New home stagers always face this dilemma; if you can’t get clients without references and a home staging portfolio, how do you get references and photos for a portfolio? Debra Gould, The Staging Diva® explains how to work around this classic ‘Catch-22’.
Home Staging Clients or References, What Comes First?
You need great references and a portfolio of before and after photos to get clients, but without clients you can’t get references or build a portfolio. It’s a classic ‘Catch-22′ which exists for every individual that decides to venture out and start a home staging business.
Although it might seem like a frustrating and impossible situation, put on your creative thinking cap and figure out how to get around it! Do not let this weaken your resolve to make a success of your business.
Before too much time passes from the start of your business is when you need to start building your home staging portfolio and obtaining references. When someone contacts you for information about your services and asks for references or to see a portfolio, all they want is to see how capable you are and that you have a good reputation.
Start by digging through any old before and after photos you may have from your own homes. If you’re like many home stagers, you’ve probably bought and sold several homes over the years.
Next, you can volunteer to redesign the homes of your friends and family members. Take tons of photos. Do the same in your own home; arrange and rearrange some rooms to demonstrate that you have what your potential clients are looking for. Nobody looking at your portfolio will know if the before and after photos were from paying clients or your neighbors, nor will they care. They want to see that you can stage their home to appeal to buyers.
Whatever you do, do not give in to the temptation to purchase stock photos on the Internet to fluff up your portfolio. That’s cheating. Worse than that is to take other stagers’ photos and pass them off as your own.
Some home staging training companies provide their graduates with before and after photos to use as their own. What happens if they see the same picture in more than one place? It will really tarnish your reputation and we don’t want that. Take your own photos!
After you’ve staged your friends’ or neighbors’ homes, ask them if they would be willing to provide you with a reference for potential clients looking to speak with someone about what you did for them and their homes. You can also contact any real estate agents you dealt with in the past who helped you sell your own homes. If you’ve got natural decorating talent, they were probably impressed how well your homes showed. These are the kinds of examples that can be used in your written testimonials.
You have to start somewhere. The best thing you can do is remove any element of doubt from your potential clients’ minds right from the get-go. Make sure you have a sharp looking website (or portfolio listing on a home staging directory) and business cards, a confident tone in your voice when talking to potential new clients on the phone and a ‘knock-em-dead’ wardrobe so you feel great about yourself when you’re out networking or meeting with a client for the first time. If you look the part, not many people will question your experience.
Don’t think it’s impossible to get references and portfolio photos before you have a paying client. Start gathering them now from those who know you’re capable and forge ahead! If you want more help knowing what to put in a home staging portfolio and how to get the right kind of references or testimonials, check out the Staging Diva Ultimate Portfolio Guide: Winning clients with the perfect home staging portfolio.
About the Author, Debra Gould
Home Staging expert Debra Gould also known as The Staging Diva knows how to make money as a home stager and is determined to inspire and teach others to do the same. There are over 1000 Staging Diva Graduates who have learned to use their decorating talents and run their own home staging business in the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program.