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The best social media channels for interior designers

When new members first join The Home Design School's membership, we do an audit together, to see where your business is, and what steps you need to take to move your business forward.

One of the big areas that we look at is the journey that your customers take to find you, and eventually hire you. We look at your visual branding, and the coherence of your design style and your brand. When people fall in love with you and your brand, they will hire you in a heartbeat.

But for this to happen, they firstly have to know that you exist, right?!

It's no good having an all-singing all-dancing website and the best design service ever if no-one knows you are there!

Getting eyes on your business is known as 'brand visibility' in marketing speak, and one of the most effective ways of achieving brand visibility is by having a social media presence, right?

And so interior designers sign up to Pinterest and to Instagram and to Twitter and to Facebook and to Youtube and to Reddit and to LinkedIn and.... and....

Phew! 

It's no wonder that some designers can't see the wood for the trees with all that going on!

Keeping up with too many social media channels is a recipe for disaster. If you are trying to create content and graphics for more than three social media platforms at a time, you are going to burn out, and not do an of it effectively.

I recommend that you start with one platform, get into a routine with that, and then add another one or two. That's it! You don't need to be on every social media platform to run a business. You just need to give a smaller number of platforms your best attention.

So which three platforms should you use?

social media for interior designers

Here are my top three recommendations of the best social media platforms that interior designers MUST be on:

1. Pinterest

The number one social platform is, without a shadow of a doubt, Pinterest. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When people want to decorate their home, they look for images and inspiration. And where is one of the biggest libraries of interior images? Pinterest of course. 

Pinterest has over 200 million monthly active users, and one of their biggest search categories is home and interior design. Added to this that most of their users are women (and it's usually women who make the decision to hire an interior designer) and you can see why you need to be on there. 

Posting to Pinterest puts you right in front of the people who are searching within the exact same niche that you serve. And getting customers, remember, is all about getting seen. 

Pinterest also drives a lot of traffic to your website, by people clicking on your pin to read more about it, so sharing your blogs and advice on Pinterest means that you get known and liked, and you begin to establish yourself as an authority in your field. When people know you, like you and trust you, they will buy from you.

2. Facebook

The biggest social media platform on the planet is Facebook, with over 2 billion monthly active users, and so from a sheer numbers point of view, it's the place to be. Although people don't necessarily log on to Facebook to search for an interior designer (they go on there to keep in touch with friends and for entertainment) it's still an easy place to get seen.

Having a Facebook business page is a must, especially if you don't have a shop which will attract footfall (customers walking past your door), as people will come across your page. Your facebook business page is your shop front, and you should be sharing your best content here, just like you would put your best products in a shop window. 

A facebook business page also allows you to add a location, so that anyone searching for an interior designer in your local area will be more likely to find you.

In addition to the page, local facebook groups are also a great place to make local contacts, and to advertise your business. 

3. Instagram

Another highly visual platform is Instagram (and for interior design services, visual is what we need). Sharing inspirational images, and images of your best work combined with using local hashtags can help you to reach your audience more easily. 

In addition to this, Instagram now offer IGTV, which is a video based section of their platform. You can record yourself talking about all things interior, and improve your credibility and authortiy in your field. 

If you'd like to learn more about how to use brand visibility strategies to get more customers, why not come and join our monthly membership for UK interior designers. You can find all the details >>here<<.

Why offline interior designers should use online marketing strategies

If you run a locally based interior design business, or you are a local freelance interior designer, it can seem strange to need to use online marketing strategies to get new customers. 

After all, business connections are made at networking meetings, and work is obtained through word of mouth and repeat customers, right? Your reputation is king in your local area, yes?

Whilst these strategies do work, even if you are a locally based business, you still need to use a range of online marketing strategies to create a thriving local business. 

Why online?

So why do you need to be online? Because everyone is online these days, of course! (Well, ok, maybe your antiquated Aunty isn't online, but most people are!)

Back in the olden days (well, about 15 years ago) if you wanted an interior designer, you'd just open your Yellow Pages or Thompson Directory and look for someone close to you. Or you'd ask around and get a recommendation.

