How To Start a Home Staging Business
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Starting a home staging business isn’t easy.
You’ll need a few weeks to get the ball rolling, and another few weeks to get up and running.
It could be a month or two before you get your first client.
I’ve been through the process numerous times before, both when starting my own home staging business, and helping others start theirs.
But the good news is there is a lot of information to guide you through the process. Unfortunately, it is spread all over the internet, in expensive home staging books, and online home staging courses.
This is my guide, to teach you everything you need to know about starting a home staging business, at no cost. It’s free.
All I ask is that if you like it, and get value from this guide, to share it with your network.
But first, claim your free resource pack
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Sample Contract / How to Become a Home Stager / Home Staging Checklist / Income Guide / PLUS more
No doubt you’ve already done a lot of research on the home staging business.
But let’s just double-check all boxes have been ticked.
You’ll want a deep understanding of the opportunity in your area before putting in the time and effort to start a home staging business.
Research now can save weeks of pain later.
Whether you are completely new to home staging, dabbled in it before, or perhaps in an adjoining industry, there is a lot of research you should be doing before starting a home staging business.
Look at your future competitors.
Start on Google, and see what other home staging businesses are in your area.
A simple search such as “home staging atlanta” or “home staging businesses in toronto” should give you an idea of how much competition you have.
If you see pages and pages of home stagers in your area, how should you interpret that?
It could mean the market is flooded, and there is only enough work for each of these dozens of home stagers to have one job a month.
Or alternatively, it could mean that there is a thriving real estate industry and high demand for home staging services, and each of these companies is thriving.
It’s up to you to make that call.
Ask yourself whether you feel the market is saturated, and if you believe you can make yourself stand out to create a sustainable & profitable home staging business.
While doing this, consider:
- Your area’s population. Obviously, large cities can create enough demand for home staging, but there is likely very little demand in a town of 10,000 residents.
- What is your point of difference? If the realtors and customers have dozens or hundreds of home staging companies to choose from, why should they choose your company (more on this in a minute)
- How will your marketing stand out? Have you noticed that all the existing home staging brands have low-quality websites, or perhaps they have good websites but their portfolio is letting them down? Both of these could be an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
- Is their pricing publicly available? It’s good to get a general idea of what the pricing is in your area. It goes without saying that home staging pricing varies greatly between countries, states, cities, and towns. So although you might have a general idea based on what you have read online, it is super important to get a strong understanding of what the going rates are in your area.
What’s your point of difference going to be?
Now you have a solid understanding of what the market is like in your area, you’ll likely be able to start imaging how your new company will fit into the landscape.
- Are you going to be just another home staging company?
- Are you going to be priced lower, and try to get a higher volume of work?
- Is your niche going to be apartments and holiday homes, or standard houses?
- Do you feel there is room for a high-end home staging company and the market is currently not serving this niche?
- Do you have a solid network of potential customers so you could potentially afford to be “just another home staging company” (which there is nothing wrong with, to be clear).
The question you are trying to answer is “why should a customer choose me?”.
If you can’t answer that, then it might pay to stop here until you’ve figured out the answer.
Customers want to spend their money wisely, and if there are other companies with nicer marketing, better portfolios, more certification, and more hustle then you’re going to struggle!
Home Staging Marketing
You don’t need fancy and innovative marketing ideas when starting a home staging business. The best home staging marketing ideas are tried & tested, and just take a bit of time and commitment.
Below is our crash course on home staging marketing to get your creative juices flowing. For a more in-depth look into this topic, read our Home Staging Marketing tips article.
Home staging marketing can cover many smaller topics:
- Company name
- Digital marketing
- Business cards
- Home staging contracts
We’ll cover these off one by one, and while reading our tips keep in the back of your mind which ones you feel will work best for your home staging business.
The team at The Home Staging Institute is a fan of the test and learn method, which means you trial many forms of marketing and make informed decisions about what works best for you.
You don’t want to go two years doing only one form of marketing when you could have been doing something else you hadn’t yet tested and been getting twice the results!
Your home staging business name
Your brand name is probably already floating about in the back of your head. It is often the first thing people think about when starting a business.
In general, there are two types of brand names: the formal, and the creative.
Formal home staging business names
Formal brand names are normally pretty dull but state very clearly what the company does. I personally prefer formal brand names as they help you be found in Google Search, where a lot of business is generated from.
I tend to recommend shying away from using a location in the name, as it limits potential growth, and also prevents you from easily taking the business with you should you move towns.
Some examples of formal brand names in the home staging industry include:
- Auckland Home Staging
- Albany Home Staging
- Distinctive Home Staging
- Nook Staging
- Stage My Home
- Impact Home Staging
- Styled to Sell
- Gorgeous Homes
- Interior Concepts
- creative home staging branding
Creative home staging business names
Creative branding is a bit more fun and funky, although it can often not be 100% clear what services the business offers just by looking at the name. It does help you stand out in the crowd however and creative branding is often more popular in premium markets.
- Oak and Stone
- SOJO Design
- Bob & Friends
- Ash Road
- Little Mermaid
- Huntly + Co
Checks before committing to a name
Before committing to a brand name there are a number of basic checks you should do.
Obviously, do a good Google search to see that no one else is using the name in your country.
It also pays to check that no one is using a very similar name, as it might result in confusion and headaches which are best avoided now.
Secondly, check if the domain name is available. It’s normally best to get your county’s top-level domain (TLD) which is something along the lines of .co.uk or .com.au – but if those are not available then a .com is recommended.
You might see and be tempted by a number of other domains such as .net or .io but at the end of the day, these domains always seem to be a little bit less credible.
We recommend Namecheap.com for your domain as they are both a cheap price to register your domain name and a trustworthy company.
