This ‘Easy’ Life
Did you watch Fake Famous? It was… obnoxious? Sad? I haven’t been able to stop thinking it, especially after reading Deema’s blog post on the ‘easy life of an influencer.’ (Her Influencer Talk highlight is more food for thought.) And if you did watch Fake Famous, this breakdown on Buzzfeed is worth a read, too. While I don’t agree with the Buzzfeed writer’s decision to make cheap shots at the subjects of the documentary, I will sing the praises of every other aspect of the article.
I can’t think of any other industry where the talent has to work on BOTH the content AND the advertisements. Read that again.— Deema, Pretty On Fridays
The Business Side of Blogging + Content Creation
I don’t talk about the business side of blogging and social media much, because that’s not why we show up every day. (If you are curious, Casey wrote a great post this week that I feel is spot on.) It’s not your job to understand what we do, but I think it’s our job to make it seem effortless. And maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong. I hope I’ve never made anyone feel less than. I hope I share content that you find engaging, both sponsored and unsponsored. Because behind the curtain, that’s a massive part of our job! We had to learn the business – which, as Buzzfeed rightfully points out, has been primarily built and run by women – over more than a decade of a trial and error. We do this job knowing that we can wake up one morning and, without warning, need to shift because an update in any given social app.
All this to say, we simply can’t produce as much content as we do without the support of our DIY-loving community, and please hear me when I say, we absolutely could not provide this much content without the support of sponsors, too. It’s a juggling act to make all sides happy, which if I’ve learned anything in life, isn’t possible. That said, we’ll always err on the side of ensuring we’re making the right decisions for our family, as I’m sure you also do!
So. Let’s talk.
Do you find yourself being disengaged from influencers? Do you scroll and digest content with a feeling of disillusionment? Do you hold onto assumptions? I sincerely hope you are here because you enjoy it, and I hope you leave our page feeling happy. I’m grateful to say that 99% of my communication with you is positive – but man, that remaining 1% can be vicious, despite my thick skin from 12 years of blogging. Please feel free to continue this conversation in the comments, respectfully. Ask questions, I’m listening.
Thank you, Deema, for kicking off this conversation and giving me (and many, many others) something to think about and improve upon.
Dolly gets a dose of her own medicine. (ILU, Dolly!)
Scott and I have been watching the renovation of this century-old Logan Square church, and the first glimpse is in, seen below. While I appreciate the restoration of many elements (that stained glass, wow!), I’m disappointed in the sky-high rent. What do you think?
We opened up the summer calendar to rent our beloved Tree House! You can see a gallery of photos, check out the guidebook and request a booking right here. This year, we’re offering 1-week stays, Friday to Friday. We take Covid very seriously, and we’ve incorporated extensive cleaning and safety protocols. We’re looking forward to hosting you!
If it isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism.— @courtneyahndesign
Our Two Flat renters got a window upgrade! As city dwellers for the last almost-15-years, Scott and I sometimes forget that other people like more privacy than we do, ha! Both of our tenants requested window shades for their back doors and kitchens. We ordered more of the same and installed them in under 30 minutes. Seen below, Bali Blinds solar shades in Biscuit, 4%. If our tenants are happy, we’re happy. And you know what? It does look pretty good:
Do you rent? We shared our renter-friendly ideas with epicurious for sprucing up your kitchen! Thank you for the interview, Kendra!
- Baggu: Free shipping on all orders
- Boutique Rugs: 60% off with code FLASH60
- CB2: Up to 25% off lighting and 30% off rugs
- The Company Store: 20% off sitewide with code B21SAVE
- Everlane: Up to 70% off Choose What You Pay!
- Madewell: Free shipping for Insiders (and it’s free to sign up!)
- Old Navy: 30% off storewide, online only
- Overstock: 70% off thousands of home + outdoor items
- Rugs USA: Up to 70% off Jute, Sisal or Seagrass rugs
- Target: Save up to 25% off furniture items
- West Elm: Open Box discounts!
Have a Spring-y Weekend!
What are you up to this weekend? Scott and I are itching to whip our back patio into shape. We’ll be cutting back the garden boxes – maybe even re-staining them! – and measuring the space for a round table. Yup, we’re going round out back, too! Spring is in the air, I can feel it. Have a happy, spring-y weekend, friends. xx
Wow…I read the Buzzfeed article, I guess I never thought of you or your blog as an influencer. Have you influenced me? Yes. Your taste have opened me to new taste, your recommendations for products I believe are honest, so I have purchased socks, lampshades, and used your ideas in my home from your tutorials. I consider your reviews of products truthful. You have built trust through your blog. If I have been influenced by your outstanding photos and excellent content, well then I Thank you!
Thank you, lak. Building trust, I’m so happy to see you write that.????
I agree! Maybe this is my age showing, but I definitely put “influencer” in a different category than YBH or many of the other content-creators I engage with, even though I do follow them on social media, and they may “influence” me.
My definition of an influencer is usually negative and very narrow. Are you pushing a dangerous weight loss method you clearly have never used? Are you telling me about a teeth-whitening product while posting images of a closed mouth smile? Are you trying to reassure me your flawless thighs are a result of a pair of shorts? That’s what I think of as an influencer.
I guess I’m saying (possibly erroneously because I’m an old lady??) I *don’t* consider YBH influencers because my definition of an influencer is close to what the PrettyonFriday poll showed.
So maybe this is Pollyannish of me, but I think what we are seeing is a gap in our language as we explore this landscape, not a tendency to think of the valuable content-creators we read/watch/support as vapid, lying, lazy people.
Thank you so much, Lori! I struggle so much with the term ‘influencer,’ but maybe that’s part of my problem! What if we embraced the term and it was seen more widely as positive? I go back and forth on that all the time, so for now I’m sticking to content creator.
One problem is that sponsors created the term “influencer” for the folks they *use* as alternative ad revenue. Basically, companies send free stuff and/or pay money to people to review their products. Unscrupulous companies (i.e. most companies) assume that this will get them positive press.
People who aren’t experienced in navigating those PR waters – i.e. most bloggers, youtubers, and other content creators – WILL often fall prey to this very real instinct to give a more favorable response to the company that backs you…and even the more clever and worldly often have to decide whether to turn down a sponsor for a bad product or….ya know…pay the bills.
Often, “influencers” are young people (teens, twenty-sometimes) who are overwhelmed by sudden attention. And in too many cases, if they wake up and try to do the right thing, the company will just grab the next naive kid and throw some cash their way.
The problem, generally speaking, is NOT the influencers. It’s the big companies taking advantage of them and discarding them if they don’t toe the line. It’s also the “Celebrity” influencers who aren’t building a brand, but ALREADY HAVE A BRAND and are wielding it for evil. (GOOP and other “Celebrity brands” peddling harmful “health” products – I’m looking at you.)
I haven’t watched yet, but have been thinking about why I feel a little disconnected from some of the bloggers that I have loved for a long time. I think ultimately when the budgets get too high and the homes get too big, the excess and the materialism feels too much for me. I also find it hard when big bloggers endorse/work with brands that are not so ethical (not meaning that they should only be working with organic-fair trade-zero plastic, which tbh can be just as exploitative…just big businesses that are anti-union, racist, using child labour, lobbying etc etc). I have never had any issues with knowing that blogging is people’s job and they should 100% be being compensated, and I am happy to be adding to that through my clicks for recommended products – but when it all starts feeling not ethical to people or the environment in terms of the lifestyle or the brand partnerships or the consumerism I find it hard to follow without feeling icky. Thank you for providing a space to share these thoughts! Love you guys’ vibe ????