These days, the first place people go is online.

The Case for Search

If you need an interior designer in your local area, what do you do? You open google and type "interior designer Chelmsford" (or wherever you live).

Google returns a heaving list of interior designers that meet your search criteria (in this example, over 500 thousand search results to be exact!) but importantly, only about 18-20 search results get displayed on the first page of google.

No-one in their right minds is going to click through 500 thousand links to find an interior designer. You know what they do?

They don't get past page one!

That's right. Your potential clients won't get past page one of the google search. They will click on the top four or five links and make a decision about who they will contact from there.

So what does this mean for your business?

Ranking on page one of google's search results, towards the top of the page, is supremely important for your business. 

Getting Social

Aside from searching on google, there is nothing more powerful than getting a recommendation from others about a service they have used.

If your friend Polly used an interior designer and she was really pleased with her work, then you are going to trust that interior designer to give you a scheme that you love too.

You trust Polly, Polly trusts the interior designer, therefore you trust the interior designer. 

This is known as social proof.

But these days, we are all so busy with work and school runs and goodness knows what else, that we often don't have the time to stand around chit chatting to ask these questions. 

We turn to social media instead.

Our networks these days aren't like they used to be. Our communities are increasingly digital, increasingly virtual. 

And for the interior designer, that means that you have to be digital too. 

When someone wants an interior designer, they will often post on Facebook, asking if their friends have recommendations. There's even a "looking for recommendations" option, it's that often used. Local facebook groups can be a great way to find new clients.

Getting Inspiration

If someone is going to decorate a room and they need some inspiration for their design, do you know the first place they head?

That's right, they go online. They want to see images of "children's bedroom ideas" or "grey kitchens" or "luxury bathroom inspiration". 

And where specifically do they go to look online? Sites like Pinterest and Instagram. And so, you need to make sure that you are also on sites like these, so that you can be seen by your potential customers. 

How do you feel?

So how do you feel about online marketing? Is it something you feel confident about? Or something you'd like some help with?

If you need some help to set up your online marketing strategies or to learn how to rank on google, come and join our >>monthly membership<< for UK interior designers and other home professionals. We'd love to have you join us. 


Why Self Taught Interior Designers Never Feel Good Enough

(And what to do about it)​


Even though I love interior design, I have to admit that I sometimes find the industry a bit... well, elitist, if I’m honest.

There is a certain snobbery about the brands you choose to specify, noses turn up if you recommend retail products and your own personal style is constantly under scrutiny. 

Added to this the fact that Interior designers rarely share their pricing or their methods, and the whole industry feels shrouded in mystery, which makes it even more inaccessible to newcomers

Is it any wonder then, that self taught interior designers sometimes feel as if they’re not good enough?

In actual fact, whether you have a degree from the KLC, a diploma from the NDA or you have no qualifications at all has little impact on whether you’re a good interior designer or not.

Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not knocking interior design qualifications at all. I firmly believe that education is a positive thing, and I encourage all interior designers to get themselves qualified. Indeed I run UK qualifications in interior design myself. 

But a qualification isn’t everything.

As an interior designer, you wear many hats. You are a designer, yes, but you’re also a marketer, a diplomat, a negotiator and a business person. In fact, the actual design work is one of the smaller parts of running your own business! 

I see so many self-taught interior designers that feel inadequate because they don’t have the right letters (or any letters) after their name, and it makes me want to weep. Designers that have years of experience, designers that have a talent for empathising with customers and being able to translate that into a concept, designers who can manage complicated projects without skipping a beat, designers that just have a darn good eye for it.

Many interior designers I meet have a wonderful mix of skills, acquired from a lifetime of rich experiences in many different fields, all of which contribute to their design interpretations. They also often have a burning passion for design and a thirst to grow their business. 

Would these designers’ skills be enhanced by an interior design qualification? Possibly! But does that mean they are not good enough?

Of course not!


An interior design qualification gives you a foundation, a background and understanding of processes and concepts. But an interior design qualification doesn’t give you the skills to manage a tricky customer, it doesn’t show you what to do in a crisis, it doesn’t give you a network of trades and suppliers and it doesn’t give you creativity that you don’t already have. 

