How Interior Designers Can Create Passive Income – and Why They Should

 

For those of us who love curating interiors, the profession of interior design can be deeply satisfying. In fact, if you ask me, being an interior designer is pretty much the definition of #dreamjob – you get to create something artistic, yet functional, for another human being that they’ll use literally every single day.

Sure, there can be the headaches – usually glitches with vendors or contractors. And, yes, sometimes clients bring the headaches. But, overall, day-to-day, being a professional interior designer makes you the envy of all your non-designer friends for a reason.

There is one thing, though, that can weigh heavily on the minds of interior designers … getting paid.

Whether you charge project fees or hourly, paydays can be amazing windfalls – but there can be periods between collecting payments where you’re not making anything. And, even if you’re doing well enough to not worry between payments, creating an additional stream of income wouldn’t hurt, right?

Enter: passive income.

Your brain is a veritable library of design, full of information that can help people you can’t because either your fees are out of their reach or they are out of your travel zone.

Why not take your process for design and create information products and courses savvy DIY’ers can use to update their home?

To be clear, I am NOT here to convince you to end your full time career as an interior designer so you can sell digital products online – though that’s definitely an option if you’re burnt out and want to do something different.

No, I just want you to have choices.

So, imagine this: while you’re working directly with clients, you’re also earning income – perhaps, every single day – from a library of materials you created. Your marketing for these products runs completely automated – in fact, you could even create an entirely different brand just for your digital products. Though, I think it’s wise to use your existing interior design credibility.

Either way, providing stand-alone digital products or even entire ecourses can provide a significant chunk of income.

In this post, I’m going to outline how you could create passive income as an interior designer with digital products.

But, first, I’m going to tell you how not to do it.

Again, this is how NOT to launch a digital product intended for passive income …

  1. Create the product you want to create without surveying your audience or even selling a single unit
  2. Make it available on your website and start casually mentioning it to your audience on social media and in your newsletter
  3. Get frustrated that no one’s buying and start mentioning it more
  4. Run a sale on your digital product because they’re still not buying it
  5. Give up and lament that digital products didn’t work for you

Now that we’re clear on how not to create a passive income stream with digital products, let’s talk about the right way to do it.

Step One: Brainstorm

First, yes, we want to look at what type of product you can and want to create. So sit down and ask yourself, how might you instruct someone to do what you do from afar?

Keep in mind, you’re not guaranteeing they can conceive and run an interior design project as well as you could if they don’t have the education and experience. You’re simply walking someone through a DIY project.

This will likely be a new audience for you – and that’s okay! We’ll talk about reaching that audience in a minute. For now, what could you teach a reasonably savvy person with digital materials (text, video, etc.)?

    4 Steps to Creating Passive Income as an Interior Designer

  • How to redecorate their living room or bedroom?
  • How to select the right paint colors?
  • How to choose countertop and backsplash materials?
  • How to work with a contractor to remodel their bathroom?
  • How to update a home without remodeling?
  • How to curate an art collection?
  • How to create different tablescapes for the seasons?

As you can see, there are a variety of project scopes here – some are bigger and some are bite-sized. But, what we want to understand is, where is your zone of interior design genius? What could you teach someone and expect they’ll see results?

Brainstorm and draft out ideas before moving on to step 2.

Step Two: Survey Your Audience

Now that we have an idea of what you might want to create, we need audience data.

Consider who you might be creating these materials for based on the project scope and create three pieces of content (either blogs or video, whichever you prefer) to address problems your product could solve.

Examples:

  • Problem: client hates their outdated bathroom/Solution: how to work with a contractor to remodel your bathroom
  • Problem: client is selling their house and needs to update the kitchen/Solution: how to choose countertop and backsplash materials
  • Problem: client avoids entertaining because their living room feels blah/Solution: how to redecorate your living room

What we want to understand is how your audience reacts to this information. Do you get comments? Do readers email you about the blog post? Which posts perform better than others? Also be sure to check your Google Analytics to see real data.

To get your audience’s eyes on these posts, you can either distribute this content to them via your newsletter and social media channels, or you can run Facebook ads to target a new audience.

FYI: either way, we’re going to eventually be using Facebook ads for this. So, if you’ve been avoiding it, now’s the time to reconsider your stance. Facebook ads help you not only reach more people, but the people you choose to target.