Thank you, Amy. I hear this a lot, and I feel what you’re saying. On the other hand, I also think it’s fair to expect that, just like many of us, online creators will grow and evolve in ways that they deem best for their family. We all change our minds, move, shift jobs, and we’re figuring out life the best ways we know how. I suppose it’s up to the viewer to decide if that’s what still inspires them.
I absolutely agree with this. I do sometimes feel disappointed when sponsorships don’t align with ideal values. And on the one hand, of course the creator can partner with whomever they like. But on the other hand, is there not a little more responsibility expected of people with such large platforms to make responsible, ethical alignments?
On a personal level, I have been a loyal follower of Yellow Brick Home for years. I have always appreciated the honesty, decency and values of you both. I would easily say you were my favorite blog and most trusted creator in the home space. But a few months ago, on a sponsorship post with a mega online retailer (I won’t name names), I expressed some disappointment in a comment at how much that business was highlighted on the blog due to numerous social issues. It was respectful and politely worded, but I truly thought you should know the impact your partnership may be having. The comment was never allowed to post, so I assume deleted, and never responded to. This really disappointed me and I have to admit I look at you differently now. I check in occasionally but not to the extent I used to.
Thank you for this comment. I’m sorry that we disappointed you, no excuses.
I had never heard of the documentary, I don’t watch much TV. But for me I enjoy watching spaces be transformed. You two are amazing at it and it shows that you love what you do. Bottom line is this, there will always be people who have to turn things negative. There will always be people who are jealous of others because they are unhappy with themselves. People that are secure will ignore the others and not feed their negativity. We live in a world where you have choices. I don’t follow make up influencers or style influencers because it doesn’t appeal to me. If “influencer” content or what an influencer is bothers you don’t watch, it’s that simple.
Thank you, Jonelle!
Hi! I love the openness you guys have always had about everything: the time, money, effort that this job takes. But also about understanding your position and the power you may have over some people, and that’s commendable.
I used to follow a lot more blogs than I do now, but this is one of the few that I’ve stuck with. For the reasons above, and that you’re just really good at what you do.
I have noticed that one of the things that has changed, at least with home design blogs, is that so many of you have matured in your aesthetic and skills. I think some people get frustrated and think there’s a sellout aspect to the work of a lot of design bloggers, but I think it’s just that the work is more mature. When you guys started, you didn’t know how to do a lot of the work (the point was you were learning!), so your posts were a little more unrefined than they are now. You tried things, they didn’t work, you tried something else, and you told us about it.
But of course you’ve gotten better at it, and the posts are naturally going to reflect that. At this point, you know what you like to do, what you’re good at doing, and what you hate. You’ve also developed greater financial resources, as many people do as they save and develop their careers, so you can spend a bit more. So now, it makes sense (as you guys always point out) to pay others to do the things you don’t want/don’t have time to do.
Anyway, the point of me saying all this tuff that you already know is that I think a lot of bloggers have gone through these same sorts of maturation processes (and a lot of you are similar ages or similar life stages), but some of your readers haven’t accounted for this. There’s still sometimes an expectation that design bloggers still do everything themselves, on a shoestring budget, and that they’ll run into a bunch of hiccups that they discuss.
But of course that’s not going to be the case anymore, and it would be weird if your posts now were the same level of sophistication that they used to be. I think the onus is on us, as fans/readers, to examine how realistic our expectations are if we’re feeling disillusioned by a blog. There has always been an artist/audience or seller/buyer relationship, and we cannot pretend like the responsibilities are all one-sided.
We have to do our part.
Rachel, you bring up so many good points and have expressed it better than I could have! I am (almost) a 39-year-old woman. I am not the EXACT SAME person I was 12 years ago at 27-years-old when I started this blog. In the beginning, I was learning. I sure would hope that staying consistent with something for over a decade would mean we’ve grown in more ways than one! I really appreciate your comment, thank you.
Kim, thanks for replying! I am also 39, and today i put down new rugs (big ones) while my husband was walking the dogs, and I’m pretty sure when I wake up tomorrow I won’t be able to move. 10 years ago, I put down the rugs that I just replaced in half the time and without a twinge or breaking a sweat.
If you ever want to do stories on how you physically take care of yourselves now with physically demanding work, I’d be all ears. The noises my knees make these days….yikes.
As a consumer, I feel like I’m FINALLY getting to a point where I recognize what I am ok and not ok with as far as sponsored content, and can actually identify which is which when I see it. I know affiliate linking has gotten a lot bigger over the last few years, but I feel like I see a lot of influencers linking things that they don’t own. “Here’s a photo a reader sent of her cute porch lights!” with a link to the lights, giving them the potential to make money off of recommending something that they have no experience with. The reason this kind of thing bothers me is because this is not my full time job, but it is yours, so if you’re recommending something I expect that you’ve done the research to find something worthy of recommendation. But if I know it’s something you don’t own yourself it makes me less likely to trust you as a resource, you know? (To be clear, by “you” I don’t mean you, Kim and Scott, I mean you, the influencer in this hypothetical scenario.)
In direct contradiction to this, something I do really appreciate (and something that you, Kim and Scott, do regularly) is continuous brand partnerships. You work with Rejuvenation a lot. You work with Bali Blinds a lot. So if Rejuvenation releases a new collection and you post a link with “gorgeous new chandelier perfect for over a dining table!” I really don’t mind that being an affiliate link even if you don’t buy it yourself, because I know it’s a brand you’ve stood behind for a long time. Of course you’ve used lighting from multiple sources in your own home, but you’re not doing brand partnerships with six different lighting brands and claiming that they’re all the best. Does that make sense? Does ANY of this make sense?
There’s also a third scenario for me where if I know I’m going to buy something anyway, I’ll actually request an affiliate link if I know that someone I like has one. Because I DO think you should be able to make a living from this, and it doesn’t affect me in any way aside from throwing in one additional click. I buy from Glossier, I know you buy from Glossier, we’ve talked here and on IG before about their cloud paints because we both love them. So the last couple of times I’ve ordered from them I’ve requested your link (or if I’m not being super lazy I just go find it myself from one of your posts) and I’ll buy through that. It’s something I was going to buy anyway and you seem like good people, so if it helps you, why not?
This is officially the longest comment that I have ever left on a blog post but I have a lot of thoughts on affiliate links, ok?? ???? I think you have a great mix of sponsored and unsponsored content, and even if it’s something that doesn’t apply to me, I’m never upset about seeing sponsored content from you, because I trust you and this space as a resource. If I’m not interested I just scroll on by that day and wait for the next opportunity to engage. I know there’s a lot of criticism out there for people who make a living doing this kind of thing, but as someone who’s been following you for years, I think you’re doing a great job ❤️
Stacy! You are so sweet! I am constantly in awe of our readers that reach out to ask for an affiliate link. It might seem silly, but it means SO MUCH to us. It’s an integral part of our job, it’s how we support this family, and I enjoyed every second of your train of thought. (PS: Cloud Paint forever! Have you tried ‘Spark’ yet? YOWZA! It’s a big splash of red and a little goes a long way and I AM HERE FOR IT.)
I do the same thing (Stacy’s third scenario). I ordered an Alabax small fixture from Schoolhouse y’day, and remembered how many times you had featured it, and found the affiliate link on the blog *so I could pay you for featuring the fixture in spaces that would make it easier for me to understand how it would fit in our own renovation.* And let’s unpack that for a moment. An affiliate link, if (as Stacy points out) used in a way we all should honor, pays someone for doing work that helps others make decisions about their own purchases. You know, like you pay a sales consultant in a brick and mortar shop by purchasing product. I have honestly never understood why so many people yell about affiliate links. They seem to forget that bloggers are running their own small businesses, with overhead and expenses and and and. I view affiliate links (from trusted sources, of course) as the markup for marketing. If I don’t like the product, I don’t buy it! Simple as that.
