on sponsored posts and being a *real* designer

Can you be a successful designer and a successful blogger?
Or must we choose?

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
First, I read this post by Julie, on sponsored posts.

If I'm honest about my end goal, I want to be a major designer when I grow up.  Forget that I'm 34 and technically grown up.  I still have time to grow my career and build trust with potential clients.  Do you take a designer less seriously if they're doing sponsored posts for Nordstrom or Home Depot? Or has this become so normal that it doesn't phase you?  It seems like we need to choose between the two.  

I've made a conscious decision not to do sponsored posts on this blog. 
 I've said to no to brands like Kleenex and Sherry's Berries, because although I personally love their products, do I think Mary McDonald, Celerie Kemble would blog about that? 
 No.  In fact, they may not even have a blog.
 I want to be a designer who shares my work through my blog, 
not a blogger who writes about design. 

Are you with me?  

That being said, there are times I need to break my own rules.  Like when a long term opportunity arises with a store I have already talked about, shop regularly, and believe my clients would benefit from seeing.  My goal through my blog is not only to showcase my work as a designer, but to educate my readers. That's also why it made perfect sense when I partnered with Tonic Living. And it's why I've started my new series with Retro Knox.  

I'm trying to keep the end goal in mind. 
Design incredible rooms.  Get published. Work my butt off. Build a brand.

Designer friends: have you debated this yourself?  Potential clients: does this effect your choice in designer?
I'd love to hear your honest thoughts on this and keep the conversation going. 


  1. i'm not a designer though i love design and am constantly reinventing my house. i have been inspired by blogs from the very beginning of the blogosphere. but the blog world has changed since the early days and in my opinion its not for the better mainly because of all the affiliate links. while i am a firm believer in the mantra of "find what you love and then figure out a way to make money at it." sometimes its a bit too much. i don't mind if the blogger is totally upfront and says these are affiliate links but the ones that have an affiliate link for every little product they mention (and especially if they don't give a disclaimer) , well, those are the blogs i don't read any more because i wonder if they really love the product or if its just a money making thing for them. just my opinion.

  2. amen!!!! I am so with you on this! I too get all those sponsored post emails and frankly feel bad bc I usually delete them. I guess I should at least respond and politely say "no thank you". In my situation I feel that my blog is just an extension of my business my blog is not my business- which is why I chose not to have any advertising on my blog. But I think that is a personal choice and I do not think its for everyone. I have a dear friend who is very successful having her blog as a business and carefully chooses who she has advertise on her blog and does some sponsored post. Its not me nor will it ever be. And boy is it hard to keep up a business & a blog!!! Daily I struggle feeling pulled in both directions but I always have to stop and ask myself "what are you building? a blog or a business?" and for me I chose my business. Thanks for being so real on your blog and sharing your thoughts!

  3. I'm a potential client, and seeing sponsored posts looks amateur. I think you're right to look to your role models. I've always admired Erika Powell of Urban Grace Interiors. Her blog never had ads and now she no longer blogs. I'm happy to follow her on IG instead, and I assume she's not blogging because she's too busy with work. That's a better testament to her talent than Home Depot sponsoring one of her posts. I don't mean to sound so critical of sponsored posts, but as a blog reader and potential client, I find them very off-putting. That said, partnering with a company that you already have a relationship with is very different than some of this #homegoodshappy nonsense I see all over IG. There's a difference between a very thoughtful (and occasional) partnership and seeing non-stop Home Goods pics. It's a balance and you're obviously thoughtfully navigating it.

  4. I agree with the above. I am not a blogger and not a designer, but I am a devoted reader of blogs. I am also older than most readers and I have a background in journalism—old enough to remember taking an arcane by today's standards—class in ethics. I no longer read blogs that have been "gifted" (I can't tell you how much I hate that insipid term) from someone and are here to tell you it was free but the opinions are their own. Right.

    Be the best you can be. Follow that strong inner compass you have working for you. Dare to be good rather than bought.

  5. I love that you are talking about this! I began blogging which led me to interior design and styling opportunities, working has defined my once undefined blog. I have done sponsored posts because I really believe my blog, while promoting my design services can also inspire lifestyle choices….Living, our homes and families is all a part of living a beautiful life…our homes enhance that. Does that make sense? However, I am very mindful about what posts I accept to do - I turn down lots that just don't represent me or the 'brand' I am trying to create. It is a hard thing - my design work has increased this year so I feel like my blogging has suffered. You really can't do both well, especially if you have children and a life!
    Thanks for your thoughtful post!