While your running your initial ads, be sure to embed the Facebook “pixel” into the header of your site; the pixel is a piece of code that tracks who landed on your site, which you can use later for retargeting.

Step Three: Draft Your Product

Now that you know what you could produce and what your audience wants, see if there’s an obvious sweet spot. Understand that your audience might be asking for something in certain words, but actually need something else. If this is the case, always sell them what they asked for – but give them what they need.

Draft the product you’ve been hoping to create. Again, this can be a simple PDF ebook or an entire course hosted on a website like Teachable.

But don’t create it just yet! Simply draft out what it includes.

Step Four: Build a Sales Funnel

From there, you’re going to need a sales funnel. You’re probably thinking, “a what?”

A sales funnel is the formal sales process that takes your email leads from prospects to buyers. It’s a series of automated steps that usually looks like this:

  1. Run a Facebook ad to a lead capture page – in this case, let’s say it’s an automated webinar of you teaching a sample of something that’s in your zone of genius as a designer
  2. The lead enters their information to watch the webinar, which is set to air about 20 minutes after they enter their info
  3. The lead watches the webinar and buys a product at the end of the webinar

Of course, this is way oversimplified; for example, many people won’t buy at the end of the webinar, so you need to continue nurturing them through email and retargeting them with more ads.

To build this funnel, you could either hire a professional to create it for you or you can learn to use a product like Clickfunnels and ConvertKit. You have to decide if those are skills you want to learn – however, the people who created these products knew they would need to make it easy for entrepreneurs like you to use. Like learning anything else, it just takes a commitment on your part and practice.

So, by now, you’re probably asking what the outcome of creating a sales funnel could be …

An upfront investment in a sales funnel can potentially create thousands, hundreds of thousands or – yes – millions of dollars in passive income.

(If you didn’t click that link, just FYI, it’s not a sales funnel for someone famous or selling an insanely expensive product – it’s just a really effective funnel.)

And, if you don’t think millions of dollars is possible for an interior designer, you must not be familiar with Joanna Gaines and her Magnolia brand. Her design style may or may not be your cup of tea, but she has undoubtedly captured the hearts of millions of Americans who fancy themselves amateur designers – even if they’re just designing their own home.

And that’s the point I want to make sure you understand: passive income products are for a wider market – but that’s what makes them so profitable.

It takes planning and an investment to make this happen, but it’s so worth it when you consider what’s possible.

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How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Interior Design Business

 

Let’s be clear: every business needs a content and social media strategy. This post is not a work-around to avoid it.

However, more and more, I’m seeing interior designers flustered by questions like:

  • How much content should I create?
  • What kind of content should I create?
  • Where should I be spending my time on social media?

Before we get to answering these questions, I think it’s critical to remember your job and your purpose as an interior designer. It really comes down to only two things:

  1. Designwork – what you probably love the most
  2. Marketing to get design clients – an unavoidable task

Unless your career is veering off into different territory, your job is not being a content creator. Do you need to produce content? Yes. But what we want to avoid is positioning you in front of your audience as a go-to source for content.

Yes, I just said, we don’t want your audience to rely on you for content.

You’re. A. Designer.

As a former interior designer myself, I want to keep you in your zone of genius (design) and I want to make marketing the easiest, quickest, most direct way to get you those clients.

So let’s take a look at how to get more clients with content marketing.

The first step in getting clients easier, quicker, and more directly is to understand exactly WHO your clients are.

Your clients are not: anyone, anyone with money, anyone with a house that needs a new kitchen, anyone who will hire you, etc.

As a designer, you make things beautiful and functional. As a business owner, you solve problems. You must understand the problem you solve and who you solve it for.

If you haven’t done the work of figuring out who your clients are, stop right now and consider these questions:

  • What is your ideal project? What’s the scale – one room or the whole house?
  • Who lives in this space? Who would you love to design for?
  • What problems do they have which your design services can solve?

Then, go deeper and develop a real persona around this person by answering these questions (hint: the easiest way to do this is to model your ICA after an actual client you love working with or the person you were before you could provide the solutions you provide now):

First, we need to know demographic info …

    Content Marketing: What Interior Designers Need to Know

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Household income
  • City of residence
  • Children or none?
  • Education
  • Career

Next, we need to know psychographic info …

  • Personality type (Myers-Briggs or other)
  • Personality quirks
  • Favorite saying
  • How happy is she/he?
  • What does she worry about?
  • What is her primary goal?
  • Favorite magazines
  • Favorite books
  • Favorite blogs
  • Favorite movies
  • Favorite TV shows
  • How does she spend her weekends or off-time?
  • Does she have hobbies? What are they?
  • Political leanings

Write a 500 word narrative about them. Why? Remember when I said “most direct way of getting clients”? This is how you find them – by understanding who they are.

