Chris Carroll is the man behind TLC Interiors, a design service and successful blog that has inspired clients and readers since 2012. Here we chat with Chris about his career and find out how he chooses brands to feature on his stylish pages.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I’m originally from Sydney, now living in Melbourne. Before working in interior design and editing the TLC Interiors blog I worked as a sub-editor. I studied journalism first and design later, so the biz is a coming together of those two passions; writing and design.
There’s a great crossover between the two sides of the business. New design clients find me through the blog, and my blog readers get to see inside my projects to find out where I sourced all of the products from. For brands, I promote their products on the blog, but also use them in client homes in an authentic way. Everyone wins.
You’ve forged a really impressive career from your interior design background. With a successful blog, a book, presenting and being a contributing editor – how you juggle it all?
Sometimes even I wonder how I juggle it all! The week is generally well-planned though. A day for writing content, out-of-office days to meet clients or be on a job site, and then days when I host events or star in video content for brands. It’s a really diverse business and I love it. I couldn’t imagine doing just one role.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
The best part is when I put retail products in client homes, photograph the project, and then the brand ends up seeing the end result and asks me to collaborate further with them. This is usually through sponsored blog posts, reader giveaways, video content etc. I love those moments because there is an obvious brand connection already established – it’s great to take it to another level.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I don’t tend to read many local blogs as I just don’t want their vibe to infiltrate mine.
I love overseas designers like Genevieve Gorder, Bobby Berk, Emily Henderson. ‘Stay Here’ on Netflix is one of my favourite shows. I’m inspired by design pros sharing their expertise and design aesthetic. I want to see what the designers love – for their homes and their clients.
What do you look for when featuring a brand? Do you prefer to be pitched or do you like to ‘discover’ and reach out to brands yourself?
Well, it’s far easier when the brand comes to me! There are no levels or hierarchies to go through. When you email me, you get me directly. So it’s nice when brands email and ask to collaborate on something. In terms of what I look for, it’s always whether the brand aligns naturally with me and my audience. Because I am my client. I am my reader.
Monetising a blog is a task that many writers struggle with. How do you combine editorial and advertorial content in an authentic way?
The TLC Interiors brand is strong in that I’ve always been about mixing skimp-and-splurge design. A bit of budget with a bit of boutique. My audience knows this, and they’re in the same boat. So I often say no to a brand that’s way too high end for me and the audience, and equally turn down budget brands whose product I just wouldn’t actually use. So there’s definitely authenticity there.
The advertorials are always my voice, always my angle. I never let a brand tell me what to write. So I like to think there’s little difference between the editorial or advertorial content (except the advertorials are very clearly marked as being sponsored).
What do you think are the biggest interior design ‘trends’ for 2020?
The biggest interior trend I’m seeing of late is the trend of abandoning trends (if that makes sense). There’s a huge wave coming of people who are blending styles, showcasing their individuality and rocking personal keepsakes and mementos at home. So I think the era of having a strictly Hamptons Home or Scandi space is dying off. It’s far more mix and match, far more anything goes. This is actually great for the industry (and brands) because your products have a wider appeal and reach.
You have been a long term user of Flaunter which we love! How did you discover the platform and what do you like most about it?
What I love about Flaunter is that the content I find in there often sparks a story idea. People assume I have the article written first and then go find photos. That happens, sure. But more often than not I see images that are so freakin’ good that I have to find a way to include them on the blog. Readers always want to see what’s new, too, so I love that I can discover the latest brand campaigns and content.
Why would you recommend Flaunter to other bloggers?
Blogs and social media are highly visual. People make a judgement about you and your website within seconds, and the photos you use play a huge part in that. Flaunter allows you to find imagery that aligns with your brand. I love that. I also like that the brands can see who downloaded their photos and share your content when it’s live. It’s a win for both parties.