Today on the blog I'm featuring David and Mark of Forward Features, an award-winning blog; refreshingly honest answers on blogging, and advice I'm seeing again and again as these posts build up; keep your integrity, try only to work with brands that fit your style, and most importantly, most successful bloggers do it because they love to, not in the expectation of being paid, which I think can get lost sometimes.
If brands want to pay you that's great, but often times, they want you to feature a new collection, perhaps they don't have a big budget and by running a blog without the expectation of making money, you don't lose sight of these brands too.
Of course, we all understand the need to earn money to live, and that's why I think this whole debate about influencers has not run its course yet, nor should we judge those that do make money this way.
Written by David & Mark, Forward Features started as the journey of two interior geeks trying to find a flat. The blog has since become a hub for them to document all aspects of design, interiors, art and London living. Whether it’s the latest industry events, the hottest trends, the best need-to-know collaboration or simply spilling the tea about renting in the city, they love to be on the pulse reporting news from the capital and beyond. You can read their award wining blog through the button below.
1. You've have an amazing and established blog so I'm interested in what got you started with Blogging and on Social Media? what drives you to write a blog?
Thanks! We started the blog around 4 years ago when we decided to move in together. We thought it would be fun to talk about renting in London, what it’s like to rent with a partner, the peaks and pits and discuss openly the best ways to rent in London. We ended up renting somewhere quickly so didn’t manage to go too in-depth with the subject(!) but the blog developed into a platform to talk about interior news, trends, collaborations and anything exciting we saw. We’re starting to talk more now about renting again and all the great ways it can be done.
2. Do you mix your blogging and social with other jobs, what time is spent on each?
We do, and it can be tricky! We both work full-time, Mark in Digital Marketing & Social Media and David in PR & Social Media. Both our jobs are in the interior & lifestyle sector too, so we’re very much surrounded by design. It helps as it means we have lots of content and knowledge to share but it does mean that weekends and evenings are used to blog as much as possible.
3. How do you juggle it all?
Luckily, there’s two of us! It means that at an event, one can take snaps while the other does the Insta story. The same goes with blogging, we split posts and write about what we each feel passionately about. The blog is a huge passion and because we don’t write it for monetary gain it means that it always stays fun, and we love that.
4. Do you have any advice on growing a blog readership or Instagram following, what specifically should people look to do?
Because our jobs are also social media-focused, we’re surrounded by it all the time and therefore sometimes neglect our own Forward Features channels. The trick is to post as much as possible, at least daily, and stay present. Make it personable and engaging for your readers, making the most of captions and telling a story. Imagery is naturally going to attract attention. We think people want to see posts that are inspiring, aspirational, beautiful and practical.
5. What Brands have you worked with? Did you seek to monetise your blog or has it been serendipitous? or are you just not interested in that side of things and why?
If an opportunity comes up, it pays and we love it, we’re not going to turn it down! However, it’s not what we aim to do and, if we like something enough we don’t feel as though we need to be paid and will usually just talk about it. As we said before, the blog really is fun for us, we write about things we love and like to think we do it with passion. If a brand wants to pay us to do something extra, especially if it’s very time consuming, then that’s a bonus.
We’ve worked with some fab brands though such as Amara, Sainsbury’s, House of Fraser and Soak & Sleep.
6. If someone was looking to make money this way, without giving away all your trade secrets, do you have any advice for them?
It’s so simple – keep your integrity. Don’t talk about any old rubbish. You want to make sure it feels right, fits with your aesthetic and is something you love. If someone approaches you to talk about toilets, fine but do you actually LIKE the toilet?! If not, then don’t do it! It’s obvious when a blogger features a brand that they don’t feel passionately about. We’d know, we’ve been guilty of it!
Also, we think bloggers need to stop expecting to be paid for EVERYTHING. Sometimes, a brand has really done their research and will approach you simply as they think you will like a product/collection. Don’t be offended if they can’t pay you, it’s not a personal thing, they just have budget restraints that they’ll need to stick to. It’s important not to get greedy!
7. What do you find the hardest and the most rewarding?
Continuously getting great content up. When we started we were doing five posts a week! It was a KILLER. Now, we do one post a week, if that! It’s a challenge to not let the blog fall to the wayside. The most rewarding though is when we get offered great opportunities and then it feels worth it. We’ve just done a talk with Houzz for Houzz of 2018, chatting to an audience about decorating a rented space and it was so much fun and lovely to be able to share our knowledge away from the blog.
8. Have you done anything different or new in the last year to increase your social/blog following?
Talking on our insta stories! Gosh, it makes you feel like a right muppet when you first do it but once you start it’s quite addictive! We’re trying to do that more and just be more personable and engaging. We want people to get to know us better. With that said, we have a long way to go before we catch-up with our fellow bloggers in terms of followers, but we’ll get there!
9. How do you grow your blog readership and most importantly keep people coming back?
We try and promote it as much as possible on social media. We always make sure we make brands aware that they’ve been featured on our blog as it’s always lovely if that’s shared by them.
10. What has been your biggest or favourite milestone?
Great question! Winning an Amara Blog Award in 2016 for Best Design Inspiration blog was incredible. When our names got called we were absolutely over the moon. It was something we won on merit and that a group of judges noticed our work and that’s a special feeling.
The Girl with The Green Sofa