6 Ways to Cope with the "The Slow Seasons" in Interior Design.
One of the many appeals of the world of interior design is the financial appeal where people promise interior designers that they will make TONS of money immediately, ESPECIALLY if they freelance. I am here to call B.S.
Unless of course, you have a family business that already has a great reputation and your contractors are a part of the company. Then yes, you are probably making a lot of money.
But the reality is, in the beginning when you get hired as an interior designer you are probably getting minimum wage, if not, please save up and take care of your finances early on.
But speaking from experience, it's usually not the case, and if you were working in a company like I did before then become your own entity then you are facing a different kind of challenge, I am here to tell you how normal it is and how it is not determined by how good you are, I named this challenge the "slow seasons" of interior design; which means, getting projects is difficult despite all the effort you are putting in marketing, it's hard to get a project during those "slow seasons"
It's a horrible feeling because you start to get a lot of self-doubts, you start to question your methods, you start to think about quitting. You have a lot of spare time, oh my God, the bills are piling up! It's slowwww... And, PROJECT! YES! No, false alarm. What do we do now?
These seasons are so crucial for your growth, although it's not adding anything to your portfolio, this is the time to build a strategy, which is the right time for you to do one of the followings, if not all, to build up other sources of income, steady streams that give you a back up in the slow seasons:
1. Building a Marketing Strategy: I have been reading The One Page Marketing Strategy and believe it or not, building a marketing strategy takes a chunk of time that you wouldn't have if you are already working on a project.
2. Social Media: content creation is such an essential part of marketing at this day and age, create a plan to post on your different social media platforms, re-purpose older projects, build an audience who will potentially become your clientele in the future. + bonus tip: Ads, on Instagram & Facebook are a great way of starting a conversation with potential clients, just make sure that target the age range and region you want to have as your potential clients. Brand yourself well, focus on your local region first.
3. Start a YouTube channel: Holy sugar, this was a game-changer for me, but it's a long-term kind of plan, it won't immediately generate revenue or build a base, but it will help you tremendously with marketing yourself, it gives you a platform to also develop yourself. Starting a YouTube channel is one of the best decisions I have ever made, it opens up your view to the world of interior design, it forces you to research and give value to others.
4. UpWork or Fivver to the rescue: small jobs, like creating a floor plan or like creating a sketch for space, which will give you a little bit of income in the slow seasons, while this is not steady, it's completely up to you the amount of work you can take during these slow seasons, giving you the time to build strategy, brand and market yourself.
5. Create a physical product: while this one requires a study about your local law of selling things, you can definitely create a stream of income that is semi-steady, when you sell something that adds value, it might be something you invented when you encountered a problem in the site on one of your earlier projects, as an example I have created the Interior Design Styles Lookbook simply because I needed easy access to the information it contains. let me tell you, it will open up your eyes to the world of trading products. An IMPORTANT addition to any interior design firms, while some firms sell accessories for homes, you can customize your own and sell them. Making some minty cash.
6. Create a blog for your favorite furniture pieces: You might wonder how does that serve you at all, I am here to answer. It will do 2 things, first of all, you will document all the stable pieces you can use in your future projects. Second of all, you can join an affiliate network and share your personalized link, by that you will be making some extra cash in your sleep!.
BONUS: Dropship: a WHOLE world of possibilities when it comes to dropshipping, it's where you market different products on Alibaba and sell them on Shopify for a profit, I recommend watching Biaheza channel on youtube where he talks step-by-step about dropshipping strategies. Your twist on that as an interior designer would be to choose home-related products, so you can also get a better world on the world of accessories and home-products later on when you are working on a project. (side note: unfortunately, right now dropshipping is a bad idea because of the COVID-19, I really hope you guys are staying safe. When the world turns around and gets better, it still is a valuable option, just not right now, maybe build a strategy for the future).
I really hope this list helps you out a little bit! Since we are all going through these slow seasons currently, I promise you it will get better, but let's take this chance and develop a path where we can all succeed in our careers. Do not be afraid of creating your own path if the traditional path isn't for you. I believe in you!