The quickest way to gain notoriety, exposure and inquiries as an interior designer is to have your interior design work published. There is no clear blueprint on how to go about getting published. It feels like unless you have an expensive marketing team or costly publicist, getting your work published online or in print is next to impossible.
Harlowe James Home Tour. Photography by Torrey Fox.
There is good news: that couldn’t be further from the truth! With some research, patience, and beautiful photos, publications are happy to publish interior designers, even with small portfolios of work. We spoke to some of our favorite designers who shared their tips on how to get your interior design work published.
1. Keep it offline.
Keep all project photos offline until officially published (sneak peeks in Instagram Stories is okay because they are only visible for 24 hours). Hold off on adding them to your portfolio as well. Large publications are looking for new, original content to captivate readers and that almost always means exclusivity. Once it has been published, it’s fair game to share and promote.
2. Pitch One Publication at a Time.
To help ensure exclusivity, pitch just one publication at a time. You don’t want to be accepted by multiple publications and have to backtrack when they want exclusivity.
Clara of Banner Day, who has been published in Architectural Digest, Rue Magazine and Domino to name a few says:
“It’s often the case that I will submit a story and while there is initial interest, the editor falls off and I have to follow-up to see what the status of the story is. I never take a lack of response from an editor or rejection personally. Editors are often juggling many balls when they’re deciding whether or not to publish a project. They are most likely considering other projects, seasonal features, deadlines, etc., all while trying to satisfy the discerning eye of the executive editor. I pitch to only one publication at a time and follow-up without being too annoying (hopefully). Persistence is key! It’s taken as long as a year working with a publication to have a story published.”
Many publications (especially blogs and digital magazines) can’t respond to every submission. After two weeks, one follow up email is appropriate. If you haven’t heard anything after your follow up email, you can submit to the next publication. This politely lifts your exclusivity and opens your opportunity to submit elsewhere once those two weeks have passed.
Banner Day Design featured on Rue. Photography by Aubrie Pick.
3. Submit Professional Photography
It is imperative at any phase in your design business marketing, that you have your projects professionally photographed. Most digital publications will require high-resolution, already edited photography. Submit no more than three photos of the project and offer to provide a Dropbox link should they need more.
Chrissy, of Harlowe James, broke down the significance of professional photography and how it has helped her land literally dozens of editorial features at some of the largest publishers online.
“For as long as I have been blogging, submitting content to online publications has drastically changed my online presence. When I first started this endeavor I just had a blog and wanted to get my content and name out there anyway possible. I created a bevy of very curated lifestyle photoshoots with the intent of being featured on a larger site with a specific following. Shockingly everything I have ever submitted has been published by at least one of the places I submitted to.
I attribute this to two very simple things. Having incredible photographs and very streamlined content. I always work with my friend and professional photographer Torrey Fox whenever I want to submit something. She makes the scenes come to life with her photos and the first thing anyone notices is the photos. Streamlined content is also key, at least it has been for me. Pick a theme and don’t stray too far from that. Whether it is a table setting or a home tour make sure everything looks consistent throughout and is on brand with the publication you are submitting to.
Just about every large site has a very obvious submissions email address so you don’t have to have a contact anywhere. The first big publication for me was a fall table photoshoot on Style Me Pretty Living and it is still one of my favorite shoots Torrey and I have done together. I was so proud of the images and I felt confident submitting them and I really believe that goes a long way. SMP living makes it very easy as they has a full submissions tab and let you upload the images. Best advice only every upload your best images and be very thoughtful about your writing. Get to the point as the person reading it most likely doesn’t have all day and will let you know if they need more text when publishing!”
4. Research + Carefully Select Which Publication You Submit To
Scout Modern featured on Lonny. Photography by Bree McCool.
“First and foremost, you should know about the publication you are submitting to. It’s essential that your project lines up with their readership. I keep my submissions quick and casual, sending a zip file or dropbox link with high res images- but only enough to get the publisher interested! I like to include mostly wide shots of the room but at least one close-up/ styling shot as well. I make an introduction and a couple sentences that describe the project (what makes this project special?). I recommend waiting a week or so before submitting elsewhere; publications almost always want the exclusive so be sure to let them know upfront if the project has been already been featured someplace else.”
Carefully examine the types of projects each publication showcases and find the aesthetic that best matches your project. Some publications even outline the type of features they are looking for on their submissions page.
By carefully curating your initial pitch, you’ll drastically increase your chances of being selected, and not waste time waiting for a response from a publication that obviously wasn’t the right fit. Brett of widely acclaimed design studio, Decorotation, helps outline the process of curating your submissions.
“I think having a knowledge of the existing publications is important as well as understanding their audiences and what types of projects and photos they typically feature. I don’t photograph every single one of my projects and if I do, I usually already have the publication in mind that I know I want to submit to. This way I can style things accordingly, hire the right photographer and communicate what types of photos we want. In terms of the submission process, I’ve always submitted to the publication that I think the project would be the best fit for and I’ll include a few photos that I feel capture the entirety of the space(s). If there’s an option to include a link to a shared photo folder then I’ll include that.”
Kitchen Design by Decorotation featured in Domino Mag. Photography by Lauren Andersen.
5. Tell A Story but Keep it Brief
Make sure your submission tells a compelling story – about the remodel, any challenges you faced, product sourcing, etc. Editors prefer a short into (300 words or less) including the location, designer and architect as well as three sentences about the space. Include no more than three professional photos in the body of the email, as they’ll ask for more if they’re interested.
Take the time to look up and follow the editors online of the publications your work most aligns with. Spend time liking, commenting and connecting with them in a genuine way to begin building a relationship. Your name will be familiar when you submit a project, and you’ll likely be top of mind next time their looking for a feature. Note, this will take time, patience and grace. Remember, building working relationships is often much slower than building online friendships. Be courteous of their time, energy and expertise.
Glitter Guide Home Tour of Harlowe James. Photography by Torrey Fox.
Key Points to remember when submitting your interior design work online:
1 follow up email is appropriate, more than that is not
Include one small compliment, be kind but brief. Show you’ve done your research
The shorter the better
Don’t say “it would be a good fit” – that’s their job to decide, not yours
3 pitches a year to the same editor is ideal – even if none were selected
A Few Publications to Submit to + Where to do it (as of July 2018):