Sunday, March 6, 2011

20 tips for building a successful design business through social media

Tobi Fairley
photo via

On the second day of the Design Bloggers Conference in Los Angeles, Tobi Fairley delivered a wonderful keynote address.  Tobi is a successful interior designer based in Little Rock, Arkansas and has been named one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America by Traditional Home.  It was an absolute delight to see some of her work and to meet her!  Tobi provided us with 20 Tips for Building a Successful Design Business Through Social Media:
  1. Building a blog doesn't mean building a design business.
  2. Determine your blog's purpose.
  3. Know your ideal design client:  Who is reading your blog?
  4. Don't become obsessed with your blog's numbers.  More important question is "Are you reaching potential clients?"
  5. Toot your own horn.  People need to know what you are good at.  It's your brand.  Tobi recommends doing this 60-70% of time.
  6. Don't be afraid to specialize.
  7. Become the expert.  Don't just talk about it, show your expertise and voice your opinion.
  8. Don't be afraid to give some free advice.  This builds trust, credibility and confidence.
  9. Your work must be GREAT!
  10. Photography is key.  Hire a professional to photograph your work.  Make it part of your expense budget.
  11. Less is more.
  12. Look through a camera's lens.  Tobi approaches each new design by seeing the finished project as if through a camera's lens and works backwards from that point.
  13. Offer total design.  Instead of parts of a room, do the entire room.
  14. Blogging isn't free.  It takes time away from designing.  Use your time wisely.
  15. Before and after photos:  Remember to take before photos from every angle in the room.  Make sure to put permission to photograph in design contract.
  16. We need the print magazines!  Save your best work (photographs) for magazines.
  17. Create a blog calendar.
  18. Your blog = your voice.
  19. People want to be inspired and entertained.
  20. Advertisers should support your brand. 

photo via

photo via

photo via

This friendly, southern gal definitely knows what she is talking about!   A few additional points Tobi made stick out in my mind:
  • Consistency is Key in your brand and in your service!
  • Results will = ideal clients and more money.
  • Keep your voice and look distinct.
Are there any particular tips that speak to you?  



  1. Carrie, thanks so much for posting these very thorough re-caps. I will link back to your site from my post as I'm taking a slightly different approach. Is that ok?