Interior Designers’ Ultimate Guide to Building a Money-Making Email List, Part 1 of 3

When I polled the designers in my Facebook group about why they love being an interior designer, their answers were unanimous: they love that their creations can affect so much happiness in their clients.

Creative solutions + clients who love the results

As a former interior designer, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

But something I’ve noticed – and the reason I started Nest & Prosper – was that many designers, though brilliantly talented, are often missing something very important from their businesses: the income they desire.

And where there is a lack of income, what follows is a tragic lack of belief in their own talent and worthiness – this is what I’m writing this blog post series to help eradicate.

Because the world needs art and beauty, and designers deserve to be compensated.

When I thought of what could be the most helpful for a designer needing to increase her income – aside from my program to help designers land a client in 30 days – I realized the most important thing to have is a strong email list.

I learned this in my own business from 2011 to 2016 when I was a wardrobe stylist. Though based in Orange County, I worked with clients all over the world. It was my email list that allowed me to reach the clients I actually wanted to work with, launch new passive income products to a warm audience, and it was my email list that propelled my income year after year.

As social media changes, it’s important to stay atop of trends. But, for a decade or more, email marketing has remained the top performing marketing channel.

Additionally – and unlike social media – when a business builds an email list, those followers become an asset. Where, Facebook owns the subscribers to your business page, when you build a list, YOU own access to those emails.

What I’m going to teach you in this series of posts is a combination of what I’ve learned over the years and up-to-date marketing tactics as I’ve learned them from my own mentors.

Let’s dive in!

Know your ideal client

A common mistake I see designers making is not having identified their ideal client.

The thing that propels the digital marketing of any business is content. In other words, if you are marketing your business online, you must be creating content to use to market that business.

When I say “content,” I’m mostly talking about writing a blog, but content also refers to any written copy on your website, the content of your emails, webinars, podcasts, etc.

As a designer, you’re probably inclined to create a lot of visual content – like mood boards. While I think it’s important to include your visual style, written content or spoken content is what connects emotionally with your audience. Written content also tells Google and other search engines that you’re relevant to your niche.

So, you need to be blogging, regularly and consistently. But, before you do, you must understand WHO you’re creating this content for because you need to tailor how you speak and write.

For example, if you were to present what you do to a kindergarten class on “career day,” you would tailor your information for five and six-year-old minds, right? You wouldn’t talk above their heads – it’s the same for creating content.

The other purpose for knowing your ideal client avatar (ICA) is so that you can begin to attract to you the people you actually want to work with.

I learned this lesson in my own business when I started out as a wardrobe stylist. The beginning of my journey started in the thrift stores of Newport Beach, reinventing my style. But my content focused too much on “thrifting” and not enough on “reinvention”. As a result, a large part of my email list was only interested in content that was about getting clothes at a discount.

In your own business, I’m sure you can think of at least one instance where you took a project and realized either the work or the client wasn’t something you ever wanted to experience again. Understanding your ICA helps you avoid this and focus on work you’re going to love.

To understand your ICA, you must get very specific. For this reason, many business owners avoid the exercise because they fear it will alienate people who don’t match the description exactly.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Tailored content helps you connect deeply with your ICA, and it also helps establish you as an expert within your niche. Simply talking to a specific kind of person doesn’t alienate reasonable people.

The best exercise I’ve seen for identifying and understanding your ICA is this reader profile questionnaire by Use this to craft a character sketch about your ideal client.

Know what you intend to provide your ideal client

Now that you understand practically everything about your ideal client, you need to know what you intend to provide them.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “duh, design services.” But this is where your business can either flourish or flounder.

Here’s the deal …

Just having income from design services would be a mistake because it leaves money on the table.  Just offering design services means you’re not monetizing an entire section of your audience who may never hire you.

This is where the concept of a “value ladder” comes in (I learned about this idea from Clickfunnels founder, Russel Brunson).

Let’s say you’re a designer for both local and virtual clients and you already provide decorating services by the room. Let’s go back to that ICA description and ask, “what else can we offer this person?”

Dive deep into your own expertise and list out a few service or product ideas that may come before or after your current solution of design services by the room.

For example, you might think of offering a DIY guide to sourcing furniture for a home decorating project – that would go below your solution of design services by room if you were to place each of these solutions on a ladder. The idea is that, the higher you go, the more value you provide and the higher the cost.

Another example might be design services for an entire house remodel, which would go above your current offering of decorating services by room because it’s much larger in scope, provides way more value, and should cost significantly more.

Note here that I’m not instructing you to actually create any additional offers yet. Instead, you’re simply going to brainstorm what you would like to and could offer your ICA.

This is important, because now we’re going to …

Create an effective opt in

What I mean when I say “create an effective opt in” is this:

Create a piece of free, but highly-valuable, content that addresses your ICA’s biggest problem – but also leads them to their next step with you.

I learned this concept from Marissa Murgatroyd at Live Your Message. Basically, by creating the tiered solutions that we talked about above, you’re able to monetize your audience at an array of levels.

Your opt in is the beginning of that.

But, let’s go back to what an opt in is first: highly-valuable content, given for free, but in exchange for someone’s email address. In turn, you can use email marketing to reach them until they opt out.

Your opt in should not only be used as “bait” to collect emails, but also to tee up what it is that you eventually want to offer.

The first step is to identify what you want to, ideally, provide and work backward. So, let’s say you want to build your portfolio with some local remodeling projects.

What’s the step before that? Remodel projects are usually sold via an in-home consultation.

The step before that? The opt in, probably. So, what kind of opt in would tee up a consultation to talk about a home remodel? There are an infinite number of possibilities, but a client I talked with recently is considering a PDF guide to position herself as a remodeling expert by creating her best picks for quality home remodeling materials.

Do you see how that works? Start with what you want to sell, work your way back. Reverse engineer.

In the next installment of this series, we’re going to be talking about:

  • Getting your opt in into the hands of the right people with both organic methods and paid advertising
  • Two of my favorite ways to build your email list

In the meantime, take a moment to consider the three things we talked about in this post, and start keeping some notes:

  1. Your ICA
  2. What you want to offer
  3. Opt in ideas

Ready for Part 2? Click here to dig in.

Interior Designers' Guide To Building a Money-Making Email List (Part 1)

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