Ugh! These things are the worst, and they’re usually the things that keep women entrepreneurs from being as visible as possible to get in front of their clients.
In this episode Marketing & Mindset Coach Jaclyn Mellone shares how she has overcome her own struggles with a fear of visibility, and how designers can take the right steps to get in front of their clients.
Jaclyn Mellone is a marketing + mindset mentor, speaker and co-hostess of the All Up In Your Lady Business podcast. She helps entrepreneurs become the go to gal in their space, from the inside out.
When not she’s helping entrepreneurs get out of their head so they can own the spotlight, and you can find Jaclyn dancing in the family room with her husband Chris and their two little ones, or being lounged on by their fur-child, Louie… most likely in a sea of naked Barbies and dismantled Lego sets.
Jaclyn loves to connect on Instagram (@jaclyn_mellone) and her Facebook group (Marketing + Mindset for Personal Brands) usually with her favorite Black Toasted Almond cuppa joe from Dunkin’ Donuts in hand! If you are trying to figure out what you’re superpower are, Jaclyn can help for free here.
If there’s one thing interior designers should stop doing, according to brand photographer Mallika Malhotra, it’s hiding behind their website and logo.
In this episode, I talk with Mallika about how designers can bring more of their unique story to their brand, how to be influential, and she even shares her tips for getting the most out of your branding photo shoot.
Mallika Malhotra a professional photographer, brand strategist, educator and author of The Brand Photography Playbook. After years of working in the corporate advertising world, she now helps ambitious women entrepreneurs, influencers, movers and shakers bring their personal brand and business to life with visual storytelling. Her mission is to empower women to stop hiding and to confidently become the face of their brand.
I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Sheilah from DesignFiles since early in 2018, and I knew from the beginning that she would have some serious entrepreneurial wisdom to share!
In this episode, Sheilah talks about how she started DesignFiles and tested business ideas, why it’s important to launch “imperfectly,” how she used grassroots marketing to build the audience for DesignFiles and how she positions her brand among competitors.
Also, you can try DesignFiles using my affiliate link and code DF50 to get a 50% discount on premium plans.
Sheilah MacSporran is a co-founder of Olioboard.com a successful online interior design platform that allows it’s half a million members to create digital room designs that can be shopped with a click. Olioboard has been featured on TV shows and sites such as The Today Show, The Nate Berkus Show, The Steven and Chris Show, City Line TV, Mashable and Apartment Therapy.
In addition to Olioboard, Sheilah is also a co-founder of the recently launched DesignFiles.co which provides thousands of interior designers with their own private and branded online design platform. Using DesignFiles, interior designers can get their own e-design business up and running and ready to accept clients in minutes.
Before devoting her work full time to Olioboard and DesignFiles, Sheilah was Vice President at Keele UX Inc. a web design business she and her husband built. Keele UX Inc. helps established and start-up businesses design and build their online products.
As a coach teaching effective marketing to interior designers, I hear the same story over and over …
Designers everywhere are barely cracking past $25,000 in annual income – which, as you can imagine, doesn’t really pay the bills and cripples one’s ability to be independent within their life.
What I also see is this …
Because of the low earnings, most interior designers’ spouses and family don’t take their career seriously, and because of this, most designers don’t take their own careers seriously! It’s a heartbreaking cycle.
Hold on, I’m not done …
As if all of this wasn’t enough, the public’s perception of value for interior design services is at an all-time low. Over the past 25 years, companies like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Restoration Hardware and – more recently – Laurel & Wolf have given consumers a way to bypass designers’ services (and fees).
I’m not telling you all of this to discourage you, but rather to give you a snapshot of the truth – an accurate picture from where you can plan your marketing strategy.
I believe in interior designers and their talent because I was one in a previous career. I know the profound impact good design can have for home values and people’s well-being.
So I want to talk to you about how Interior Designers can learn to love marketing and actually make a reliable, respectable living – and beyond.
First, let’s talk about how designers can start to love marketing, because – right now – they definitely don’t.