Then, go to unsplash.com and find a free stock photo of someone who represents your ideal client. Keep it visible for when you’re writing blog posts or posting on social media.

Now that you understand who your clients are, we have to figure out how best to position you so that you, your business, and the opportunity to work with you are irresistible.

To answer this question, we must understand, who do you need to be for this client?

We know you’re a problem-solver, we know you  have design talent and skills, but who is the person you need to be?

Is it a trend-setter for up-and-coming entrepreneurs? And understanding resource for a busy family? A translator of someone’s luxurious vision? A discerning eye for someone with a bazillion ideas?

Choose who that persona is, then create content a.) for those people and b.) that positions you appropriately.

You don’t need to create an encyclopedia of random content every week. Again, your job isn’t to be a design magazine – your job is to be the interior designer for your ideal clients.

The problem with creating too much content is that your audience starts to view you as a content creator – do you see why that’s a problem?

To answer that question, think of what we do with magazines – even ones we love? We flip through them …

And that’s about it.

We don’t want your audience treating your brand like a design magazine. But we do want your ideal client learning about you and what you can do for them. So, create content that satisfies an actual problem your client has.

We also don’t want your blog content to just be installation photos.

Yes, of course, we definitely want to see your work – it’s how you position yourself. But the point of a blog is to educate your ideal client.

Finally, it’s time to decide how to be effective on social media.

The keyword here is “effective,” but, effective at what?

Your overall goal for marketing should always be capturing leads and converting leads into clients, but so often we lose sight of this in favor of “vanity metrics.”

Vanity metrics are things like number of followers, number of likes on a single post, shares, open rates for emails, cost per lead, etc. At the end of the day, all we really need to know is: are you profitable as a company?

But, let’s get back to the business of effective social media, which is capturing leads …

Now that you know a.) who your ideal client is and b.) what kind of content you need to produce for her, let’s take a look at which social media channels and tactics are probably best for you. I’ll review the most popular and weigh pros and cons of each.

Facebook

With 1.8 billion users, it’s a safe bet your clients are on Facebook. But many interior designers get extremely discouraged because the organic reach (how many followers see non-sponsored content) on their business page is very, very low – as in, 3-6%.

When I created my first Facebook business page in 2011, there were no restrictions and no way to buy ads for a small business like mine – so everyone who followed my page saw everything I published.

It’s understandable why small business owners would be frustrated, but unlimited reach to your customers without paying a fee is a.) a thing of the past and b.) unheard of anyway.

If you’re a business, you need to be investing in advertising at some point. But that doesn’t mean you need to lose money in the venture.

Facebook is a great tool to use for advertising because it collects detailed, precise information about it’s users. If you’re an interior designer, we can easily target your ideal client if you have enough information about her.

Facebook pros: Detailed user information makes it good for targeted ads

Facebook cons: A very small percentage of followers will see your non-sponsored content

Instagram

Instagram is a great platform for being visible as an interior designer because it’s one place where prospective clients go looking for interior design inspiration and interior designers.

It has great capability to both position yourself and search locally, and you can also advertise on Instagram via Facebook.

If you’re not using advertising on Instagram, though, you must rely on hashtags to reach your audience and – even then – it’s a bit of a craps shoot. In addition, without advertising, you’re limited to just one link, which is in your profile. So, whenever you offer a call to action to your audience, it must be through the link in your profile, and you must say in the caption of your photo, “link in profile.”

However, Instagram does have a messaging feature that allows you to talk with prospective clients. So use that to connect with people and make sure you optimize your profile with a link back to your website where you’ll capture their email for email marketing.

Instagram pros: Good combination of being both a visual medium and also social networking

Instagram cons: Limited ability to direct followers off the platform if you’re not using ads

Pinterest

If you’re like me, Pinterest is your happy-place. Pinterest allows you to curate collections of content – which is pretty similar to curation work interior designers do for clients.

