Design Bloggers Conference 2018

Design Bloggers Conference Los AngelesFrom the moment we drew down the lights on the final session at Design Bloggers Conference (DBC) in Los Angeles early last March, we kicked off our year-long organizing cycle for the upcoming March 4-6, Design Bloggers Conference 2018 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.  Planning alongside the conference’s industry advisory board and Esteem Media’s organizing teams is a uniquely privileged way to spend a year in our industry. I’m lucky that way, with just one lingering question; should DBC be more aptly monikered as a gathering for the entire design industry?

Designers, bloggers, social media marketers, brands, market centers, affiliate marketers, and online platforms in the luxury home design industry tell us every year that DBC is a game changing conference experience for them.  Past attendees’ experiences, from every corner of the industry, reflect new comfort and activity with social media influencers and online opinion leaders after attending DBC. Many go on to ultimately thrive in our industry’s digital transition.  While The Design Bloggers Conference is the place for design bloggers and social media influencers to advance content marketing and business agendas, DBC has purposely evolved under its own broad mission of offering networking and education for building brands and selling design in a digital world.

design bloggerConference name aside, early attendee registration and sponsor participation indicates that DBC 2018 will be the largest since it was launched in 2011, better attended than last year’s record breaking 450 conference delegates. In 2018, DBC will showcase more sessions and speakers than it ever has; 26 educational opportunities and 43 speakers and panelists.  We added a must-attend closing gala party and Champagne tasting for all conference attendees and sponsors on Tuesday evening at a prominent LA designer’s private residence, some down time to visit showrooms on La Cienega, eight different breakout sessions on Sunday afternoon, and an extra keynote slot on Sunday evening before the first networking cocktail party hosted by Benjamin Moore.

Besides our always popular design industry rock star keynotes like this year’s Miles Redd, Jamie Drake, Michelle Workman, Mat Sanders and one more yet to be announced star, the agenda incorporates a wider array of digital design marketing strategies.  Leading speakers on affiliate marketing, paid acquisition on Instagram and Pinterest, designer/photographer collaboration, ways to make Houzz transformative, strategies for using social media to get the attention of design broadcast networks like HGTV, SEO secrets for small businesses, creating multiple digital revenue streams, how to plan for publishing a book or securing your own line, social media etiquette, converting Instagram communities to clients, trends and new opportunities in traditional design media, online influencer marketing, cause marketing, design blogging 101, and millennial marketing will take the stage.  Hours of networking, sponsor interaction, and after-parties round out the experience.

We have had to run faster every year to keep up with the digital transformation in design marketing and consumer purchase patterns.  We hope you take some time perusing the conference website to see why you should join your industry colleagues in Beverly Hills in early March 2018.  We organize the conference as a safe and productive experience for design professionals to grasp topics and tactics that can sometimes feel uncomfortable to the many of us that are primarily passionate and creative design professionals, not digital marketers.  See you in LA?

First Reveal Design Matters Home for Deserving Family

Mark-Lisa_large-300x200At the Design Bloggers Conference in February, nousDECOR Chief Designer Mark Cutler and Dwell with Dignity Founder Lisa Robison announced the launch of a campaign called “Design Matters” to raise funds to help decorate and appoint homes for deserving families as a pledge highlighting nousDECOR’s mission to help show how the power of beautiful design can transform lives.

Many of you supported the campaign at launch, donating over $10,000 in funds and posting your support on your social channels, and so now we are happy to share with you the heart-warming, real life results of that wonderful support – our first home “reveal” that took place recently in Dallas. nousDECOR, in partnership with nonprofit, Dwell with Dignity, and many amazing sponsors including Cost Plus World Market, Gina Berschneider Inc., Robert Allen, York Wallcoverings, TKO, Stacy Furniture, Guildery, Lamps Plus, The Container Store, and many others, donated over $43,000 in product and spent hundreds of hours to bring the power of great design to a single mother and her four children who are transitioning out of a life of poverty and abuse to a new life of hope.

Below is a video to show the transformation. Have a look, and if you want to continue support of this movement, feel free to share the nousDECOR blog post on your social networks or check out the campaign page here.