  6. I struggle with this very concept on a daily basis. I began as a designer (graphic design) and started my blog as an extension of my work. But then I formed some great relationships with some great companies…the two companies I'm referring to I was a long-time customer before I started working with them. I've turned down lots of strange requests for sponsored content, but it's a real balancing act. I admire you for bringing up the topic, and I think you're doing a great job staying true to you and showing your fantastic work. Keep it up! xoxo

  7. Trust your gut and you'll never go wrong. I think you have great instincts, and style, of course...so I think you know what the right decision is. :)

  8. Abby, I truly enjoy reading your blog and following your design inspirations. I am a retired teacher with seven grandchildren. Continue what your heart and soul cry out to you.

  9. Love this! I have struggled with wanting to build my blog in order to build my business but now have made the decision to not worry about blogging. I feel building a design business, in the end, is more for me. I think your blog is great because it is an extension of your business and you post about daily happenings and design work as an interior designer. I love reading your blog and admire you as a designer! I want to be you when I grow up (I'm 31)! For now, I am not taking on as much work while raising babies, had trouble managing it all! =)

  10. I've never really been drawn to the sponsored posts. I find some of them to be interesting if they are well written and it's a good fit with the two parties (and I like the end project if there is one). For instance, I think Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely does sponsored posts REALLY well. Abby, I think your relationships with Tonic Living and Retro Knox show your passion for design and for supporting local businesses which is so important. I love to visit local stores and talk with the owner and build a relationship with them. Relationships are so important in everything that we do. Regarding my own blog, I write when I want to and when I have something I want to share or something I'm really excited about. I don't worry when I don't write but I try to engage in other ways. I guess I'm always curious about readers who aren't as engaged in social media. I honestly don't think people know that a post is sponsored until they get to the bottom (or top) and read that it is sponsored. I suppose it feels a little bit more forced, but if you have reader engagement then those readers will stick around too. I know I went off on a few tangents here :)

  11. loved the integrity in this abby! i just sent the link to Mom to read. so true. we are designers who want to show your work and inspiration thru blogging, not bloggers getting paid to talk about design. love that quote you did. might have to say it. can we turn it into a meme!?

  12. I too struggle with this & have made the opposite decision that I enjoy blogging more & find my time is better spent in that arena. I will always take on a few clients here & there, but I have been able to find successes I never thought possible thanks to my blog. In the future this may change, but I am enjoying the process & I suppose that is what is most important. Love this post Abby.

  13. I'm with you Abby, and I too still want to be a major published designer when I grow up! (And I'm a little older than you!) No ads for me either except for affiliate things that really don't bring in any money. It's frustrating to continue to blog without getting any kind of financial reward for it while seeing others do it successfully. I write because it's an outlet for my everyday work. I think it helps all of us to attract business and to show off what we can do. Nice post!

  14. I love this post and could not agree! And there's still a lot of growing up you can do at 34- plenty of time to fulfill your dream!

  15. This is why I love reading your blog actually. I can't remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but am so glad I did. It's become a daily read. And the fact that you don't have sponsored stuff is a big part of that. You do excellent work by the way!

  16. I think if you ignore sponsored post requests you could potentially miss collaborations that may have otherwise not presented themselves. I read a book on cold calling techniqes. The author wrote that he would often hear a salesperson out as a matter of courtesy (because he was in sales). I'd guess most people who contact you are in some way related to design. The more content you have on the website, the better, the more interesting topics you have, the better, the more people linking to and sharing content on your site, the better.

    A sponsored post in itself makes people think of those full page ads on How To Quit Smoking disguised as a way to quit only realising they're being conned out of their hard earned money by the end.

    As a blog owner you have editorial discretion. Don't let sponsored posts dictate to you, of course. Or only accept guest posts from partners, It's really the same thing.

    But I won't get a reward ?

    The reward is in growing your site, providing useful content for your readers and building your reputation in your niche. And the design niche is overcrowded as it is. Image 100s of people owed you favors, thought of you first for a project? The list is endless...


Abby Manchesky Interiors is a boutique design firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. Combining the new traditional, vintage and a dash of the unexpected is her ideal. Contact Abby Manchesky Interiors for more information on available interior design services for clients near and far. abbyminteriors@gmail.com | 616.719.9400


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