Pinterest was practically made for interior designers, and it’s a great way to show prospective clients the range of your style. There’s also no restriction on how many pins you add that are directed back to your site, giving you the opportunity to share your valuable content as much as possible.

However, like every other social media platform, Pinterest allows advertising, which limits organic reach of non-sponsored content. In order to get some really effective Pinterest game going, you should be pinning 50+ images a day and contributing to group boards. Yes, you read that right; Pinterest is a part-time job. But the upside is that more and more virtual assistants are offering Pinterest management, so outsourcing is always an option.

Also, keep in mind, Pinterest isn’t a networking platform – so you can be as promotional as you want.

Pinterest pros: It allows you to demonstrate the full breadth of your style

Pinterest cons: Limited reach for non-sponsored posts

Using these tips, you will not only forge a bond with your audience, but you will condition your audience to see you as a solution to the problems they have. As an entrepreneur, content is part of your job. It’s a strategy that’s proven – just make sure you’re using it effectively.

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How Much Should Interior Designers Charge for Consultations?

“Ohhhhh, you’re an INTERIOR DESIGNER??? You have to come check out my house – I’ve been looking for someone to help me with my kitchen remodel!”

How many times have you heard this or something like it?

And how many times have interior design consultations turned into a big, fat dead-end? Wasted time you can never get back, spent driving across town and back, to talk with someone who wasn’t really that serious to begin with.

Because, we’re just lounging around in the studio all day playing with fabrics and have nothing better to do, right?

Thankfully, the trend of free, in-home consultations has mostly gone the way of the Dodo. Charging an up-front fee – you know, for your valuable time – has become common practice, separating serious prospective clients from tire-kickers.

But, deciding on what to charge for your consultation can be a daunting task. Think about it: that rate is part of your first impression with the prospective client.

The number you choose communicates something. How Much Should Interior Designers Charge For Consultations?

In this post, we’re going to talk about three, different fees you could be charging for your consultations – but after we talk about that, we definitely need to talk about something very important …

How to get qualified prospects in the first place. More on that later.

The amount you should charge for consultations all depends on your ideal client (see below) and the overall fee for your services. The higher the design fee, the more you should charge for your consultation. But, let’s take a look at a few numbers to see what they might communicate to a client.

$197

Two hundred dollars is the absolute minimum you should charge. This amount is perfect for a small, single-room project. It communicates an “express” style of design for clients who are just starting to dip their toes into working with a design professional.

$397

Four hundred dollars is a good consultation fee for a mid-range home remodel. It’s high enough that it will deter tire-kickers and rate-shoppers, but will also communicate that you are serious about your work.

$997

One thousand dollars means business – it’s the Linda Evangelista of consultation fees (90s supermodel reference, anyone?). A $997 consultation fee says, “I’m worth it – you either get it or you don’t.”

With this fee, you definitely want to spend a good amount of brainstorming time with a client. Meet all decision makers at the house or the site, walk through it and conceptualize a grand plan. Bring an assistant along to record everything. Be prepared to wow them on-the-spot with your amazing ideas. Follow up in two weeks with a concept board.

With all of these consultation fees, definitely apply the rate as a credit to the overall fee for the project.

However, all of this information is pointless if you’re not actively attracting the right client to you in the first place.

It doesn’t matter what you charge for a consultation if your lead hasn’t been properly qualified or prepped; meeting with the wrong client isn’t worth any amount of money.

Let’s talk about that now, how do you attract the right interior design clients for your business?

Step One: Ideal Client Avatar

In order for you to attract the proper clients, you must know who they are – both demographically and psychographically. We call this an ideal client avatar (ICA).

Demographics are things like age, marital status, zip code, household income, etc. Those are all very important things to know.

But psychographics are your clients personality quirks, their media preferences, cultural touchstones, who they aspire to be, and – most importantly – the design problem they have which you can solve.

Who are these people, on and off paper? You must know them intimately so you can …

Step Two: Talk to Your ICA in Your Content

Keeping a blog, posting to Instagram, writing Facebook business page updates are all important things to do, but doing these things isn’t for you – they’re for your client.

With your content, you should be sharing useful information that provides value for your client. Each time you write or post, ask yourself, “will my ideal client find value in this?”

But I’m not just talking educational value – which is important – I’m talking about emotional value. What would connect better with a client: talking about paint colors or talking about the emotional triggers that have prompted them to seek the assistance of a designer?

