Every architect has a dream of having their work published in books and magazines. For some it’s a right of passage – a testament to hard work and years of focus. For others, its a marketing strategy. Publication is a form of social proof indicating that our designs are worthy of our prospective clients’ attention.
The process of having our work published is one of those secrets architects learn with maturity. The puzzle is solved piece by piece until the full picture is visible. There’s no simple “how-to” manual. Publishers don’t openly share the process.
At Fivecat Studio, we’ve had several projects published. Some in regional lifestyle magazines and others in national journals. The process is not difficult. Once we understood what matters most and with whom we needed to speak, opportunities emerged.
The following are the 10 rules I’ve learned about how to have our projects published. Apply each rule yourself and you’ll soon be seeing your best projects online and in print.
1. Design Interesting Details and Spaces
I am often asked, “How can I get noticed if my projects don’t have big budgets?” Every project has the possibility of being published. I’ve seen everything from outhouses to industrial waste water treatment plants find their way to the glossy pages of print publications. Don’t let a low budget stop you from creating great architecture. Any project can have a well developed detail or an interesting space. As we develop our projects at Fivecat Studio, we are continuously seeking these opportunities. Editors are looking for innovative and interesting solutions. You only need few great photos to get noticed.
2. Photography Matters
Unless you have the skills of a pro, you are going to need to spring for professional photographs. Each summer I invite my brother, Charlotte based photographer Scott LePage, to visit us in New York. We spend a week shooting all the work we completed that year. When I stopped shooting our work myself and started presenting Scott’s photographs, editors noticed.
3. Cultivate Relationships with Writers, Editors and Scouts
We are living in a world of social media and instant digital communication. Everyone is accessible at some level. Find the decision makers and reach out to them. Don’t pitch your work. Just begin a dialogue. Comment on their posts. Retweet their tweets. Start a discussion. Much like working a room at a cocktail party or a networking event, relationships happen when common connections are made. It will take some time, but with consistency and determination the decision makers will come calling. Many of the articles with which we’ve been involved have been the result of a cultivated relationship with a writer or scout.
4. Build Your Platform
Every architect needs a platform from which to tell their story. Start a blog, a podcast or video channel. Build a community of people interested in what you do and what you have to say. When you have an audience interested in the content you present, you will become more interesting to writers and editors. Helping to publicize the article and driving traffic to the publication’s website will make you more attractive for a second article.
5. Be Helpful and Offer your Expertise
With the relationships I have cultivated, I’ve made myself available to answer questions, provide a quote or offer a referral to another expert. When writers are preparing a story, they often need some help filling in the empty spaces in their stories. When you become a reliable “expert”, you’ll be the first call they make.
6. Tell a Good Story
Every project has a story. A well crafted email telling your unique story will provide incentive to any writer looking for their next article. Professional writers are always looking for an interesting project with a unique narrative. What was the reason for the project? Were their any special challenges? Does the project utilize innovative technology or construction assemblies? What makes your project different than all the others? Tell a good story and people will want to know more.
7. Self Publish
Share your stories and photos on Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz.com or on your own blog. No longer do we need to wait for the gatekeepers to introduce our work to the world. Amazon, LuLu and many other companies offer on-demand print publishing. Assemble a collection of your best works and publish your own monograph to share with prospects and clients. Publishing your own work and consistently sharing it with the public for all to see can get you noticed too.
8. Enter Competitions for Exposure
A few years back I finished our own dining room walls with recessed wood paneling. Annmarie and I thought the project came out rather well, so we decided to enter a few photos in an online competition organized by This Old House magazine. We didn’t win, but our project did catch the eye of the magazine’s editor. After a few emails, a telephone interview and a day-long photo shoot, our dining room was featured in This Old House Magazine (April 2010). To make it even better, in order to maximize their time with the photographer, the editor decided to shoot our bathroom and our daughter’s nursery for two additional magazine features. Whether you win or lose, entering competitions can get you noticed.
9. Be Picky
Most national mags want exclusivity, so choose wisely with whom you publish. Agreeing to share your project with the first offer that comes along may exclude more desirable opportunities later. Understand your options before releasing your project for publication.
10.Your Website Matters
When an editor is interested in your work, the first thing they’ll do is check out your website. Be sure that they find a site that best tells your unique story. Large high-resolution photos in a well designed format will present a professional platform worthy of publication.
Have you had your projects published? Share your best tip on how to get noticed in the comments below.