For many in the interior design space what they do on a daily basis is a dream job. I couldn’t tell you how many designers I’ve met that switched professions after dabbling in design on an increasing basis. Stay-at-home-moms are a frequent niche that I see shifting their life focus and engaging in the field of home decor professionally.
While the job’s challenging, rewarding and fulfilling, unless you’ve found placement in an interior design agency or a position working for an already prominent designer—often a difficult feat—chances are you’ve had to take on something of an entrepreneurial mindset. This means marketing yourself, financial management and a host of other particulars that go into running a business. It isn’t always easy both working in the business and on the business.
Attaining a consistent flow of clients is often about both focusing on specific niches, but also not limiting possibilities when selecting a niche. The most missed opportunity I’ve observed is businesses. Because many designers practice their design style around homes, they often limit their perspective to that lens. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for interior design at office spaces. Workplaces with progressive offices—think tech companies, advertising agencies, real estate brokerages—will often invest in good design, especially if you have a reputation for organizing work spaces and tastefully designing using raw materials.
- Once you’ve resolved to make offices your niche as an interior designer, the blaring question becomes how do you get leads and position yourself in such a way that businesses believe you’re worth investing in? Well, the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take some careful planning and investment on your end.. but if you do it right (by following the steps below) it’ll be well worth it.
- Buy a domain with a service like GoDaddy and Create a well designed blog on the web (If you’re not tech-inclined, have a friend who’s familiar with a blogging platform like WordPress help you out) and write content at least twice a week. As a designer you’ll especially want to include photography of your work.
- Make a reputation for yourself. Contribute to interior design forums and always link back to your website. Search for opportunities to get placement on magazines and in articles on interior design. Try searching Source Bottle for journalists looking for sources on a wide variety of topics. Learn to establish yourself on social media.
- Once you have amassed a bit of a reputation search for your first gig. Be sure to check (and advertise on) classified sites like Craigslist. If a direct mail company can get you a list of businesses that have recently moved in the area and niche you’re targeting, try sending them a well-designed and well worded campaign.
Once your reputation has strengthened and you’ve designed a few workspaces, you can seek out opportunities a little more boldly (and ideally, some will come to you). Check staffing sites and job boards like Indeed, Randstad, Monster, etc. for temporary office interior design jobs. These gigs are harder to land, but because corporations can have the need to re-design large offices or multiple offices, it can be a lucrative opportunity and an incredible portfolio piece.
Now I want to be absolutely clear: it isn’t that designing homes can’t be lucrative. Most of the same steps outlined above can apply to building a strong business in interior design for the home. But it’s a more saturated space: most designers simply don’t think or have the confidence to branch out into the business space. But those who do and succeed tend to be very successful and make quite the name for themselves. At the very least, when you’re defining your business strategy as an interior designer, it’s worth broadening your perspective and considering spaces outside of the usual houses and apartments.