In fact, some of the world's most talented interior designers don't have an interior design qualification to their name! Ever heard of Kelly Hoppen, Nina Campbell, or Vanessa Arbuthnott? All self taught. You're in good company!

So, this is a shout out to all self taught interior designers. Stop comparing yourself to others. Are people buying your services? Are customers happy with your work? Yes?  Then that’s good enough. Your work is good enough.

You are good enough.

Hold your head up high and stop hiding your light.

In the words of... ahem... Mark Owen from Take That 😳 ... Let it shine! 

Whether you’re qualified or not, setting up or running your own interior design business can be intimidating and at times overwhelming. Join up for our newsletter and get your free roadmap to help set you on the right path to success. Just enter your details below:

Interior Design Roundup May 2018

Welcome from the Head of The Home Design School

Kate Hatherell Interior Designer

Welcome to our very first edition of The Home Design School's monthly round up of interior design industry news. 

Each month I will be bringing you the latest news from the industry, as well as sharing key calendar dates for industry events, and of course, all the news from The Home Design School.

If you'd like us to feature a story, drop us an email to hello@thehomedesignschool.com

Kate x

Industry News

GDPR

Unless you've had your head buried in the sand, you will know that this month saw the new data protection regulations come into force. GDPR emails were dropping into our inboxes as everyone scurried in a frenzied panic to make sure that the big bad wolf at the ICO wasn't going to come knocking at our doors with a £20 million fine. As if. Luckily I had some more sensible advice on hand for anyone who runs a small interior design business. Check it out here.

Clerkenwell Design Week

The end of May saw the annual Clerkenwell Design Week taking place in London, for the ninth year running. Clerkenwell has more creative businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and each year, Clerkenwell throws opens its doors to welcome in visitors from the interior design industry across the globe, with pop-up installations, displays and workshops.


We weren't able to attend ourselves this year (boo!) but you can read all about it by those who were there: here and here.

Elle Decor Publishes Its 'A' List

This month, Elle Decor magazine published it's 'A' List of Interior Designers from around the world. Click here to see who's made it onto the list.

In The Home Design School's Membership...

New trainings have been added to the membership vault this month, including step-by-step instructions on how to set up your own interior design website. 

Our members have been working on fine-tuning their styling skills, and learning how to capture their work by taking professional looking photographs. 

We've also seen several members getting to grip with setting up their own websites and social media platforms. I'm so proud of everything our members are achieving!

If you're interested in joining the membership, click here to find out more.

Calendar Dates

June 2018 

1st-30th: London Festival of Architecture

16-17th: Homebuilding & Renovating Show, Glasgow

20th: House & Garden Festival, Olympia, London

30th- 1st July: Home Building & Renovating Show, Surrey

July 2018

10-12th: Solex (the Summer Outdoor Living exhibition), Birmingham

15-17th: Manchester Furniture Show

September 2018

2-5th: Autumn Fair, Birmingham

9-11th: Top Drawer, London

15th-23rd: London Design Festival

16th: London Interior Show

16-17th: Scotland's Trade Fair

16-19th: Decorex

19th-22nd: 100% Design

20-23rd: London Design Fair

21-23rd: Homebuilding & Renovating Show, London

20-23rd: Design Junction, London

October 2018

1st-7th October: PAD London

10th-14th: Grand Designs Live, Birmingham

November 2018

21st- 25th: Ideal Home Show Christmas, London

In the
Classroom...

This month saw the launch of our Level 3 Certificate in Interior Design Skills, and I've been delighted at the quality of the work already being sent in for marking.

Our first cohort is underway, learning about how interior design has changed over the ages, and creating their very first design boards. 

I'm so proud of how hard everyone is working and what you are all achieving. That qualification inches nearer!

Next month we move on to look at the interior design process, and learning how to master the client consultation. 

If you'd like to find out more about studying with us, click here to find out about our fully accredited UK qualifications.

Why you shouldn’t pay to have your interior design website built for you

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand since 1997, you will know that the first place anyone looks when they need to find an interior designer or a curtain maker is Google. 