I know from first-hand experience that no one gets an education in marketing from their interior design training. Out of my four years of schooling in a Bachelors of Science in Interior Design program, we had only two quarters of “business branding” where we created a logo and business cards. From talking with other designers, I know this experience is common and no one recalls learning anything about marketing, business development, and lead generation.
AKA: actually getting clients.
The question is: how can we get designers to love marketing?
Because this is the core of my business, it’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a long time. I know that, when anyone sees results and success from their efforts, they’re likely to repeat them. That’s how we’ll know they love marketing.
But actually getting them to take the steps in the first place requires some deeper mindset work.
Imposter Syndrome is when you have so little confidence in yourself, that you constantly fear being “found out” as not having enough experience, credentials, and/or talent to meet the standards of a ruthless, imaginary prospective client who is just waiting to bust you.
Imposter Syndrome exists across many different industries, but I believe that the root of Imposter Syndrome within the interior design community actually begins with the culture of “peer critique.”
If you haven’t been through design school, peer critique is where, once you’ve completed a design project, you present it to your class and you get feedback from not only the instructor, but also your peers. The process is meant to teach designers how to create designs once they’re out working in the field, through constantly asking, “is this the best, possible solution?”
The problem, in my opinion, is that peer critique spirals out of control among designers, creeping out from the only place it belongs – design – and into personal territory.
Designers critique. They are people with opinions. Sometimes, those opinions are critical of each other personally. Even if you haven’t been the subject of critique, hearing someone critique another instills fear and insecurity within you.
As a result, I’m seeing swaths of designers afraid to take even the smallest risks, instead preferring to play small by busying themselves with their website design, pro bono portfolio building, and chronic undercharging.
The hesitation they’re feeling comes down to one, simple thing: fear of failure.
They fear that, if they put out a website that isn’t perfect, or ask for a reasonable rate, or get a client and not know the exact process, or even pitch a client in the first place, they could fail miserably – spectacularly – and that would look bad in front of their peers.
Peers would critique, the designer who took the risk would have egg on her face, and this would be the only possible outcome of risk-taking.
It’s true, sometimes you pitch a client and they reject you. You could also land a client and find yourself not knowing the next step. In fact, there are an infinite number of possibilities for missteps and failure (and, as you’ll learn in just a minute – opportunity) in your business.
That’s entrepreneurship. Perfection is never an option.
As an entrepreneur, failing at things is something you do on a daily basis. Most of the time, it’s pretty harmless. Sometimes, you get an epic smackdown. Every time, you have the opportunity to learn something invaluable about your business.
In fact, failing on a regular and consistent basis means 1.) you’re acquiring knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, and 2.) you’re actively moving forward toward your business goals.
Let me repeat that: trying – and sometimes failing – on a daily basis is PROOF you’re moving forward and growing your business.
Yes, there may be processes and protocols to help you create a business without having to reinvent the wheel every single day, but the majority of things you learn will be by good ol’ trial-and-error.
This process of failing every day toughens your spirit – which is essential for entrepreneurship – and also makes the wins you do get feel incredible, because you earned them with the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that taking risks in marketing your interior design business pays off, literally, I want to give you something easy to remember …
The thing you’re most afraid of – approaching that client you’d love to work with, usually – is the the thing you need to do right now. You might think that fear is protecting you from looking like a fool and, in a way, you’d be right. That’s your primitive, survival instinct leveraging fear to protect you from a sabertooth tiger attack.
But, in the modern world, life isn’t quite as fragile, and those fears are intuition and inspiration speaking to you about what should be done. A wise woman once said, “feel the fear, do it anyway.”
Fear has evolved from primal protection to modern inspiration. Use it to win.
Winning = an unyielding sense of empowerment. It’s that sense of empowerment – the feeling of it – that causes you to LOVE marketing your business.
