Geraldine Tan of Little Big Bell
This is the first in a set of blog posts where I move away from focusing on Interiors "start-ups", perhaps selling tangible product, to looking at People who have an influence on the Interiors (and Lifestyle) Market through Blogging or through Social Media Campaigns. This is a growing area, with Brands realising they can reach a very targeted audience through such people, often with bigger followings than magazines. People who interact with their community, who have engaged followers, who look to them for inspiration and who are 16x more likely to buy based on their recommendation. This has become a very powerful way of interacting with your market place.
In a corresponding post, I talk about how the "power middle" can really drive an effective branding strategy and increase the reach of a brand. Moreover, given consumers preference for buying based on recommendation from someone they know, and given the fact consumers are fed up with Ads, we are only going to see more of this type of activity.
Today I am Interviewing Geraldine Tan of Little Big Bell. Geraldine has been incredibly successful in this area, you can see some of her accolades below, and the types of brands that have approached her, but she also juggles this with a full time job as a Medical Consultant, which by any standards is a very full on and busy job. I am therefore fascinated by what drives her to juggle both, especially as for a lot of people the Medical Consultants job would be "busy enough".
You can read Geradine's award winning blog here.
2017 – Fashion monitor : Top 10 UK interiors influencers
2017 – Homestyle magazine : Top 9 instagram interiors influencers
2016 – Architectural digest : 10 Prop stylists to follow
2016 – Evening Standard : London’s Top 5 instagrams to follow.
2016 -voted by house to home (online for Living etc.mag)as one of London’s Best Interiors Bloggers.
2016 – voted by Good Housekeeping magazine as one of the Instagram accounts to follow for daily home inspiration.
2016– Little Big Bell voted by Glamour magazine as an Instagram account to follow.
2015 – Finalist in the VT Wonen Meet the Blogger award advanced category.
2015 – Top 5 best decor blogs by South China Morning Post.
2015 – Highly commended in the Amara Interiors blog award.
2014 – Winner of the Amara Interiors blog award for Colour Inspiration.
2014 – Editor’s choice in the interiors design blog roundup for Red magazine online.
Brands Geraldine has worked with include; Ikea, Maison et Objet, The White Company, Kate Spade New York, Farrow and Ball, Samsung, Dell, Habitat, John Lewis, Starwood Hotel group, West Elm, AirBnb, Caran D’Ache, Minted, Flower Council of Holland, Command 3M, Oliver Bonas, LG, Boden, Nescafe and many more.
1. I know you don't make a living through blogging and Instagram, in fact you have a rather busy day job, so what do you get out of blogging and instagram/other social media?
Before blogging or Instagram, I was never creative. In fact, I never knew I could be creative. I spent most of my time climbing my medical career, doing my specialist training and exams, then a Masters degree and writing clinical papers. I became a Medical Consultant at a very young age.
Blogging and Instagram has made me discover the creative side I never knew I had, as well as provided me with a great diversion from my sometimes stressful job as a doctor.
This creativity has even helped me win awards as a doctor. My service was a finalist at the British Medical Journal award for Emergency care.
2. How did you get started? What was your trigger to take up Instagram and blogging?
I started blogging around 5 years ago after my father passed away. It made me realise at that time how transient we are in this world, and that we should seize the day, get out of our comfort zone to do what we feel passionate about.
I started Instagram around 3.5 years ago. It was all by accident. I wasn’t into social media at all. I had won a giveaway on a fellow blogger’s blog and she announced it on Instagram. People were congratulating me there but I didn’t have an account. In essence, to be polite, I signed up so that I could thank everyone. Once I started Instagram, I was hooked.
3. How on earth do you juggle it all?
People always ask me how I juggle it all but I think most people are in a similar position to me with their separate day jobs or parenting duties.
Perhaps my medical training as a doctor has helped me with multitasking and the ability to cope with a lack of sleep. I usually sleep 5 to 6 hours a day. When I’m not asleep, I make full use of my time.
I essentially work 7 days a week. Saturday and Sundays are dedicated to blog work. This doesn’t impact on family life because I’m always at home on weekends with the family.
As blogging and Instagram is such a passion of mine, it really doesn’t feel like a job. I actually look forward to doing my creative work on weekends.
4. Do you have any advice on growing a blog and Instagram following, what specifically should people look to do?
My advice is not to be too obsessed with numbers or algorithms. Growth comes when followers sense your genuine passion for the subject.
After saying so, I do admit that I’m always second guessing algorithms.
Obviously posting images that are aesthetically pleasing can also help.
5. How can you monetise blogging/influencing?
I never set out to monetise my blog or Instagram. I don’t pitch or do business meetings, but have been lucky to have been approached by numerous brands. I guess it’s been an organic process.
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with all major brands from doing photography for American Express, to workshops for Kate Spade New York and having my photography sold as greeting cards in shops such as Selfridges, Fortnums and Harrods.
6. What have you found the most challenging aspect and the most rewarding?
I would say being asked to do jobs that are out of my comfort zone are usually a challenge. But such challenges often turn to rewards. I have learnt many new skills from these challenges. I can say I’m an expert gift wrapper now.
7. Have you changed anything that you do in the last year? focus? engagement? that has given you such a big Instagram growth?
My main growth has come from having my photos being featured on Instagram sites with huge followings. Last year the Evening Standard ES magazine named me as one of London’s top 5 Instagramers which really helped.
8. How do you grow a blog readership, and keep people coming back?
To be honest I have no strategy for this. I just write about what I’m passionate about and do my own photography.
I feel lucky and very grateful to have such a great blog following.
9. What has been the biggest milestone in your Instagram/blogging career
I don’t think there is one big milestone. It’s always lovely to be featured in press and magazines.
Like me, Geraldine uses her creative side as a balance for a very stressful job. Using creativity can also help in areas where you might not expect it to since it drives those of us with scientific minds, out of our comfort zone, to think about things in a different way and this can bring back benefits to the day job. For me, it's about switching off, becoming immersed in something I enjoy, that doesn't require my mind to continue thinking in a certain way. Geraldine mentions that she looks forward to her weekends because her creative work does not feel like work and I also feel that way too. People imagine the creative side whether blogging or Instagram makes you busier, I think it helps me to relax so long as I don't overextend what I do and take on too much.
Geraldine shows incredibly well, how engaging with her followers and being passionate about what she does, has lead to a significant number of brands wanting to work with her, to utilise that community and interaction to reach out to people. It has been a serendipitous journey but a successful one none the less
thanks for sharing!
The Girl with The Green Sofa