And I, too, rarely comment, but felt I should piggyback on Stacy’s thoughtful comment, as a small business owner myself, on behalf of other small business owners (you).
Judi, THANK YOU. Means the world.
You’ve really nailed it there with your brick and mortar purchase comparison. ????????
Ahh! I just recently got ‘spark’ and it it GOR. GEOUS. It took me a bit to get a feel for it because it’s SO intense and I am very pale, but I think I’ve figured it out and now it’s all I want to wear. I never realized how much a beautiful blush can completely carry an otherwise simple makeup look and I loooooove it!
Haha, YAY! I use Spark JUST on the apple of my cheeks for a pale skin/Snow White look.
Hello from Logan Square
Ok I think I know how to use this comment box now! I have always felt very very very uncomfortable reading your blog. I’m a broke queer trans 30yo with bipolar and I live in your neighborhood. I can barely afford rent and you keep buying houses that you don’t need and don’t even live in. It’s so hard to watch. I hate to watch it happening. I want to own a home in my neighborhood and I will never be able to.
It’s sad to know that you continue to read our blog if it leaves you depleted. That’s a terrible place to be, and if you need to unfollow or never click on our site again for your own mental happiness, please do! As your Logan Square neighbor, we don’t think of it as buying houses we don’t need. We have always considered it an investment in this city and neighborhood we love so very much. We LOVE old homes. We LOVE restoring them! And when pricing the Two Flat for rentals, we didn’t shoot for the moon – we wanted to keep it attainable for our fellow neighbors. Sadly, that’s not the case for many developments, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Be well, Heather. You are very welcome here, but your mental health comes first.
KIM, YOU REALLY HAVE A WAY WITH WORDS. GOOD ON YOU.:)
So sorry I didn’t mean for the caps to display.
Long time listener, first time caller. First – your content & the way you choose to present it always leaves me feeling like I’ve just chatted with a friend. And I don’t assume that’s an easy thing to pull off considering all the behind the scenes work, so thank you. I recently streamlined who I follow because I realized what I was looking for had changed. I don’t think anyone on the internet owes me anything, and just like in real life, sometimes you don’t connect with people. So when I find myself a bit disengaged or disillusioned, I just reevaluate whether it’s for me & move on if not. I try really hard not to make assumptions about the people behind the content. There’s a lot we don’t see. My boss recently commented “I don’t know how you’ve kept it together the last year – working from home full time while helping 2 kids doing virtual school at home and still meeting all your deadlines.” But he doesn’t see me screaming into a pillow some days. Sometimes we see what we want to see or make assumptions when we don’t know the whole story. So when I find myself feeling negative after interacting with content, I just have to decide if it’s them or me & whether it’s time to move on. Your corner of the internet leaves me happy because you show up in a consistently honest way & seem to balance your content, audience, and sponsors well. And I’m very appreciative of that :)
‘When I find myself feeling negative after interacting with content, I just have to decide if it’s them or me & whether it’s time to move on.’ BRAVO, Erin. And you’re crushing it if you’re working from home with 2 kids in virtual school. Brighter days are ahead, I can feel it!
This is incredibly rude and wouldn’t post, but you did ask. Biggest problem I have with bloggers is, honestly, the “airbnb” stuff. It’s great for the bloggers because they can own multiple homes. But it is terrible for regular people who want to own a home. Monetizing homes has led to price increases in housing stock. We are fortunate and already own our home but many people are priced out of the market. I also sure as heck don’t want to live next to an airbnb in a regular neighborhood. I bought a home in a nice neighborhood, not a home that is next to a hotel. So it would piss me off if one of the houses next to me was turned into essentially a hotel with potentially 356 strangers a year coming into our neighborhood. Yuck.
I think it should be said that a few bad apples shouldn’t ruin the opinion of a whole, in this case, airbnb owners. I’m continually inspired by airbnb owners that I follow online! Some may do it as their full time job, others as extra income, and I find them to be respectful, thoughtful people that want to share beautiful homes with other people. Just yesterday, as our Tree House dates started to book up, Scott and I looked at each other and said, ‘how special is this that we can share our love of home + comfort with others?’. We do our due diligence to read past reviews of anyone staying in our home, and we have a (password protected) set of rules we lay out for everyone. For us, real estate has become a part of our job, and it’s one that we pay close attention to, just as anyone would do in their career – conventional or otherwise.
Well, I mean, of course you think they are respectful and thoughtful and find it special – you do it!
KJ’s comment seemed pretty reasonable – it would be nice to hear from you guys how you address these concerns that your neighbors likely have. I know the duplex didn’t turn into an AirBnB, but how were you planning on addressing the usual concerns with AirBnB in such an urban, close environment?
For sure, it could have been a concern. Since we didn’t get that far in the process of moving forward as an airbnb, and because we had the same question ourselves, it was really the best decision for us to NOT go the short term rental route. That said, I’d love to know if KJ has stayed in an airbnb? And if so, does one behave differently? I put a lot of responsibility on the owner to take every precaution, but I also believe in basic human decency – and that kindness begets kindness. We are friends with our Tree House neighbors, and we’re always ensuring their comfort. Luckily, they continue to tell us that our guests are respectful and quiet.
I’m very curious about this behavior question as well. I’ve never stayed in an airbnb (not because of any specific concerns about it, just because it hasn’t worked out to be the best option for any of my travels so far) but what specifically are people worried about by having short term rentals in their area? I live in a mostly residential area close to a major city, in a neighborhood with primarily single-family homes. Probably 70% are primary homes, and the other 30% are split between short- and long-term rentals. The only difference for me is the short-term rentals have different cars in front of them every week. That’s literally it. If someone was renting through airbnb and were horribly disruptive everywhere they went, wouldn’t they eventually get kicked off the platform? It seems like a lot of complaints I see about it are about the fact that some people, if they don’t personally own something, will treat it like garbage. But that’s not a hotel/airbnb problem, it’s an individual personality problem. I work with people who refuse to clean up after themselves in our office kitchen because it’s not their personal space so they don’t think they should have to. I don’t blame the company we’re working for for that, I blame the individual and their elevated sense of entitlement. Holding people accountable for their behavior (guests) and how they respond to specific behaviors (hosts) seems like it would make this a non-issue pretty quickly.
In Ireland there is a deep mistrust of landlords for all sorts of reasons, ranging from Britain invading Ireland hundred of years ago (!!) and appointing themselves our landlords, to ordinary people investing in property before the crash because they could, or pre covid airbnb sucking all the long term rentals out of the market. People here project these things on to landlords in general and it is not an admired profession. I’m sure similar happens around the world. Projection! I was lucky enough to have a thoughtful, fair landlord when we rented and am very grateful as I am sure your tenants and guests are!
I live in the Boston area and I know Airbnb is an issue downtown, but not because of bloggers/individual owners. AS I underhand it companies are buying up a lot of property to do Airbnb and get around paying hospitality taxes to the city that would benefit the neighborhood. They basically are running unofficial hotels, are disconnected from their guests, and create the gentrification you mention. That to me is a very different thing than what I see from the bloggers I follow. I’ve loved following tree house, and in New England there are a lot of non-bloggers who make owning a vacation home possible by offsetting costs through renting when they aren’t there (long before Airbnb).
And I’m always inspired by YBH and trust the brand and recommends! I get creeped out by some “influencers” but I feel like I can gauge who I feel I can trust, and ignore the rest!
Oh that’s interesting! I know we actually are considered as a hotel and pay taxes as such, maybe that’s state by state, but not sure how they’re getting around that.
I should caveat that could be outdated info at this point! I know cities and states have been trying to figure out how to regulate now that it’s such a big thing thanks to Airbnb etc, which means big businesses are working to find and maintain loopholes. I don’t have answers, but I know gentrification is a big complex problem, and I’m glad with the two flat you were also thinking about keeping things affordable for the neighborhood you know and love!
