Friends…we are super lucky today.
You may recall that Design for Mankind was on one of my obsession lists earlier this summer. As you can imagine, I was excited to have the chance to interview Erin and I’m super thrilled that she’s going to be one of the speakers at the Altitude Design Conference in Salt Lake City.
You have a marketing/advertising background and you initially created Design for Mankind as a place to house your inspiration. Will you describe your path from working a 9-to-5 job to focusing on your blog and freelance work full-time?
Note: I use “9-to-5″ extremely loosely. When I lived in L.A. I worked in marketing for the movie industry and many of my days were 6:00 AM to 12:00 AM. Can’t say I miss that. Ever. :)
Ha, we have similar L.A. experiences!
Transitioning from my 9-to-5 into my blog was actually fairly easy. I was laid off as an art director (the initial reason I started Design for Mankind!) in L.A. and decided I could do one of two things: (1) Start looking for another full-time job, or (2) Start working for myself.
I gave myself one month to bring in a small income and scrambled to accept freelance writing gigs, posts and advertisers on the site. My readers are incredibly gracious; 90% of my first advertisers were all readers supporting my jump! I’m a lucky girl.
Like most new(ish) bloggers, I want to expand my readership. How did you cultivate your Design for Mankind following? In your opinion and experience, aside from creating excellent content that keep readers coming back for more, what’s the best and most authentic way to grow your blog audience?
Definitely engaging with your readers one-on-one. Email is the biggest part of my job, and I never leave a comment or question unanswered. Other than that, it’s important to connect and give back to your greater community. I love supporting other bloggers when I can — we’re all in this together!
You travel around the country doing speaking engagements and teaching workshops. What knowledge and experiences do you most enjoy sharing with others?
Hands down, my favorite idea to teach is the concept of dreaming big and asking for what you want. When I’m not emailing readers, I’m pitching companies, websites and organizations asking to be involved in what they’re doing. We’re built to work together and lift each other up, and I’m a firm believer that we can only do that when we’re reaching out in a proactive and authentic way. Note to Erin: I LOVE your attitude and your last sentence.
I love to write. I initially started my blog to get back into writing after a long break that I needed after being entrenched in the screenwriting and movie marketing writing world. Later, I expanded Inward Facing Girl to include my interest in photography, art, and design.
More than anything I want to be able to financially support myself and my family by doing something that I truly love. In addition to running my own blog and doing my own artwork, I want to write or curate a weekly or monthly column on another blog or blogs, contribute photographs or graphic designs to blogs, and contribute writing, graphic designs, and photography to magazines.
You have contributed to ReadyMade (R.I.P., beautiful friend), Glamour, Lucky, Dwell, NYLON, UPPERCASE, and more, and you have a column on HGTV.com. How did you develop these professional relationships, and what advice do you have for people like me who want to build a network, switch professional gears, and do what we love full-time every day?
To be honest, the majority of my jobs have come from pitching CRAZY ideas that make the editors take notice of what I’m doing. Other than that, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have close blogging friends that introduce me to contacts that might be accepting freelancers. In exchange, I like to do the same.
My advice is to utilize online contact forms and follow up often. Editors are busy, so I like to follow up multiple times. I almost always get a response, although its not always a “yes!” Trust me. :)
Erin’s Cool Black and White Guest Room – Love It!
What are you having the most fun with that you’re working on now? Any plans for a Design for Mankind and/or Erin Loechner book in the future? That would be so cool. I would totally read it/admire the gorgeous photography and artwork I’m sure it would include. Probably more than once. :)
Ha — you know, I’ve thought of a book, and I’m not sure it’s the right time. I’m actually looking forward to wrapping up some really big things for HGTV.com this fall and then taking it easy for the winter. This has been a non-stop working summer, so I can’t wait to curl up by the fire with a good book and forget the concept of deadlines completely. :)
On the other hand, I like to stay busy, so I can guarantee I won’t last long by the fire. ;)
Erin, thank you so much for your time. Even though I only know you from the interwebs, you seem to be such a kind, positive person and I think that the world needs more people like you in it. You inspire me!
Fellow bloggers, like Erin said, we ARE all in this together. Every day I am amazed by the wonderful stories I read, photographs I see, and artists that I find online. I truly do feel grateful for this creative world we’re part of and I hope to be able to get to know more of you in the future.
Images courtesy of Erin Loechner. All rights reserved.