Once you have checked your new home staging businesses brand name is both not used by anyone else, and has an available domain name, do a quick scan of social media to see if those profile names are also available.
Facebook and Instagram are the two you’ll most likely want to use, but it also pays to check Pinterest, Twitter, and Linkedin too.
Creating a logo for your home staging business doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You might be tempted to find a local design firm, and if you can afford it then you’ll get a great collaborative logo.
But not everyone can afford to drop over $1000 on a logo, so there are a few shortcuts you can take here.
GraphicRiver by Envato is a marketplace of all sorts of graphics, print files, icons, fonts, and logos that you can buy.
Once purchased you just then need to edit them yourself in a tool like Photoshop, or ask a freelancer to edit the logo to suit your brand name and tagline.
Buying a logo for your home staging business from a place like GraphicRiver will cost you about USD$35.
What’s the catch? The catch is simply that there maybe half a dozen or so other businesses in the entire world that may use the same template as their logo.
This doesn’t worry me for a number of reasons:
- The brand on the logo will be YOUR brand. So you are really only sharing the icon/layout of the logo with other brands
- You can change the colors to suit your own brand’s color palette.
- The other businesses, wherever they are in the world, are more than likely small businesses that will never be seen by residents of your town or city. No big, global business is going to use GraphicRiver.net for their logo!
- The other half a dozen or so businesses sharing the same logo template might not even be in the home staging industry. They could be builders, architects, painters, interior designers, roofers, realtors, retails, or any other company that somehow deals with houses or furniture.
99Designs is a similar marketplace to GraphicRiver, but it is more of a platform that actually connects freelancers with small businesses looking for design services. Logo design on 99Designs starts at US$299.
The quality of logos produced on 99Designs is exceptional, and you’ll get a logo that is 100% unique and custom for your home staging business.
The process of getting a logo designed on 99Designs is quite unique with their contest feature. Here is how it works.
You start by creating a brief which will tell your designs what your needs are, and what general direction you would like the logo to take.
Once the brief is written, you can choose to either hire a designer or start a contest.
Hiring a design means you’ll collaborate closely and craft the perfect logo for your business.
Starting a contest is great for when you want a range of options, and are quite flexible with the type of logo you want. It is also great if you don’t currently have much of a design already in your mind. When you start a contest you open the brief to the community of designers, and then they start to submit their designs to you. You choose the winner, and s/he gets paid. Easy! (If you like none of the designs, you’ll get your money back).
Your website is perhaps the most crucial piece of the marketing puzzle for home staging businesses.
Since you have no storefront, your website is the entrance to your brand, and people’s first impression of your business.
Luckily since you are considering starting a home staging business, you are likely already a creative individual and know what looks good. You can use this creativity to craft a beautiful website for potential clients.
What content do you want on your website?
Arguably the main pages of your home staging website are your homepage for first impressions, your portfolio, and your contact or “request a quote” page.
But there are a number of other pages you need on your site too. Here is the bare minimum.
Homepage: Your homepage sets the first impression. Since we work in such a visual industry, showcase your best work with large images, and great photography.
If you have been lucky enough to stage a home that is for sale by a realtor, you might have access to some high-quality professional photography to show off your work. For your homepage, low-quality cellphone images won’t be good enough (unless you’re a bit of a whiz with your smartphone camera!).
A common term when talking about web design is “the fold”, and placing important content “above the fold”.
The fold is the area of the webpage that can be seen by the user when the page first loads. Essentially it is what the user can see before they need to scroll down.
The content above the fold is super important, as not all users actually scroll down a page. So make a great first impression above the fold to impress.
It also pays to include a “call to action” above the fold. This is a headline or a button that tells the user what to do next. Ask yourself, now that the user is on your website, what do you want their next step to be?
View your portfolio?
Request a quote?
Read your testimonials?
See your certification?
It’s up to you, but the answer is probably one of the first two options above.
What else should go on your homepage?
If you have testimonials the Homepage is a great place to add two or three of these. Certifications in home staging or interior design should also be showcased on the homepage.
Give a brief summary of your services.
Do you do full staging? Partial staging? Furniture hire without styling? Outline your main services, and link them through to more in-depth information from your “Services” page.
Sell yourself on your homepage.
Why should prospects choose your home staging business?
You should have a good understanding of the answer from Chapter 1.
Use the homepage to explain your unique selling point (USP). Remember that this could be pricing, quality, quick turnaround, niche design, qualifications, range of furniture, or any other USP you have identified for your home staging business.
Request a Quote: This page can be as simple or complex as you like. It is typically a contact form that sends the inquiry to your business inbox.
At a minimum, you’ll want the user’s name, phone number, email address, and a small message from them describing the job. You can then follow up with more information such as dates, location, number of rooms, services required etc.
If you opt to gather more information from the contact form, you’ll cut down on the follow-up work. You can add additional questions such as date of booking, property address, rooms required, client details, property accessibility, etc. Then you can follow up with any finer details you need to quote on the job.
Typically the simpler the form, the more inquiries (and tire-kickers) you’ll get. No one fills out 15 questions if they are just kicking the tires and enquiring at 20 different staging brands.
One tip for your ‘Request a Home Staging Quote’ page is to emphasize that the quote is free, and has no obligation. Although both of these go without saying (who charges for a quote?!), it pays to just give that reassurance.
Another tip is to always ask for a phone number and make the field mandatory. If someone isn’t willing to give a phone number, they’ll typically be a bit of a tire kicker and a high-maintenance customer.
Some customers lock in a deal after 2 phone calls, others lock in the deal after 23 emails of 4 weeks.
It’s ok to be picky and choose low-maintenance customers to ensure you don’t drown in admin and communications before you even get paid.
