May 3, 2024
41 min
Episode 6

BREAK THE INTERNET: Sarah Laming: Viral by Design

Sarah Laming  00:00

At age 50, I suddenly found something that I really really loved doing. just bizarre.

Ben Kaplan  00:09

This is the show about the people who create, amplify and influence our culture and how they do it. Want to capture lightning in the bottle? want your content to spread like wildfire? I'm Ben Kaplan and let's Break The Internet

Tom Cain  00:30

Sarah Laming is a lifestyle and interior design influencer, who began her Instagram journey at age 50.

Sarah Laming  00:35

Hi, everyone, it is Wednesday. I'm back recipe books for today. So it's Tuesday. It's podcast day,

Tom Cain  00:43

starting with zero followers in 2019. After celebrating her 50th birthday, she has now over 1.6 million followers across social platforms. This is how she breaks the incident.

Ben Kaplan  00:57

Sarah, one thing that's really interesting about how you started, you started posting in October 2019, you were not a millennial or Generation Z, who was a native on these platforms, it was past your 50th birthday. And look at you now you're breaking the internet, you have views that regularly go viral posts, reels or other things like that. What was it like to start? And did you ever imagine that this is what you'd be doing full time now,

Sarah Laming  01:23

then I could never have imagined that I'd be doing this full time. And I could never have imagined how Instagram particularly which is where I began with give me such a huge platform to such a mammoth change in my life after 50 where I started in October 2019. My kids were in their late teens, and they really didn't need me at home anymore. I'd kind of not really gone back to work for quite a long time, I'd done an interior design course interior decorating, I'd done our house, I'd helped friends. But I was in a real point of what am I going to do for the rest of my life? Shall I get a job? What am I going to do? What are we going to do? And a friend of mine who'd become a social media manager just said, Well, why don't you start by posting some of your gorgeous house on Instagram. And I did and the interiors community is a massive community on Instagram. I don't know if you know it, but it's huge. And in the day in 2019, when we were still on posts, and hashtags were a thing. There were a lot of interiors, hashtags that were challenges and they give you prompts every day so that you could join in and give you a reason to post. And they'd have winners and daily winners, monthly winners and huge communities. So I immediately fell into a community of interiors, content creators. And I think that gives you the courage and that there were people of many different ages there actually, we go from really young creators to people who are older than me. So you can feel quite at home, whatever you are, and whoever you are, wherever you are. And that was kind of where it all began. And did you

Ben Kaplan  03:06

start out? Were you doing some of these challenges yourself and posting them? Or how do you sort of become part of the community? When did you have your first post? And what was it where it really got some major views and kind of surprised you and said, Wow, that's quite a lot of people that can go quite far. How did you get started? And what were you creating at the beginning?

Sarah Laming  03:25

So I began, I can remember the exact date I began on Instagram because it was October the first 2019. And it was the first day of a month. And a lot of the interior challenges ran across a month. So they would give you a prompt for day one prompt for day two, all the way to day 30. And I just decided to myself that I was going to commit to 30 days of these prompts. What's

Ben Kaplan  03:49

an example of this? Because this is sort of the interior styling or interior decorating committee, what would be a typical one of those original prompts? Yeah,

Sarah Laming  03:56

so they were really fun. So there was two different challenges that everyone did you did my house this month or story of my home. And they were they were different prompts. So one prompt might be a Monday morning and it might be blooming marvelous. So that gives you an opportunity to show flowers on a table or a piece of all paper that was floral, or you could interpret it in any way. And everybody did everyone bought their own personal selves to dish prom, or there might be another one I can remember was this old thing. So you had a chance to interpret that with something old or vintage or antique or just an old husband in the background. They were fun and they were fun. And every day they would be a winner. And I think I in that first month of october i won one day, the story of my home prompt. So then they posted your picture on their account and people came and followed you and and it was a really amazing community at the time you're

Ben Kaplan  04:58

spotted to all these channels. Just one one and your first 30 days, which is exciting, but not a lot of people necessarily, like grow accounts with over a million followers on Instagram after that. So what was the next step for you? What changed there? Was there something where it was like, hey, I can do more than just respond to prompts.

