Sherry and John Petersik are taking on dated blue trim and flowery wallpaper with gusto in their quest to transform their 1970s house into a sleek dream home. In many ways they are just an everyday couple with a toddler and a Chihuahua named Burger – but that would overlook the online horde that follows their every hammer stroke on their blog, “Young House Love,” which earns more than 4 million page views a month and provides a full-time living for the couple.
Do-it-yourself home renovation has been a passionate hobby for millions for decades, but a new generation of homeowners, who are as savvy with social media sites as they are with nail guns, are attracting enough readers and advertising revenue to quit their day jobs.
In Alaska, homemaker Ana White was a newlywed trying to pinch pennies when she came up with the idea of making her own farmhouse bed. She uploaded her DIY plan onto her blog, and today her furniture plans are viewed 8 million times a month on her site.
Other home improvement blogs, such as “House Tweaking” and “Bower Power,” attract between 250,000 and 1 million page views a month. Unlike “This Old House” or DIY manuals of the past, these bloggers foster virtual friendships with their readers through social media tools like Instagram and Pinterest and by throwing in details of their personal lives as they recount the trials of retiling the bathroom or ripping up the back deck.
That’s piqued the interest of home improvement retailers like The Home Depot, The Tile Shop, and Ballard Designs, which are seeking creative ways to boost sales in an economy still recovering from a housing slump.
“The last two years has been the biggest explosion [in advertising on blogs], with brands realizing how powerful blogs are and realizing we have a huge voice out there,” says full-time blogger Rhoda Vickers of Atlanta.
Last year, Ms. Vickers started the Haven Conference in Atlanta for home improvement bloggers. This year, the conference sold out in 17 days – eight months before the August event. “At least half [of the attendees] are going to be serious bloggers who want to turn it into a business,” she says of the 350 registrants. “There are so many people who are interested in working at home, getting out of the rat race. I think it’s very attractive.”
Despite the appeal of showering your house with love for a full-time living, “it’s not that easy,” Vickers warns. “You really have to have a business head, too.”