As a lead Male Influencer in the digital media space, Philip is known for having an incredible following, and being a leader of meticulous planning and execution both with strategy and projects. He is changing the way digital media engages as being a ‘weekender’ of social media and priding himself putting the focus on quality content.
He shares with us how he is building his brand, engaging with his following all while still working Monday – Friday and how 2021 he plans to become a household name.
Tell us about what you’re doing Monday-Friday and how you started your Saturday and Sunday.
I am an engineer and a scientist by training, I have two Master’s degrees and a PhD and I lead a research team developing new materials. I’ve always been very technical by nature. I love solving problems and those include ones around the home. If I can engineer a complex system at work I can certainly figure out how to install a tile backsplash. It was only natural for me to want to do my own projects around the house. I started doing home projects about 17 years ago while in college. I had my first place, a condo, and just started upgrading it and kept going.
We moved into our first single family home in 2010 and then we moved into our current home in 2016. My goal is to upgrade every space in the house from builder grade to very custom designs. I do it because it’s a fun hobby. I do it because I like the challenge. I do it because I like to save money. And now I get to do it in front of two hundred thousand people, which is pretty awesome. I like to give people tips and tricks. I love to give people the motivation to try to do their own work on their home. I like to inspire. And it’s really fun when someone messages me to say, “I’ve never done this before, but you inspired me to try doing this project, and look what I did!”
Some of the projects I do are above the head of the typical homeowner, but I think it still energizes them, to let them know it is possible. Like my current project in my bedroom, I installed hardwood floors. There’s a lot of steps and there’s a lot of things you have to do right to make sure it looks great in the end, but the idea that someone who’s not a professional hardwood floor installer can do it properly, if they take the time and the energy to research how to do it. It’s not a black art. You can find all the information you need if you just take the time to dive deep into the web.
Some people message me and say, “You know I will never do what you do, but it’s fun to watch you do it.” My biggest part of my platform is not my Instagram feed, I only post once a week. My biggest goal is to draw my followers into my stories. Because I can connect with them for a whole weekend. I try to make them entertaining and informational so my followers keep coming back. Last weekend was exciting, it was the first weekend that I broke 100,000 story viewers on one of my story frames. Between my stories and my single post, I typically reach two-thirds of my following every week.
I spend a lot of time prepping. I have all my materials ready and I pre-record a few of the stories so that I have a really action packed weekend for everyone. Typically about 40% of my following will be in my stories and I’ve even reached 50% on a few occasions. For the average influencer 10-25% is much more common, so I feel good that I am producing content that my followers feel like they can’t miss!
How do you balance your full time job while growing your side job? What’s more of your passion or are they both passions in different lights?
They are definitely both important to me and I love doing both. It means I watch less golf on TV than I used to, haha. Home projects really are my only hobby now. Outside of my 9-5 and family time, building my following and my brand consumes me. And everybody is OK with it for now. I do a lot of planning and prepping after our girls go to bed in the evenings.
What is one of the positives of being a male in a predominantly female industry?
I think that being one of the only large male influencers in the home/DIY space makes me pretty memorable. I think it does help drive some story views as well; I am different than what they see when they flip to the next person. In general I am just a contrast to what they’re seeing on a daily basis.
There are plenty of female DIYers that are just as skilled as me and I love being the odd man out in the group. The best ones do just as well as me or better with audience engagement. I am only where I am today because of the extremely talented women behind @Frills_and_drills and @Angelarosehome (both on the Parker Management roster). Lindsay, Angela and I have spent so much time analyzing and swapping notes on what kind of content the DIY loving community wants to see, and how to use the Instagram platform to its full potential to engage them!
What is your process for content creation? Besides batching during the week, do you have any other tricks?
I have a rough content calendar that outlines the major projects I am going to be working on in the next 6-12 months. I try to be as realistic as possible about what I’m actually going to be able to accomplish so that I can create a pretty detailed schedule for the coming month. For the current week, I try to work backwards a lot. So I say, this is what I want my post to be on Sunday, so everything I am doing for the next week has to be focused on how I get to that end goal.
To drive engagement on my feed, I align the end of my two day story block with a feed post showing what I’ve accomplished on my project. It’s like watching a TV show. You don’t skip the last 5 minutes once you get to the exciting part of the TV show. So my Instagram feed post is like that last five minutes of the TV show – the climax. You’re getting followers excited to see the ending, and when you do that, even relatively “boring looking” posts can be well engaged! Once I know what the feed post is going to be, I write out a storyboard for my stories. I methodically plan it out frame by frame so I can make sure I am keeping my viewers entertained and they won’t get bored. I don’t want too many slides of the same thing, because that is when people start tapping through or even worse, swiping to the next account.
I don’t put fluff on Instagram. If it’s not driving towards my ultimate goal of informing or entertaining, then I don’t put it on there. In the end, Instagram knows if people are disinterested so it won’t feed those people your stories for a while. So you have to do everything possible to try to keep people with you. And keeping people with you in stories is important because it increases your feed post traffic. People love quick entertainment, and if you aren’t doing something informative or entertaining then it is more likely they are going to go to the next person.
Any secret to your substantial growth?
For my growth specifically, Instagram hasn’t really done much for me. Unless you’re doing something that’s really funny or you can dance really well, it is very unlikely that you are going to be fed to millions of people and gain thousands of followers overnight (repeatedly) through the Instagram Algorithm. In the DIY, home, lifestyle space, that’s not really a thing.
For my growth, it’s all been through engagement and networking. I want my followers to really love my content, whether that’s the average homeowner or a fellow DIY influencer with 200K followers. I’ve grown through having small, medium and large accounts share my work. I often do mutual story shares with other well engaged accounts where we send a few thousand followers to each other. A single one of those can send more followers than I would get in a year through picking the right hashtags on feed posts. When I first started, and I had less than 20K followers, I spent hours a day connecting with like-minded accounts, building my network, trying to get my name and account in front of the most important players in the space.
What is a goal you’ve set for 2021?
In terms of a project, I have a massive screened in porch that I have planned. It’s in the design phase now, and I think the build will take about three months! And professionally, my goal is always to grow exponentially. Can I double in size this year? That would be the goal!