Google for interior designers

Once they’ve found you on Google, they click through to your website, and from your website they will judge whether they want to get in touch with you.

Or not.

So your website needs to be good looking. It needs to showcase who you are and the results you can create for people.

But what do you do if you are just starting out (or if you really have had your head buried in sand since 1997) and you don’t have a website?

A friend of mine was recently quoted... wait for it... £2000 for a simple website to be built!

🎤 Mic drop.

As my 12 year old would say.

I also had another client whose web designer was going to charge them £85+VAT (for FIVE hours) to update their GDPR settings!

And another whose designer couldn't upload her photos for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! 

That’s ridiculous!

Now, don’t misunderstand me. If you need a whizzy- bang website with all sorts of widgets and gadgets then yeah, I get how it might cost you £2000. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against professional web design. In fact, I have huge respect for web designers; they are a talented lot. 

But a simple site, with a few images of your best work and a contact page?

£2000?

Seriously?

Pah!

You can build it yourself and have it fully hosted for £10 per month!

But...

building a website is scary, right?

Look, back in the olden days, building a website *was* scary. You had to know some coding (html, what??) then there were issues about how host your site, how to keep it secure.... on and on.

Scary, no?

Quite frankly it was a minefield.

But things have changed. It's not like that any more! 

You can build your website in less than one day, starting from scratch, with your own domain name, fully hosted for just £10 per month.

And I'm not just talking some out-of-date, DIY looking website either. I'm talking professional, slick looking and enticing.

Doesn't that sound better?

Hell yeah!

But isn't it difficult to build your own site?

Nope.

No siree.

If you can use Microsoft Word (or packages like it), you will be able to build a good looking website in a matters of hours (if not minutes). 

Seriously, if you can type and upload pictures, you can build your own website.

So where to start?

There are lots of different tools you can use to build your website. My own site is built on WordPress.org (not wordpress.com, that's a different thing), which has all sorts of fancy-pants widgets and gadgets, but it's a bit overkill if all you're wanting is to showcase your work, and to have people contact you.

My personal recommendation for people starting out is to use a website builder called Squarespace, because it is really easy and intuitive to use. 

Squarespace for Interior Designers

(And just in case you're wondering, I don't get any payment from Squarespace for recommending them, I just think it's an awesome site builder).

Once you've signed up and got going, you simply click what you want to see (images, text, whatever) and drag it onto the page, wherever you want it to appear. 

Squarespace takes care of all the tricky bits, like making sure it looks good across all devices, making sure your SEO is right and making sure that you are indexed on Google. 

If you need some help setting up your site, why not come and join our monthly membership, where there is step by step instruction on how to set up your website, from choosing a domain name to what to include, to how to use the tech. There's also a weekly Q&A with coaching for your business, and advice on marketing, tech, interior design. It's like rocket fuel for your business.

Click the image below to find out more. 

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How to Get an Interior Design Portfolio When You’re Just Starting Out

Back in the olden days, when you wanted to find a local tradesperson or professional you would grab your copy of the Yellow Pages. 

Remember that?

A giant yellow directory, filled with telephone numbers of all of the businesses in your local area.

Or instead, you might speak to a friend and ask for a recommendation.

Or you might look for a card in the window of your local post office.

(Yes, young 'uns, that's how we used to roll!)

Today of course, things are radically different.

Thank goodness.

If you want to find something, what do you do?

You google it.

And you click on the first few links that come up on page one right?

If someone is looking for some help with interior design, this is exactly what they do. They open google and they type something along the lines of:

interior designer <INSERT NAME OF TOWN THEY LIVE IN>

This means three important things for your interior design business:

  1. You need to have a website
  2. You need to get it onto page one of google
  3. Your website needs to be enticing enough for people to contact you.

Setting up a website and ranking on google (getting to the top of their search results) are huge topics, which we're not diving into today, but we are going to look at how to make your website enticing enough to make people want to call you.

So how do you do this?

By having a portfolio of course!

Actually, your whole website is essentially a portfolio. Your potential customers will be judging you on the look and feel of your site, the words you use, and (most importantly) the imagery and photography you use.