Testimonials: It can be uncomfortable tooting your own horn, but this is where you need to toot it as hard as you can!
For every home staging job you do, you need to ask for a testimonial.
Once the job is complete send two links to the customer, once for your Facebook page for a review, and then one for your Google My Business page for a review (this will help with your website traffic from Google, and helps you build credibility before the customer even lands on your site).
You can then copy/paste the best reviews of your home staging business onto your website.
Your testimonials page is also good to showcase your home staging certification or any other home staging courses or training that you may have done.
See if the provider of the certification or course has a badge or seal you can use on your website or a digital version of your certificate.
Having proof from the third-party organization is a quick way to build credibility and prove that you know what you’re talking about.
Portfolio: Your online home staging portfolio will more than likely be looked at before the customer inquiries with you, so it is critical to ensure you put a lot of effort into polishing this page.
This means high-quality photography and a range of photos showing a range of your work. If you don’t have a portfolio of work because you are just in the early days of starting a home staging business, then feel free to stage your own house, and use this as your portfolio.
This isn’t deceptive, as it is still showcasing your staging skills, and that is the goal of your portfolio. You can choose to show either before and after photos, or just show some top-notch after photos.
The interesting thing about portfolios is they often filter the type of work you are going to get in the future.
If your portfolio shows mainly staging jobs you completed in apartments, with modern decor, then you are going to attract people living in apartments, who want it staged with modern decor. You’ll then add these jobs to your portfolio, and then attract more of these jobs.
So if you are starting your home staging portfolio from scratch, start it in the direction you want to head.
Don’t go staging an apartment to start your portfolio if you know there are only 2 apartment blocks in your city! Your future work could be inhibited.
About: Home staging is quite a personal business. Customers are inviting a professional to provide their services. It’s different to, say, buying a car or bouquet of flowers, where you are buying a product.
The customer will want to know about you. If you have a team, they’ll want to know about the team too.
Your About page should introduce the home stagers, their job titles, and a brief bio of the stager’s history and credibility.
What qualifications does each home stager have, what do they love outside of work, what most excites them about home staging, how long have they worked in the industry, etc
Sell your home staging staff in a few hundred words! If possible, include a nice headshot.
If you have ever been quoted in the media or on a blog, this is the page where you can showcase that too.
This once again comes back to credibility. If a home staging blog, or even an interior design website or architecture magazine, has quoted you or featured some of your work, it does WONDERS for building your brand’s credibility.
If you have never been quoted in the media, keep an eye on opportunities to squeeze your way in there.
Digital marketing for home staging businesses typically comes in two main forms: Social media marketing, and search engine marketing.
Both of these topics could have 500-word books written about them, and both take a good number of years to master.
However, there are a few easy ways to get your head around these topics. Then get stuck in!
Social Media Marketing for Home Staging Businesses
In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia, the main social media platforms for home staging business are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more formally Linkedin.
Linkedin shouldn’t take up too much of your time. It’s a professional platform that potential customers may use to check out your home staging skills before awarding a large job.
Ensure your profile is professional with a nice photo of yourself, and a cover image on your profile showcasing the work you are most proud of.
Create a Linkedin profile for your business too. Add the logo, a small blurb about your business, and a link to your website.
Then once your business Linkedin profile is created, go back to your personal profile, and add to your employment your new business, with its newly updated profile.
What should you post on Linkedin?
From your company’s page, start with a post that you have launched a new business, with a link to your website. Head on over to your personal profile and share this with your existing connections (if you have any).
Linkedin users typically don’t take well to frequent low-quality updates. So keep posts to every couple of weeks, and only when you have work you are proud to share or an announcement from your company. Announcements could include staff earning a new certification, new hires, opening new stores, or a large purchase of some note-worthy furniture.
Facebook is used by nearly every home staging company, and the users on Facebook take more kindly to frequent small updates. You can post here every job you complete, new furniture in your ranges, small details of your favorite jobs, and even throwbacks to old jobs to keep the content ticking over.
When you create a Facebook page for your home staging business be sure to go through all the settings and add as much information as you can. A description of your business, cover photo, profile photo, link to your business, links to your other social profiles, date founded, etc etc. There are literally dozens of settings that you can use to build your brand on Facebook.
Facebook ads for home staging businesses can also perform well to win new business. You can choose to boost your best posts to certain demographics.
One tip to try is to post your favorite work and use the description to say you are currently open to new work. Boost this post to realtors and property developers in your area, and who knows, you may just get a few inquiries from $5 – $20 worth of marketing budget.
Instagram is perfect for home staging businesses. Every image you are proud of can be shared on the platform, and through consistent interactions with others in the industry, you can grow your following and get your new brand out there.
Start your profile off with a small bio and a link to your website.
Upload your logo as your profile image.
Then, if possible, add 9 or so images to get the ball rolling.
I personally like to add a two or three-line caption below each image, and then leave my hashtags in the first comment immediately after posting the image.
Speaking of hashtags for home staging businesses, these are the ones I use. I’ve put them in a list below which you can copy and paste into a notepad file on your phone. Then each time you post a new image on Instagram, go find this note file, and simply paste it into your post. These are my favorite hashtags:
#homestaging #homestagingworks #homestagingtips #homestagingsells #designdecor #homeinspo #designlovers #homedeco #homesweethome #design
Add one more hashtag at the end of your list, which includes your city name. For example:
#homestagingtoronto or #homestagingbrisbane
But doing this won’t grow your Instagram profile very quickly. To accelerate this process, you need to interact with others.
The easiest way to do this is to find similar profiles to yours, or profiles that have a following of potential customers, and interact with their followers. Here is an example.
- Find a real estate brand in your city that operates in the area you want to grow your business.