Sarah Laming  05:15

Yeah. So then I think that every picture, so it was all photos then. And so I realized that what I love doing with my photos was telling a story through them. So when lots of interiors account, you would just post a corner, I always styled it so that you felt a bit of the person behind that corner or the story. And I grew. So I looked it all up for you. I grew in that first year and a half from October 2019 through all our lock downs, through the pandemic, to October cheese F 19. T's F 22, sort of about June 2021, I gained 17,000 followers. So I'd done well, in a year and a half, but it was 17,000 followers was

Ben Kaplan  05:57

that the distinguishing factor. But when you look at your contents, and I've looked at some of them, and you have ones that are 12 months through my window, 51 million views of that video, or the breeze, the trees, the sun, sign the sparkles, 35 point 8 million really massive numbers, what is it about what you post that strikes a chord? And if you can think back to those that earlier time period, was it just that a story of the person that was there, because largely what this is, is you see a very lovely living room, you know, that doesn't necessarily shout out to you like, oh my god, I have to share this really lovely living room. It's a nice living room. It looks looks beautiful. But that doesn't strike me as viral content yet. So what is it about it breaks through how this works and how you thought about and what makes your content special. Okay, so

Sarah Laming  06:44

I think the first thing that made my camera was reels, the day Instagram put reels on our accounts, I did one and it made me realize that if you wanted to now grow on Instagram, then you were going to have to do reels. And they were difficult at first because people didn't want them. So most of the people who were on Instagram, were looking at your content, still wanted photographs. But we knew that Instagrams going to promote rails. So that was the first thing I got on that rails trend early.

Ben Kaplan  07:12

So it was an opportunity to build and it was being prioritized. If you could do it early. Yeah.

Sarah Laming  07:16

And the second thing I did with Rails from that early time was the ones that were being done, were very instructive. As you can imagine, particularly interiors, content creators, it was loud trending, music.

Ben Kaplan  07:31

Step one, take your flowers and arrange them this way. Step two, adjust the background to frame the flower. I'm making this up. But literally very prescriptive,

Sarah Laming  07:41

or very click, you know, here's my room before click, here's my room painted and styled. It was full of DIY transitions before and afters. And my house has developed so slowly that I could never do that. And two, I just didn't like it. Why didn't you like it? I didn't enjoy particularly watching them. I didn't enjoy the music. And it wasn't me. I knew that that was not me. My me was telling a story about my house through and and evoking emotions, which is what my house is about. So I started playing much more with the idea of quiet reels, and quiet video and music that was not obviously trending at the time. And I think my first few reels that I created, were very whimsical, and there would be sort of a lampshade that would move as you went into a room through an open door,

Ben Kaplan  08:39

it seems when you say a lampshade that moves. And they were kind of whimsical, it was like some little action that suggested a story or something else or something to like, I must say like notice or observe or something that was different than was less of like before after boom, boom in your face, tada. And more of like you notice thing is something for people that have like a discerning eye like a nice touch.

Sarah Laming  09:06

Yeah, it was definitely that and a very much about noticing those little things in life that you didn't necessarily notice that had the actual ability set to the right music to give you a really big emotional punch. So I decided to go as opposed to the instructive reels that weren't being done at the time. Like here we are, let's paint a ceiling white to this content that really tried to touch people emotionally. And I think my house and the way I decorate it, and then my windows where you could get the seasons changing or the weather or a storm and you could the juxtaposition of a storm outside of my windows with candles in 2020 was quite new. And that real went totally crazy. So it was taking so Did the interiors content for being instructive, too emotional, which people haven't done? Do

Ben Kaplan  10:04

you think that works in any type of content? Or do you think there's something about interior design specifically, where people who are interested in it, notice the details, pay attention to a detail that a run of the mill person might not pay attention to? Or if you're interested in that you're interested in how a room makes you feel in a way that a person that just doesn't think about that just kind of enters a room and it's great and doesn't doesn't appreciate that? Do you think there's something specific to the subject? Or do you think we all should just be like more storytellers, no matter what the content topic is.