Photography- examples of your work- are top of the list when it comes to someone deciding whether to make contact with you- or not. The client wants to see what you can produce, and what you will create for them. They want to know you are a good fit.

Now, that's all very well for those designers who have worked on lots of projects, and have wonderful photos to show. But what do you do if you are a newbie?

What if you've never had an actual, real, paying client before?

What if you don't have those wonderful after shots?

In an ideal world, of course, you will have those images, but if you don't, here's what you can do to bring a portfolio together:

1. Be clear in your branding

Your website is a showcase of what style of interior design you offer, and what sorts of services you offer. It can be really tempting when you are starting out to think that that you will serve anyone and everyone, but that's a seriously bad idea. (Click here to see why).

Let's say you want to design modern country interiors. Your branding needs to show this: from the fonts you use to the colour schemes you choose, to the images that you present.

If you want to design modern country interiors then make sure that every image you have on your site fits in with that style. If you designed an art deco room for your friend as a favour, don't put those images on your website, no matter how impressive they are, as they send out a confusing message. 

Your website visitor will click away within seconds if they don't think that the look and feel of your website suits them.

2. Use your own home

If you've never had a client before and you don't have any photographs of projects you've worked on, using images from your own home can work well. Most people who go into interior design are passionate about what they do, and they will have 'cut their teeth' on decorating their own home. You may also have been asked by friends and family to help them with a decorating project, so use this work to showcase your designs.

Just because it wasn't paid, doesn't mean it isn't valid!

Remember, you don't have to take photographs of a whole room. You can create small vignettes or style a small corner of a room to give a taste of your style.

3. Hire an Interiors Photographer

The thought of hiring a photographer may seem a bit scary at first, or like an unnecessary expense. However, a good interiors photographer is worth their weight in gold. The angles that they see, the way they use light, the quality of the equipment (and hence the results they get) are not easy to replicate by yourself. If you can stretch your budget to hiring a photographer, it is highly recommended, but make sure that you do your research first. Just because someone calls themselves a photographer, doesn't mean they're good. And how do you know if they are good? By looking at their portfolio of course!

4. Create Design Boards & Sketches

Even if you have never worked with a real live client before, you can still show off your design skills, on designs you have created. Professional looking design boards, floor plans and elevations showcase your work, and they are easy to create from the comfort of your own home.

Try to show the whole process, with examples of client briefs, concept boards, design boards, floor plans and elevations.

5. Testimonials

Testimonials are a little trickier to get, but not impossible! Think about who you could ask for a testimonial. Perhaps you have given a friend some interior design advice that was helpful, or maybe you went shopping with a relative to help them pick out fabrics. 

If you'd like some help to get your interior design business up and running, why not come and join our community, where you get coaching, support and training to run your UK based interior design business.

Click the image below for more information.

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WHEN INTERIOR DESIGN SCHOOL FINISHES… What’s next?

When I finished my interior design qualification, I was pretty pleased with myself.

I was now the proud owner of an official piece of paper, a certificate that was my proof that I was now an interior designer.

Only there was a problem. 

I didn't know what to do next!

I mean, the piece of paper said that I was an interior designer, but I didn't really feel like an interior designer.

In fact, I felt like a fraud.

And scared. 

Like real scared.

What did I do next? 

Should I go and get a job to see how a design firm operates? Should I contact some interior designers and ask if I could do some work experience with them? Should I just dive in and start my own business?

But I don't know anything about getting customers. Or how to set up a website. Or how to use social media for anything other than keeping in touch with my friends. 

Or even, if I could have admitted it to myself, whether I was even good enough at design to work for a client. #secretconfessions

I had all of these ideas whirring around my head, and no-one to show me what to do. 

I was in a panic. 

Can you relate?

You see, I've met many people who are struggling with exactly the same thoughts. And it doesn't just affect new designers, it can affect designers who already run their own business, as well as people transitioning from other disciplines like soft furnishings into interior design. 

We second guess ourselves, we doubt our skills and knowledge and we let the FEAR get the better of us.