Despite reports otherwise, the world is a big place – so vast, in fact, its out of our ability to comprehend. It’s full of all kinds of different people looking for help and solutions. Some people are going to want help and solutions from the most credentialed, most celebrated, and most famous of designers.
But, the truth is, most people in this big world don’t have the time or patience to go on an epic search like that. They just need solutions – YOUR solutions.
If you’re reading this and you’re a designer or a decorator, where ever you’re at in your career or training, YOU’RE ENOUGH. You don’t need more experience, more education, more training or more portfolio material to get a client NOW.
Stop planning and go get some clients. It’ll be a win you’ll want to feel over and over again.
I’ve been so excited to share this episode with you because I think that sponsorships for interior designers is such an untapped vehicle to monetization.
Morgan Molitor’s business Construction2Style has been sponsored by companies such as Sherwin Williams, Lutron Electronics, Elkay, and other brands many interior designers work with on a regular basis. She’s not an interior designer, but so much of her strategy can be used for designers.
In this episode, Morgan pulls back the curtain on exactly how her business makes money, detailing how much percentage is income from her remodeling business and how much is from sponsorships.
She also gives us some great tips for leveraging the content you create.
About Morgan and Construction2Style …
Jamie and Morgan Molitor are a husband and wife remodeling and styling team. For over five years, they’ve been tearing houses apart and creating new dream spaces not only for their clients but themselves; starting off as a DIY blog, and now full service interior residential design and remodeling team.
Pamela Dale might be one of my favorite people to talk to – not just about funnels, but about anything. She has so much enthusiasm, you can’t help but get excited about whatever is happening in the conversation.
In this episode, Pamela breaks down exactly what a sales funnel is in the first place, so we all understand. Then, she helps us understand the tools needed to create a funnel, the time and cost involved in creating one, and her two preferred types of funnels for interior designers.
But, we also go off-script a bit and talk about how to fall in love with marketing your business and becoming highly visible.
It’s a can’t-miss episode! Enjoy!
About Pamela …
Pamela was born and raised on a farm in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. Her childhood taught her to be resourceful, honest, and above all, hardworking.
She is obsessed with human behavior (big time!), especially in marketing. Why does one person buy something and another doesn’t?
Figuring that puzzle out is what thrills her analytical mind. It satisfies her need to understand people and their motivations. It’s probably what lead her to go into business by herself.
She quickly figured out that her old idea – working hard to earn success – wasn’t going to be her friend when it came to business.
She needed to work smart – and be smart – instead.
Marketing your business with Pinterest has changed a lot since the platform debuted several years ago. No longer is Pinterest a social media channel or just a place to pin recipes; Pinterest is a powerful search engine to help get your interior design business found by your audience and customers.
In this episode, I talk with Vanessa Kynes about how she helps her blogger and designer clients leverage Pinterest to grow their reach and visibility. We talk about curating boards, the proper way to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website, and how to combine Pinterest and affiliate marketing.
We even go a little bit further and talk about using services like Tailwind to help you pin even more, and when to hire a Pinterest virtual assistant.
About Vanessa …
Vanessa is a Pinterest Marketing Strategist for creative small businesses. Using YouTube and her blog, she helps creative small businesses blossom by creating traffic-generating Pinterest strategies to increase their visibility.
Juggling the demands of her own budding business with those of family and home, she specializes in efficient productivity, making the most out of every moment, and every pin!
Hailing originally from the great state of Texas, she has lived in two foreign countries and enjoys traveling with her three sweet daughters and memory-seeking husband while residing in the Pacific Northwest. You can find her blogging at vanessakynes.com.
When I first began networking within interior design communities late last year, I immediately noticed a concerning, fatal flaw …
They were practicing marketing tactics that don’t work. And, as a result, everyone was demoralized and scared because they simply weren’t making enough money.
See, my first career was interior design, but I only got to see it from the employee’s side, and not the business owner’s side. When I was laid off for the second time from corporate design, I became a business owner – and that’s when I learned the most critical piece of marketing a business based around a personal brand:
You must have a unique selling proposition (USP).
