Interior designing brings forward a flood of stereotypes and false presumptions. Initially, you have to determine what the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer is socially before deciding to market yourself forward. Perhaps you’ll end up pitching yourself and your business by something it is not and causing a whole host of miscellaneous issues that could derail the business entirely. Even then, you need to decide how you want to “professionalize” yourself, and the proper credentials necessary to have either title. And that does not include the standard marketing activities, the competitive field, and the residential queries necessary to not be advertising or working under false pretenses.
Interior designing is very similar to interior decorating- credentials. Interior designing requires formal credentials to obtain that title, different from the decorating aspect and title. As this chapter discusses interior design, that is all you need to know as far as the differences.
National Council of Interior Design is an organization that will make your introduction into the world of interior design rather harrowing. With a required test built in stages and needing potentially years of study for proper preparation, interior designing is an already established difficulty among those new to its demands. With test fees that range in the hundreds of dollars (it takes about $1200 to pass every stage), the requirements are above and beyond many individuals personal budgets. Just under half of the US States require the licensing to do business; most individuals in the industry require it despite state location. Considering that we want to establish a business with a low budget, let alone a reasonable budget, becoming a certified interior designer is a distant task. All disappointments aside, the organization make the rules.
That isn’t to say that interior designing is an unmanageable task that cannot possibly be committed to due to budget restraints. But as you grow in the field, and develop your business, always strive to become a certified professional. That will likely be exactly what you need to reach the upper echelon of success and prosperity in the industry.
But before you become a certified professional, begin your small business with modest expectations. Many people in the industry will not even remotely want to consider you for work or networking if you do not have proper credentials. This is a fact of the industry that makes it a tough building to scale. But do not be concerned over others as much as your own motivation. If you can’t rely on others that are “professional,” you will simply need to do it yourself.
Marketing and business basics require you to have a few things. For one, you will need a website. This way, people can get in touch with you remotely and access any sort of information you want displayed to the general public. This includes attributes about you, as well as rates, credentials (not all credentials are comically expensive formal tests) and pictures of interior decorating and designing you may have accomplished in the past. Building a business in this industry requires an easily accessible collection of images, as the field is a visually based one. Never devalue yourself by limiting images, and always try to floor the customer with a breadth of quality designing.
Because of the difficulty of obtaining proper licensing, many individuals will forgive your lack of one. Keep that in mind, as your modesty and humility will help to gather you customers. Of course, you must make up for this in quality.
Use social media to extend yourself as an individual to people who choose to follow you. Though it often goes without saying, this industry values those who can deliver. With so many unqualified individuals getting into the industry based on misguided knowledge, they tend to devalue you as a quality designer. Do not let this bother you. Let yourself reach the people with quality delivery of design, and uniqueness, and the profits, customers, and business will come to you.
Interior decorating is a fantastic outlet to interior designing. As you explore interior design with your experience and studying for the multi-tiered exams, become fully involved with interior decorating as a gateway. Try to find out what type of decorating you specialize in, if any and all, and find the type of people and your demographic that would be most interested in what you have to offer. Once narrowing your focus, you can then network yourself appropriately to those outlets that hold those potential customers. For example, you may specialize in kitchen design. This can allow you to focus yourself in kitchenware, and possibly explore that avenue. Visiting an interior decorating event (and one specific in kitchens) is not a bad idea. Possibly making your presence known in a retail store can garner customers to your skills. This typically would not be impossible in a massive franchise, i.e. Home Depot, but an independent retailer may be warm to your presence in guiding customers and ultimately, gathering potential clients.
Possibly consider advertising locally. Your networking is limited to those who you can reach and can reach you. Due to the nature of the industry, it may be required you meet clients face-to-face. Of course, working across the country is unacceptable on a daily level. Advertising your skills locally, such as a newspaper or Craigslist posting may garner clients that would not have been reached otherwise.
There are two main components to succeeding in interior design-always strive for proper credentials and think locally. You may have an online presence, and it will surely help, but keeping yourself narrowed to those you can reach personally will keep your aspirations tied to the community. There is no substitution for the general reach of the Internet, but this industry is not conducive to the spam-like mentality of something such as product sales and advertising. Building personal relationships and a very intimate level will bring you into the client’s perspective and ultimately, into their interiors decorating them with the most pleasant and fascinating setups you can devise.