Interview with Sue from The Zhush

One of my favorite things about the Mohindroo Interiors’ blog (along with getting to share my design inspiration and knowledge with you) is that I occasionally get to rub elbows with other fabulous design bloggers. I recently connected with the amazing Sue de Chiara, founder of The Zhush.

Sue DeChiara in her beautiful home. Design by Sue DeChiara and Image from The Zhush Blog

If you aren’t yet familiar with it, The Zhush is Sue’s wildly popular design blog, which she launched in 2009 after discovering the then-small online community of style aficionados while searching for inspiration for her own home renovation projects. With a background rooted in style and creativity (Sue was raised in a family of artists, she was a child model, and she majored in English and fine art in college), starting a home style and design blog was a natural fit for her.

Along with The Zhush, Sue has led a busy life in Connecticut raising three kids and remodelling more homes, along with other stylish adventures like a stint opening and running a home decor store.

Because blogs like The Zhush truly help set the tone for other design blogs, I wanted to get Sue’s take on how the blogging landscape has changed since she started her blogging career, as well as any words of wisdom she has to offer interior designers like me who blog for their design businesses.

So sharpen your pencils and get ready to take some notes. Here’s what Sue had to say!

Image from Sue DeChiara. Blog The Zhush

LM: When did you start blogging and what was the interior design blogging community like back then? How has it changed? 

Sue: I started back in October 2009, which is crazy to think about now. Blogging has changed a lot! Back then, the interior design blogging community seemed so small and friendly and it was easy for us all to connect with each other. Blogging was also viewed as a hobby then and so it wasn’t taken very seriously, by anyone…including the bloggers! Today, while I think it’s still a very friendly community, it’s grown so much. There are so many different design blogs that represent just about every style.  Now, blogs are seen as a reliable source of news and inspiration in the design industry, which I think is amazing.

LM: You post daily. How do you constantly find inspiration to share 5 days a week? Do you have an editorial calendar you follow or a system to keep things organized and efficient? 

Sue: I do keep a loose editorial calendar, but I’d say that finding the inspiration is the fun and easy part for me. Having monthly features like a “Style Stalk” also helps keep me on track and accountable to post consistently.

LM: What advice do you have for interior designers to keep a blog and grow their audience? 

Sue: Keep it light and informative. Make sure you have great images, and if they’re not your own, always give credit to the source with links. Post consistently. If you’re not posting every day, at least be consistent with your own time line (in other words, not sporadically or unpredictably). Be sure to use social media to promote your blog and your business.

LM: What’s your go-to social media platform? Do you enjoy this part of blogging? 

Sue: I do enjoy social media – I like to learn what’s new and try it all. That said, Snapchat wasn’t really for me. I prefer Pinterest and Instagram, including Instagram stories. I’m loving that feature right now.

LM: You connect really well with your readers. Are you naturally outgoing and social? Any tips on how to be the real ‘you’ to your readers, strangers, and those close to you all at once? 

Sue: I don’t consider myself very outgoing, but I am friendly. I think of myself as a very extroverted introvert! I try to write “conversationally” on my blog and social media platforms. I’m pretty informal in my tone in real life so I try to write that way on the blog too. I also tend to only use words in my posts I would use in real life. I think writing as closely as possible to the way you speak is important for making that personal connection with your readers.

LM: Do you have a daily reading list of blogs? Who are your favorites among interior design and lifestyle bloggers? 

Sue: I do tend to read a lot of blogs, but not really on a daily basis. Over the course of a month, I like to check up on various bloggers and see what projects they’re working on. Right now the One Room Challenge is going on for design blogs, and having participated in a few of those myself, I know how stressful they can be! I’ll be checking in on all the big reveals for sure!

LM: Although Zhush is primarily considered a design blog, you have a large following of non-interior design bloggers. How do you think you captured that audience so loyally? 

Sue: I think that at some point, almost everyone needs a little design inspiration in their life whether they consider themselves a design fan or not. I like to throw some lifestyle and fashion posts into the blog to keep it fun and informative for those who want to stick around for more than just a quick tip on sourcing wallpaper or stair runners. I try to keep it interesting with that little bit of variety while not veering too far from the main topic of design.

Thank you so much, Sue, for sharing your perspectives and insights as a “founder” of interior design blogging. It’s great to hear that simply posting consistently and being yourself are the most important things to keep in mind when blogging for our design businesses.

If you’d like to hear more from Sue on design and lifestyle inspiration, follow her on The Zhush and on Instagram. You can also see a recent feature of her stylish home showcasing some beautiful new home accessories here, as well as a fabulous feature on her from One Kings Lane here.

Image from Sue DeChiara. Blog The Zhush

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