You need to understand and communicate what makes you different and unique, as opposed to your peers.
But what I was seeing among perhaps thousands of interior designers online was well-intentioned, but not compelling enough to get potential clients to part with thousands of dollars for design fees when the basics of an education in decorating is pretty much available to anyone with access to HGTV and Pinterest.
Most designers and decorators will bristle at that thought; the idea of consumers taking design into their own hands after watching Fixer Upper or thumbing through Pinterest sounds like a recipe for disaster.
In many cases, they’d be right. But, as a business owner, I like to know about something we designers call “existing conditions.” And the public having access to enough knowledge to avoid the fee of a designer and get the outcome they’re after is an existing condition you must understand and accept.
Here’s the thing though: this doesn’t mean you, as a designer, cannot create a profitable business doing what you love. However, it does mean you will likely need to reassess what you offer and who you offer it to.
So let’s talk about creating a profitable business.
First, you must understand WHO you want to work with.
In online business, we call this an ideal client avatar (ICA). An ICA is not an age range of a person or the type of projects you want to work on – it’s an avatar. An avatar is a character sketch of a very specific person.
It’s not enough to bust onto the scene and proclaim, “I’m an interior designer! Here are some design tips! Oh, and look at my portfolio!”
Yawn. No one cares, bb. Why should they?
Something I’ve noticed when new designers get into my free Facebook group is that they insist their ideal client understands and appreciates the value an interior designer brings to a project and, therefore, has no problem paying their fee.
Oh really? Tell me more about this unicorn you speak of …
Certainly, among the 1% of the 1%, there are people who have no problem handing over a blank check to someone who has talent and expertise like yours. Do clients like this exist? Yes – but there’s not enough of them to sustain an entire industry of designers.
In my design career, I’ve worked with multimillionaire real estate developers, executives, and entrepreneurs, and not a single one of them had a laissez-faire attitude toward the design of their home. In fact, they all wanted to know where they could cut costs, both in fees and materials.
This is where your ICA comes in.
You must develop the profile of someone you want to work with. This profile must be so detailed that you understand all their hopes, dreams, and fears. You’re going to use this information to demonstrate the value you could bring to their project – THAT is how you get clients who are willing to pay your fee.
But they don’t come to you that way, you must create and cultivate clients.
But not just any audience – you need to fill that audience with people who match your ICA. And building that audience is NOT going to happen by sharing portfolio project after portfolio project, or trade show recap blog posts, or rants about the decline of the industry. Stop wasting your time with that nonsense, regardless of who told you to do it that way or who you might see doing it. It doesn’t work.
This is how marketing works – and it’s universal, across all industries:
Gather up people you can help, then help them.
Yeah, for free. It’s how you demonstrate value.
As a designer, here’s what you’re up against:
Pinterest and the, literally, millions of blog posts and tutorials that can be found and easily duplicated
HGTV and the motivation one gets after watching Joanna Gaines effortlessly complete remodel after remodel
Apathy; pushing their design project to the back burner, spouses not being on the same page, etc.
At this point, you’re not even competing with other designers – you’re competing against DIY. And the way to get clients to trust you enough to whip out their credit card or checkbook is NOT to TELL them they should, but to SHOW them WHY they should.
I’ve found this works best in Facebook groups. Start one, fill it with your ICA, give them everything you know via Facebook live video.
That’s it! And sooo simple.
So, let’s talk about why you don’t want to do that, because I know you don’t …
“I don’t know if I have enough time to manage a Facebook group and create all that extra content.”
Question: do you currently have enough clients and/or income and/or profit?
No? Then you have time. Stop doing all the other things you think you “need” to be doing that aren’t bringing you clients right now (ahem, Instagram) and get your Facebook group up and running. Kick it off with a challenge that shows them your, unique design process to get them engaged.
“But, if I tell them how to design themselves, won’t they just take advantage of the free advice and not hire me?”
Let me ask you this: how many people do you think can actually duplicate what you do, even if you explained it to them, and still get a good result?
