The Amara Interior Blog Awards & Me

Posted by Phoebe Oldrey in Story of Us

Amara Blog Awards IBA16

They say a journey starts with a single step. My journey into blogging started on a spring day in 2013 with a few keystrokes and a single click. I didn’t start blogging because I had a real passion for writing or because I was a huge fan of other bloggers. In fact, I didn’t even read very many blogs at the time! Instead, I started blogging after being told that I needed to get with the times and start embracing social media and blogging if I wanted to further promote my interior design business. Like a sulky teenager, I sat myself down and put my fingers to the keypad to produce my first post.

Like everyone who has tried writing a blog, I wrestled with it at first. I stared at my computer screen and wondered, What am I going to write about? How am I going to find the time to post regularly? Why am I doing this, again? That first post wasn’t a labour of love so much as it was straight-up labour, and I hope very few people ever come across it. But difficult as it was, I knew that blogging was a long-term commitment and not a one-hit-wonder, so I sat down again and again and wrote.

One day, while writing about art deco design, something fantastic happened and I fell in love with blogging. I found that I loved researching, delving deep into a topic and having the chance to share my ideas about style and design. I no longer felt like a sulky teenager, but a giddy one as something I thought of as a chore became a welcome pleasure. My monthly musings had truly become a labour of love. The journey had started.

A couple years ago, a tweet made me do something I never thought I would do: enter myself for an award. While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I noticed a little request that read, “Please nominate me for an Amara Interior Blog Award.” What’s this?, I wondered. I read up about the awards and thought Hey, I might give that a go! and asked to be nominated. After all, I had nothing to lose.

When the nomination list came out, there were 15 blogs in my category of Best Interior Designer & Stylist Blog. The category happened to include Kelly Hoppen and making the shortlist amongst such company felt like an insurmountable task. When it came time for the public to vote, I begged, wept and pleaded for people to vote for me. At that point in my life, all I wanted was to go to the awards party at the Rosewood London as it looked like a fun and glamorous event. At that stage, I knew that my blog read well, but boy did it look ropy! My WordPress skills were awful and my blog felt a bit sellotaped onto my website, but miracle of miracles, I made the shortlist!

It was at the Amara awards party that things really changed. While enjoying the evening, I met real bloggers like Yasmin Chopin, Emily May, Cate St Hill, and Sarah Akwisombe, who walked away with the Best Newcomer award. I learned more about the craft of blogging from them and I started to understand the bigger picture of blogging. At that party, I knew that I wouldn’t win but I was very happy to be there and as I watched the awards being announced, something within me changed. When I got home, I re-addressed everything about my site. I wanted to pull my socks up with the blog and turn it into something more, so if I ever got the opportunity to be considered for an Amara Interior Blog Award again, I would actually be a contender. I didn’t do it so much for the prize, but for my own pride in myself.

A year later, I had a new website up and running and was blogging twice a month. I was still seeing it purely as a marketing tool as my interior design work was my full focus. I was camping in Jersey the day the Amara Interior Blog Awards were announced and when I opened the email telling me I was nominated and saw that holy cow, there were 35 bloggers in my category of Best Interior Designer Blog, my heart sank.  I wondered how on earth I could make the shortlist when there were so many great bloggers in my category. Cue more begging, weeping, and pleading and then another miracle– I again made the shortlist!

Last year’s award ceremony at the Ham Yard Hotel was amazing. The venue was beautiful, champagne was flowing, tasty treats were shared, and the room was packed with talented bloggers all united by their passion for interiors. I can still remember how it felt when it came time for the winner of my category to be announced– my tummy was all fluttery and when they announced that I had been awarded Highly Commended, an audible squeak of joy came out of my mouth.

That night inspired me to drive the blog forward and this year I’ve been posting weekly. Some fantastic opportunities have come along as a result, with the highlight being an invitation to the press morning for the launch of the Serpentine Pavilion earlier this summer. Then, out of the blue, I got news that The Global Design Post had chosen Smartstyle Interiors as one of their Top 25 Global Interior Design Blogs. The recognition is a great honour and I’m so glad others enjoy my posts because I very much enjoy writing them.

It’s August again and the Amara Interior Blog Awards nomination list is out. Like last year, so much talent sits in my category, and like the last two years, I will again weep, beg, plead and hope for a third miracle to have my name on the shortlist. It’s no longer just about the party, though it is such a great event, but it’s about the fact that the Amara IBAs have changed so much of my life and have given me moments and memories that are unique. Who knows what this year will bring for my blog, but I’m ready to keep walking this journey with a smile on my face and a pen in my hand.

Thank you to all of you who read and share my posts– it means the world to me! And I would absolutely love it if you could take a few moments to vote for Smartstyle Interiors in this year’s Amara Interior Blog Awards. Fingers crossed!

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