- Click to view their followers
- Go through these followers, and both follow them and like their most recent photo.
- If you have something positive to say, as a small bonus, leave a comment on their latest image (if it was posted within the last few days only).
I typically find about 10% of profiles I do steps 1 – 3 to follow me back. I don’t bother with step 4, but I am sure it will improve results.
10% is good, but it also means to grow your home staging businesses social media page on Instagram, you’ll need to interact with 1000 profiles to get just 100 followers. So set this interaction as a nightly task for 15 minutes for the first few months of your business.
Soon enough you’ll have 500 – 1000 followers and you’ll start growing organically.
Of course, to grow even faster, you can run ads or competitions.
Search marketing for home staging businesses
Search marketing refers to paying to be listed in the top four positions of a Google Search (Note this is different from SEO, which you can use a website auditor to help you with). You set the keywords you want to target, and the price you are willing to pay. Let’s take a look at the main aspects of running Google Ads for a home staging business….
Every Google search starts with a keyword.
“home staging business in sydney”
“best home staging company in new york”
“home staging albany”
These are all keywords. When you start a Google Ads campaign, you decide what keywords you want to trigger your ad.
Since you pay a dollar or so every time someone clicks your ad, you want your keyword selection to be very precise, so you are only paying to get people to your website who are very likely to be needing home staging services.
For example, someone who searches “home staging sydney” is very likely to be wanting the services of a home staging company in sydney.
However. someone searching for “home staging books” obviously doesn’t want to buy home staging services. They want to learn about home staging.
How you set up your keywords in Google determines how precise your ads are in targeting high converting customers.
There are three ways to enter a keyword into Google’s ad system. I’ll showcase this with three examples. Take note of the symbols used in the bolded keyword…
home staging – If this was your keyword you’re targeting every search term that includes one or both of these words, in any order, in any sentence. So while it is exactly describing what you do, your ad will also show for people searching “home staging TV shows” and “buy home in new york”. These two people aren’t going to buy your services, so you are wasting money. For this reason, I recommend you never enter a keyword with any of the symbols seen in the next two examples.
“home staging in new york” – See how I’ve put speech marks around the keyword? This shows Google that the user must search these words in this particular order for my ad to appear. If someone searches “new york” the ad won’t show. They need to search “home staging in new york”. This sounds perfect for anyone offering home staging services in New York, but there is one important thing to note. The user can add words to the start or end of this phrase, and your ad will still show. This means if they search “worst home staging in new york” or “home staging in new york for under $50” then your ad will show. Not ideal! But still better than the first example.
[home staging in new york] – This is called exact match. The user must type EXACTLY this in Google to trigger your advert. Nothing more, nothing less. This type of keyword matching is my favorite as you get to dictate exactly what people need to search to trigger your advert. You can then find 10 or 20 different search phrases and add them all as exact match. Below is a list to get started, with the city of Albany used as an example.[home staging albany][albany home staging][home staging companies in albany][best home staging companies in albany][staging companies albany][home stagers albany]
When your keyword is searched, your ad will appear. This is your chance to entice the user to click on your advert. Since your ad will be listed alongside up to 3 other ads, it pays to make your advert as enticing as possible.
State that you offer free online quotes, that you are rated 4.8/5 stars, and have a passionate and expert team (or whatever you can honestly say about your business).
Search for home staging companies in half a dozen other cities and take note of the best ads. Use these as inspiration for your own ads.
Google allows you to target your ads to a specific location, so be sure to make use of this feature. Set it tight so you don’t waste your budget. By this I mean target your city or town, not your state or country.
Home Staging Portfolio
When it comes to marketing your home staging business, your portfolio or work is one of the most important aspects.
You can showcase your portfolio on your website, Facebook pages, Instagram profile, Linkedin, and even include the best photo within your business card design.
The main tips we have for your portfolio are:
- Use professional photographs wherever possible. The difference between an amateur photo with poor lighting, and a well-lit photo taken by a real estate photographer is amazing. You might not have professional photographs for your first or second job, but as soon as you can get your hands on some, then update your portfolio and make these your featured images.
- It’s okay to cull old photos. I guarantee you that you’ll look back at the start of your portfolio in 2 years and be a little bit ashamed of your first job. You’ll have grown and improved your home staging skills significantly. With this in mind, it is okay to cull your portfolio over 6 months or so. It’s better to have 25 amazing photos on their own than it is to have 25 amazing photos mixed in with 25 other photos you aren’t proud of.
Most website builders will have built-in themes with portfolios, or sliders to showcase images. If you are using WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace you should have no problems creating a home staging portfolio and uploading your photos.
We’ve actually written about designing a business card for your home staging business previously. You can find that dedicated blog post here.
What information should be on your business card?
Less is more, especially if you are going for a high-end premium brand of home staging company.
If you strip away all the fluff, all you really need on the business card is your brand name, your name, phone number, email address, and website.
You could even drop the email address. It’ll be on your website.
Do home staging companies even need a business card?
Business cards used to be pretty popular, and they still are in some industries. Some businesses choose not to use them, others get 1000 printed and still have 992 in their desk draws five years later, and some home staging businesses credit them for a good portion of their business.
To decide how much effort to put into your business cards have a think about how important networking and events will be for you to win business.
If you plan to frequent home styling events and expos, attend realtor conferences, and generally mix and mingle with your target market, then business cards are an absolute must.
If this is all out of your comfort zone, or you live in a smaller town where there are unlikely to be events you can network at, then you could consider passing on getting a business card sorted for your home staging business.
Whatever you choose, remember that it is 2020 and 99% of people will be happy to make a note of your phone number or email address directly into their smartphone. Let’s be honest, for most of us, a business card lingers on a desk for a few weeks then ends up in the bin anyway.