But it doesn't have to be like this. 

Let's get started by getting clear on your strategy. Grab my free download, which is a roadmap, outlining the first steps you need to set you on the path to success in your business. 

GDPR for Interior Designers

​We've been hearing a lot about GDPR recently. In fact it's everywhere. My own inbox has been littered with emails from different companies, all talking about GDPR. But what is it, and why do I need to know about this for my interior design business?

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a new EU law, which comes into force on 25th May 2018.

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulations. The aim of the legislation is to protect the personal data of individuals, and to make sure that any businesses that deal with people's data have the right permissions to do so. 

What's this got to do with me? I'm an interior designer!

Every business that deals with the data of anyone who lives in the EU needs to make sure that they are compliant with the legislation by 25th May.

So if you run an interior design business, you are a freelance interior designer, or you run a related business, like a soft furnishings or painting and decorating business, and you gather data about people, you need to be compliant.

I don't live in the EU so it doesn't affect me, right?

Wrong! 

Even if you live outside of the EU, the legislation still applies to you!

So if you have anyone from the EU visiting your website, where you have cookies installed (uh, that's most of us!) or you have EU members on your mailing list, you need to comply.

Sorry!

​​​​What does it mean by 'personal data'?

Personal data includes anything about a person. So that can be their name, their email address, their photograph and even their IP address.

It includes personal data not just about customers, but also about suppliers, former employees and so on. Basically, anyone whose personal data you hold.

I don't gather personal data about my customers so that doesn't affect me, right?

Even though you may not think you gather data about people, it is likely that you do! If someone visits your website, for example, it could be that your website stores a visitor's IP address (the unique code that tells you where the visitor is located). 

Even if you don't look at this data, it's still there, and you still need to comply with the legislation.

What happens if I don't comply?

There is a lot of scaremongering out there about what will happen to you if you don't comply.  

The official line is this: if someone reports you to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for non-compliance, you could end up with a hefty fine. Fines are discretionary (so you may just get a warning at first) but fines can be up to 4% of turnover, or a maximum of 20 million euros.

Yikes! 

However, in reality, there's not exactly a queue of people lining up to police what you're doing, so the chances of you getting caught are probably quite slim. And if someone does make a complaint about you, you are likely to get a warning first of all, especially if you have taken steps to try to comply with the legislation. 

However, if you haven't taken any steps to comply, then you may not be treated as lightly. You really can't bury your head in the sand about this!

OK, I get it. I need to comply. So what do I need to do?

Let me give you a few pointers to get you on the right track. Please note that this advice does not replace legal counsel, and you should seek professional advice to ensure you are compliant. This is simply my own interpretation of what you need to do.

1. Hold a data audit

If you are not clear on what data you hold, it might be time to hold a data audit. Data includes information stored anywhere: on a computer, a phone, a cloud storage system or on paper. 

Answering these questions can help:

  1. What types of data do you hold?
  2. Why do you hold this data?
  3. Do you need to store this data?
  4. How do you store this data?
  5. Do you have consent to store this data?

You should document what data you collect, how you collect and process it, and how it is stored and protected.

If you find that you are holding data which is unnecessary, or for which you have not obtained consent, you need to delete it. 

2. Review your Website's Privacy Notice

If you already have a privacy notice on your website, that's a great start! However, you now need to check it to make sure that it is GDPR compliant. And if you don't have one already, make sure that you've sorted this out by 25th May!

A privacy notice tells your site visitors what sorts of data you collect, why you have collected it, how it is stored and how it is going to be used.

According to the ICO, your privacy notice must be "concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible ... written in clear and plain language... and free of charge".

To make your privacy notice easily accessible, most people place a link to it in the footer of their website. This link should be on every page of your website, every landing page and every opt in form.

To check that your privacy notice covers all bases, check out the ICO's checklist >here<.

There are templates that you can download to help you to create a GDPR compliant privacy policy, but remember that it is your responsibility to make sure that you are meeting the requirements of GDPR, and you cannot blame a third party template if you later find out that it did not meet the requirements.

3. Have a Cookie Policy in Place

No, we're not talking about biscuits...