Sarah Laming  10:32

So I think that the niche that my content has become, has moved away from being interior design, although people like my interiors, and enjoy them, but it's become about an emotional an emotion that I give them. So they they like the house. And they say it reminds them of Mrs. Halliwell's house or whatever that whimsical feel. And yet they say that every seven second video, they get in from their day at work, or their stress or the anxieties around them, and they get a moment of calm. So they see this house and me the sense of the person that lingers in it, and the outside that comes into it. And that all comes together to create a moment, which is just peace, calm,

Ben Kaplan  11:24

having that insight now, do you try to think like, how do I show the chaos of all of this? And then have this moment of calm? Do you try to like construct that? Or build that? Or how do you think about that? Or is it things you notice around your house, you're going about your day, and you notice something that that you pay attention to? And so that gives you an idea? Where does the inspiration come from? Yeah, so

Sarah Laming  11:45

I spend hours and hours probably the same amount of time as other interiors, content creators spend painting a room, I will literally spend with my camera, waiting, I know the exact time of day where the light comes in at the exact moment to create the sparkles that come across the sofa, or I wait for the breeze. Everyone says Your house is always so breezy, well, it's not that I'm waiting for days and days to create the content when that breeze flows through my house. So I know the content I need to create to evoke these feelings. And then I spend hours waiting for it. And then also the music that it gets put to an edited to create that whole I think so it's the whole thing. You were talking

Ben Kaplan  12:34

about the role of music with this the role of other things I noticed in some of yours, you'll occasionally see you a lot of times you won't see you in it. But then you'll see us like sitting on the couch or something like that, how do those other pieces contribute to the whole into the feeling and the sense of calm see this?

Sarah Laming  12:52

Well I tried to bring in is I make it personal. So I kind of give a sense of myself. So there's a book left lingering on the couch, there's a cup of tea on the sofa, there's a flap of the curtain, so you get the sense of the person behind the account without actually seeing them, although I do make myself pop into it a bit more now. So I think what I try and do is make it personal without it being all about me. So it gives people a sense of the person. And I also think that sometimes people kind of can see themselves in it like they quite for that seven seconds, there's an emotional connection to it. Well, you're almost in it.

Ben Kaplan  13:37

So you kind of jumped on the rails trend. You didn't like the existing content that was sort of either prescriptive or before after you had this idea to give more of a feeling or more of a storytelling. And when did you start seeing results? I know you first went through like 17,000 people in a year and a half, which is solid, but not unbelievable. When did it start taking off into something more what started happening as

Sarah Laming  14:00

those kind of reels began, you could see them gaining traction. So from June, whatever it was 2021 to June 2022. I posted reels of my windows and a feelings around that curtains flapping and books always edited to music. So it fitted perfectly. And I grew that year to 435,000 followers. So I kind of it took in so in a year. I agree. Yeah, over 400,000 followers. Did you

Ben Kaplan  14:33

notice the response right away? Or did it take a while for people to kind of get what it was. It

Sarah Laming  14:39

took a while when people didn't particularly like reels, but I kept persevering and then I could see the reels that people like and then I started creating more often and then my account was full of those kinds of reels. So people who came from them liked those kinds of reels. So then they engaged with them. And then I did more. And then it grew. And it was just this circle of me creating content that people liked. That went viral. So they built slowly. So I used to get the odd million reel. And now I get a lot more of them. And as you said, even bigger ones,

Ben Kaplan  15:18

did you find yourself it sounds like more focusing in over time on a more focused type of content? Or did you do other types of content to say, you know, now I'm going to talk in front of the camera just to give a sense of the person there or No, I want to stay focused on this one very specific thing. Yeah, it's

