-together Reel.
However, just as we were all getting used to posting Reels, Instagram has backed down on this, and it would seem, it is now prioritizing images again, if my most recent statistics are anything to go by!
This year, there have been even more changes on Instagram and I have to say, I think it does more damage than good. We are forever playing catch-up and being bombarded with new features and ways to interact and I sometimes find that the app itself has become a bit too noisy and messy.
They want to concentrate even more on the selling and shopping side of Instagram and I would say that the majority of people I talk to are put off by the consistent Ads and selling on the app, to the point where they are using it less and less. Which defeats the object of what Instagram is trying to achieve…. Keeping you on the app!
Instagram wants to be an immersive app where users interact more with the content. The days of quietly scrolling through a feed of perfect images are gone. This leads me to…
As I’ve said before, I have really started to enjoy using TikTok this year, it feels like a more fun place to be. You are not penalized for using too many/little hashtags, being told it is all about the “creators” and then being punished when you produce a sponsored post.
To begin with, you could just concentrate on one form of content instead of the multiple forms that Instagram currently bombards you with, however, TikTok is now jumping on the still image bandwagon. I give up!
I do feel like there is no pressure and story-like videos can sit quite easily alongside more polished edits on TikTok.
It’s not all positive though, there’s definitely a lack of community on TikTok and some of the comments can be brutal. I have been shouted at for having an outdoor cinema and told my interior style is tacky.
I take it all with a pinch of salt though, years of being on social media have helped me grow a thicker skin. But there have been occasions when I have had to turn the comments off!
I think TikTok is going to continue to grow and its meteoric rise in the social media world really has proved that video content is now king! It is now the 3rd biggest social network and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.
With the rise of short-form video and other apps scrambling to copy the format, more brands are moving over to TikTok. According to a study, 87.7% of marketers find TikTok influencer marketing effective and I have definitely seen evidence of my videos being much more influential than Instagram.
I will mainly be concentrating on creating short-form videos for TikTok and then using them for Reels instead of the other way around in 2024.
I often get asked if it is worth having a blog, and for me, the answer is a definite yes. With the interior world on social media becoming saturated, it is so important to stand out from the crowd and have your own personal blog where you can create your own content and drive traffic towards your social media channels.
My blog (and my Pinterest account where I create Pins pointing towards my blog) are still a huge traffic driver for me and help me build an online brand. In 2023, after concentrating on SEO and Pinterest, my website now consistently gets over 130k page views a month and it is my biggest earner by a huge margin!
I love writing my blog, I have complete control over it and I can go into more detail about my passion, interiors, and DIY projects. My blog also brings in monthly revenue that can range from £5000 to £8000 a month, which helps take the pressure off trying to earn a living via Instagram-sponsored content. I wrote about how I make money from my blog here.
Every year we hear that “blogging is dead” or “no one reads blogs anymore”. But every month I get more visits to my blog than social media. Social media apps are forever changing and can be very volatile.
I certainly learned this in the last year when I was unable to produce consistent content and watched as my followers left me in the 1000s. But my blog stayed steady and carried on making me a steady income.
When Facebook finally kills Instagram, I am certain that my blog will still be going strong. Not everyone wants to watch a complete room makeover in 30 seconds, there are still millions of people searching for DIY tips via Google and your blog post could be the step-by-step guide they are looking for!
I think Pinterest is often forgotten when it comes to content. Although Pinterest is not social media in itself, it is more of a search engine, Pinterest is still HUGE when it comes to driving people and traffic to your blog. I have a very large US following on Insta and I think this is purely down to the images I put on Pinterest.
If you think about it, where do you get your inspiration from? If I’m planning a new room, the first thing I do is go to Pinterest, create a new board, and then search for images to help with my vision.
I would say I use Pinterest a great deal more than Instagram when it comes to inspiring my décor decisions and I can’t see that changing in 2022.
If you want to make a living out of blogging and social media, having a Pinterest strategy is probably the most important thing you can do (I wrote about how to set up Pinterest here). This year, I concentrated on Pinning regularly and tidying up my Pinterest account and I now have over 19 million monthly views and 54,000 followers.
It took me a good few weeks of teaching myself how to use it and dedicating a couple of hours a week to pin, but it really has paid off. I saw my blog go from averaging 10,000 views per month to 100,000 at its peak. The more views I get, the more money I earn!
The Interior World
There’s no denying it, the interior world is huge on social media and probably one of the most welcoming and encouraging communities. If it wasn’t for the people I’ve met via Insta and the daily chats I have, I’m not sure I would have stuck around on Instagram for as long as I have!
It has also changed significantly since I joined back in 2017. It was so easy to be seen back then, using an interior hashtag could do wonders for your growth, playing along with hashtag games could significantly increase your engagement and it felt much more social with regular meet-ups and events.
However, with the importance of video content over the last few years, growth has become more difficult, and engagement at times has been non-existent.
I have always been fascinated by social media, and how some accounts seem to grow exponentially when others fail. How some Reels can get millions of views whilst others fall into the deep hole of the interweb.
And here is my take on things –
- Finding the key trends can do wonders for your Reel content, it’s just knowing what those trends will be before anyone else! Jumping on trending songs or the latest “27 photos in one” Reel will see your reach explode and with it, new followers. I would be a very rich person if I had £1 for every bauble bomb Christmas or click to tidy Reel. The key is to jump on one of these trends early.
- Biophilic design is becoming huge in the interior world and accounts that have done extremely well have mastered that biophilic look with lots of plants, natural materials, fairy lights, and lots of natural light. If you can also nail entangled design where your garden is an extension of your home, your spring/summer content is sorted! Having a well-designed garden is social media gold.
- Before and after transformations, when done well, can be a ratings winner. It seems like everyone was decorating and redecorating this year.
- Everyone loves a hack and in particular an IKEA hack.
- Instagram Reels are a few weeks behind TikTok! I go on the platform regularly and if you can find a key trend on there and quickly translate it over to Instagram before anyone else, you’ve hit the jackpot
- One thing that surprises me is that people do not get bored of seeing the same thing over and over. Many accounts will find a Reel that does extremely well for them and then just consistently do a slightly modified version of that Reel. The likes and follows will keep coming!
- Unfortunately, Reels no longer do very well for me. I will still get good engagement on some of my favorite videos, but they will not convert to followers. It would seem Instagram is now pushing still images again, so if your goal is to grow, your best bet is to solely concentrate on excellent still images in a carousel format.
I’m really excited to see what next year will bring. Social media isn’t going away and I definitely feel that more people are becoming confident in their décor choices as we have seen over the last 2 years how important our home is to us.
The social media world and interiors are very closely linked and that shows no sign of waning. A lot of people are now finding potential Interior Designers, Stylists, and Location Houses purely through Instagram and it is now potentially the best way to promote your brand and business.