Designers That Blog Are Golden

By: Adam Japko

I am relieved to only be slightly confused about the intensity of sponsor and exhibitor support for the expanded community of design bloggers and social media enthusiasts that came to Atlanta in 2015 to attend the Design Bloggers Conference. I once thought I fully grasped why this group of bloggers and content-friendly designers were commanding increasing levels of attention from luxury home design marketers. Until these past few weeks, I had totally overlooked one significant underlying factor; designers that blog are “golden.”

Blogger, design, interior design

In the beginning (circa 2005) when luxury-minded citizens with a penchant for design and designers with an aptitude for content creation launched their blogs, stars were born and audiences were built.  The sheer power of blogger reach and influence were fascinations to public relations professionals and traditional media practitioners.  Slowly, and just on their heels, national brands and manufacturers started catching on, realizing that the power of design professional content marketing is a force to leverage.

We always suspected that bloggers and social media mavens could move the needle for national brands….simply by looking at their audience size and reach.  To support that point, here is some profile data I shared in Atlanta about the attendees of the 2015 Design Bloggers Conference compared to national shelter magazines:

Design Bloggers vs. Traditional Media

While blogs turned into launching pads for some early movers, savvy marketing-oriented designers determined to be part of the future got active.  In the face of the worst housing driven economic crisis in modern history, serious interior designers dove into blogging and social networking en masse to try and power their businesses and networks.  While audiences were created and a few more star power brands launched, something new was happening; design professionals creating content witnessed associated business growth and felt the power of these newly found digital marketing tools.

Design Bloggers Conference

Web traffic grew for designers that hosted once lifeless websites, other design pros starting sharing and quoting designers’ blogs, and everyone had a story or two to tell about projects they landed through social media and blogging.  Here is some data from HubSpot comparing businesses that blog with businesses that don’t blog:

Businesses that blog are successfulStill, I was overlooking a critical piece about what the design blogger community has become today and why designers and bloggers that come to the Design Bloggers Conference are so attractive to brands and manufacturers.  The fact is, these designers are serious about their businesses. More than most.  They invest in marketing. With hundreds of design events attracting throngs of designers at all levels of experience, commitment, and staying power… bloggers are different and show it by making the ultimate marketing commitment of time and money over the long haul.

2015 design bloggers conference

Designers that blog are golden; to themselves and the brands they work with.  They outlast downturns and prosper in strong economic periods.  They will move the most product for luxury design brands and manufacturers now, and over the long haul. They think big, invest in their businesses, and market hard while staying open to new technology and shifts in the ways business is conducted.  A really straight forward McKinsey article on business longevity declares the “causes of business demise—of a failure to endure—are well documented at a general level. They include…above all an inability to deal with new, often disruptive, technological innovations.” Design businesses that blog and work the right social networks have the characteristics of successful business operators…the top 10% of all performers in their industry.

That’s the part I was missing about why the Design Blogger Conference community is so attractive to our sponsors; attendees are characteristic and part of the top 10% of of the interior design community.  Sponsors always find a way to tell us that our attendees are at a quality level they don’t find in similar concentrations at other design events.  Understanding that designers that blog are golden, makes it much clearer why brands and manufacturers want to stay close to them.

How To Do Keyword Research

After you have determined your SEO objectives, you are now ready to begin researching the keywords on which you will build your content marketing strategy. Keyword research is one of the most important, high-return activities in which you can invest your time. When properly done, keyword research will give you a better understanding of your customers, ever-changing market conditions, and the competitive landscape.

One of the most important concepts to understand about keywords is the long tail of the keyword demand curve. Although some popular search terms may generate 5,000+ searches per day, the reality of keyword search is that such popular keywords comprise only about 25% of all searches. The other 75% of all searches are what is commonly called the “long tail” of search. In this long tail are millions of unique searches that might occur only once a day, or once ever, but make up the vast majority of keywords that are used to find information through search engines.

For an example of what types of keywords make up the long tail of a search, take a look at the graph below. As a search becomes increasingly specific, beginning with the generic keyword “interior design”, and moving on to “interior design ideas”, “interior design ideas bedroom”, and culminating in “interior design ideas teenage girls bedrooms”, the volume of searches decreases, but the person performing the search is much more likely to find the exact information that they are looking for.

