The Wrong Way To Start An Online Interior Design Business

painting of a woman, text: online interior design business

Remember the good old days when random people like myself thought they could start an online interior design business that would be successful only to be shot down by the "gurus"? Good times.

Yet, here I find myself 10 years later and we've had quite a few online interior design platforms pop up to suck the life force out of hard-working, creative people so they could make a dime on what they essentially picture as slave labor. I mean that is what they do, let's be honest.

Which leads me to come back to this idea that if you ever want to work for one of those platforms, limit yourself to a short period of time before they steal your joy and aspirations. Then take what you've learned and start an online interior design business that kicks ass and takes names. 

To do that, you need to know the no good, absolutely wrong way to start an online interior design business. Why? People do it this way all the time and then when the business dies wonder why. You, my friend, will not wonder why because you'll know exactly what not to do from the beginning.

Don't validate your business idea

Tons of people, not just designer types refuse to validate their business idea. Take the time to research your idea, who is already in the market, find a niche to fit into, talk to your target market, etc. You need to investigate the arena in which you're going to do business and to not do that makes it so you're gambling.

Don't solve a problem

This is probably the BIGGEST issue that most people with failed eDesign business have. Designers love to list every single thing they can do on their website like ingredients as if you've just walked into a restaurant that is famous for its 500 tacos. For a potential client, it's overwhelming. I mean, I like tacos, but even I don't want to be overwhelmed by all the options. 

Solve a problem and sell the solution or result. Selling a space plan? Pssshhh, what does that do for your potential client? Not much. Get known for designing nurseries, or bachelor pads or a style like mid-century modern. 

Market to everyone

Everyone is not your ideal client. For instance, a bachelor and a mom have different lives. The bachelor is going out to clubs and wants a sexy place to bring the babes back to while a mom may want her own she shed to run away from the family when they've hit 1000 on the annoying index.

How you market to them will be different and trying to market to everyone is a losing battle. Pick a niche and market to that specific person. Believe me, there is more than enough of that specific type of person out there that wants what you've got. Well, you'll know that for sure because you've already validated your idea, right?

Buy a cheap logo

The odds that you're going to get a logo that is not a knock off is pretty slim for less than a few hundred dollars. Going to a marketplace where cheap contracted help is the name of the game will get you exactly what you paid for. 

If you want a great logo, save your money and hire a graphic designer. If you can't afford one, then create you own as a simple text treatment in some "boring" font like Times New Roman or Arial. It will work. And no, the logo is not the be all end all that will make someone choose you or over another designer.

Use a free website

Free websites are shit. They usually have some weird terms and conditions that you should read that most likely limit what you can do on their platform. 

If you're serious about learning how to start an online interior design business, pay for a website from someone like Squarespace or Wordpress. Although, if you're not techy skip Wordpress and go directly to Squarespace. 

Price your services wrong

Pricing your services apparently is the hardest thing in the world when setting up an eDesign business. Which sometimes leads folks to look at the "competition" and use whatever figure they are using which is the wrong way to go about it. 

There are many different ways to price eDesign services, but the best advice I can give you is to offer a flat fee for what you're selling. Nobody wants to engage in a business where the final price tag is up in the air. That's why people hate contractors if we're being honest.

Do your research on the various ways to price your service and if you need to adjust it, do it. The point here is that you're not running a charity or a bargain basement service business. It costs what it costs and it's not your job to worry about what's in someone else's wallet.

Post shit on social media constantly

Do you know what people really hate? Besides the band Nickelback. They hate seeing boring posts that they aren't entertained by. And while I'm the first one over here with my hand raised hating social media at the moment, I have to agree.

There are some companies that really kick ass on social media, the ones that are meh and the ones that are as thirsty as Jerry O'Connell on his new talk show. 

What do I mean by that? They post constantly about their business. It's like looking at a narcissist's social media account. It's insufferable and eventually, it turns people off. 

Now, if you're kinda an introvert like me then you may want to go to a social media platform in disguise to start with called Pinterest. You don't actually have to interact with humans and you can share helpful content that you post on your website. Along with pinning other valuable stuff. Then you get traffic coming to your website without being that person on Facebook or Instagram.

Never Blog, Vlog or Yule Log

People who want their eDesign businesses to die, never blog, vlog or share yule logs. Okay, you don't actually share yule logs (do you?), but you do need to consistently create great content for your website. It's not an option. 

And if you're sitting there folding your arms across your chest because you only want to design and not create content for your business, then you, my friend, will be one sad panda soon. Know why?

Mr. Google, not to be confused with Mr. Worldwide, is the gatekeeper when it comes to bringing traffic to your website. If Mr. Google sees that your website is never updated, never grows and never provides quality content for the masses to consume he is going to put you back on page 74 of the search results. 

While you don't have to become a meth head and post every day you do need to create great, quality content that people want to check out before Mr. Google gives you any organic traffic to your website. Or you could just spend money on ads for the rest of your life after you chose to start an online interior design business that's stale as fuck.