Emotional triggers are things like:

  • Wanting a suitable home for their family
  • Avoiding entertaining because their home is dated
  • Needing a sanctuary because their job requires 70+ hours a week

If you don’t factor your ICA into your content, you’re not talking to them – you’re probably just talking to yourself. If you’re not talking to them, you can’t expect they’ll be able to find or connect with you.

Or hire you.

Step Three: Target Your ICA with Advertising

Let’s be real for a second: your services as a designer probably aren’t for everyone. That’s my way of saying you’re expensive.

While many people are perfectly fine with DIY-ing the interior environment of their home, your client prefers to leave things like this to a professional – that’s you.

Further, the relationship between client and designer is intimate because you’re delving into the finer points of their personal lives. For these reasons, you want to make sure you’re only giving time on your calendar to the right people.

Sites like Houzz may give you good exposure with consumers looking for interior designers – but it’s passive marketing for you, meaning: you get what you get in terms of views on your profile.

However, with targeted advertising, YOU get to decide who sees your ad.

With this power, you can target an unlimited array of criteria: age, zip codes and cities, marital status, household income and net worth, home values, and endless interests.

Active marketing like this allows you to focus on finding and working with your ideal client, rather than simply working to get hired by whoever reaches out to you.

Which brings me back to the consultation …

Even when you’re charging for it, you still want to close as many consultations as possible. And, when you’re a designer, your leads are valuable – so, even a 20% increase in revenue for you could be HUGE.

Yes, charge for your consultations, but start to actively target your ideal clients if you haven’t already.

Want to join our FREE Facebook group just for interior designers? Sign up below and save your spot!

How to Get Interior Design Clients Using Facebook

Once upon a time, interior designers only had a few ways of putting the word out about their business.

The most effective way was to know people who needed your services, or people who knew people who needed your services. Referrals are generally slam-dunk sales, but not everyone has direct access to their ideal clients and, maybe, you want to be more proactive and intentional about your sales pipeline.

Another way was to join a networking group with your local chamber of commerce or a BNI referral group. But, as I’ve talked about before, networking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

If you were doing really well in your business, opening a highly-visible location in your town could do wonders – but it’s a huge expense that doesn’t guarantee business.
INTERIOR DESIGN CLIENTS USING FB
Thankfully, in the modern age, there are ways to reach your ideal clients better than simply “right place, right time,” and most interior designers have jumped on social media to put out their digital shingle and attract customers.

Though I see a trend toward designers preferring Instagram over Facebook to attract and court clients, I believe that Facebook is actually the more effective platform for marketing your interior design business.

In this post, I’m going to tell you why Facebook is better, and I’m going to show you three ways to effectively use it to find clients.

First, let’s take a look at your Facebook business page.

What’s that? No one’s seeing your posts?

I know. We’ll talk about why and what you can do about it in a minute. First, what I want you to know is that a Facebook business page is as mandatory as having a website.

And, here’s the thing – both must look fresh and updated.

Just like, if your last blog post was months ago looks a little bad for you, so does having a Facebook page that’s not updated regularly.

The rules about Facebook marketing and how we use it as small businesses change often, but, at this time, a Facebook business page isn’t meant to reach new clients without the use of ads (again, more on that later).

Look at it like this: you don’t expect your website to go out and do the marketing for you. Sure, you might have good SEO which brings people to your site with keyword searches, but having a site probably isn’t an active marketing tactic for you.

It’s the same for a Facebook business page. It just needs to look active; populated with useful content for when your ideal client finds you and goes searching for more information. That’s really how a Facebook business page benefits you: it makes you look good when clients dig a little deeper – IF you keep it updated.

Next up, your Facebook personal profile …

It’s against Facebook’s TOS to advertise your business or make offers from your personal profile – yet, people do it all the time and risk getting everything they’ve built on Facebook shut down.

Don’t do that. It’s the opposite of best practices and looks mighty unprofesh.

However, there are no rules against simply sharing what’s happening in your career.

Preparing a finish board for a client? Share it.

Meeting with a contractor to review progress? Share it.

Finishing up a project and snapping some photos? Share it.

Anything you do in your business can be shared on your personal profile, as long as it’s not making an offer or soliciting business.

People do business with others they know, like, and trust. Therefore, it’s reeeally smart to leverage every inch of real estate you have on social media – that includes your personal Facebook profile.