Very pretty church transformation! Unfortunately, there are many costs to renovating an old building, especially one of that size and scale and age (you know!), so I understand why costs might have to be high (but I don’t know what is normal in your area either). Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the biz. I like you and Scott and Lucy and what you provide and how you share. Sometimes I don’t like all your designs, but you didn’t ask for my opinion and I show up because I still like seeing something new and fresh and something I might not ever do, and take away from new ideas to try in my own home. I don’t know how much you think about “influencing” me, but I just assumed you naturally shared (or so it seems) and I’m here for it.
We love having you here, Julie xx
In response to your quote:
“I can’t think of any other industry where the talent has to work on BOTH the content AND the advertisements. Read that again”
I would argue lots of small businesses both do their own marketing and content. I am an architect in a firm of two. I am responsible for wearing lots of hats…my main gig designing remodels for homeowners and helping them through the construction process. But I ALSO do all things marketing/ advertising: direct and stage photoshoots, run our social media, update our website, and submit for awards and tours. Bigger firms probably have a marketing person to do this, just like bigger influencers probably hire people to do the various aspects of their job. I think this is the life we’ve chosen as a small self run small business. Its a lot of work, but also comes with a lot of benefits.
I think what Deema was saying is that, while I hear you saying you wear all the hats – main gig, marketing, etc – content creators aren’t promoting themselves. They’re promoting a brand on their page. So for example, when I was still creating pet paintings, I didn’t think twice about promoting my work, because I needed eyes on it to be successful. But if we take on a brand partnership that’s a good fit for us, we need to keep in line with our content but ALSO advertise another brand on our own page and THEN prepare ourselves for some backlash. I think my favorite (sarcasm) is this sentence: “I know this is how you make money, BUT…”
Anyway, all that to say, I respect when someone has the stamina to wear many hats. Katie, I know it isn’t easy! We’re in this together!
Oh, no. I haven’t watched the documentary, but I read the Buzzfeed article.
It sounds like the people the documentary are referring to are the teens/young 20s TikTok and YouTube “stars” who truly are “famous” for being obnoxious on the internet. They form groups and buy big homes in LA together, living like a frat house, except not in university. Idk, it’s a weird concept – I think their primary audience is children and teens.
I guess I’ve never thought of you as “famous,” though I know you’re well-known and respected in the industry. I appreciate your content, from small projects like the hook rail to larger renovations. I see some people claiming “unrelatable!” when project budgets get higher, but I personally disagree. The budget of the project isn’t the point – I come here for creative ideas, and creativity does not reside within the bounds of a budget. Whatever you choose to share, I’m just grateful to be able to read along and learn.
Thank you, Victoria! While I was infuriated with the documentary, I asked Scott, why are they not interviewing more influencers who take this seriously? Why are they not talking about the community this brings? Why, why, etc? And he reminded me that it would be an entirely different documentary, and one only online creators would actually enjoy. I’m realizing that Fake Famous was as unrealistic as the followers that were purchased by the creator.
I assumed everyone did this, but I have two insta accounts – one for my family/friends/people I know. Every single post on that feed brings me joy. I check it daily. And then I have a second feed I use to follow influencers. I check it when I’m in the mood to see pretty houses/fashion/makeup, and of course, I’m fully aware that when I check that feed, it will feel like one big ad and as though people are constantly selling things to me, but that’s fine and welcomed, because *I’m seeking that out*. I feel like this would solve like 75% of people’s annoyance with following influencers, frankly. And when it comes to blogs, I read maybe 5-10% of blog posts from people I follow on insta – really only things I’m super interested in, because, well, who has the time to follow people on multiple platforms nowadays?
Also, I feel like a lot of the OG home bloggers are on instagram (and I’m that age too, so I’m seeking out houses from people in their mid/late 30s with kids), but tiktok has a ton of great 20-something content creators with really cool houses/apartments. I feel like it’s really our generation keeping Insta afloat, because younger people really don’t seem to use that primarily for their content creation.
Interesting! As someone very uneducated in tiktok, would you say that Instagram is the new Facebook?! (As in, only those behind the times are still using Insta? Ha!)
Well, I think if you asked a 25-year-old, yes. One huge reason I love following home-related content creators on TikTok is that it’s a MUCH more diverse population than Insta, both design-wise and representation-wise. The top three home-related content creators, off the top of my head, are a queer woman, a black woman, and an Asian woman; the landscape simply isn’t dominated by white, Mormon accounts. Obviously, more diverse accounts exist on Insta too, but I don’t think anyone could argue that those are the biggest, most visible ones! And Insta is also dominated by a fairly narrow design aesthetic – so many of the bigger creators all seem to shop at the same stores (CB2, Article, Rejuvenation) and have a similar style (light woods, light colors, clean-looking Cali casual), whereas I find the big accounts on TikTok to represent a much bigger variety of design styles. That said, TikTok is also dominated by very scrappy do-everything-DIY-for-the-least-money-possible accounts, which (IMO) is maybe not what 30-somethings are quite looking for? What I want, I suppose, is something between the two: diverse styles and diverse people, and slightly more high-end design with a focus on environmentalism, and an account that does not shy away from politics and race issues. And I want to see kids’ design content but I do not want endless stories/pics about people’s kids. It’s all tall order, and only parts of that are on either platform!
I love this insight, thank you, Vidya! Diversifying my feed was a huge goal of mine in the past year. 2020 was pretty awful, but a lot of growth and good came out of it, too. My feed is no longer white, bright spaces with Cali vibes (as you’ve mentioned). Now, I see all colors and styles, both in the people I follow and the homes that they share. If anyone here is looking to diversifying their feed, feel free to browse through the people that I follow! AND if you have influencers you LOVE, please share them in the comments so we can start following along!
Vidya- can you recommend some of those TikTok accounts to me?? I guess I can’t seem to make their algorithm give me what I want LOL. Although I have found some very diverse and fun Instagram accounts to follow, I don’t own my home (I’m a grad student and I rent) and a lot of instagrams are renovation focused. But I am 23 and I love Instagram, haven’t gotten into TikTok ????
I don’t mind influencers, as I understand it as a great way to get information out. I am actually paying youth with loved experience to use their social media platform to get the word out about services available to youth struggling with homelessness. The thing that bothers me is when influencers use a platform to give advice on a product they are not an expert in – skin care is a great example. Every persons skin is different and you should be seeing a licensed aesthetician to get advice.
Hi, Keegan! Do you have a website you can share here, in case anyone reading this needs this information?
Re: skincare – I am passionate about skincare and talk about it all the time with my BFF. I personally love seeing others I follow share their recs, after which, I’ll read reviews to see if it makes sense for me. I personally get a LOT of requests to share more about skincare, and I think I will! That said, everything said should be digested knowing that it’s what works for the influencer, and it’s up to the viewer to decide if it’s the right fit for them.
Thank you for talking about behind the scenes of blogging. One thing I think that makes your blog/instagram among my top ten, is that you produce real content, consistently, which is why I keep tuning in. I do realize how much work goes into doing what you all do, which I think is the case with *most* small business owners, and something that gets lost in a world of consumerism, mega-businesses, and economies of scale. It makes me really angry when people disparage “influencers” and other people making money from their content, because I don’t think most people understand that folks put in REAL work ,REAL hours, and REAL money. And this is where I wish more content creators where honest and would break down the time and money it takes, because sometimes things appear to be “easy” and it would help those folks understand how the content gets made. I think you all do a great job of sharing details about the work you do, and the frustrations that happen.