Sarah Laming  15:34

really interesting. So I don't do other content on my grid. Now, I literally am focused on that, that it has kind of changed over the time, although you probably wouldn't know it, if you saw it. It's just slowly manifests itself, like the music changed a bit what

Ben Kaplan  15:53

it has changed. Was it just to keep it interesting for you? Or did you notice something else, or you had to evolve in some way,

Sarah Laming  15:58

I think I probably had to evolve. And I began with it, I've worked out that clips of four or five clips around my house now set to music, or have a window in autumn, or over the seasons, people like more of the clip. So if I make a seven second video, which which clips four times within it, eight second, people like that showing cuts to the music, so it fits perfect. I

Ben Kaplan  16:27

think you had one of your most popular ones I think I was watching and listening to it was like I think it was like every breath you take or something recognizable, and it has a certain beat cadence. And the cuts were happening to the music. And you just said over time, people liked the rhythmic quality of all of this added something to the kind of feeling so you watched it and kind of felt good while you watched it.

Sarah Laming  16:49

And then that's what I always have done is always made sure that my editing, although it wasn't flashy editing was spot on. So if it was being done to music, the music fitted totally and utterly. If the curtains danced, they danced in time to the beat. If the beat changes, then you change to the room, I would never take a piece of music and just put a video to it. It takes me two days to edit all those tiny little things together.

Ben Kaplan  17:19

And are you doing this all yourself? Or has this grown to a part where you need more help doing all this? And I don't know if that's difficult because it's the whole stage your house? So you'd have to have a lot of people in your house to do this. If you were gonna get help to do this.

Sarah Laming  17:32

No, I do it all myself own life. Yeah, I all myself, my family helped me. So they are my biggest critics and biggest, you know, and they'll help me get that beat right? When I'm struggling or whatever, they'll give me input. But is me. Yeah,

Ben Kaplan  17:47

do you have I know you know your house very well, you know how the light comes in? You wait for something. But is your house a constant set? Is everything designed to perform on Instagram? Or is it just your house anymore? How do you manage that? And think about that? Do you have to be constantly like tidy in this place? How do you manage and do all of that.

Sarah Laming  18:08

So particular bits of my house frequently look nice. Not all of it. So my kids are teenagers or in their in their 20s? Now, but their friends come in and they look at that. And like is this the Instagram house, because it's not is a normal house. And it gets messy and it gets left unstyled. And it's just normal. But and there's only very particular parts I show. I mean, if you saw around the rest of it, there are parts which are still lovely, but they wouldn't work on Instagram anymore. And there are parts that just aren't decorated as nicely or just nice. But yeah, that's the sets that I use, which are those windows that you see are not always as beautiful as that. And I'm not precious. And I think that's kind of part of what people like about my account is it's kind of perfectly imperfect. It's not precious. It's comfortable. It people say and I think that's my age thing as well. Your house reminds me of my mom or it reminds me of summers growing up with my granny Oh, it's really nostalgic. And I think that sort of sense of it's not a perfect home. It's just a home with feeling and seasons and those kinds of things help.

Ben Kaplan  19:24

If you've got to give this a name, that appropriate name would be the name of your book coming out which is relaxed. maximalism, what role do you think you know, if you had to assign a value to contributing to your success? Is it that you just have a good eye for style? You make things that people like, how much of it is that you have a good sense of sort of feeling emotion, something else that goes beyond style. How much of it is just your authentic I know you've said that you felt like the other types of content in the space didn't really represent you. This represents you better so it's authentic, how much of it is just luck. that you caught on at the right time when the reels were coming out and you were able to grow. And now you have a big big follower counts and how much you credit all of those things, whether you're like your tastes, you just have good taste, or luck, or authenticity or storytelling, what's contributing,

