One door closes and another one opens, as we discover in today's Blog Spotlight with Stacey Sheppard, editor of The Design Sheppard. Instead of sheepishly crying wolf, Stacey whistled her way to award-winning blogging success. Find out more by joining the herd….
Tell us about your blog, how did you get started? Why did you choose your subject?
The Design Sheppard is a blog about all things interior design. It focuses on great products and fantastic designers. I started the blog back in 2009 when I was made redundant from my job as staff writer at Designer Kitchen and Bathroom Magazine. I started work as associate editor for a publishing house in Bristol but I was no longer writing about design and this was something I really missed. Wanting to keep up with all the latest happenings in the interiors industry, I decided to start my own blog, and so The Design Sheppard was born. At first I was writing the blog purely for myself but in time my readership grew.
How do you source content for your blog?
I source all the content for my blog myself. I find a lot of great products to feature through social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook and I also come across some great designers whose work I will feature this way too. I am on lots of press lists so I receive emails about the latest interior design news straight to my inbox. Occasionally, I am also contacted directly through my blog by individuals or brands hoping to be featured on The Design Sheppard. Plus I read a lot of blogs that give me inspiration for my own content.
Do you write reviews?
I don’t tend to feature reviews on The Design Sheppard. This is not really an area that I have ever got into and to be honest I don’t think this is an avenue I will be exploring in the near future.
How did you build a following for your blog?
Building a following for my blog was a long, drawn-out process. As I said, I initially started the blog purely for myself. It was kind of like my online inspiration scrapbook where I could record all of the great products, designers and brands that I came across. For a good while it felt like nobody ever read my blog apart from me. Then I discovered Twitter and that slowly started to change. By networking with like-minded people online I was able to introduce far more people to The Design Sheppard. Twitter also allowed me to get to know the other bloggers in my niche and become part of that close-knit community, which made a huge difference. It has taken time but my blog has gained in popularity and it has been great to see The Design Sheppard being featured and acknowledged in various lists of top interior design blogs. This recognition means a lot.
Are you a PR friendly blog? Do you accept contributions and content for your blog?
I am PR friendly and I am very open to being contacted by PR companies. I actively ask to be added to press lists so I can receive updates. However, as I prefer to write all my own content for The Design Sheppard I do not accept contributed posts. It is very important for me that all my posts are written in my voice and I don’t think this is possible when posting contributed content. I would much rather be contacted by a PR company who believes their clients’ products or services would be of interest for my readers. That way, I can decide how best to feature them and the PR company can then work together with me to make that happen. Some PR companies are really good and have obviously studied my blog and know what kind of content I will feature and only pitch that to me. Others are not so great and pitch me things I would clearly never write about. I really do appreciate it when PR companies take the time to get to know what kind of content I’m looking for.
How best do you like to be approached by PRs?
Contacting me by email or on Twitter is probably the best option. I generally tend to work on my blog evenings and weekends as I work full-time.
Blogging is great because….?
It’s personal, it’s authentic, it’s honest and it allows people to get to know the person behind the content. The blogosphere, at least where interior design is concerned, is a very friendly, welcoming and supportive place. I have made so many connections through my blog and even life-long friends. I also love the immediacy of blogging as there is no waiting around for print deadlines.
You can find Stacey tweeting @StaceyJSheppard.