Thank you so much, Maura! I struggle with this, because on the one hand, if people could see behind the curtain, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much anger towards affiliate links and sponsored content. But on the other hand, it’s kind of our job to NOT delve into the nitty gritty – just like no one really cares about what goes on behind the scenes at, say, your favorite local coffee shop. Is it cool to know how things work? Sure! Is it mandatory that they share that information so that people feel at ease buying a cup of coffee? Of course not! I know that online content creation is much more normalized as a career now then it was even 3 years ago, and I think that it will only continue to be normalized each passing day.
I think when a reader can “see” the business in the content, a divide gets created. And I don’t mean sponsored posts/content generally. I’m thinking of posts where there is “an amazing update” to a room that was just recently declared finished, and the update is an item like a a piece of furniture or accessories that are never seen again after that post. It has become increasingly common for design bloggers to acquire investment properties and cabins and I think once that became a very clear pattern it became harder to tell when it was about content and when it was truly about preservation or investment or personal priorities. The level of consumerism needed to produce the content paired with the often high prices of sponsored and promoted brands won’t be accessible to many readers and so it can sometimes feel disconnected from reality. I think especially during difficult economic times like the pandemic, which has effected folks so differently, that disconnect seems a bit more visible. I don’t think YBH produces content like this, but I think it is a difficult balance to get right 100% of the time even for the most intentional bloggers.
I hear you, and I’m taking this in. As someone who has purchased multiple homes, I can only speak for myself, but I assure you this: We have never bought a home for content and sponsors and money. I cringe – CRINGE! – when a friend (who in all honesty is just being supportive) says, ‘wow, think of all the new content you’ll have!’. The amount of TIME and energy it takes for that kind of commitment to restore an old home, I mean, I can’t imagine doing it for anything other than passion! From there, will we pitch partners? YES! Are we immediately reached out to by brands? YES! And is it our job to make the most of it? Yes, yes, yes. But behind all of that is passion and a love of houses, and the sense of comfort that brings. Since the Two Flat, we’ve needed a break from big projects, but sometimes the itch creeps back in. We don’t even know what the future holds, which is why we don’t like to make sweeping statements, but for now, we’re chillin.’
And I don’t think you do! I believe that your choices are very deliberate, and you generally have a more minimal and intentional approach than some so I truly believe your content is earnest. Others I follow, who I really truly enjoy, it’s not always as clear. But it’s also my choice to stop consuming the content if I find it bothersome or misaligned with my values. It sounds like many bloggers find audiences to demand they be everything to everyone and I can see how that is tiring and invasive.
Thank you for being so thoughtful and intentional about this topic. I think your intentionality is what makes me continue coming back every day. You’ve always been thoughtful about every single thing you do and it really shows. You don’t just chase the money and instead chase the quality.
I personally enjoy and appreciate partnerships that help complete a project, provide supplies, etc. I don’t love it when they’re “random”, as in a DIY blog pushing sponsored nutritional supplements, face products, and other non-home things left and right. With that being said, some of that in moderation is ok (like your glowing CBD review didn’t bother me one bit because it is infrequent and was so clearly genuine). It just gets a little too noticeable when it’s a lot of that. I also agree with some other comments about really high price points. When a content creator starts sharing multiple $1000+ items a week, it is not good for my feeling of contentment.
Appreciate you chiming in, Rachel! Gah, I could sing the praises all day, every day about CBD. A major life hack! But I digress, thank you for your kind words on intentionality.
I’ve been playing catch-up on all of this through the individuals I follow, and WOW. Once upon a time, YHL was the only blog I read with any regularity, then slowly I started discovering others (such as yours!) that I also really liked. My IG feed is predominately filled with content from DIYers because I like seeing how their projects progress, and I’m always on the hunt for a little inspiration for my own home. I’m more invested in people that I’ve been keeping up with for years and years and whose beliefs and values seem compatible with my own. I tend to just scroll by others and enjoy the images they post.
But if someone makes a design choice I don’t agree with or gets paid to paint their house with Behr, I really couldn’t care less. I’m much more interested in bookmarking a tutorial on building shelves, for example, than I am in obsessing over the fact that – egads! – lumber was purchased from Home Depot instead of Lowe’s. THE HORROR!
I’ve tried to understand the mindset of people who genuinely feel “betrayed” by choices that bloggers (or other famous people, for that matter) make in the best interest of themselves and their families, but because these decisions don’t actually affect them AT ALL, I come up empty.
I’ll never stop being taken aback when I see things people post online but would never have the audacity to state in person. So kudos to all of you for managing trolls and downright nasty people who bring their negativity and baggage into the comments section.
I’m honestly curious as well, why people feel betrayed. Could someone who has felt that way, or who has felt the need to say something they’d NEVER say in person, chime in to help us understand?
I think it is crazy for sure, but also not super hard to believe if you’ve been following someone for ages (esp years ago when blogs were crazy personal!) you start to feel a connection with them.
The thing I wanted to add was that I feel influencers actually encourage/create this kind of “relationship” as part of their job and then seem to be surprised/ offended when it backfires. Influencers talk to stories as if talking to a friend, and they do it every single day over and over to build a connection with people. As people feel connected they will engage with the content and buy things! Soooo yeah turns out it works and then those same people take it too far and… should we really be surprised?
I feel like the really good influencers also start “conversations” and sometimes even stir up controversy just for the engagement. (When you know all along they’ve already picked the light/trim/etc that they’re “discussing” in the moment.)
Does this make me sound cynical? LOL I am super fascinated by the psychology of social. And I think there is a huge spectrum of how both influencers and consumers use it. :)
See, that would be a much better documentary to dissect than Fake Famous!
Well, I think it’s the other side of the ‘I really trust you guys’ that I see above, you know? I kinda think both are a little much for people you don’t know!
I am not the best person to respond, because I wouldn’t say I ever felt “betrayed” but I do regularly prune who I follow (and obviously you guys make the cut because otherwise I wouldn’t be here now!) I feel no need to follow people who aren’t truthful. I prefer my truthful to also be in the fashion of, if it won’t be a topic of discussion, just don’t mention it, rather than mentioning it and then saying that it won’t be discussed. I’d rather just be ignorant of it as a potential topic than to feel that I’m being held out on. I recognize this can be in response to questions that get asked regularly, but I guess I’d rather the questions just get ignored. I think this relates to the person in the comments who mentioned someone starting a discussion or taking a poll about what color to use, when the writer has already chosen, when the discussion or poll could easily be phrased in a way that wouldn’t lead to feeling betrayed. Rather than “what color should the trim be?” “what color would YOU choose?” The other untruthful I sometimes think of in sponsored posts is posting about how something is “totally worth the money” when it was given for free/as part of a sponsorship. If the price was $FREE then it is impossible to truly evaluate it in the context of cost/budget. Sure someone can make an effort, but I certainly value more completely independent purchases, discussing that it is an item that was purchased at full cost previously, or that it’s an item that the reviewer then went out to buy with their own money for friends/relatives/duplicates etc. My budget and priorities are still likely to be different, but it does give me a better idea of if that $300 stick vac that doesn’t have enough charge to vacuum the entire house is worth it if I know whether it’s a freebie that was worth hanging on to or if it was a repeat purchase, etc. I really value that it is so easy in your posts for me to tell if something was sponsored and that you add enough detail for me to evaluate how whatever it is might be valuable in my life. E.g. your ongoing partnership with Bali Blinds has been really useful for me to think about adding blinds to our house where we want some privacy.
YHL’s style is super different from mine, but I follow them bc one thing I really respect about them is that they only link to products they own and love. That means they link fewer products, and they link the same things over and over, and I love that they’re fine with that. It feels like integrity. So many influencers are constantly swiping-up to products they do not own and cannot vouch for the quality of (or worse, just random affiliate links to sales), and that’s when it starts feeling gross/consumerist to me.