Forget Learning The Hard Shit

Design stuff comes easy, but if there seems to be something that hard and you refuse to learn it? Well, then be prepared to be duped. 

What do I mean? Like search engine optimization (SEO) or bookkeeping or new software. Whatever it is you need to know the basics because if you don't, you'll need to pay someone else to do it for you. And because you know nothing about it, they can overcharge you and underdeliver. It happens all the time. 

Start an online interior design business the right way or don't do it at all

If you want to dabble, then dabble but don't delude yourself into thinking you're a business owner. Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner, know why?

There's more to running a business than slapping up some boss babe sticker on your laptop. You have to learn shit you never wanted to learn, do shit you never wanted to and be willing to face fear in the eye. Then you get to design. 

Great, now how are you supposed to go and start an online interior design business the right way?

You can do what many have done and spend many a late night with a glass of wine in your hand as you Google yourself into oblivion, waking up the next morning only to be more confused with a wine-over. 

Or you can make the smart decision and join the Society

You've got the eye for style, and the drive to have your own business but something is missing - big time. The worst thing of all is that you don't even know what that missing piece is. 

I've got you covered - after you've joined the Society, that "missing pieces" feeling will be a thing of the past. 

What's inside the Society?

A huge catalog of video trainings (90+ courses) at your fingertips where you can learn at your own pace and do this stuff right when you need it, even if it's during a 2 am "inspiration!" related bout of insomnia (Yeah, I get them, too!)

But that's not all because you know what happens when there's a bunch of training to help you get going? You can get overwhelmed so we've got a roadmap to keep you on track.

There's a roadmap

So you can start at Stage 1 or jump ahead to whatever stage you're in and find the training that you need. And don't you worry that you won't have time to get it all done. First, business is a marathon and second, I show you how to manage your time which is the most important thing you need to master to become an eDesigner master.

Start An Online Interior Design Business Roadmap

Q+A Day

More than that, you can get your big, burning questions answered LIVE on Q + A Day. Simply hop on live with me (don't worry you can be in your PJs because you're not on video, just moi) and you can send in your questions via the chat. OR if you're busy but still have a question, you can send it in ahead of time and I will make sure to answer it and you can watch it after the kids go to sleep (or when you get back from your 9-5).

Private Community

We have a private community forum where you can network, ask me questions or ask for feedback from your designer besties. Plus, you can search through the forum and check out the past threads to find whatever it is that you're seeking. And no, we don't have a busted-ass Facebook group because spending time on Facebook is like throwing your profitability out the window because you waste so much time there.

Start An Online Interior Design Business Community Support

Downloadable Resources

But wait, there's more! There's a library full of downloadable resources that you can use in your eDesign business. Like a sample proposal, a sample letter of agreement, pricing strategy worksheets, and tons more!

Start An Online Interior Design Business Online Courses

But the Society Is NOT for everyone

If you're seriously ready to start an online interior design business or you're already running one but aren't finding the success you envisioned, then join the Society. 

Is the Society for you?

If you're looking for advice on how to run a brick and mortar local interior design business, the Society is not for you. Sure, there's a lot of help for you to grow your brand visibility online (which is still required even if you have a local business). However, I teach you about things I'm passionate about and I'm not passionate about traditional residential design. Nor am I going to give any advice on the commercial side of things. Did that shit for long enough and I have no desire to go back to that cubicle wasteland of despair.

And you have to be serious to join the Society. Sure you can jump in for a month and leave but I can guarantee you that you're not serious about business. Business is for those who are in it for the long run - not people who dabble. 

What else do I have to buy to make the Society worthwhile?

On the business side: a domain, a website and have signed up with a service like Mailerlite for email marketing.  

On the design side: you're going to need software to convey your design ideas. What you need specifically is something you will need to decide depending on what you're offering. 

Then you add on tools as you need them. I always recommend things that I have tried and love as well as steer you away from the demons in the design industry that will fuck with your shit. Trust. They are out there. 

Will this be a good fit if I'm an established eDesigner?

I'd ask you to look and see what you're hoping to achieve. If you're an established designer and are generating organic traffic to your website (not relying on paid traffic), consistent inquiries, repeat clients, have a good-sized email list (5,000+ Subscribers) that you communicate with consistently and are consistently having 5-figure+ months... then I'm going to say pass on the Society because you seem to be a baller. 

How quickly will my eDesign business be profitable?

I'm kinda psychic, but every business is different as well as how much effort each entrepreneur puts into growing their business. I can't see your future when it comes to your drive to succeed so I don't promise anything. 

It's like me preparing you to take the SAT and you fail. I didn't take the test and that wasn't my job. I helped you get ready for the test, how you perform on the test is up to you.

The Society is not a band-aid or a quick fix to help you start on online interior design business to get rich quick. No, ma'am. You need to commit and do the work, but the best part is you won't be doing it alone.

Alycia Wicker

Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in helping soulful interior designers attract clients with clever marketing strategies. Celebrity gossip whore.