Feel free to network in groups where your ideal clients hang out and ask questions – preferably, about home design. Answer their questions, provide value, and add connections to your network once you’ve established some rapport.

Optimize your personal profile by adding your business as your current work location, so that when people find you, they get directed to your Facebook business page.

Finally, let’s talk Facebook ads …

Straight up: investing in Facebook ads is a surefire way to grow your business. Why? Because, when you invest, you usually demand an ROI. You stop hoping that the right clients will find their way to you, and you start engineering the process to make sure they do.

But, there’s a catch here …

When I say “Facebook ads,” what I really mean is: an entire sales funnel using Facebook ads to drive highly targeted traffic.

So many people tell me Facebook ads didn’t work for them, and what I find out is that they haphazardly ran a few ads here and there and didn’t get results that seemed worth the expense.

I get it. Facebook has definitely failed in educating the small business community about how to use advertising. But that doesn’t mean ads are a waste of money.

Ads work when you present the right offer to the right audience.

Before you ever run an ad to an offer – either an invitation to a consultation or an opt in, you first want to do an initial “awareness campaign” where you introduce yourself to your audience.

I don’t mean, create a post that says, “Hi, I’m an interior designer!” Nobody cares.

Instead, create a small batch of content that addresses your ideal client’s problems – the ones you solve as a designer – and run ads to those blog posts or videos hosted on your site. You should also include an opportunity within those blog posts to capture visitors’ email with a valuable, free piece of content called an “opt in,” “freebie,” or “freemium.”

An awareness campaign does two things:

First, it creates familiarity with your audience. Facebook isn’t just going to show your ad one time to each individual you target – they’re going to see it multiple times. Show up enough and people will generally accept you as the go-to expert in that field.

Second, it seasons your pixel. Sorry, that’s jargon, let me explain …

Facebook allows you embed a special piece of code on your site that basically allows you to collect information on the users who land on your site or interact with your ad for future retargeting.

Still jargony? Let me try again …

When you run an ad to a large group of Facebook users, you’ll be lucky to get only a small percentage of people to actually click the ad and land on your website.

Out of that small percentage, the same small percentage will opt into your newsletter (do you see now why it’s called a “sales funnel”?). Even though there were people who didn’t opt into your newsletter, it’s reasonable to assume they’re still, somewhat interested in what you have to say.

Facebook collects that data and stores it in your ad account so you can send ads to those people again, giving you unlimited second chances to capture them as an email subscriber.

Once you’ve captured them as an email subscriber, you now have permission to market to them with valuable content and offers.

And that, right there, is how you get clients – by creating content, specifically for your ideal client, using ads to put your content right in front of them, creating rapport by supplying value and then making an irresistible offer.

With the system I just described, it can be virtually 100% automated and foolproof if you’ve done your homework on your client and created the right offer.

Did you read that? Automated. Foolproof. Clients in your inbox.

Right now, too many interior designers are relying on referrals – which don’t always guarantee the leads are ideal or qualified. And referrals are completely unpredictable; I prefer what I can predict over keeping my fingers crossed.

Designers are also spending money on ads with consumer design websites that only give them exposure with an audience supposedly “interested” in hiring an interior designer.

As a business owner, yes, it’s much easier to simply purchase a spot in a directory – but you get no control over who sees you placement, and you’re basically just lumped in with countless other designers competing for the same clients.

Look at this way, you wouldn’t expect a client to let you have carte blanche with their home, without any idea of budget or style, would you?

No. You’re hired to create a specific outcome.

It’s the same with your marketing, only, this time, you’re the client demanding that specific outcome – highly qualified client leads.

Do you see how, this way, marketing becomes dependable and vital? You can easily plan for the creation of content because you know what to expect from it. You can stop wasting your time and money doing things that don’t work, because you’ve seen what does work?

And, best of all, marketing like this has allowed you to devote as much time and emotional energy to the reason you’re here in the first place …

Designing spaces for clients.

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How to Get More Interior Design Clients if You Hate Networking




Let’s be honest: most of us loathe networking.

The thought of standing around a room, trying to balance your plate of canapés, making small talk and trying to seem totally at ease, while also scanning the room for potential clients, doesn’t sound like the greatest use of your time.

Old school experts will tell you that relationship-building is a priority, and I don’t disagree with them! I’m just not convinced that real relationships are formed while networking at mixers.