“I’m much more interested in bookmarking a tutorial on building shelves, for example, than I am in obsessing over the fact that – egads! – lumber was purchased from Home Depot instead of Lowe’s. THE HORROR!”
I’m much more interested in why we don’t often hear about how bloggers choose (or not) to use their clout to send a message. For example, my assumption is the Kim and Scott are not Trump supporters. Yet they consistently buy from Home Depot, which is an organization that supported Trump and made large donations to him and his PACs. I mean, I get it – you need to make a living. Personally, however, this is not a choice that I would make because I feel like the ONLY way for our voices to be heard by retailers is how we spend our dollars, especially after the Citizens United decision.
There are bloggers who stand by their politics – Wardrobe Oxygen is a good example of this – and I find it admirable that they’re willing to do so. So it’s possible to do, but probably more difficult.
I’m not sure where you got the idea that we consistently shop at Home Depot, when we are (consistently) partners with Lowe’s. And while I’ll gladly state that we will never ever support Trump, I think it’s dangerous to perpetuate information about donation contributions that have been misconstrued.
Alleira, with regard to the Trump/Home Depot claim, that has been debunked repeatedly. A previous CEO of Home Depot is a Trump supporter, but since he is retired there’s not really any link between his personal funds and those of the company. Please confirm your information is correct before you go around accusing bloggers of supporting companies that support Trump.
I will admit that I used to think it was an easy or cop-out route to be an influencer (aka, doing what you love and getting free money!) But now that I’m older and content is trending towards transparency in the process, I admire influencers and bloggers for doing something I never could and basically making their jobs 24/7 instead of 9-5, 5 days a week.
I do find that I follow an influencer because a post of theirs got shared, or I saw it in Explore, but I don’t really connect and there are so many total posts/stories that I skip over a lot except for my favorites that I remember the names of (basically, YBH, chris loves julia, and daniel kanter tbh). I tend to enjoy content more when it shows behind the scenes/DIY, and includes problems that occurred and nitty gritty details like contractor issues, budget, life happenings. It does seem a little unfair that to “engage” successfully, you have to reveal your private life to seem more connectable, but I do find that I end up liking those bloggers more evn thoigh I tell myself I obviously have no right to their personal life.
On another hand, I saw the rent prices for the renovated church and thought, “Wow, I’d love to live in a 2BR as nice as that for under 3k!” but I’m in the Bay Area where studios usually go for 2.5k :(
Thank you, Erin!
The rent for the church is on the VERY HIGH end of prices in this neighborhood. I have a lot of feelings about how neighborhoods shift, and Scott and I talk about gentrification at least once a month, in depth, because we see it every day with our own eyes – especially in our neighborhood which has become one of the most desirable in the whole city. Are we part of the problem? In some ways, yes. But I like to dig in and figure out how I can be a part of the solution.
I used to struggle with this and sometimes still do, but less now that I’ve reframed. Not really ever with you guys and rarely with DIY at all but mostly with “lifestyle” influencers. The hard thing for me was the idea of essentially getting paid to do things that already benefited you (the general you, not you, Kim and Scott), eg paid to have nice hair, wear cute clothes, have good makeup, do fun things, have a beautiful space. BUT then I realized that’s actually not the “work”. The work is the photos and writing and growing and community engagement and emailing with brands, etc and if I really wanted that, I could work to do it too. But I don’t want to, because it seems like too much work, so I’ll just keep doing my regular job ha! I think it’s one of those things that *seems* easy if you don’t think too hard, because all the tools are available and used by regular folks. So the knee-jerk perspective can be like “yeah, I can take 60 seconds to snap an insta too” but actually it’s more than that…
Anyway, that was my long-winded way to participate in this conversation. Thanks for always answering my DMs! Lol when you or like Daniel or YHL do it, I legit feel like “omg someone kind of famous is talking to me!” :D
I understand that, thank you for chiming in! In the beginning, I was SICK of hearing people say, ‘well if I post a pretty photo can I get a FREE x, y, z, too?’. This is the hardest, yet most rewarding, job we’ve ever had. I’m grateful every day, but there’s certainly no such thing as a day off. xx
I’ve been a new follower of YBH in the last 3 months, and I think you do a great job of balancing the content and ads! It feels natural and trustworthy.
There’s a clear difference between bloggers/content creators who take on ads as a *part* of how they pay the bills and accounts that seem to only exist as influencers. In other words, there’s not a lot of substance unrelated to the ads.
And, I’ve been noticing more and more ads from Insta accounts I follow, and I think it’s partly because I’ve recently started watching more Insta stories! The grid posts didn’t seem to have as much ad content, and blog posts had banner ads which are more passive. There’s something a little different about watching a commercial.
Overall, when there’s a lot more social ad content than a few years ago, and when it’s not presented authentically, it can start to feel icky for the user.
First, we’re so happy you’re here! And to follow up with what you’re saying, brands are really into Stories these days, so I’m not surprised you’re seeing ad content there. This goes back to our behind-the-curtain work of making it relevant to our content, or relevant to the type of content that is more frequently requested in Stories (which tends to be more personal).
I haven’t seen the documentary (don’t have HBO) but I did read the article linked above. I appreciate the value that the accounts I follow bring to my life. I jokingly refer to them as my “friends”. When I get home from a long day at work I like to see what genuine people are willing to share with me about their lives. We enjoy the same things – DIY and creating workable and attractive home spaces. I have learned about cool products from influencers that I have used in my life (caulk backing! tile levelling systems!) and wish I could be more supportive through links (the links don’t translate as well to Canadian Amazon). So I give my likes and try to check in on all the blog posts so that the numbers will be favourable. If it is a sponsored post that isn’t on track with my interests or needs I tend to just click on through but it doesn’t mean that the product won’t track with another follower. I appreciate how the larger influencer do show up day after day to contribute to pleasurable moments in my life.
One of your commenters above hit the nail on the head when she pointed out how some accounts have grown so much that the original content (budget friendly DIYs) might not be the main focus anymore. And if viewers/followers do feel like the change is too great and the account no longer speaks to them, there are many, many, many smaller accounts that are still doing those budget friendly DIYs.
So keep doing what you are doing and know that your work is appreciated by many people out there.
I appreciate you, Beth.
I tend to follow a lot of “influencers” and I either find them organically (their photo content has a nice esthetic) or another blogger or Instagram person mentions them and their account fits what I’m interested in at the time. But I tend to hit the unfollow button when they either have a sponsored content that makes it look like they’re in it for the money vs sharing something that fits with their audience (a co-worker has a friend who is an “influencer” based in Seattle, 26-27, fashion-oriented and was paid $20k to share her “love” of NASCAR. If anywhere in her About Me section, interests, Insta Stories, past trips, etc. shared her interest in the sport, great! But she was honest with my friend that she just wanted to say she booked a high sponsorship.) or if they participate in a lot of giveaway loops (I think it’s fun if they do it once in awhile or they personally gift their followers who engage more with a prize, but the follow loops always seems like they’re buying followers). Those people can definitely do what works for them, but I tend to lose interest and eventually unfollow.
I like being “influenced” by “my friends” (I know you guys aren’t really my friends but the community and the rapport of the person behind the screen makes me feel like we’re friends :) ) and I like getting advice or suggestions or reviews of things from friends. If the person has consistently high quality content and honest reviews, I try to support them the best I can so they can do their job long term.
Laura, that friend of a friend makes me sad. It makes me wonder what else is going on in their life that would have them take the sponsorship on. I’d like to think that example is a rare case.
I love all the DIY accounts I follow…and I think you guys work so hard!! I skip sponsored posts if it’s not something I’m interested in, but they don’t bother me — I want you guys to be able to keep on creating content! And I head to all my favorite accounts for recommendations when I am ready to purchase something, because I trust you.