Cookies are pieces of information that are stored on your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are used to gather information about a visitor, such as to identify whether a visitor has visited that website before, and they can be used to serve specific adverts to people, to 'remember' what was in their shopping basket and so on.

If you use Facebook advertising, or Google analytics, you will be using cookies on your website, and so you will need a cookie policy, in addition to your privacy policy.

You can have a link to your cookie policy in the footer of your website.

If you are using a WordPress.org website, there are various plugins you can use to notify visitors that you use cookies on your site. I'm sure you've seen these on many websites you have visited. They just ask you to click that you know they are using cookies, and that you consent. Catapult Themes Cookie Consent, Cookie Notice by dFactory or CookieBot are good options.

4. Obtain Consent

If you gather information about people (for example their name and email address) to put them on an email list, you must make sure that you receive consent.

According to the ICO, consent must be "freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous". 

This means that someone has to actively opt in, with the emphasis being on the word actively. You know when some websites have a box which is already ticked, and you have to untick it to take your consent away? That's not going to cut it in the new world of GDPR. A tick box is fine, but it needs to be blank, and for the visitor to actively tick it to give their consent. A double opt in (where the visitor also has to go to their inbox and confirm their address is also a good idea).

There also needs to be a way for someone to remove their consent. Most email service providers deal with this for you, by giving an 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom of the email. 

You may wish to check with your email service provider (e.g. Mailchimp, Convertkit, Activecampaign) to see how they are complying with GDPR.


So, if you run an interior design business, make sure that you get compliant by 25th May!

If you've found this useful, and you'd like to come and join our monthly membership, click >>here<< to read more about it. 

WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER GIVE A FREE INTERIOR DESIGN CONSULTATION

I often see interior designers offering free interior design consultations, and, quite honestly, it makes my heart bleed when I see it happening. 

I totally get the thinking behind it.

If the client can book you with no obligation, they will be more inclined to make an appointment. After all, it's a no risk strategy for them, right? You know that when you get to the client's home, you can charm them with your wonderful insight and skills, and they will hire you in a heartbeat. It's a low-risk strategy for you too.

Right?

Except it doesn't usually work that way.

Here's what actually happens a lot of the time... 

You spend time speaking with a client, and you book a visit to their home. You pack up your portfolio, some samples, your camera, perhaps your measuring tools, and you head out to the client's home. You arrive, you see the space, you talk to them about what they want to achieve.

So far so good.

But then come the questions.

Which colours would you recommend? Do you think this furniture is too big for the space? I can't decide between roman blinds or venetian; what do you think?

And all of a sudden, you find yourself in a sticky situation.

What are the options here?

Option 1: Answer the Questions

If you answer all of the client's questions, you are likely to have solved the exact problem that they would have been paying you for. 

You've spent the best part of your afternoon preparing your resources, travelling to and from the client and spending an hour or more delivering the consultation. For what? For nothing! 

And not only have you done yourself out of income, but it has actually cost you money because you have used your time (which equals money), and transport costs to see the client in the first place!

There is an opportunity cost too, which means that if you hadn't been visiting this time-waster client, you could have been making money seeing a better client. One that was going to pay you!

Option 2: Avoid the Questions- be vague!

Some designers deal with these questions differently, of course. You could try to dodge their questions, giving vague answers and sort of alluding to the fact that the process is mysterious but that you have all the answers.

Good luck with that one!

This strategy clearly isn't ideal: it leaves the client frustrated because you haven't helped them at all. They may be left wondering whether you have the skills and know-how to help them out. They will certainly think you are being avoidant or, even worse, being 'salesy'. Yuck.

So, what do you do instead?

A better way to deal with initial consultations is to charge a fee for your time. This filters out time wasters and only gets clients to book you, who are serious about investing in their project. If they won't pay your fee to have your expertise, then they are unlikely to value the service you provide. 

I'm going to say that again.

If they won't pay your fee to have your expertise, then they are unlikely to value the service you provide.

Expertise. 

That is what you bring. 

Your expertise has been acquired and honed through years of studying, research, and experience, and that expertise is valuable. 