Maybe some, sure. But they weren’t ever going to hire you anyway.
More likely, they’re going to take your highly-valuable process and get stumped along the way because they don’t have the education, experience, and talent you have.
Besides, people rarely take meaningful action when they have no “skin in the game.” That free advice they got in your group? They see tons of value in it, but executing it themselves is another story. Life has a way of throwing obstacles onto the path – and that’s where you come in with an offer of either a product or service they can put their commitment into by paying for it.
Which brings me to …
Make offers your audience wants.
After you’ve built a Facebook group full of people who match your ICA, it’s time to create the opportunity for exchange. In this case, we’re talking about an exchange of money for outcomes or money for tools that can create outcomes.
One of the many amazing features about Facebook groups is that you can use polls to ask your audience questions about what it wants and how they want it.
DO NOT assume your audience wants full-service design. More and more consumers actually want to be involved in the design process. That doesn’t mean you cannot offer full-service design or edesign, but you also need to make sure you’re offering a solution they’ve said they want to buy.
So many designers make the mistake of thinking the only way to monetize is with full-service design, but full-service is actually the LEAST profitable way to run your design business. Why? Because it’s the most time-intensive for you.
By building an ideal audience, and then surveying them, you get to understand exactly how they want to be served and use that information to create profitable offers at different levels of profitability in your business.
Want to join our FREE Facebook group just for interior designers? We have over 900 designers already there, building their businesses! Sign up below and save your spot!
She’s down-to-earth, savvy AF, and reeeeeally successful at creating not just a custom design business, but an online empire.
Cathy has taken her graphic and web design business and transformed it into a virtual hub for her customers. When I saw that she was successfully selling a passive income product intended to help her customers create a custom result, I knew I had to have her on the podcast.
In this episode, Cathy shares with us how she created her passive income funnel. She also gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her business and how she’s achieved so much success online.
Cathy Olson has been beautifying brands and designing experiences of digital delight for over 17 years, working with multi-million dollar brands like Costco, Best Buy and Disney. Now the founder of Love Inspired, an international branding and web design studio with a boutique approach, she helps flourishing creatives package their expertise in a way that excites eyes, hugs hearts, and cues cha-chings.
When Cathy’s not innovating for talented clients, she shares her multifaceted expertise through Digital Summits, Webinars, e-Courses or on her YouTube Channel. She has a passion for putting the fun in functional, the purpose in pretty, and the meaning in details. Her heart’s mission: To help talented creatives feel proud to share their ideas and passions with others, and inspired to stretch their businesses to new heights.
***This post contains an affiliate link for a product I use and love. I make a small commission if you decide to try it, but I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t think was the best, possible option available.
Early in my online entrepreneur career, I stumbled on using a style quiz to build my audience. I learned almost immediately that it was probably the fastest way to build an email list full of qualified customers.
For years I used different different types of quiz platforms: online software, WordPress plugins – anything that would help me educate my audience about the different style archetypes I had created and also build my email list effectively.
But most were really buggy, difficult to use, and just didn’t present a professional aesthetic. Then, in 2017, I found Interact.
Interact was so easy to use and created such a beautiful quiz for my audience that I fell in love immediately – which is why I wanted to get Interact founder, Josh Haynam, on the podcast to talk about using quizzes.
In this episode, we talk about the importance of building an email list and how using quizzes fits within the overall strategy of growth for your business.
It’s perfect for interior designers who want to build a big audience of enthusiastic supporters, and I even share my experience using a quiz to build an email list of thousands.
PS – Josh was nice enough to give me and my listeners a super generous discount. Use my affiliate link and code nestandprosper to get 15% off any annual plan with Interact.
Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact Quiz Builder, a tool used by more than 30,000 businesses including The American Red Cross, Home Depot, and Forbes. He’s probably seen more quizzes than any other human on earth right now. Josh started interact with no outside funding and it’s been a typical “4 years to overnight success” story.