Sarah Laming  20:15

I think when anything goes viral, like my account is a combination of a lot of things, isn't it? And I think I created a niche, which felt specific, but has a universal appeal. And I deliver on the promise of that niche with every single video I make. So if you come to my account, the promise of what you're going to expect is that I think my style is unique. I think I'm also really lucky because I have English seasons out of my window, and I can cover them all off. Because I have a tree that goes beautifully orange in autumn, we get snow very rarely, but we get storms. I have blossom in spring,

Ben Kaplan  20:56

but are you having to plan content out like a year at a time to like, I'm waiting on this one until all the seasons change to literally like, come to fruition this thing? Or do you have a stockpile? And then you're like, oh, I can pull this clip here and this clip here. And I'm gonna go pull from my seasonal library, or do you literally wait a year for a SERP? No,

Sarah Laming  21:14

I pulled from a seasonal library. So when when it's good, when those content days are good, I create a lot of content, because they don't come around all the time, because I am so dependent on lights and weather, which is why ads are difficult because you know, well, they're not difficult. But I always say to people, they'll take longer because if you want what I've got, you need to wait for sun or the wind or whatever. I can't just think I'm going to create content today. And this will be it in

Ben Kaplan  21:45

your reels and tiktoks They've been viewed over 250 million times was there a breakout moment that you can remember where you sort of gotten to these really more astronomical numbers in terms of some of your top posts that we get 10s of millions of views or posts are real or something else? When did you kind of break through to that level?

Sarah Laming  22:03

I think in September 2021, I got my first million viewed real, which was seasons through my window to should I spend the day with you. And we went and I realized people like that. And then in about February 2022 I did the storms through my window with candles that got 35 million views and the Oscars liked it. So it kind of built from September to that February. And then I got that kind of stormy window. And people writing to me saying I watched this video. Every time I'm feeling down. I have it on repeat. I love it.

Ben Kaplan  22:43

What is it about that that makes that your greatest hits and something that somehow affects people in that way? Break down that specific video in the video version, as things are changing across the seasons across like the 12 months of the year, it's out one window, what is it that makes that video special?

Sarah Laming  23:03

Okay, so I think being able to see the seasons change. I think people like weather people like seasons, people like the emotions that come with time that changing over a year, and watching all of that in one space. So that that's part of it. But people love it, particularly people who live in countries that don't have seasons, that it's massive. I think that it with each of those, there's a sense of a moment within each of those tiny little clips. Also that music was the music that was going to be the end of year where everyone put their 12 months of the year music to it. And I picked that up when I had 3000 had been used 3000 times. And I think it went on to half a million. The music grew massively

Ben Kaplan  23:53

I see. So the music you knew was early on there was gonna start trending. I knew

Sarah Laming  23:57

that music was going to trend you could tell as soon as you saw it that that was going to be the music that everyone put their year review to. So I did it with my seasons quickly. And then it was ahead of it. And it wasn't people that were seasons. So it was different.

Ben Kaplan  24:14

I mean you've done obviously very well on reels but TikTok is growing fast. Not at the same total follower count but growing. How do you approach reels or TikTok differently? Do you think about it differently? Is it the same or is there a subtle difference?

Sarah Laming  24:28

Yeah, I don't post on TikTok as much one because I think that is really interesting. I don't I'm sure it is one of those in my head. It can't really be true. But I always think that Instagram knows when I'm going to be friend when I'm going to be friends with TikTok and it doesn't like it. Okay, but when I am on TikTok I, I kind of love the freshness so quite a lot of that. It's like everyone on Instagram will say when you're on TikTok the music you get a hint of the music that's going to come to Instagram. I find it tic tock gave me the newer ideas because it was fun and funky, and I wasn't so scared to post like, I think with my Instagram following now, sometimes I get frozen with fear.

Ben Kaplan  25:11

You'd be like everything has to be part of your thing was it was sort of like perfectly imperfect. But then you get known for this thing and you got to like deliver on it. If you do one that doesn't write deliver on this promise or somebody's people, you know, you're worried about it.

