This week's installment of the Companies Tony Loves Series is on Young House Love. "Companies Tony Loves" posts describe why innovative companies and business practices make us all better off, and therefore, why they deserve our love. "Companies Tony Loves" is featured every Sunday on this blog.
More than being a place to sleep at night, a person's home is a safe harbor. Home is where we retreat after working. Home is where we entertain friends and family. We spend a large fraction of our time at home, and that time is or should be therapeutic. It's no wonder that people frequently look to improve their abode.
Fortunately, home advice is widespread. One of the wonders of a market economy is that it is big business to provide advice on home decorating. If people demand something, a group of suppliers will inevitably rush to satisfy that demand. Case in point, Home and Garden Television (HGTV) has 24 hours per day of home decorating/ property buying advice. And, by all indications, the television channel is thriving.
Another case in point: Martha Stewart.
Beyond HGTV and Martha Stewart, there are loads of magazines and television programs on other networks that are entirely devoted to improving your home. On my subjective rating of value, these programs are much better than shows that merely serve to entertain us. Not only does HGTV entertain their audience, but they provide useful tips that we can use. I rarely get implementable advice from Jack Bauer.
But, these big business programs fall short on a number of dimensions.
First, big business home advice is largely top-down. The message is "We're the experts. We know what we're doing. Here's something you should do." What's wrong with this? It doesn't harness the personal expertise of the listeners, readers, viewers, and followers.
Second, big business home decorating tackles the common projects that most people encounter. After all, they're in it to attract eyes. There's incredible value to this, but tackling the common projects often leaves the home decorating advice in a sterile state: "Everyone should do granite counter tops, crown molding, and sconces... you must have the sconces."
Don't get me wrong, HGTV is great, but this week's Company I Love is even better. Young House Love is a home decorating blog that capitalizes on the Internet's ability to hold an open conversation. Just like the larger outfits, The Youngsters give great home improvement advice. But, John and Sherry -- the couple in charge of Young House Love -- do a tremendous job of personalizing their advice to the audience.
It's the open, welcome-to-our-site philosophy that sets Young House Love apart from the rest. Here are some other things that the Youngsters do well.
1. Giveaways. John and Sherry frequently give away wonderful home accessories to people who comment on their blog. They host these Giveaways every week or so (usually on Mondays), and they randomly give the prizes to people who post comments to the Giveaway post. Aside from generating a buzz, this is a great way to build a sense of community on their blog.
2. Design Dilemmas. John and Sherry contract out their advice at $250 per dilemma solved. As part of the deal, they write a post on the design dilemma and their solution. As their advice is great, there's no shortage of design dilemmas for John and Sherry to solve. Because they post their suggested solution to the web, everyone can benefit from their work.
Moreover, the open conversation about the design dilemma allows readers to comment. As the readers have good design sense themselves, the advice augments the spectacular work that John and Sherry put in. The result of this format is that people's design dilemmas are given a solution that's better than any one designer could provide. That's something worth the price, but for the readers it's also worth paying attention.
3. Reader Redesigns. John and Sherry's blog is a welcome place for comments and it feels like a community. As a result, readers who have undertaken their own designs write in to The Youngsters to show what they have done. John and Sherry call these posts "Reader Redesigns," and they provide inspiration beyond what John and Sherry could personally dream up.
These are just a few of the reasons to love The Youngsters; there are many more. The common thread that ties Young House Love to success is that John and Sherry welcome comments, and they channel other people's inspiration in a way that is imaginative and fun. At Young House Love, you get more than you put in, but then again, I bet the same is true for John and Sherry.
If you have an appreciation for home decorating or you are stumped with your own design dilemma, you should drop by Young House Love. John and Sherry won't disappoint.
If you have ideas for Companies Tony Loves, please let me know. It could never hurt to have more suggestions!