Designing your business card
If you do decide to create a business card, make sure it is of good quality. When you give a business card, it is the first impression of your brand and business. It replaces your website as the first impression.
So make it count!
A good quality card (nothing too thin), and a beautiful design, is what will win you business.
To get your card designed I recommend buying a free template online.
Take a look at the below template found on Graphicriver.
It’ll cost you just US$5 to buy this template, and you can edit it on Photoshop to change the contact information, colors, and image to suit your brand.
If you don’t have Photoshop it should take a freelancer no more than 45 minutes to make all the changes you need.
That’ll get your business card sorted for under $50!
Home Staging Letterheads
Letterheads might sound a bit 1999, but we can broaden the scope of letterheads to make them a bit more suited for the digital age.
There will be a number of different documents and home staging forms you use, and all of these should be branded if they are customer-facing. By this I mean any form or document the customer will see, ensure it is branded. Don’t worry about your own notes.
What documents will the customer likely see during your journey as a home stager?
- Proposal form
- Staging checklist
- Home staging report
- Homeowner survey
You can download some of these home staging forms from our archive.
When setting up your branding on these documents you don’t need to go overboard.
Your logo, phone number, and web address are all that you need.
You can consider adding a splash of color along the top or bottom but don’t go too overboard.
Once again, you can download beautiful home staging templates from Graphicriver.net. If you can’t find anything when searching for home staging, search for similar industries that might share the vibe you are looking for. This could be interior design, real estate, or architecture.
Creating your Website
Creating a home staging website is something you should spend a bit of energy on. After all, it’s the gateway to your services for new customers.
Below you’ll learn how to buy a domain name, choose a content management system, and buy hosting.
If you’d like to diver deeper into this topic, we have an article just for you here: How to Build a Home Staging Website that Attracts Customers.
Creating your home staging website
We’ve already talked above about what content should be on your home staging website, so now we’ll get a little bit more technical.
You’ll need three things: a domain name, a hosting provider, and a content management system (CMS).
These three are all interrelated. Your domain name directs visitors to view your CMS, which needs hosting.
This guide has already recommended buying a .com domain name, or the top-level domain for whatever country you may be in. For example a .com.au for Australian businesses, or a .co.uk of United Kingdom business.
I’ve had good experiences with Namecheap.com before and recommend them to all our clients. However, 95% of domain name companies are all the same, so find the best that suits your needs and isn’t overly expensive.
You’ll typically pay about US$7 per year for a .com domain name, and about $USD12 for a .net domain name.
Domains specific for your country can range from USD$7 to USD$100.
Content Management System
You’ll need a CMS to manage your content. This is where you create pages, and add content.
WordPress, WIX, and Squarespace are some of the leading content management systems, and some of the easiest to use for beginners.
I’ll probably get a slap from some web developers for saying this, but if you simply want an “out of the box” website that gives you minimal headaches, and looks beautiful, sign up for WIX and Squarespace.
Both these platforms are intuitive and beginner-friendly.
It also means you can skip the Hosting step I describe below, which is where things get confusing and you’ll need a bit of headache relief.
If you choose not to go with a service like Wix or Squarespace, you’ll need hosting for your home staging website.
Hosting is where all the files of your website live. The HTML, CSS, JS, and all sorts of other files that I’ll need a professional web developer to explain.
Once you have hosting bought and paid for, you’ll need to install a CMS, then
Pricing your Home Staging Services
When it comes to starting a home staging business, the #1 question we get asked is how to price your home staging services.
This is a topic that I could spend all day teaching (and have in the past!), but for now, we are just going to dip our toes into this complex topic.
If you want to have a thorough understanding of how to price your services before you start a home staging business, then we recommend one of our popular online home staging courses.
Alternatively, check out this article which is dedicated to this topic: How to Charge for Home Staging.
What to charge for home staging
Knowing what to charge for home staging can be difficult.
There are so many variables you need to consider: your town or city, your state, your country, what level of service you are offering, your competitor’s prices, demand for your services, your qualifications, etc.
When you first open your home staging business you might consider charging a little less. This will help you build up your portfolio and network of clients quickly, and then you can begin to increase your prices as your confidence grows too.
Your Home Staging Portfolio
Building a home staging portfolio is all about putting your best foot forward. Use it to show off only your best work. You don’t need hundreds of mediocre photos showcasing your work, you just need a dozen images of the work you are most proud of.
When you are starting a home staging business, one of your main goals is to build a portfolio you can show to potential clients.
The importance of a great staging portfolio
Every client will look at your portfolio before enquiring with you – especially if it is a “cold” inquiry (meaning they found you without an introduction through your network).
Your portfolio not only shows how well you do something, but it also demonstrates your styles, and what sort of furniture and decor you have access to.
Even for professional home stagers who are at the top of their game, styles vary greatly.
What one person might love, others will dislike and avoid.
And that doesn’t mean the stager isn’t good, or the portfolio isn’t great, it simply means the type of work you create isn’t what the customer wants.
So how do you create a good home staging portfolio?
- If you are just starting a home staging business, then consider staging your own home, or your friends and family homes. This isn’t deceptive. Portfolios are meant to demonstrate your skills and home staging aesthetics. They aren’t strictly limited to showcasing what you do for paying clients.
- Ensure the lighting and photography is good. Unless you are passionate about photography, it’s likely that a professional photographer will get much better photos than you can yourself. The $200 – $800 you will have to pay for your photos from a professional will be repaid from your first home staging job.
- Remember to get photos from every home staging job. You only have one opportunity so you don’t want to think back wish you got photos when you didn’t.
Categorizing your photos
How you categorize your home staging portfolio is ultimately up to you, but here are a few recommendations.