Sarah Laming  25:25

I'm really worried about it. Yeah. And I really feel the pressure on Instagram of creating. Yeah, as you said, perfect now, and I don't feel that pressure on TikTok, so I kind of have more fun with TikTok, and I think that influences my Instagram, and it really helps my Instagram,

Ben Kaplan  25:41

can you use it, then as a trial ground experiment? If something works really well there, then you're like, oh, I can bring this over. I mean, we've had other people on the show before who use different platforms that have different qualities as they're like testing ground to figure out what works, then use it on their main account.

Sarah Laming  25:58

Yeah. And I learned from TikTok and so I use it to experiment. I have less fear. And I also learned from it because it was different. And as things were done differently on TikTok, and it's more it's fun. TikTok does I think Instagram is kind of less less fun. It's more abysmal, proper, isn't it not proper, more styled and designed as an app, Instagram, whereas tiktoks, and Asheville, three, I think

Ben Kaplan  26:23

I know a lot of either experienced content creators influencers, new ones who find it hard to keep things fresh, and in some ways, they have a much bigger canvas than you do because your canvas is your house. So how do you five years into this now, that means you've been through the seasons five times, right? You've done these kinds of things? How do you keep finding new angles, new freshness, new approaches something that's different? Are you tempted to just post the woods from three years ago and post it now? Again, maybe people won't notice your new followers? Like, how do you keep things fresh? And what advice do you have to others to keep things fresh?

Sarah Laming  27:00

Yeah. And I think that's a really interesting question. And I think you've kind of nailed it for me, which is, my account is so niche, and I have gone through all the seasons. And I do only have four set that it is really difficult to create that freshness. And I guess the way in which I have been doing it is, like I said, I used to have kind of many more videos with just one clip. Now I definitely edit four or five together to change it. And the music, you can create freshness. So taking Tiktok, the viral Tiktok dances, bringing them to Instagram and making your curtains or your books, do the dance, which nobody else does, gives you a kind of freshness in that it's kind of fun, and it's a bit different.

Ben Kaplan  27:51

So you'll identify a trend on TikTok or something else and almost like bring it into this context isn't so trend driven. What will you do? You'll make the curtains kind of move to the beat of this dance or something like that? Yeah,

Sarah Laming  28:02

exactly that like the big one. Do you remember when David Beckham and Victoria Beckham did their whole Islands in the Stream last, and everyone was dancing to it? And I was just like, Oh, that would be amazing if if the curtains did with David and Victoria Beckham and the book. And so I just wouldn't talk prayer. What's the round on those viral tiktoks? To my house? Or to the wind and the leads? Just

Ben Kaplan  28:28

what you do? does it translate all over the world? What is your response? Is it a very would you say British sensibility on this? And obviously, you've been a very prolific content creator and followers and in the UK, does it translate over the world? Do you notice cultural differences in how people respond? What have you observed?

Sarah Laming  28:49

This is a massively global account. I have followers everywhere. And I'd really love that about my account. And I think they are drawn to the Britishness of it. So I think that that helps. And also is very happy account. So I read never really get negative comments on it. I mean, occasionally, you get those kinds of trolls who just want to go through Instagram writing, not very kind things to people, but that is it. I mean, genuinely, it's just very happy. And you will

Ben Kaplan  29:18

see a good name for an account. I mean, a home to make you smile, and you don't want to we want to come with frowns around that kind of account. Right? That defeats the purpose of it. Yeah,

Sarah Laming  29:29

sorry, not nice, but the only time that there's been controversy, and I kind of knew it when I posted I knew it would be controversial, but I didn't have time because as I said, the moment was just right, like it was autumn and the leaves were falling outside my window and the dog was sitting in the perfect position on the window on the seat. So I knew I had to create my content there. So I got on the sofa with my trainer song, and that is the only time that I've had massive sort of, you know, massive debate on my Instagram account about whether I should have had my shoes on the sofa? And culturally, of course, you know, around the world, particularly shoes in the house, let alone on the sofa, you know, it's just it was Yeah. So that's really when it showed up?