Sometimes I think people forget that the internet is optional. No one is forcing you to follow someone or watch an Instagram story.
Your blog is one of my favorites because you seem to be one of the most thoughtful, ethical, and kind blogs out there. Thank you for putting yourselves out there, and for creating such great content. Keep up the good work!
I have been reading DIY and design blogs for 10+ years. I stay for the good photos, the inspiration, the stories of the people and families loving on this home. If you are doing it full time of course you need to make money at this (and reasonable money – not some starving artist salary) and I can scroll past the sponsored content I don’t like and explore new products and options I do like. I have seen the bloggers who seem to promote anything to the point of it being a turn off. That’s not at all my experience of your brand. My experience is you are trying to always add value to your readership in a thoughtful way with your partnerships and sponsored content.
I haven’t read the buzzfeed yet, but just wanted to say that seeing your content daily makes me feel so inspired and happy! You two are such a breath of fresh air, and I can honestly say that you’re part of only a handful of people that I genuinely want to hear from as much as possible on social media. I have so much respect for people who are “influencers” full time- the amount of work it takes is completely underestimated by most people who benefit from the content. Anyway- love you guys! Keep being awesome!
I think you do a great job with the balancing act. I appreciate your transparency when something is sponsored.
Part of who I follow and why I follow has to do with a values match. I get that bloggers evolve and grow and even become more wealthy. Some bloggers as they have grown have become hyper consumers. One quite famous one now always has a new outfit in her stories just about every DAY. Once they hit 500k followers i couldnt even watch her stories any more. And its a home design blog, I thought. I got so tired of seeing her model new clothes or shoes or jewelry, makeup, hair and skin products because there is an environmental COST to her cycling through all of that new crap. I don’t care how ethically you source your clothing and other items. Its all getting shipped to your door (planes ground transport boxes plastic paper packaging, then “letting go” of stuff that’s no longer trendy. Where does it go? To a thrift store? In the trash? And for what? Clicks likes and affiliate links revenue? ) It all just feels very wasteful and entitled and reminds me of cliques in high school…with zero acknowledgement of the cost. Another blogger with similar high following went the OPPOSITE direction. Smaller house, pared down life, less stuff all the way around. I value people showing what is truly important. And its sure as heck NOT new clothing and “stuff” on the daily. Its the American way but not for me.
You can grow and evolve and become rich even and not “imfluence” followers to become hyper consumers. Its a fine line. But I will say I’ve gotten tired of American home blogs because they all seem to have “expanded” into clothes shoes makeup jewelry, things that I don’t want to spend money on. My new favorites have all been British estates where people are rehabbing the spaces. Some are castles, some are estates, some are family homes. But they all are focused on home rehab and design and the evolution of a space which is what I’ve always been most interested in.
Not knocking bloggers who realize their core viewers want to know what they are wearing how they care for the skin etc etc etc but you lose me there. Im trying to spend more time caring about my mental health and less time being hyper aware of my outward appearance. So I have stopped following most of the home design blogs who have added more and more of that to their blogs.
I still follow you guys because I was interested in the transformation of the 2 flat and even the lake house and your values resonate. But I don’t check in daily any more because there has been a shift over time from my perspective.
You’ve not gone into the hyper consuming path, you seem intentional and thoughtful about what you bring into your home, but its still at a much higher rate of new “stuff” than I ever want to see in my own life. I’m an avid thrifter for most things in my life mostly because of the environmental impact of slow fashion and slow furnishing. Keeping things that fit well are well used, cherished rather than the latest shiny new thing thats trending.
I think that social media and how content is created is becoming so diverse that there should be a more specific term than just “influencer”. Because I love to follow DIY/reno/home “influencers” (although I think of them more as crafty interior designers…), but I also love to follow crochet and knitting “influencers”/pattern makers, artists, etc. I watch instagram stories similarly to how my boyfriend watches YouTube videos about fishing (lol) – we all have interests! And I love to be inspired by the people I am following. Do I kind of roll my eyes when someone puts a $450 sconce in their house? yeah, but then I move on. Maybe it’s a twinge of jealousy. I am a broke grad student and I can’t wait to own my first home. However, a lot of the time I feel inspired by the people I follow to love where I live now! I’ve painted, reupholstered furniture, refinished tables and dressers… I love that instagram is more realistic than HGTV, which I can’t even stand anymore. I also learn A LOT from insta and I don’t even realize it until I talk to someone that is not obsessed with the same lane of instagram that I am. I love following yall (ybh and all the others I follow), I consume your content on the daily, and I WANT yall to be paid. I will always swipe up (even if its for HomeChef for the freaking millionth time). I didn’t realize that yall got hate for that! I also think that its VERY personal to open up your home, life, original ideas to the judgement of the interwebs… amazing how people can feel even entitled to your HOME (YHL talked about people being angry they didn’t tell anyone right away when they bought a new house).
The types of influencers that bother me (I don’t follow them, but I see them sometimes on the “discover” page or I hear younger cousins talk about them for example…) are the ones that prey on young women’s insecurities. I always say how happy I am I got out of high school before instagram got REALLY big (I am 23 – so I narrowly missed it) because being a teenage girl was hard enough without being hyperaware of society’s beauty standards. I just don’t think that teenagers have the ability to move on from something if its not bringing them good feelings? Like hate-following but also wanting to be like them? I don’t know. But it can’t be good for mental health of young people. All I know is that sometimes the instagrams of young girls (like girls that were on my dance team when I was in high school and they were in elementary school- now they are in high school) make me feel like I need to wash my eyes out. It scares me because of all the creepy eyeballs that could be watching… I WISH the type of influencer geared towards young people was creative, hobby-oriented, encouraging originality… anyway this is a gd essay so that’s it HAHA
First off, I wanted to say that I do genuinely love your blog and content! Aside from Daniel Kanter, this is the only blog I read regularly anymore. I think you guys and Daniel both have done a great job staying true and authentic as the blogs have grown and social media has gotten more prominent. I work in marketing and I know how much work that is, and I am truly impressed at blogs like yours that have grown so gracefully.
Since you asked… Maybe it’s because I work in marketing, but I never found the business side of things confusing. I think for me the biggest disconnect I find with content creators/influencers/bloggers is ethical, which maybe felt more prominent because of the pandemic. As an example specific to you, I left you guys a comment months ago expressing that I was kind of disappointed by the continued heavy promotion of Amazon products – this was at a time when Amazon was constantly in the news for how poorly they were treating their workers early on during COVID, and it felt really weird to me to come on here and see a bunch of links to unnecessary housing products without so much as an acknowledgment. You guys as far as I know never approved the comment for public view and never responded, even though other comments were posted and responded to days after mine, and that felt pretty disappointing, as I wasn’t in any way rude or nasty.
I do also have a lot of feelings about Airbnbs, particularly in markets that suffer from lack of affordable housing, and Logan Square is a great example. I was so relieved when you guys decided to go the LTR route, and I do hope you’ll consider doing that long term. I live in San Diego, where real estate for the average person, both rental and purchasing, have just been destroyed because the market is full of Airbnbs. The majority of long term neighbors here hate them, and it’s very common to see signs in yards showing support of banning STRs. I think for me, in smaller places where there is less density, more housing stock and a lot of vacation homes in general, it doesn’t in any way bother me (I never had any negative feelings about Tree House)! I think it’s better for homes to be used than sit empty a lot of the time. It’s the properties in gentrifying neighborhoods with skyrocketing rents, where housing is already at a premium, that particularly bother me. On the flip side I also think there’s a real shortage of good landlords who care about their tenants, so it was truly a relief to me when Two Flat became actual housing as reading about an STR in that neighborhood regularly would have been a big turn off for me.
