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 …
- Create the product you want to create without surveying your audience or even selling a single unit
- Make it available on your website and start casually mentioning it to your audience on social media and in your newsletter
- Get frustrated that no one’s buying and start mentioning it more
- Run a sale on your digital product because they’re still not buying it
- 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.)?
- 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.
- 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:
- 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
- The lead enters their information to watch the webinar, which is set to air about 20 minutes after they enter their info
- 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.