Residential Design

Vol. 3, 2017

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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thought I was just the receptionist. Before I could correct her, she began talking about how excited she was to work with me, and how she felt she knew me from the writing, and that she felt she trusted me. That's when I realized I had to keep blogging. So, producing content is the key to getting potential clients to your website, and from there you build their trust and interest in working with you. What role does social media play in that goal? Once I began the blog, I had to find a way to get people to the blog. So, I joined Twitter. Then I realized there weren't many potential clients to be found there, but there was a community of architects thereā€”a lot of residential architects. I made a lot of friends that way. I was working solo for a long time, so it's been very helpful and encouraging having peers to bounce ideas off of. Having worked for a big commercial firm, this was a surprise: Residential architects are better at sharing resources and experience. Maybe it's because we're somewhat underdogs. But it's more important than focusing on being competitive. There's this feeling that if we all get together and promote the value of architecture, that's going to make a far bigger difference for all of us. Tell us about the shared blogs that came out of this exchange. The "#HouseoftheDay" blog came out of a group of us on Twit- ter. Our thought was, if you have something you can post every day, that makes things easier. Keith Palma [Cogitate Design, PLLC, Raleigh, N.C.] decided we should have a theme. I enjoy it because it's focused on residential. ArchiTalks is the monthly group blog. It promotes small firms, so we can write about more than just architecture and more than just surface stuff. Each of us prepares a blog that we publish on our websites on the same day and on the same topic, and we share each other's posts. We have a Google spreadsheet that Bob Borson [Malone Maxwell Borson Architects, Dallas] started, and the topics are decided a year out. OK, we've talked about the web blog and Twitter. Can you tell us how you built a following of a quarter million on LinkedIn? How has such a huge audience there helped your business? Because I was posting so much material on the blog, I found LinkedIn was a good option for getting the word out about it. And LinkedIn offered to promote us because we were such big content producers. A lot of my clients are on LinkedIn. But they're not typically looking for their architect there. I have to admit I don't think we've completely figured that one out. The large following there hasn't led to a client. What I can do there is help promote other people in architecture. You're also on Facebook and Instagram. Where do they fit in? My website blog is more professional. On Facebook, I can be more excited and let my hair down a bit. That's where my personality comes out, and clients can get to know me and know whether they want to work with me. Instagram is probably my favorite place. I can be a lot more real. You don't have to say as much, or be as witty or clever. It's easier. I can use all of those to get followers to my website. All of social media is a tool for feeding the website, so Google thinks you're an expert. Everyone reading this is going to ask how you do it all. How can you produce so much content and get your day job done? Do you have help? I didn't have any help until about a year and a half ago. Then I hired someone amazing who does everything in our office that's not architecture. I still write every blog post, but she helps me with social media. The handoff was slow at the beginning, but we talk about what we're going to do every week, and we have a spreadsheet with every post on it, and I approve it. But I don't have to be the one putting in all the time on it anymore. Why did you hold on to the blog instead of delegating it? I love it and I hate it, but that one has to be me. I know what it brings in as far as business development and client trust. All of it is about getting the word out and answering the question, "Why should you pay an architect to design a home, when you could just buy one or work with a builder?" VERBATIM Above left: The interior of TinkerBox makes the most of its small open-plan space. Above right: A recently completed house on Lake Wylie in South Carolina. Photos: Brad Feinknopf 14 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGAZINE.COM VOL. 3, 2017

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