Note that when we are referring to your portfolio, we are referring to your online home staging portfolio. This is the page that showcases your work to potential clients.
home staging portfolio
Organize by home
Showing your favorite 4 – 8 home staging jobs, with a handful of photos from each job, helps to demonstrate the different types of work you are able to do.
As mentioned earlier be careful to spread out your portfolio to cover the type of jobs you want to attract in the future. Essentially, if you are showcasing 5 of your top jobs spread them out over houses, apartments, and holiday homes if you want a widespread of future jobs.
If you simply show 5 jobs which are all apartments, you can take a guess that who is going to like your portfolio and enquire about your services in the future.
Organize by style
You can also categorize your portfolio by style.
Firstly you’ll need to look through your work and see if there are any distinct styles you’d like to categorize by.
Do you have some farmhouse work?
Perhaps some Scandinavian?
Of some urban/modern?
Whatever styles you have, separate your home staging portfolio into these categories. You’ll give prospective a really clear idea of the type of work you are capable of.
By housing type
By “housing type” I am simply referring to splitting your portfolio into freestanding homes, apartments, holiday homes, units, studios etc.
This makes it easy for people looking to stage an apartment to quickly jump to the apartment section of your portfolio. They’ll be able to then quickly see if the way you stage apartments, is the way they’d like their apartment staged.
Anything you can do to make the research phase of the customer’s purchase journey easy for them is a step closer to them enquiring with your business.
Home Staging Courses & Certification
Completing a home staging course is an easy way to add some credibility to a new home staging business.
If you can also demonstrate a home staging certification then you have something a little extra that you can add to your website to win more business.
You can find home staging courses online, and you can in fact get your home staging certification online.
Courses typically take a few weeks to a few months, depending on how intensive you want to go!
Home Staging Courses
Here at The Home Staging Institute, we have been teaching home staging courses online since 2007. In this time, thousands of students have trained with us and have gone on to have successful home staging careers.
So when it comes to home staging courses, we feel we are in a good position to give you all the tips on what works and what doesn’t.
Firstly, who needs to take a home staging course?
There are three main reasons people will take a home staging course.
Firstly, some people are wanting to start a home staging business who have very little experience in staging or interior design. This makes it very intimidating to start charging for something you’ve never done before. Finding home staging training and learning what works and what doesn’t can help ease the anxiety of jumping headfirst into a new career.
Secondly, there are those who have experience in aspects of home staging, but not all aspects. For example, you might have worked for a larger home staging company and looked after a certain aspect of the business. When you start your own home staging business you need to know about all aspects of home staging. The right training will teach you about all aspects of home staging so you can start your business with confidence.
Finally, a home staging course is great for those in similar industries who want to be able to increase their earnings. A good example is realtors who want a better understanding of staging a property ready for sale. Perhaps they simply have an interest in home staging, or maybe they want to start a home staging business to manage alongside their real estate business. The two businesses go hand in hand, and for every house, you list for sale, you have a warm client that you can upsell home staging to.
Home Staging Certification
When you complete a home staging course or any sort of home staging training, you may or may not get a certification at the end of it.
What is the point of getting a certification or home staging qualification?
It is simply a way to say loud and proud to potential customers that you completed a course, and have the badge to show it.
It shows that a third party has not only taught you some of the key home staging skills, but they have tested you and that you passed the test.
Something important to keep in mind is that there is no national or international body that is licensed and overseen by the government to award home staging certifications.
So typically when you earn a “home staging certification” you are not being awarded a legal document that is controlled by a licensed organization.
You are being awarded proof that you completed a course. Either online or in person.
What should you look for when choosing where to get your home staging certification?
Firstly check that the course is right for you.
Does it cover the topics that you are most interested in?
Does it meet your industry needs? Home staging courses for Realtors can be slightly different to home staging courses for starting a new business in this industry.
What is the course flexibility like? With online courses, you can do the training whenever you like. However, with in-person courses, you’ll need to travel to a location at a set time and complete the course in the company of your tutor and peers.
Home Staging Forms & Checklists
We get asked how to start a home staging business almost daily! Over the years we’ve gathered every single form someone would need when setting up their own staging business.
Some of these are described below – but if you want a shortcut be sure to check out our Home Staging Resources section where you can download many of these for free.
Forms, checklists, forms, and more checklists!
Even in 2022, there are a number of forms and checklists used in the home staging industry.
When starting your own home staging business it can be a little bit frustrating to have to make these all from scratch, but the good news is there are a few shortcuts you can take.
In general, these are the documents you will need at some point in your home staging career.
Survey form: I like to use a survey form, which is a form I use to record information about exactly what the homeowner or client is wanting.
When first speaking to a customer this form has the questions I want to ask to get a better understanding of the job. It ensures I know which suburb the job is in, how many rooms need to be staged, current furniture that will be remaining in the house, what extra furniture will be needed, any special requirements of the property, how long it needs to remain staged for, what the budget is, what the purpose for the staging is, and if there are any accessibility issues.
The information I gather on this form is used to generate the proposal and quote. It saves me remembering every detail after a phone call with the client, or after visiting the property.
Proposal form: This is what is sent to prospective clients to win the business. It’s a polished document with your branding on it. Your home staging proposal form should outline exactly what the customer has requested, what you will do, and how much it will cost.
When the customer signs and returns it, you’ve got the client booked and you can ask for a deposit and book the job in your calendar.
Staging checklist: Running a home staging business means managing a lot of little jobs, that together makeup one big job.
The One Big Job is the home staging job.
This is made up of many little jobs. Booking furniture for the living room, finding a picture frame for the bathroom, organizing flowers for the table display, deciding what books work best on the coffee table, organizing labor and moving vehicles if needed, considering which rugs will work best in the room, etc.
