If you’re a fan of interior design, then you likely know who Kate Rumson is – or at least you know her Instagram handle. The Real Houses of Instagram has two million followers and Rumson has made the most of this star power, leaving a career in finance and launching the interior design career that she’d always dreamed of. Here she reveals how she became an Instagram influencer and offers advice on how to stand out among the social media platform’s one billion users.
Your background is an interior designer – what drew you to the industry?
I fell in love with interior design and home building in my early teens when my parents took me to see a model home in a new subdivision. I wanted to pursue it as my profession, but I couldn’t understand how one could make a stable living designing homes, so I ended up getting into sales and finance.
In my early 20s, in addition to having a full-time corporate job, I also started investing in real estate. I got into interior design when I decorated my first investment property. Two potential buyers loved what I did and ended up hiring me to design their homes.
What inspired you to start The Real Houses of Instagram?
I opened my personal account on Instagram in 2012 and quickly fell in love with the platform. I was so busy that I had no time to attend design shows or industry events, so I turned to Instagram for inspiration. I started following interior designers, artists, event planners, and fashion stylists.
I took so many screenshots that, one day in 2013, I ran out of storage of my iPhone. So I decided to start a separate page on Instagram dedicated specifically to the best interior design images I found. I transferred all of the screenshots to that page and called it The Real Houses of Instagram.
You have two million followers now – did your following escalate quickly in the beginning or did it take some time to grow?
In 2013 and 2014, Instagram was a lot smaller than it is today. There were no ads and posts were appearing in chronological order. There were very few accounts curating interior design images so anyone looking for #interiordesign would easily find my account. Growth has slowed down in the last two years because of the new algorithm, the strong push for ad sales, and a significant increase in design content.
How can people today grow their Instagram?
Today, Instagram has one billion users and it can be very difficult to grow, whether you have 100 or 100,000 followers. There’s so much content that it’s difficult to stand out. The best strategy is to target a specific niche, topic, or location.
For example: If you’re an interior designer living in Sacramento, California, you should use hashtags such as #SacramentoInteriorDesign, #SacramentoInteriorDesigner, and #SacramentoNewConstruction. Common hashtags such as #interiordesign are no longer effective.
Are there any mistakes you think Instagrammers make?
Not engaging with their followers – I see many accounts not responding to comments they receive. There are one billion accounts that people could be following, but they chose to follow you and take the time out of their days to comment something nice. The very least you could do is respond with a “thank you!”
What opportunities has Instagram opened up for you?
I fell in love with design in my early teens, but, up until just a few years ago, I had no one to talk to about it. Now I lead this incredible community of two million people who share the same interests. That alone is the most surreal feeling in the world, but also Instagram allowed me to leave a lucrative, but unfulfilling career in finance and focus on doing what I love. This really is a dream job and it became my reality because of Instagram.
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I spent most of my twenties working all the time trying to balance a career in banking and finance with my love for design and real estate. Finance wasn’t fun but it provided stability and security, while interior design and real estate investing wasn’t very lucrative in the beginning but made me feel like I was doing what I was born to do so I kept at it. I didn’t have time to go out with friends, party, shop, or spend summer weekends at the beach. I was often told I will regret missing out on fun experiences because I was always working. Now, looking back, I don’t regret any of that, I was spending all of my free time doing what I love and building my future. One thing I do regret is not traveling more and only taking vacations once every 3 years … Now I can’t stress the importance of getting away at least once a year … going somewhere different, disconnecting from everyday problems, feeling inspired, exploring, learning. This year I’m lucky I get to combine business with pleasure as I’m getting ready to leave for Italy next week with @cesarnyckitchens to learn about their beautiful custom kitchens and tour their factory outside of Venice with a group of incredibly talented designers and architects! Right after Venice I will start my 2018 vacation in Amsterdam, then Belgium followed by Paris. I’m especially excited about this trip because I am currently in the process of designing my dream home and need all the inspiration. I’ve always loved European architecture and would love for the exterior of my new home to reflect what I’m about to see on this trip. I’m also beyond excited about Belgium because I’ve never been but I LOVE Belgian waffles from Trader Joe’s and can’t wait to try the real thing! 😝🤗
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What is your favorite Instagram account?
@cats_of_instagram – because there’s nothing cuter than videos of kittens.
What social media advice do you have for aspiring influencers? What do you want to ask Kate about growing a following? Let us know in the comments below!