Even if you did find a source for good networking, how do you let potential clients know you’re an interior designer looking for new projects without seeming desperate, overly eager, or just plain thirsty?

The answer to your problem isn’t more networking or better networking or professional memberships. The answer to your problem is positioning yourself so clients come to you.

In this post, I’m going to outline a strategy you can use to attract highly qualified prospects right to your door. Keep in mind, some of these steps you might already be doing, but it’s important you read all the way through because there might be some parts of it’s you’re missing that could affect your bottom line.

Sounds way better than making small talk over bland canapés and cheap wine, right? You can drink cheap wine at home while watching Netflix!

First, let’s cover the basics of social media for interior designers so we can bring everyone up to speed.

Social Media

Facebook

First and foremost, Facebook is mandatory for marketing your interior design business. As of now, there are 1.8 billion users on Facebook. It’s a safe bet to say that your clients are on Facebook.

Most of us know you can create a business page that allows you to connect with your ideal clients. On this page, you should share useful things to provide value to your potential clients. Because Facebook is designed to allow for sharing among it’s members, you have the potential of going viral among similar users should you establish your page as a go-to source for helpful, valuable content.

Most importantly, you can use your Facebook business page to run highly-targeted ads to find your ideal customer – more on that later.

If you don’t have a Facebook page, make one immediately and start sharing useful information. Note that Facebook’s algorithm prefers to keep users on Facebook, so avoid sharing external links. Instead, share photos that tell a story, infographics and quotes, as well as live video.

Live video will not only get better play in the feed, but it also helps you establish rapport with viewers.

You should also use your personal Facebook profile to position yourself as an interior designer within your community.

Although it’s against Facebook’s terms of service to advertise your business from a personal profile, you can still share anything about your design business – projects, client testimonials, behind the scenes photos and video. Also be sure to link your work history directly to your business page so connections can check out your offers there.

Pinterest

Pinterest, as you probably know, is great for collecting and curating style you love. It’s perfect for establishing your unique design sense – which is important, because you don’t want to attract clients who like styles you have no interest in creating.

Create your Pinterest business profile and keep it curated – meaning, create boards your ideal customer will find interesting. Save recipes and workouts for “secret” boards. Use apps like TailWind and BoardBooster to build your following and find group boards to join for more reach.

Instagram

Instagram is genius if you want to give your followers and prospective clients a look at what goes on behind the scenes of your business. Don’t forget, most people really have no idea how the design process works. Use Instagram to educate them on how important your work is.

With Instagram, it’s all about quality over quantity when it comes to photos. The Instagram audience has high standards for photo quality, so only publish well-staged, well-lit, and well-edited photos. This is one of my favorite tutorials for establishing your Instagram account.

With Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, you should be optimizing your profiles to point back toward your website where you’ll be ready to capture ideal clients as leads – more on that in just a bit.

Houzz

Houzz isn’t technically social media, but it does allow you to create a profile and show off your work. The good thing about Houzz is that it’s designed to attract people who are already interested in designing or decorating their home and might be looking for a professional. It’s a great way to collect leads passively, but it’s not guaranteed the leads that find you will be qualified.

Qualifying leads is one of your most important marketing jobs – let’s talk about how to do that.

Website

You must have a good website. It must look like it was designed recently. It must be mobile-responsive and it must feature your portfolio of work.

Still building that post-graduate portfolio? No problem. Include any work you have, plus your student portfolio, plus any mood boards and renderings you create.

(Note: if you don’t have enough client work, you should be creating material on a regular basis to show off your personal design style.

In fact, designing for ideal, yet “imaginary,” clients on a regular basis will get you into a mindset that will undoubtedly lead to working with those ideal clients in reality. Create an account on Polyvore to start creating mood boards and mock projects in your down time.)

Most importantly, your website must capture prospective client emails with something called a “lead magnet.”

Lead Magnet

Simply having an offer on your website, inviting potential customers to connect with you for a consultation, is not enough.

A lead magnet is a piece of content that provides a ton of value to prospective clients and positions you as the authority in your field. In order to create an effective lead magnet, you must understand what your, particular ideal client wants, and then give it to them.


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Again, what you provide all depends on your ideal client. If you don’t already know who your client is – with insane specificity – you need to do that now.

