If you’ve got a keen eye, sharp sense of style and love making physical environments look the best they possibly can, launching a freelance interior design business could be the perfect venture for you. But the creative industry spaces are crowded, so how can you make yourself stand out?
With the rise of home improvement shows, there’s a real buzz for people who want to create stunning interior designs that help them decorate their forever-home. As a freelancer, you’ve got huge opportunities to be the go-to expert, but only if people know your business exists.
A freelance interior design business is perfect for anyone with a creative mind. Whether you’re a new graduate, seasoned-pro, or someone who’s always been keen to dip their toe in the water, nothing is holding you back from getting involved.
Here we look at the ten steps you should take to launch and grow an interior design business.
Build a kick-ass website
A great graphic designer can’t possess an ‘average’ website. It just won’t do. You need something that’s visually stunning, alongside a company name and brand that people will remember. Your site is likely to be 90% pictures, so factor this in when building it and make sure it’s mobile responsive.
Build your portfolio
Is your home your baby? Do you want to show it off so people see just how good you are at home-decor? Take some high-quality photos and make these the first images in your portfolio. Ask friends and family if you can help them decorate their spaces in order to build up your portfolio.
Photos, photos, photos
Linked to what we’ve already said in numbers 1 and 2, develop your photography skills or make friends with someone who has them. A picture speaks a thousand words. If you have the budget then look for photographers that specialize in interior design who will maximise the impact your hard work will make.
Know your perfect client
Let’s be honest, the student market in the local university isn’t really looking for your services. Knowing who your target market is allows you to develop your brand and aim your marketing around impressing them and getting them to contact you. So, take some time to develop your brand and target market.
Understand the finances
Your ability to sustain a business is predicated on your ability to turn a profit. You need your finances to make sense both on paper and in real life. Take time to structure a business model that tells you what your perfect client, and their likely budget, include. Consider different pricing models that create a healthy bottom line.
Promote your business
If you’ve built an online presence and a portfolio, it’s time to start getting as many eyes seeing it as possible. Find the best platforms to disseminate your marketing and promotional materials. Ask your friends and family to help promote your business services or ask former clients for referrals and testimonials.
Dress for success
If you conjure up an image of interior designers you probably imagine someone who looks pretty well put together. That means a snappy dress sense, good colour coordination (ususally), and a wardrobe that doesn’t look like it’s seen better days. Think about how your business brand should match your personal brand. It’s important to dress the part.
Find up-and-coming talent
Whether they are designers, decorators, stylists, or craftsmen and craftswomen, find industry leaders and see how they’re putting their stamp on their industry. Look on different social platforms that match the visual nature of interior design – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook. Connect with individuals and build professional working relationships.
Other factors to consider
We won’t go on about it, as you know how important social media is, but make sure you get this on-point from day one and have a basic strategy you can implement. Know which platforms will be best for your business and focus on these.
Bringing in a mentor as you launch and develop your business using these sites can add valuable knowledge at an early stage and use online job-boards like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, or the specialist home-design site Houzz to find your first clients.
Know the challenges
Launching a business takes a lot of work but it can be a hugely rewarding opportunity. You should do your research before committing full-time, building an understanding of what difficulties you might face.
For example, a recent article by Forbes suggested that with 80% of interior designers active on social media, only 17% found it effective. Compare this to nearly 100% using word-of-mouth as a marketing tool and 85% found this effective.
When starting a business, planning is key. Have a go-to approach for your marketing, know your finances inside out, and look for the places your customers can be found. A strong portfolio will be key and ask every customer – paying or otherwise – for a referral.
If you’re at uni, in full-time work, or working at an agency in the industry, going freelance is a great way to take control of your life. Before committing 100% you can work evenings and weekends, giving you an opportunity to see if being a business owner is everything you hoped for.