On February 6, 2019, there was big news in the Interior Design industry. And by big, I mean
On February 6th I was going about my daily business when I was noticing Facebook blowing up. Many of my connections on Facebook and groups that I am in are connected to the design industry. There was clearly something big going on. The big deal had something to do with Houzz. You will find out why I am moving away from Houzz below.
What’s the big deal?
My good friend Laurel Bern wrote an absolutely fantastic blog about it. Laurel is a wonderful blogger and she takes significant amounts of time to research information for her blogs. Her particular blog, “The ugly truth behind the pretty interiors on Houzz”, was fascinating. Laurel put some things into perspective for me that I had never thought of. In addition, Alycia Wicker also wrote a very blunt blog about the acquisition. I do need to warn you now – if you don’t like bad language, do not read this blog. After reading these two blogs, and being active in my Interior Designer community, I have made the decision to move away from Houzz.
My Houzz Experience
I have been using Houzz since I started my business. I have an active profile on Houzz and I use it to send invitations to my clients to obtain a testimonial once I have uploaded their completed project. It’s a pretty slick system where it really is a couple of clicks, and off goes the request.
Adding my portfolio images is not as quick as a click. When each image is uploaded, I have the opportunity to add keywords so that my images may show up more consistently and when users are searching. This takes a tremendous amount of time and thought. What is the best keyword that I want to use for this image? How much information do I want to give away (seeing that my clients paid me for my service in their home)? All of those questions go in my head as I strategically plan my Houzz portfolio.
While the majority of my clients are from referrals from past clients, I have had some wonderful clients from Houzz. That being said, Houzz is not my main source of obtaining new clients (and yes – I track where my clients have come from).
So in the end, my experience (except for the consistent emails and phone calls trying to get me to pay for a Professional Profile) has been ok.
Why I Am Moving Away From Houzz
If you know me, you know that I am a digester. I like to take information, let it sit, go over pros and cons, and then make a decision. I rarely make a knee-jerk reaction and like to know that I have thought things through to make the best decisions for myself.
While I will not be deleting my profile on Houzz (IMHO that would be a very dumb move), I will not be uploading my new work on their platform. Some key reasons why I will no longer do that and why I am moving away from Houzz are listed below.
I do not believe it is ethical for Houzz to be placing price tags on an Interior Designer’s image leading users to believe that a certain product (that you can purchase off of Houzz) is what was used in that project. Houzz has not obtained permission from the designer who uploaded the photos to do that. In addition, if you read Laurel’s blog, she goes into detail and depth as to the pricing that is just absolutely crazy (IMHO).
A quote from Mr. Houzz himself
A statement made by Alon Cohen, the co-founder and president of Houzz really pissed me off. He said the following:
Designers are not really business people.
This quote really pissed me off. And by pissed off, I mean really pissed off – for days! Let me see: in my business,
- I am the marketing person.
- I am the salesperson.
- I am the one who holds the purse strings and determines budgets.
- I am the blogger/writer.
- I am the social media person.
- And I am the Interior Designer.
I work my ass off to grow my business, to make a name for myself and my company, and to make my business a successful one. To say that designers are not really business people is a real kick in the gut! And for that, I say to Alon Cohen, “Go screw yourself. You don’t know me or my business and how hard I have worked.” (see – I’m still pissed off).
Not Playing Nice
Best of Houzz Award – Really???
I have received ‘The Best of Houzz Award’ in 2016, 2017 and 2018. When I received my first one, I was thrilled. Man – all of the hard work was paying off. Then I received it again in 2017. I was just as thrilled. Same thing for this year in 2018. Each year, I happily added the badges to my website. What I didn’t realize was that these so-called ‘awards’ were, and are, pretty bogus. As much as I thought they were great, everyone was getting them. For me, it really waters down the ‘award’. Although you may not have been aware of how easy it was to get an ‘award’ from Houzz, it seemed like they were just giving it away.
THEN, the information from Laurel’s blog came out. The information about backlinks and Houzz includes a ‘no follow’ in their coding:
As she wrote:
The best of… badges are only benefitting houzz not you because you are giving them a powerful backlink from your website.
After reading that on Laurel’s blog, and giving myself time to digest what I had read, I took the badges off of my website. In the blogging world, there is etiquette and manners. What Houzz has been doing, the ‘no follow’, shows they are not playing nice in the sandbox with designers. I mean, this move is a very strategic and calculated move for Houzz. As so many bloggers who have written on this topic have said, without designers uploading their images on Houzz there would not be a Houzz!
Moving away from Houzz
My Plans to Move Forward
I will keep my profile on Houzz (without updating anything from this point forward), I am going to work hard (if not harder) to build up my Google Reviews. Google is not going anywhere and after a great business meeting (yes – I said business meeting as I am a business person Alon Choen) with a very smart businesswoman (Noreen Ward with The Gift Designers), it was her suggestion that I focus my reviews on Google.
I have updated some more current projects in my photo sections in Google as a way to move forward. If you are a past client, you will see in this month’s newsletter a request from me. If you are a current client, at the end of your project, you will be receiving an invitation to write a Google Review for me.
While the internet world is ever-changing, I need to make the best decision I can for myself and my business. It is my hope that moving away from Houzz will be my small part in standing up for the Interior Design industry as a whole.
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