Ask yourself the following about your ideal client:

    HOW TO GET MORE INTERIOR DESIGN CLIENTS IF YOU HATE NETWORKING

  • Male or female
  • age
  • marital status
  • level of education
  • do they have children in the home
  • own or rent
  • household income
  • value of home (if owning)
  • what are their favorite activities inside and outside the home
  • what style of design do they already like, how much do they travel
  • what are they typically doing on a Saturday night
  • what are their favorite TV shows and movies
  • do they mostly socialize outside of the house or inside
  • where is their favorite place to have dinner
  • what would they do in their backyard

Make a complete narrative profile on this person, don’t be afraid to get very specific; it doesn’t mean people who are similar – but not exactly the same – won’t be interested in working with you. But it does mean that you’ll be guaranteed to connect with your ideal client in a deep way.

Now, ask yourself, what problems do they have that your design service can solve?

  • Do they feel like they can’t entertain friends without feeling self-conscious?
  • Does their kitchen lack functionality?
  • Is their master bathroom horribly outdated?
  • Do they want a more open floorplan?
  • Do they work from home, and their outdated place is demotivating?
  • Do they work outside of the house in a stressful job and need a sanctuary?
  • Are they moving into a new place and want a fresh start?
  • Do they want to sell their place in a few years and need timeless design?
  • Do they need to incorporate more opportunities to relax into their home?

Identify their top three problems and create a resource to help them. Creating this and then giving it to them essentially for free (in exchange for their email address) shows you understand them as a person and are a dedicated professional with solutions galore.


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Funnels and Email Sequences

Creating your lead magnet is just the first step in creating a client out of a lead. Once you have a suitable lead magnet, it’s your job to lead that prospect from “interested” to “ready to sign the contract ASAP.”

Let’s go back to when your prospect opted into your email list in exchange for valuable content (the lead magnet) – what do you think happens next?

The answer is that it’s different for every business. But the goal is to find a balance of nurturing the relationship, while also seeing how ready they are to take the next step.

Let’s say you created a lead magnet that helped potential local clients understand how to hire the right interior designer for their project – a checklist of questions to ask, perhaps.

A lead magnet like this would get the prospect actually thinking about the project in more detail than they had before. Because you supplied the inspiration for thinking this much more in depth, of course they’re probably going to consider you for their project.

And, they’re probably already qualified if they’re interested in giving up their email for information on how to hire an interior designer.

The next step would be to offer them what’s called a “one time offer” immediately after they hand over their email. An example might be an in-home consultation priced at $197. Be sure to note that $197 is lower than your hourly rate.

If your lead accepts your offer, congratulations! You’ve got a prime opportunity to establish rapport, demonstrate your expertise and vision, and ask for their business at the end of the consultation.

If your lead does not accept your offer, they’re still on your email list, so you want to make sure they receive an email “nurture” sequence for a more expensive service – perhaps a consultation with a concept board upgrade for $597.

Again, these rates are introductory, and do not reflect your actual rates – always communicate this. And this, particular funnel may not be right for all interior designers. By knowing exactly who your ideal client is, you can create the best offer sequence for them.

Facebook Ads

Creating a sales funnel and email sequence helps you get the lead converted to a client – but how do you actually get those leads into the funnel in the first place?

The best way – hands down – is with Facebook ads. Let’s talk about why.

Granular Targeting

What I mean here is that Facebook allows you to target users based on limitless criteria. We’re not just talking about age and location – we can target users based on behavior, interests, and even financial status.

Looking for homeowners within a certain zip code with a home value of $1M and over? Done.

Looking for stay-at-home moms with a household income of $500K and up? Done.

Looking for people living within a certain state who recently purchased a home and are obsessed with HGTV? Okay, maybe not – but, if you did, done.

Whatever criteria you have for your ideal clients, we can use that information to ask Facebook to only show your ads to those people, so you know you’re getting in front of qualified leads.

Once you’ve run some ads, then you’ll be able to see who responded to your ad and who didn’t, giving you clues about how to tweak your offer or your ad.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to put lead generation on autopilot, you can audit your existing process and add in the steps you might be missing.

Sadly, the days of just having a website, or just having a website and a Facebook page are over. Creating your custom sales process from beginning to end will not only help you get out of lame networking events, but – if done right – can help you exponentially increase your annual revenue, allowing you to do more of what you love …

Design work.


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