If traditional publishing is about "creating an experience," curating and highly editing the reader's passage from the front cover to the back, running a website like Apartment Therapy is much more about hosting a party for our reader community. There are multiple "front doors" and mediums that we flow into and there is no "end" as our database of posts is just about endless after eight years. Our job? To keep the room warm and inspiring, all the refreshments well stocked and a well lit open space for people to step forward and share.
The important thing that we try to keep in mind is how are you, the reader, doing? What are you thinking? What are you saying? What are you reading?
We publish, and then we listen. And then we publish what we hear. And then we listen again.
About 50% of what we publish comes from our readers, and we constantly look to surface the passion and richness of what our readers are doing to keep our collective finger on the pulse. And with our reader community growing, this pulse if more and more important.
For example, we publish about two house tours a day (hundreds a year!), all of which are homes that our readers live in. These are homes MADE by the people who live in them and not just styled for a photo shoot. This is the good stuff. When we started in 2004 it was really hard to get into people's homes and convince them to share, so all of the editors shared their own homes first. Back then many readers didn't think that their homes were worthy of view and some didn't want to be photographed, as they were shy of being on the web. This was before Facebook became ubiquitous, and we shared everything in our lives.
But I knew that these "real" homes were the most inspiring, so we kept at it. Now the range of homes that I see gracing our site each day is amazing and the smiling faces of the proud homeowners is a testament to how far we have come. I love seeing people on our front page. It makes it all so much more personal and interesting. After all, what we're about is sharing our personal lives at home - after we leave work. Home is where the heart is.
Now whenever anyone wants to partner with us, whether it's another blog, a person or an advertiser, I always say, "if you want to work with us, you will be working with our community - we're inseparable." There is no better example of this than the last two book projects that we did with our readers. Both of these started with publishers who wanted me to write a book under the Apartment Therapy banner about home design. I quickly pivoted with them and pitched them books about how our readers live right now with my own commentary. They got it.
Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces was born from over 200 submissions in response to a shout out on the website. We then narrowed it down to twenty homes and forty rooms in New York City and Los Angeles, and then I got to travel to every one and meet everyone. It was a huge amount of fun (and a great job to have).
This was the inspiration for the project:
Here are a few of the portraits taken by Jim Franco that are beautiful, but didn't get any real exposure in the book.
Bethany Obrecht with me at home in Brooklyn
Kelly Van Patter at home in Los Angeles
Vane and Chad Broussard at home in Brooklyn Heights, NY
Alex McClain at home in downtown Los Angeles
Timothy and Laura Dahl (of Charles & Hudson) at home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Tracy and Michelle McCormick at home in downtown Los Angeles
Manson Fung at home in Los Angeles
Katie Ryan at home in the hills of Los Angeles
Finally, thanks to everyone who has ever graced our pages here at Apartment Therapy. We wouldn't exist if it weren't for you, and I love that we have the most fabulous, involved, supportive, creative readers around.
Keep sharing your inspiring achievements, and I'll let you know when the next book project is coming. It's going to be better than ever. :-)
(images: Sibylle Roessler, Kristy Ahumada, Bethany Nauert, Marcia Prentice, bottom 8 from the Big Book: Jim Franco)
#8 - Blogs Changed Everything
#10 - Finale To Come