Why Online Interior Design Services Suck For Designers

dying flowers, why only interior design sucks

Thinking of signing up for one of those online interior design services so you can work from home?

Well, good news, there's another player coming on to the scene. The big company that's been the inspiration for Houzz (according to some peeps)... WayFair is jumping into the eDesign business.

I've been waiting for months to get the details on Wayfair's new design service program. It was first mentioned in April in our community, and then I couldn't find much information on it.

Early this week there was a new email forwarded to me, so I reached out and got the 411. So, here's the rundown.

Olivia, a housewife, hops onto Wayfair and wants to hire a designer. She can choose from either their "Lite Package" or their "Classic Package."

She completes a "Style Survey," (Don't worry, if any of your clients are like me and into the classic mausoleum look, they're not represented in the Style Survey) and they will show her a list of interior designer profiles to choose from.

She chooses a designer and that's where you come in:

If Olivia has selected the "Lite Package" for $79, you'll be providing her:

  • A Design Concept (and up to 2 revisions)

  • A Shopping List

  • Unlimited messaging with designer (holy hell!)

  • 30 Minute Total Phone Time

  • (Preferably they'd also like for you to provide her with a floor plan, but that's optional at this level)

If Olivia has selected the "Classic Package" for $149, you'll be providing her:

  • A Design Concept (and up to 2 revisions)

  • A Shopping List

  • Unlimited messaging with designer (again, holy hell!)

  • 60 Minute Total Phone Time

  • A Floor Plan

  • 3D Rendering (Wayfair says that they have a design team to do this - w/ 1 revision)

Designers earn $50 on the Lite Package, and $75 on the Classic Package. I know.

On the flip side, if you're a "luxury designer," Wayfair or any of the other platforms shouldn't even be in your purview. Business is business, and if you think that they devalue your worth, you've got other issues. Anyways…

How the design work gets done...

They have a platform that:

  • Will house the client's details (and your client conversations)

  • A mood board creator

  • A product list

  • If you need to create a floor plan, you will need to use something outside of their program like Homestyler, but it's your choice.

No matter the design package that is selected by Olivia, you can use Wayfair's product and/or your own preferred products that aren't available on the Wayfair platform.

Here's what important to know...

The client information and the conversations that you will have with your client must happen on Wayfair's platform. The client, their information belongs to Wayfair, and you cannot solicit or market to that client for 12 months after the completion of the project. Basically, that client isn't yours.

Wayfair owns your design work and can use it without limitations. They can create derivative works from your design... which I can only think means they could use a portion of your design work, change some things and then use that freely as well. Which seems to be the standard among many of the platforms.

But, you can display the design work you've created on your own website’s portfolio if you wish.

You're going to allow Wayfair to use your logo and/or trademarks so they can market and advertise their business.

There's no word on the moment on if they're going to retarget to the client, but when you agree to the contract, that client isn't really yours anyway nor or you making money on product.

Wayfair says they'll be in charge of getting the product to the clients seamlessly.

The million dollar question...

Will you get rich? No.

With most of these services, they haven’t been created with you in mind but for the platform to appeal to people who “can’t” afford to hire a designer.

If you're a new designer, these online interior design service platforms may seem like a dream come true. They find you clients and you make a smidgen of money.

I get the allure, though. They have large audiences of people who want what you got, supposedly. Reminds me a lot of those pyramid schemes out there.

They market these online interior design services to interior designers as a ready-to-go business. They say you can leverage their audience and BOOM! You're in business. Reading their various talking points, you’d think you’d be rolling in the dough in no time!

  • Work remotely and on your own schedule

  • Clients (theirs) come to you

  • Build client relationships (with their clients)

  • Build your portfolio

  • Get paid for your design time (ha!), maybe even make money on commissions depending on the platform

  • Build your brand through their marketing platform and get national press coverage

  • Increase your visibility online

  • Get creative without having to market your business, they'll do it for you

Sounds like a dream come true! If I wanted to live on Top Ramen for the rest of my life.

The other online interior design services...

I've done as much research as I can and it’s impossible to compare them equally. Some charge by the deliverables and some charge by the room type.

Not to mention, I have NO CLUE how much of the design fee you get when the project is complete. Which makes me question why ANY designer would apply to a job without having any idea how much they were going to get paid.

** If you know how much they pay you as a designer on any of these platforms, please share that in the comments.

Other Online Interior Design Services Pricing As of October 2018

Wayfair | Laurel & Wolf Design | Decorilla | Havenly Full Room Design | Decorist

With any of these online interior design services, the way I figure it if you spent 20 hours on a room design and the client pays the service around $200 and you got around 50% of that - you’re paid $100. You grossed $5/hour. 

$5 per hour… FIVE!

For fuck's sake, you might as well go work at HomeGoods, be around pretty shit all day and then build your own design business on your off hours.

That hourly wage doesn't even take into account your overhead to stay in business. You need to pay the electric, pay the rent, pay the insurance, pay taxes, etc. Not to mention YOUR TIME. Is it sinking in?

Even if you're just starting out, you could charge $50/hour. There, you just gave yourself a raise. 

I know. It's hard to start out and sure if you want to get your feet wet, then, by all means, sign up and agree to get paid peanuts so that people can spend more on their room than with a designer like you.

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.