It helps to have a checklist for each home staging job or you’ll find yourself forgetting things and running in circles.
Trust me, once you have driven 15 miles to a job, you don’t want to have to return to base and pick up that vase you forgot.
A home staging checklist makes things go smoother, and that means fewer headaches!
Mileage form: One of the expenses you might be able to claim as the owner of a home staging business is your mileage. Every time you visit a client, your office, your warehouse, or even drive to pick up and research new items and furniture could be recorded as a business expense.
Obviously, this will vary country by country and state by state, so it pays to get the advice of a local accountant. But in general, if you are using your vehicle for your business, even if it is your personal vehicle and not sign written, you might be able to save a little money when it comes to taxes.
Products & Logistics
One of the perks when starting a home staging business is shopping for new furniture and homewares.
Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t become a home staging consultant in the first place if you didn’t love staging and interior design.
But just as importantly, is how do you manage to get your product to your client’s houses, and where do you store all your home staging products?!
Furniture & products for home staging
You probably have your favorite furniture stores around your local town or city already, so sourcing your products for your home staging business might start here.
But something that you have to keep in mind when starting a home staging business is that you are doing this for profit.
You want to be “in the green” as soon as possible.
You also want to avoid hefty debt at all costs.
This means making sensible decisions when buying furniture for home staging. For some purchases, you can get away with paying less, even if you don’t agree with the quality of the product.
A prime example is mattresses.
Nearly every staging job will include a bedroom, and that means a bed! An $800 mattress covered by a top-quality sheet is not going to sell the house any better than a cut-price discount (or second-hand mattress) that you find at the discount store, eBay, or Craigslist.
No one is going to lay on the bed to test it.
No one is going to pull back the sheets to check the mattress.
So you’ll need to put your pride aside and buy something that you otherwise might avoid.
You can spend this money saved on products which matter, such as a nice couch or coffee table.
Can you use your own furniture?
We often get asked if you can use your own furniture for home staging? And we also get asked how to start a staging business without money.
The answer to the first question is YES!
And that means you can start a home staging business without a large amount of savings or a crippling bank loan.
In fact, I know of one company that lists every piece of non-sentimental furniture in their home available for their home staging jobs.
The benefits of this are twofold:
- When you are starting a home staging business it typically takes a fair bit of capital to build up your range of furniture to use in jobs. If you are open to using the furniture you already own, then you get a bit of a head start.
- You also get the benefit of blurring the lines between “business-use” and “personal-use”. You’ll need to speak to your local accountant to understand the finer details here, but there is no reason you can’t buy furniture you love, using your business’s income, and use it daily in your home. You’ll still need to make it available for home staging jobs, but that’s no big deal.
Our only advice is not to use furniture that is sentimental to you.
If you inherited a coffee table, and it’s been passed down through the family, think twice about staging a property that will have frequent guests that may not care about the furniture as much as you do.
Also, consider the small dings here and there is might get while transporting it to the job.
Where to buy home staging products from
You can buy the products you need for home staging from any of your favorite stores.
Don’t forget to look at second-hand stores as well.
Also, consider asking about trade accounts. I am aware of some retailers which offer up to 50% off the retail price to companies that do home staging, interior design, and wedding styling. For these companies, it’s a win-win. They get a lot of exposure since often work in these industries appears on blogs or magazines, and they also get a frequent high-spending customer.
Reviews & Growth
These days if you are serious about growing a business, you need to focus heavily on growing your number of reviews and testimonials.
If someone is searching for your home staging brand in Google, right next to the top search results are going to be five little stars…and hopefully they show a five-star rating.
Setting yourself up for growth
Two things will set your home staging business up well for sustained long term growth: reviews, and a great portfolio.
We’ve covered the importance of a great portfolio already, so now we’ll touch on how to get reviews for your home staging business, and what to do with them.
Where do you put your reviews?
There are three main places you’ll want to be gathering reviews.
The first is on your own website. The visitors to your website are already interested in home staging services, and they are even considering hiring your company to do the work. Now it is your job to convince them that they are making the right choice.
The quickest and easiest way to reassure potential customers is to show that there have been other customers who are happy with your work.
Do this by picking the top half a dozen or so reviews and posting them on your site.
You can use them on your homepage, on a special reviews/testimonials page, or maybe even in the footer area of every page.
Secondly, you can ask users to leave your business a review on Google. This will help entice people to your website from Google, then it becomes your website’s job to ensure those new visitors enquire about your services.
When you search for home staging in your city you’ll often see Google Local listings, which shows the name and address of the business, and if there are any ratings or reviews.
Businesses that have more than 3 or 4 reviews really stand out in the home staging industry, especially in small towns.
This industry isn’t like cafes or restaurants where you need hundreds of positive reviews to get customers.
If you have a Facebook page, it is also worth asking for customers to leave a review there too.
These days more and more people are using Facebook to find businesses and to research before making an inquiry.
Where too from here?
PLEASE, if you enjoyed this guide on starting a home staging business, share it on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, or your own website.
Our team spent over 40 hours writing this free guide for you and completed it during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Any help sharing this with others who want to start a home staging business is greatly appreciated!
We’ve shared some of the resources we used below…
Bonus: 8 tips for starting a home staging business
The market for home staging services is about as close to evergreen as a startup can get – as long as there are homes to be sold, there is staging to be done.
In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a full 83 percent of home buyer’s agents said having home staging in place helped prospective buyers visualize themselves living in that home.
The truth is, the majority of buyers struggle to see a home’s true potential without some level of staging in place. Busy realtors don’t always have time to oversee this task personally. A ready market exists for home staging experts to forge ongoing working relationships with active realtors.
Once you decide that launching a home staging business is for you, these eight tips will help you get off on the right foot in your community.