Commit to working only with customers who recognise your specialist skills. 

When you offer a 1:1 service like interior design, your time is a valuable resource. There are only so many hours in a day, and therefore there is a ceiling to the time that you can give.

The amount of time you have available directly affects the income you can earn.

If you are wasting those hours speaking with people, emailing people, visiting people who are not going to pay you, then you are wasting your limited resources.

By charging for an initial consultation, you filter out the time wasters, you value your expertise, and you invite in a better quality of customer. 

Of course, another great strategy is to offer the consultation fee back to them if they hire you and spent a certain amount. But it still means that you are not wasting your time on people who never had any intention of hiring you in the first place.

If you'd like some help with your interior design business, why not come and join our monthly membership, where you get coaching, support and training to make your business profitable. Click >>here<< for more details.  

Until next time x


WHY IS BUSINESS BRANDING SO IMPORTANT FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS

Let's talk branding.

Branding is important for any business, but it's tenfold more important for interior designers.

Why?

I'll get to that in a little minute.

But first, let's just make sure we're all on the same page here.

What is branding?

When we think about branding, we think about colours and fonts, and what imagery we use, right?

Well, that is right, but there's so much more to it.

Branding, essentially, is the way that you communicate what your business is all about. It's about your values, what you want your business to represent, what you want it to say about yourself and the things that are important to you.

That's pretty deep right?

So why is this so much more important for interior designers than for other businesses?

Essentially, it's because Interior design is a visual business. People employ you because they like the look of the stuff you put out into the world.

People will judge you by the look of your website, what you post on social media, the work that you do in other people's homes.

They correlate what your website looks like with what you will do with their home.

And so your website, and everything else you put out into the public sphere has to be a living, breathing display of the style that you hold dear in your heart.

Sound a bit dramatic? Well maybe, but let's take a look at a few examples.

Here is the website of one of the UK's most famous designers, Kelly Hoppen:

KELLY HOPPEN

As you'd expect from Kelly, her website is neutral (taupe, anyone?), it is classic, clean lined and understated. The fonts are simple, the shapes and uncomplicated and patterns are scarce.

But let me say that again in case you missed it.

As you'd expect.

You see, you are already so familiar with Kelly Hoppen's brand that you know what you will get if you employ her.

When you think "Kelly Hoppen" you think "neutral", "clean lines", "minimalist".

That is her brand.

You wouldn't employ Kelly Hoppen if you wanted a loud and proud flambouyant design would you?

 Talking of which...
Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen

Yep, you can guess without being told that this is the site of Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. He's loud, he's flamboyant, he's quirky and his designs match his personality. And his brand reflects all of those qualities. Do you think if you employ this designer, you're going to get an understated scheme?

No way!

Let's look at a final example. This is the website of Sophie Robinson (she of The Great Interior Design Challenge fame).
Sophie Robinson

Sophie is renowned for her use of bright colours, bold patterns and quirky accessories.

And so how does her branding look?

Of course. It's brightly coloured, it uses bold patterns and quirky accessories. It is a showcase of her style.

What Kelly, Lawrence and Sophie all achieve is congruence. Congruence between how they like to design, and how they brand themselves.

And you need to do this too.

Why do I want to brand myself?

Understandably, people get a little scared when I say that they should brand themselves in this way.

Won't it put people off?

Won't it mean that I won't be able to serve everyone?

Well yes!

It will indeed put people off!

But that's a good thing.

You want to put the wrong people off, and attract the right people.

Your ideal clients.

The Holy Grail of Interior Design.

You see, if you are a Kelly Hoppen type designer, and you are contracted to design a Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen type scheme, are you going to feel comfortable? Are you going to really "get" your customer? Get into their groove? Are you going to deliver the best possible design for them? Will you really enjoy designing a scheme that grates with your own style?

No, no and no.

The best designers set out their stall, showcasing the type of work they do, the look they achieve, what their design style is.

If you'd like to know more about how to achieve congruence in your branding, come and join our monthly membership, where I hold your hand to create a winning brand for your business, and so much more. Read more about it >>here<<.

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