Ben Kaplan  30:17

And did you ever think like, I mean, obviously engagement plays a role in engaging back with your audience. Was that a net positive to have a bit of controversy and people discussing it, you're gonna increase a lot of comments and things like that. How did that work? And and also, how do you think about responding to your audience? How much of a role does that play in trying to give people feedback if they reach out to you?

Sarah Laming  30:38

Yeah, so Well, I didn't like that. I didn't like the negativity on it. And actually, I'm really lucky with my engagement. So I didn't feel like I needed to have that controversy in it. I think my followers are so important to me. And I do try to reply as many comments as possible. And I reply to loads of DMS that I get from people too, because usually they're saying thank you. And usually they're saying, you just make me have a moment's peace, or you've made me feel better. Thank you, or I so happy that you posted again today. So I really value every single I just, I feel really grateful for my follow how

Ben Kaplan  31:19

many typical comments or DMS or other things do you get? And how much time do you spend responding to those on a daily or weekly basis? Yeah,

Sarah Laming  31:28

so when I post I spend a lot of time responding that day. So I'd my day might get set up. And then after that, but it does get less. But yeah, I probably spend an hour or so a day responding to comments, and DMS and those sorts of things. How

Ben Kaplan  31:45

is it now collaborations brand partnerships, you have a big audience? How do you navigate all of that someone writes you up and says, Can you stick this bottle of soap right there on the corner, your couch does put it there. But like, you know, when you have an account where everything is like a little detail, you're paying attention to every little thing, you're leaving that book open to suggest a story. And so it wants to pay maybe a significant amount mind just like stick that bottle right there. How do you navigate all of that?

Sarah Laming  32:16

Well, what I really hate, I'm really, I'm much better, I guess that's always the same, I'm much better at creating content than navigating brand deals. So I have an agent who does some of it. But she doesn't do all of it, we split it. And I think from the beginning of my account, I've been utterly clear, I would only work with brands that genuinely fitted into my account. So that bottle of soap would have to be a bottle of so that I wanted. And I also think that that has helped my account to grow because it I never really accepted PR products I do occasionally. And I only am very, very cautious with the advertising I do. So I am not flooding my account ever with brand deals and brands. So I think if you come to my account, you know, you're not going to get fed just another add that add.

Ben Kaplan  33:11

What's the like largest amount of money? You've turned down for something that didn't fit? Probably

Sarah Laming  33:15

a few 1000 pounds? For a yeah, not mass. But also, I guess if you're doing it at once, that would be the case. But there are an awful lot of things that I just don't do, if see what I mean. And I don't take so lots of little things that add up.

Ben Kaplan  33:34

And then what else could you share that you had to learn how to navigate just having a bigger account bigger number of followers, what other challenges, issues, opportunities, difficulties come with that, that you've had to navigate since reaching 10s of millions of views on an individual real asset?

Sarah Laming  33:51

Yeah, well, impostor syndrome last, that's with me all the time. Yeah, the pressure to constantly create and to create content that is as good as the last piece of content. And I don't want to let people down who are following me. And then I think a lot of what what I sit and talk about at home a lot with my husband is where do we go from here? Like How sustainable is an Instagram account? What do I do with it? So I'm glad I wrote the book, because that was an incredible opportunity that came this way through Instagram, but I also think a lot about what else I should be doing with it.

Ben Kaplan  34:31

Where might you go? I mean, do you think about breaking out of the walls of your home and doing other things and capturing other moments? Do you think about other trips and moments like that? Or do you think about doing something different like what you might you hope you'd be doing in three to five years? Yeah,

Sarah Laming  34:45

I do think I should break up my home and I should do that more in my stories, at least to start and what I love the brand. I mean, I say that but I don't really know how I'd start but yeah, I mean, I'd love to be creating my own brand. Not relying on other people's brands, you know, and I guess interior soft furnishings, that type of thing would be a natural fit with what I do. So I don't know, I just it is my our eternal conversation, and I cannot pin down what that would be. Finally,

Ben Kaplan  35:17

what is your advice for others who maybe have an idea, have a niche have something they'd like to do, but don't fit the typical influencer or content creator, millennial or Gen Z mold? What is your advice for maybe it's the older content creators, someone else that just has a unique point of view says, I kind of want to do this, but I just look around and I don't see people who either look like me or want to post like what I post or all of that, what is your advice for them?