Tip 1: Establish a working knowledge of current and classic interior design trends.
Home staging is not exactly the same as interior design. You want to appeal to a broad potential audience rather than pleasing a single client.
So rather than developing one single client persona (your ideal customer in a nutshell), you need to identify a range of potential client personas based on the types of homes you will be staging.
You need to leave the door at least halfway open for the imagination to kick in without inadvertently leading prospective buyers in a design direction they don’t resonate with.
Most of all, you need to establish your own working “wardrobe” of functional furniture and furnishings that you can then mix and match to suit the needs of different houses.
There is no doubt this will require both knowledge of current, cutting-edge design trends as well as an appreciation for classic interior design styles.
Tip 2: Enroll in courses to round out your business skillset.
Even if you are already very knowledgeable about interior design or even about home staging, as a business owner you are going to be wearing – and juggling – a great many hats on a daily basis.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) states that approximately half of all small business startups don’t make it to the five-year mark. A variety of reasons contribute to this high failure rate, but a lack of business knowledge is chief among them.
As your business grows and expands, you will be able to afford to outsource some of your hats to other professionals. But in your startup phase, there is a high likelihood you will need to be ready to do most or all of what needs to be done yourself.
Local and online courses can supplement your knowledge of business best practices, hiring employees and contract workers, negotiating contracts with vendors and agents, bookkeeping and accounting, internet and social media basics, taxes and insurance for small businesses and so much more.
Investing in these types of courses ensures you launch your home staging business and have the very best chance of success from the start.
Tip 3: Unleash your inner Kondo.
Kondo-izing is actually not a new concept. Marie Kondo, the pint-sized powerhouse who has been decluttering homes and lives across the country on Netflix, has built up a worldwide following of millions by passing along simple, effective tips to organize for more joy.
While your role as a home staging expert won’t ever require you to sit with a prospective seller while they agonize over whether to keep those boxes of childhood trophies, you will need to be prepared to help agents with clients whose cluttered homes and closets are repelling buyers.
A great way to start is with your own home and business. Here again, local and online courses can introduce you to universal cleaning and decluttering principles that are sufficiently versatile (as well as somewhat minimalist) to use in many different types and sizes of spaces.
Once you have gotten your own home and workplace set up according to the new principles you have learned, you will have gained a lot more confidence to tackle your first home staging decluttering project.
Tip 4: Begin building your own work team.
While your role as the home staging boss is arguably the most vital, it will definitely take a team to do what you do for multiple clients at multiple locations.
You will need a trusted team you can call as needed to stage and remove staging. You will likely need to have each of the following professionals on your speed dial from day one of your business launch:
- Moving company
- All-around handyman
- Furniture and furnishings providers
You will also need to have a personal team of advisors you can trust to help you brainstorm through challenges, overcome hurdles, seize emerging opportunities and keep all those hats on straight.
Consider who to invite into your trusted inner circle of mentors and guides you can call for immediate assistance and advice when you need it fast. Consider inviting a diverse group of professionals into your think tank, including an attorney, a CPA, a business coach, and at least one home staging professional who is more experienced and is willing to guide you.
Tip 5: Develop your business contracts and fee schedule.
Depending on the area where you will be working and how the real estate market is performing, it would not be unrealistic to expect new client calls on your very first day of business.
So you need to be prepared with all your legal documents and contracts already finalized and ready to go.
Consider the different types of legal contracts and supporting documents you will need. You will need one contract for the broker/clients you work with and another for the vendors/suppliers you contract with.
You will want to be able to proof of licensure/insurance and bonding, a fee schedule for both your services and furniture/furnishings rentals, a professional disclaimer that limits your liability if a home doesn’t sell after staging, and similar protective documents.
With your fee schedule all lined out based on how you plan to charge (hour, day, month, or retainer contract) and all of your documentation finalized and in place, you will be ready to answer the phone the moment it starts to ring.
Tip 6: Plan your advertising schedule and develop your tools.
In many industries today, you don’t even need a business card anymore because most networking is done online via LinkedIn and similar tools.
But real estate is still a face-to-face industry where often a profitable business relationship begins with a hello and a warm handshake.
So you definitely want to have business cards! You will also need to have a basic website that explains what you do, shows some samples of your work, and offers a way to get in touch with you.
Be sure all of your branding matches your printed and online materials.
Your advertising will need to happen on two levels: in-person and online. For online advertising, you need to claim your social media handles and begin to develop a presence on each platform.
For in-person advertising, find out about local meetings for realtors and real estate professionals, home selling workshops for sale-by-owner homeowners, and gatherings for professionals in complementary industries.
Attending these events and sharing your business cards and information as well as marketing your services online gives you the beginnings of a network you can return to again and again to generate new business.
Tip 7: Roleplay your first sales pitch.
It is so easy to get so caught up in all the nuts and bolts of launching your business you completely forget you still haven’t decided what to say when an interested client actually approaches you!
How will you explain what you do? What will you say when asked about what you charge? What about if a prospective client asks for references or links to past projects?
Your inner circle can be so helpful here to brainstorm and roleplay so you can get comfortable talking about yourself and your business in a low-pressure setting.
Tip 8: Do a fantastic job with your first home staging client.
In the world of home staging, “doing a fantastic job” means helping your client, be they broker or individual homeowner, sell their house.
If you have completed all seven prior steps and have arrived here at tip eight, you are ready to do a great job. You have everything you need to shine, earn five-star reviews, generate new leads, and continue building your business.
Be sure to post the photos and testimonials on your website and share your success on social media as you go along, creating a compelling portfolio that will eventually do the majority of your networking and marketing work for you.
By taking one step and then another, in no time you will look back over your first successful year as a home staging professional!