professional home stager

How to Become a Professional Home Stager

Home staging is a profession that merges the worlds of interior design and real estate. Many people who choose home staging as a career come from one of these two fields. Others have no previous background but think they have the right skills to transition into the field. Luckily, this is a profession you can learn to do without one specific background or education.

Instead, the impetus for success depends on your skills and creativity. Learn how to become a professional home stager through these steps.

1. Take a Home Staging Course

Taking a home staging course online can teach you the intricacies of the home staging profession and can help set you apart from the amateurs.

A home staging course such as that provided by the Home Staging Institute provides a certificate that you can show to prospective clients to give your business more legitimacy. You also get an education on how to properly stage a home.

Completing the course online makes it easy to balance your current career as you transition into your new one. Depending on the course, you can learn about using color appropriately, how to create an aesthetic that sells a home, the psychology of design, the manipulation of lighting, and drawing and using floorplans.

Many programs also include a component that focuses on marketing and setting up your business. You can get information on licensing, attracting clients, and running a successful home stage business to help you get started.

2. Research the Competition

To be successful in your career, you need to know about the current home stage professionals in the area. Researching home stagers near you is vital for multiple reasons.

First, it gives you practical information that can help shape your proposals for jobs, such as price setting.

Second, doing your research can help you determine your niche. Perhaps most of the home stagers in your area only do minimalistic designs while you can provide rustic looks. Doing your research can help you find the gaps in the market.

Don’t be afraid to email other home staging professionals in your area to ask for a hypothetical quote.

There are multiple ways to find out who else is staging homes in your area. Try a quick search on the internet to see how many hits you get and look around their websites. Check for prices, clientele, and the exact services they offer. If you know any realtors or interior designers, ask them who they use and get their details.

3. Get a Business License

Although there might be a few leading brands in your area, home stagers typically work for themselves. This means you may need to be fully licensed and insured.

You cannot take on a client until you do this. Licensing also enables you to file your taxes and qualify for any possible tax credits. Procedures for getting a business license vary by state. The general procedure for licensure includes filling out a few forms, providing identification and paying a small fee.

The rules for getting a license will also depend on the exact type of business license you want, such as for a limited liability company. Once you are officially a business, you need to get liability insurance before you take on a client to protect your personal assets and your business.

4. Develop a Business Plan

All new businesses need a strong plan, and a home staging business is no exception. If you plan to take out a business loan to purchase inventory or for other up-front costs, your lender will likely request a business plan.

The process will help you launch yourself as a home stager because you have to think through each aspect of your business, including how you will reach your clients.

You can also integrate the research you completed in the previous step into your plan as your market analysis. Survey the local real estate market as well.

The typical components include a summary of your business, a market analysis, the employee structure, the services you plan to provide, your marketing strategy, and a financial plan.

5. Design Business Forms

Save time upfront by using templates of common home staging forms. Apply extra attention to develop your standard work contract that each client needs to sign.

Consult with an attorney to make sure you cover the responsibilities of each party and limit your liability. Having a standard contract in which you can simply change the name and cost saves you time and helps you look more professional. Especially when you start, you may be bidding for projects.

Have a standard proposal template that you can alter for each prospective job.

6. Determine and Collect Your Inventory

Some homes you stage will have no furniture, while others might only need small touches, decluttering, or changing some of the furniture.

Many home stagers use a mix of rental and purchased furniture for their designs. What you want to do is a matter of preference. It is a good idea to have some pieces that you own. Look for discount decorations and furniture that could commonly match your niche. Pay attention to sales on items like paint or paintbrushes.

Try to stock up on the basics you plan to use, but keep your budget in mind.

Likewise, you should research furniture rentals before you start staging professionally. Note which rentals are available and the style you can find in each store.

7. Create Marketing Materials

As your home staging business starts to take shape, you need to have a clear method for attracting clients. For this, you need to develop marketing materials.

Have a logo for your letterhead and business cards. Beyond those basics, your marketing materials depend on your individual needs. Brochures and pamphlets are great marketing devices for sharing at events or if you have a physical office. If you plan to send out mailers to real estate agents, homeowners, or leasing agencies, you need to spend time crafting a design.

Consider whether you can do this yourself or if you need to outsource design to a professional. Make sure that your marketing materials include your pitch for why someone should hire you. Include your niche and some of your achievements.

8. Develop a Portfolio

Clients want to see your work so that they can verify if you are a good match for them. For this, you need experience in staging a home.

If you completed a home staging course online, then you should have multiple samples to include in your portfolio. If you need more samples, try staging for a friend or family member selling their home. Even designing areas in your own home can provide pictures as you start to gain clients.

Make sure that your portfolio expresses the brand you want to present and what you plan to deliver. Take photos of every job you do so that you can keep updating your portfolio.

9. Create an Online Presence

A good way to find and reach out to clients is to create an online presence. Having a website and social media presence lets you connect directly to prospective and current clients.

Use a consistent logo and aesthetic across online platforms. Build a professional website that showcases your services, samples of your work and a way to contact you. Consider a blog to help drive more traffic to your website.

Keep your social media accounts professional. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter make it easy for you to share pictures of your work and participate in a conversation with others in your field and prospective clients. Your connections on social media can also help give you endorsements.

10. Continue Your Education

To keep your mind fresh with new ideas and to keep up with design trends, you need to continue your education.

This might mean taking another home staging course, or you could do simpler things like subscribing to top design magazines. Follow the popular designs you see on social media. Keep checking out boutiques and art galleries to feed your inspiration. Stay current on the real estate market, including the types of homes that sell. Regularly sell your older inventory items and buy new ones that reflect current trends.

Starting a career as a professional home stager requires a lot of effort, but the benefits can be well worth it. In your new profession, you get to use your creativity to help other people realize the potential of a home. Combining your skills in design with your knowledge of real estate, you can use these steps to create your career as a home stager.
 

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About The Author

Jackie Riley

The Home Staging Institute offers courses and products that help people set up and run successful home staging businesses. The Institute was set up in 2007 by successful home staging business owner Jackie Riley. Today, the institute has students in many countries around the world, including America, Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Germany and France. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated.

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