Hi Allyson! First I just want to say thank you for being a longtime reader. Truly, from the bottom of my heart! I recognize your name from comments and conversations we’ve had, and I know you’ve been here for years and years.????
I can only wonder why I might not have approved your comment, and for not sharing it, I’m sorry. Maybe it struck me the wrong way, maybe I was getting a lot of negativity that day, maybe it went into spam (which I delete in full every few days). But I’m not here to make excuses, and I’m sorry.
I struggle with the amazon feedback, because in the earliest days of the pandemic, I had hope that we were all just doing the best we could to figure it out – from big corporations to the smallest businesses, to households and everything in-between. I also think that many of us were reliant on amazon because of affordability and accessibility. The truth is that while we like to promote small and ethical brands, we’ll also always share large and affordable brands. Promoting ONLY small can sometimes feel isolating for some that don’t have access or can’t afford it. We strike that balance in our own home, and we do the same here.
All this to say, thank you for this thoughtful comment and your stance on LTR vs STR. It’s giving me a lot to think about.
Hmm. It is hard to say how I feel about influencers because they are all very different. For example, there is a “lifestyle” blogger who I hate read on the regular and would never in a million years click one of her links. In particular, I find lifestyle blogging pretty worthless so I am probably not their desired audience. For you guys – I like your blog and I know you make money when I click your links to buy something. Sometimes I do so on purpose when your content is especially good, but sometimes it irks me that maybe I clicked a link, didn’t buy something, and then you get a commission later simply because I purchased from the retailer.
I think my overall feeling is one of distrust for anyone who has sponsored content. I go to the Article site and see that the leather L-shaped sectional (you have the couch in the Tree House), which I’ve repeatedly considered buying, has a lot of reviews that say it shifts and moves because it has inadequate attachment to the other side. But bloggers never mention this at all. Why are reviewers who aren’t making money from it mentioning it and the people who received free stuff not mentioning it? It is difficult not to conclude that the reason for the softened/incomplete review is because you got something for free, because you want to continue a relationship with the company, because you’re getting paid through affiliate links, and because this is how you make your overall income.
I generally find you and Scott to be on the more trustworthy side of bloggers. I have to wonder about your income (absolutely none of my business) and the decisions to basically monetize your entire family (also none of my business). What IS my business, however, is the fact that my clicks and page views reinforce your decision to monetize your family life, and it’s something I think about a lot.
Hi Alleira, I can only speak to my experience but the mello sectional is truly a dream. I could shout it from the rooftops! We have never experienced the shifting – I don’t even know how that would be possible, it’s so heavy. And we have kids jumping on it all the time! So I can’t explain why it would receive those reviews.
That said, as someone who consumes our content, why does it irk you that we might make a couple dollars from a click (at zero cost to you)? That makes me sad to hear, and I’d like to understand better.
Also, why do you follow a lifestyle blogger that depletes you?
Re: the lifestyle blogger, because I keep forgetting to remove her from my Feedly. At this point I hardly ever click on her site, but even previews just make me roll my eyes.
Re: money from clicks, that is a good question and I’ve been sitting here interrogating it for a minute. I think it is because I want my decision to click something on purpose (and thus for you to make a few dollars) to be intentional and deliberate and not the result of an accident. I can’t really think of another type of situation where a consumer would or could inadvertently enrich a retailer (I’m including you in that description because I’m honestly not sure how else to categorize your role in the supply chain) in the way that affiliate links do. And I’ve got no issue with it when it’s intentional; I’m definitely not the kind of person who’s going to search around to discover some of the nice things you’ve highlighted over the years. But I also really WANT it to be intentional. And you’re right – it doesn’t cost me anything, but it DOES send a message to the blogger that maybe I don’t want to send.
Thanks for the feedback regarding the mello. I have no idea how it moves, but the complaints from the reviews are that the two pieces of the sectional don’t physically connect and, consequently, they don’t stay flush together. I have basically decided not to buy it because of that. I wish they had couch + chaise because I’d buy that in a second.
The Buzzfeed article seriously needed to define what they mean by “influencer”—and which platform they were talking about—because a TikTok of a funny lipsync dance is very different than an Instagram story showing me the best way to strip paint and salvage the doors and hardware on my old home. I follow you guys for your beautiful transformations, and any tips or inspiration that I pick up for my own projects are a bonus. Some of your projects have inspired me to tackle similar ones of my own. If you have a topic that doesn’t interest me, like buying a mattress when I’m not buying a mattress, I just pass it by. No hard feelings. Why would it bother me that you chose to write about it, though?! I follow 80-ish home bloggers and I don’t read EVERY post of any. I have quit some when they start to be more about beauty or parenting than they are about home. (But I don’t hate them for their topical expansion!) As for monetization, more power to you! My career has been in digital publishing for large publishing companies and I can say with experience that ALL content sites struggle to make money today, and all are adding affiliate links to products. As a reader, I find it a service when you link to, say, that tool you are using to strip wallpaper. If I need one, I may buy that one because I saw it worked for you. The specials that Yellow Brick Home creates particularly for a sponsor? Large publisher sites do that too. It’s called branded content, and the editors who do it are more highly paid because it isn’t easy to do it well and not sound like an advertisement. I think you do it well. Thank you for years of enjoyable reading and inspirational photos.
Wow, I keep thinking about this topic and have read all the comments and responses, and I’m here to add more. I’m reminded of the saying “there are no leaders without followers.” The problem isn’t necessarily the influencer (or leader), the problem is the audience (or follower). Why does it work that a girl can get a free dress, take pictures, and post about it? She makes money and the brand gets seen because people are looking and buying! If it didn’t work, she wouldn’t be motivated to do so in the first place. The business has evolved because the influencees and followers are there looking, scrolling, buying, and feeding the beast. Unfortunately, toxic and unethical “influencers”/leaders are out there taking up a lot of the attention of the followers/audiences. I choose not to look at those things. I also understand that it takes a lot of work to be an honest, well received, relevant, and well loved leader in the online world. I appreciate you stepping up to the job and taking it seriously and not making excuses for how hard or easy it is. I think you do an excellent job, I like your organization, your beautiful photos, your writing, how to explain things, and thats why I’m here. Even at YBH, I click on what I want to see (formica) and skip what I don’t care about (skincare), but I think you should share all your beautiful self and beautiful life. Don’t worry about me just because I don’t tend to my skin but I like countertops. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this topic all weekend and I enjoy the community you guys have created and I appreciate it what I’ve learned from your content.
Your blog is wonderful! Your honesty is refreshing, and your design skills and bravery in taking in new projects are admirable. I also really appreciate that you did not shift all your content to Instagram, even if latter might be easier to monetize.
It seems like a big part of this discussion is correctly defining the word “influencer” and all the biases around it. I do think that for better or for worse, blogging in the year 2021 does come with influencer responsibilities. But man, I miss the days when blogging was more journaling and problem-solving than influencing. Most of the blogs I’ve been following since the early days are hosted by families who are now in an entirely different income bracket–because they’re so damn good at their jobs, nothing but kudos here!–and able to hire out the majority of their work they used to do themselves. Posts like “How to paint your kitchen cabinets” have been replaced by, “How do find a good contractor.” Again, no judgment. But it feels like loss, and unfortunately, it’s increasingly unrelatable.
I actually have become disillusioned not by “influencers” but by legit professional designers. Their work, while beautiful, feels so unapproachable. But what you and others in the design blogger/influencer sphere inspire AND make it feel attainable. Even though some have budgets way outside my own, they talk through the process on making the choices which helps me make choices that fit for my home and budget. Thank you for all you do. Most of us recognize it’s a job and I am all for sponsored posts that help you run the business and be rewarded for your work.
Thank you, Cici!
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