Sarah Laming  35:46

I think it would be to, to not be afraid to do it. And I think that you forget, because I'm not a naturally I would never in a million years have imagined that I would put myself in a position where I'd have 1.2 million followers on Instagram, because I would never have seen myself as the sort of person that would put enough of myself into it, to do it, because I'm too shy. So I would just say no matter your age, no matter what you are, if you put yourself into it, and you want it, then you give yourself an opportunity to to achieve it. And it is so much about yourself. I think growing on these accounts is genuinely being true to your points and your points of view and your passion. And if you've got it, then you should try it. And I'm always at influencer events with gray hair and you know, young people in crop tops. And, you know, I know that I really love it. I love meeting them all and being part of it. And they they include me for

Ben Kaplan  36:52

that same person who does follow your advice, they go for it. And maybe it doesn't catch lightning right away. Maybe you might have some steady growth. Or you might have some times where it doesn't seem like anyone's paying attention. What is your advice, your final advice for those people on how to get through that?

Sarah Laming  37:10

Yeah, and I think even when you have got a big following you go through lulls in Instagram or social media where you go through the ebbs and the flows. And I think so when you are starting out, it's hard. And you do feel like you aren't being seen and you aren't being noticed. And I feel that if you can find a group of like minded people, so you are engaging on the apps with people who at least share a similar passion or interest. And you're building a community, your community will help you through through the times that come and that are hard. Like

Ben Kaplan  37:49

maybe the cliche goes, you have to enjoy the process and find a way to enjoy the journey, and enjoy what you're creating. And it can't all just be about likes or number of comments, or monetization or all those things if you truly enjoy it and get something out of it. Just the act of participating in it that can maybe sustain you too. Yeah.

Sarah Laming  38:12

And I think that maybe that's what comes through my I love creating my content. I love my niche. I love the effect it brings on people and I really, really really love creating it. I love waiting for those moments, and I love putting them together. It just brings me so much joy. Yeah, age 50 I suddenly found something that I really really loved doing. It's just bizarre.

Ben Kaplan  38:39

Well, it's an inspiring story. Sara laming a home to make you smile. Check her out on Instagram with 1.2 million other people on TikTok and also with the book relaxed maximalism coming out this fall in the US in the UK and around the world. Thank you so much for joining us keep doing what you're doing. And I look forward to my weekly doses of I guess I would say British Zen with a touch of whimsy, something like that. I don't know if that exists, but but that's what it is for me. Thank you so much. Sarah Laming.

Sarah Laming  39:10

Thank you, Ben. It was a pleasure. And it was a real joy to talk about. I don't know me and my account.

Tom Cain  39:20

This is how Sarah Laming breaks the internet. She dove into the world of Instagram with a commitment to posting for 30 days straight participating in interior design challenges that we're popular within the community. Within her first month Sara won a daily challenge, gaining her first wave of followers and embedding her deeply within a supportive network of content creators. By focusing on creating content that was not only beautiful, but evocative and emotionally resonant. She saw her follower count skyrocket to 17,000 in the first year and a half. The real game changer for Sarah happened when Instagram introduced reels Sarah adapted quickly using this new medium to tell her story through dynamic whimsical fun POs that showcased her design philosophy today with over 1.2 million followers. Sarah stands as a testament to the power of following one's passion and embracing the digital world regardless of the stage of your life proving that creativity connection and content creation have no age limit. This episode was brought to you by TOP Thought Leader, go viral with TTL check out all our shows at Like and Subscribe

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