You don’t need to earn a degree in interior decorating in order to make a career out of your passion. You don’t need to get hired by a design firm, either. If you have the right tools, you can start an interior design business on your own.
Starting an interior design business is now easier than ever.
With the help of the internet, starting an interior design business is easier than it’s ever been before. You can network over social media. You can ask past clients to leave reviews for you online to reassure future clients you’re the right choice for them. You can even speak to your current clients over text or email with when you’re too busy for face-to-face meetings.
Of course, there are obstacles to every goal. If you choose to pursue a career in interior design, there are going to be a few issues that you might have a hard time navigating, especially when you are first starting out and trying to establish yourself as a reliable business. Here are some of the biggest challenges you’re going to have to face:
Finding clients in your area.
Interior design isn’t a remote job you can perform from the comfort of your own home. You need to physically visit the space where you’re renovating in order to take measurements of the space, speak face-to-face with your clients, and see what would work best in each room. If you don’t have the money to fly across the country and don’t want to charge your long-distance clients extra for travel fees, you’re going to have to find clients in your area. This is going to require hours of extra work in addition to your normal interior design duties. You’re going to have to create flyers, write blog posts, and build personal relationships in order to reach potential clients and get them interested in hiring you to renovate their home.
Understanding the various needs of interior design.
Interior design used to place more of an emphasis on decorating the interior of a home. However, now it is related more to interior renovations than decor or decorating. That means, in addition to selecting colors and materials that will create a gorgeous space, you need to be skilled in other areas as well. You need to be proficient in mathematics, so you’re able to create a realistic budget for your clients. You also need to be proficient in drawing so you can create, read, and edit blueprints. Also, since you’re required to make spaces functional and safe, you need to be aware of building codes, inspection regulations, and universal accessibility standards. You need to make sure you’re knowledgeable in all areas of design, building, and renovation.
Ways you can start getting others interested in your work:
The first step to running a successful business is getting the word out about your business. No one is going to hire you if they’ve never heard of you before, which is why you need to invest your time and energy into advertising. You have to create a brand for yourself and promote that brand in any way you can. Luckily, with the help of social media and personalized websites, the internet makes this easier than ever. Here are a few ways you can start getting people interested in your work without even leaving the house:
Start an Instagram channel.
Ashley from The Gold Hive has created a successful following by highlighting her work at home. Ashley has a background in art and has worked at museums for the past ten years. After buying her first home with her husband, a fixer upper in California, she started posting advice and personal stories about renovations, home upgrades, and house maintenance.
If you scroll through her Instagram, you will find photos of restored windows, artwork frames, fresh paint, and everything else that goes into decorating a home. You can follow in her lead by using social media to your advantage. Even if you don’t have any professional renovating work you can post to your feed, you can do what Ashley does and post pictures from your own home. It gives you an opportunity to show the world what you’re capable of achieving – and gives you the incentive to finish the personal projects you’ve been putting off.
Start a website.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re skilled with HTML or website design because you can use a tool like Squarespace to create a portfolio. Squarespace provides software for website building and hosting with pre-built templates. All you have to do is drag and drop elements in order to create your site. You can use Squarespace to create a portfolio and showcase the work you’ve done in your own home. Eventually, once you grow your client list, you can start adding photos of other homes you’ve worked on.
Write blog posts for other websites.
It’s going to take some time and effort for your own website to grow, which is why you should research already established websites that have a strong focus on home design. Many websites will allow you to write blog posts for them in order to reach a wider audience. This will give you an opportunity to talk about your love for interior design and what you do differently.
Ways you can start getting clients:
Clients aren’t going to approach you, especially when you’re new to the business and don’t have a huge portfolio. That means it’s up to you to find your own clients. There are plenty of interior designers who have been in the business for longer than you, which means you’re going to have to do something to set yourself apart from the competition. You’re going to have to show potential clients why they should trust you with their money, with their home, with their family. Here are a few ways you can go about that:
When you’re creating a new business, you need to start small. You need to start locally. The first step is to join your local chamber of commerce. A chamber of commerce is a form of business network whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners can join these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. When you join, it allows you to make business contacts, increases your visibility in the community, and gives you access to members-only discounts. Most importantly, membership will bring credibility to your business, which means clients are more likely to trust you and hire you.
Another great way to start getting clients is to create flyers advertising your business. Once you’ve created something attention-grabbing, you can post your flyers at local coffee shops, grocery stores, and community centers. Some cities even allow you to post flyers on light poles or distribute them by walking door to door. Just make sure to check your local laws beforehand to make sure everything you’re doing is permitted.
You should also consider reaching out to other interior designers in the area and asking to partner with them. You might be able to team up on a project – or will at least be able to grab a cup of coffee together and discuss the ins and outs of the business. They might be able to pass along valuable information or even help you network in order to gain more clients.
Contract first, then turn that into a business.
It’s okay to start small. You don’t need to quit your day job in order to pursue interior decorating. Your best bet is to keep your full-time position but do interior design as a consultation on the side. As a consultant, you will advise clients on colors, lighting, texture, and space. You will create personalized design plans that fit your client’s taste and are also functional for their home. It’s good practice for when you turn your passion into a full-fledged business.
Working as a consultant will help you develop a network of other designers that might want to work with you and start building a potential client base. Once you feel comfortable with your place in the community and your ability to draw in clients, then you can think about quitting your job and turning interior decorating into your full-time gig.
List yourself on Yelp.com.
Even though Yelp has been around since 2004, it’s still a valuable tool today. Many people will search Yelp.com when they’re looking for local services. The site allows clients to rate their experience and leave detailed reviews. That means, if you have one satisfied customer, they can help you build your reputation. Your Yelp page will also contain valuable information about your services, like the phone number where clients can reach you and your general price ranges. If you put yourself on Yelp, you’re tapping into an audience passionate about making an educated decision on where to spend their money.
If you follow these pieces of advice, you can start a thriving interior design business on your own. It’s going to take a while to grow your client list, but you have to remember it’s okay to start small. First, you can focus on renovating your own home. Then you can renovate locally. And who knows what will happen after that?