The long tail means the following for your keyword strategy:

  • The world is made up of people with very specific information needs. People find information mostly by very specific searches.
  • Expect these to take them directly to content of interest – they won’t necessarily enter your website via your home page.
  • Therefore, every page should be a complete experience, and a compelling introduction to your site.
  • Your site doesn’t have to rank highly for some popular query to get lots of traffic. Don’t try to be #1 for “design” – there is too much competition. Only the very top results get any user attention.
  • Popular keywords won’t generate the traffic you want. They won’t result in a meaningful interaction unless you truly have the world’s best general resource for design information.
  • “Optimal” traffic comes when you have the world’s best page for some very specific information need. Each of these generates a tiny bit of high-quality traffic.
  • Make it up in volume! Have lots of specific, useful content on your site. In practical terms: post often to your blog, and create lots of specific content.

Where can you get the information you need  about keyword demand? A number of excellent free resources exist to help you do this research:

These tools will help you determine the number of monthly searches for each keyword term, the level of competition to gain a high ranking, trends in volume, and closely related search terms. Google’s Keyword Estimator will even examine your website for you and suggest keywords based on the content of your site! This useful tool will reveal whether you are on the right track in creating the content on your site that is consistent with your keyword strategy. Other tools for advanced keyword research exist, and these are covered excellently in the Professional’s Guide to Keyword Research.

Keyword research will help you determine the core set of keywords that help you achieve your SEO objectives. You can then build your content around these keywords. By monitoring your rankings for these keywords on a regular basis, you can track your progress in attracting qualified traffic to your website.

How to Set SEO Goals and Objectives

SEO (Search Engine Optimization), once the domain of specialists, has now become a mainstream marketing activity. SEO can have a dramatic effect on the traffic that you draw to your website; the perceived quality, relevance, and trustworthiness of your brand; and the amount of revenue that you can generate through your website. Like any other marketing activity, it is important to set specific goals and objectives – and if the goal is not measurable, it is not useful.

A typical website will generate anywhere from 33% – 50% or more of its traffic from search engines. In our last post, we examined the importance of attaining a high ranking in search engines for the keywords that will drive quality prospects to your website.

Setting goals and objectives for your SEO strategy is the first step in determining the keywords on which you want to build the content of your website. Content is king in attaining high rankings. Your site content is the major source of information that search engines use to determine what your site is about. For example, if someone is searching for furniture, and you don’t have any information on your site about furniture, chances are you won’t rank very high, if at all, for searches containing that keyword.

You may have great blog posts, a unique photo gallery, and useful “how to” information on your website. However, if 20 other sites have similar content, and have been ranked in the search engines for a much longer period of time, it will be hard to displace them from the rankings.

To establish yourself as a leader, you must bring something new and different to the market. How can you do this? Perhaps you can focus on a specific vertical niche. For example, instead of furniture, you focus on contemporary furniture. Or perhaps you can offer a new type of content – be the first to offer videos in your market.

What kinds of objectives do you need to set in your SEO plan? Here are several factors to consider when developing your objectives:

  1. Revenue/Business Model
    Determine the main purpose of your site – to sell products, sell advertising, or obtain leads. Different keywords will typically be used for each type of search.
  2. Target Customers
    Define the audience that you are trying to reach. For example, it could be a specific income level, geographic area, or decorating style.
  3. Competition
    The competitive landscape is a major consideration in determining your SEO goals. Depending on your competitor’s product line and SEO strategy, you may have to make adjustments. If you are the market leader, you may want to fend off certain competitors. On the other hand, if the competition is firmly entrenched, you may want to focus on another segment of the market.
  4. Branding Goals
    There may be certain terms that are closely related to your brand that you want to dominate in the search rankings.
  5. How Your Potential Customers Search for Your Products
    It is important to understand which search terms your prospects use to find the products or services that you supply. This involves mapping the actual search queries that your target customers use when they employ a search engine to find what they are looking for.

Once you complete your objectives, you are ready to do the research necessary to determine the keywords you want to target, the subject of our next post.