Archive for September, 2014
As a sequel to our Dress Code 101: Women’s Fashion post, we felt we couldn’t leave out the men! See below for some handy fashion infographics for figuring out men’s fashion and dress codes.
Casual wear refers to the “everyday” outfit – something you might wear going to the grocery store or to hang out with some friends. A reasonable expectation of cleanliness is expected in casual situations – i.e. no holes in uncomfortable places, no visible stains, etc.
Business casual outfits are a step up from casual outfits. They are clean cut, crisp, and well-fitted. Avoid denim if you can and opt for a khaki or grey pant. A dress shirt complements the more casual pant look and a nice pair of polished shoes finishes off the look. Make sure you don’t have any wrinkles!
In most cases, it is safe to assume that if the dress code is “business”, you need to wear a suit (black or grey), a suit jacket, and a tie. A belt is a really nice accessory that pulls the whole look together for that “polished” feel – just make sure the belt matches the motif (i.e. don’t wear a brown belt with a black suit).
Formal occasions, like a wedding or reception, require you to break out that bowtie and rock some cufflinks! Ensure that your pants and shirt are pressed and clean and that you have an appropriately coloured belt. Don’t forget to shine your shoes!
Black tie events are about as fancy as they come. They are a step-up from formal events, and usually the dress code is specified as “black tie” on the invitation to attend. For these events, be sure to have a well-fitted tux jacket (black or white) and black dress pants. A cumberbundt, (that thing that looks like a sash) is tied around your waist where your pants meet your shirt. You could also consider having a boutonnière in your breast pocket.
Like this post? Check out our Style Courses if you’re seriously interested in fashion.
When you meet a client for the first time, it’s a two-way interview. They want to know if you can do the job they have in mind, and you want to know if they, as a client, will be a good fit for your business.
The question a lot of designers ask: Should I charge a fee for the initial consultation?
There are two views to this approach. At QC, we believe time is money and you should charge clients for your time. Others believe not charging clients makes you more appealing to the masses.
Let’s explore both options.
Why you SHOULD charge for the consultation
- You’ll waste less time… and so will your clients
If clients have to pay a fee to get you to consult on their project, they’re much more likely to have thoroughly considered their situation and have decided you’re a strong contender for the job. They will probably have spent some time checking you out online and have already decided they like your style. Even if they end up not hiring you, they are happy to pay to hear your ideas in the initial meeting.
- You’ll spend more time with your client
If you’re paid for a consultation, you’re much more likely to be on your “A” game during that meeting. You’ll give your client the attention they deserve, and you won’t mind spending a few hours with them. If you’re not charging for your time, you’ll probably be watching that clock and trying to get back to your real work—the work that pays the bills—as quickly as possible
- You’ll weed out the DIY-ers
Many clients will call a decorator over for a free consultation, just to hear their opinions, without ever intending on hiring anyone. And hey… there’s absolutely nothing wrong with people who design and decorate their own homes. More power to them! But, that’s not your target market and you aren’t going to spend a few hours in a client consultation with people who have no intention of hiring you.
- It’s an added stream of revenue
Who says no to more money! Charging for the consultation may be a way to weed out clients who are never going to hire you, but there are also clients who ONLY want a consultation with a designer, and who ARE willing to pay for that service.
- It’s the industry standard
Check out most design and decorating firms out there… and you’ll find most charge for consultations. You don’t want to seem like an amateur in your area by being one of the few companies that doesn’t charge in the same way!
- You’ll offer a higher level of service to your clients
When you don’t charge for the consultation, you’re more likely to treat the meeting like a poker game. You won’t want to give away your best ideas in case the client doesn’t hire you. You’ll ask them questions, but you won’t give them too much feedback. If they’re paying you, however, then you’ll feel much more comfortable sharing your suggestions and thoughts openly with the client. Even if they don’t hire you, they’ve paid you to do so.
Why you might NOT want to charge for your consultation
- You ARE an amateur
If you’re brand new in the industry, and especially if you don’t have any training, people are more likely to give you a chance if you don’t charge above your station. Offering free consultations is a way for potential clients to get to know you, since you don’t have any references or work samples to fall back on.
- You have plenty of time
If you’re struggling to get clients, if business is scarce or if you simply have more hours available and want to fill those up, offering free client consultations will have more people calling you. Those extra phone calls have the potential to land one or two extra clients. Mind you, you’re paying for those clients… with your time!
- You prefer to meet clients at your office
When you don’t charge for the consultation, clients can’t expect you to come to them. If you prefer staying at the office and having clients come to you, then you can book free consultation appointments where the client can bring in photos or floorplans and discuss the project with you.
- It’s not the norm in your area
Above all else, I always stress the importance of knowing your competition. Sure, charging for client consultations is the industry norm, but if you’re in a smaller city or in an area that isn’t financially stable, it’s possible that the opposite is true. You certainly don’t want to be looked at as “snobby” because you’re the only one around who charges for a consultation. That is… not unless you’re positive you’re the only one around who’s worth it.
What side of the fence are YOU on? Do you charge for the client consultation? Let us know in a comment!
If “Social Media” to you means watching the news with a group of friends, this article is definitely for you! If you own your own business, you’ll want to read on as well. The following is a guide on social media for beginners:
What is social media?
Any platform where users register an account and share content is considered a Social Media platform. There are some that are infinitely more popular than others, however certain smaller platform are better at reaching a very specific type of client.
Some of the most common social media platforms out there include:
- Facebook: One of the most popular & well-known social networks on the planet. Users share content with “friends”. Approx. 1.2 billion users worldwide.
- Twitter: Users connect with eachother and share short updates (or “tweets”). Messages limited to 140 characters at a time. Approx. 700 million users worldwide.
- Google+: Another general blogging-type network. Friends connect & share content.
- LinkedIn: Networking site aimed at businesses and business professionals. Users post their professional resumes, recommend employees & peers and rate others’ professional skills.
- Pinterest: Online inspiration boards where users organize & share photos & other content from other websites.
- Instagram: Users upload their personal photos & short videos & share them with followers.
- YouTube: Video sharing website
- StumbleUpon: Users “stumble” through websites that match their selected interests
- Flickr: Photography networking website. Users upload, share and comment on their photographs (usually on a professional or amateur professional level).
- The list goes on!
Why you should care
As the owner of a small business, it’s likely your job of ensuring your brand has a good online presence. A good business website is a start, but a social media presence is arguably just as important.
Just about 90% of people out there today have at least one social media account that they check regularly. Just think about how many of the above-mentioned platforms you yourself use! Now think about HOW you use them.
You probably keep in touch with friends and family, share useful content, comment on other people’s postings, look up products and services, post reviews on your favorite and least favorite brands…
Wait, what? You interact with brands on social media?
Most people do.
Now imagine if, say, you wanted to find a good nail salon in your area. You might start with a google search, find a few nearby, and then likely you’ll go check out their Facebook page for pictures posted by their regular customers. You might read a few customer reviews and you’ll definitely take note if this doesn’t exist or if you only see negatives on there.
The same is true for most service-based businesses. Your success relies on your online reputation.
You’ve convinced me: Social Media is important. Now what?
Well, your first step is to identify what social media platforms are right for your business. There are literally hundreds of different platforms out there, and you certainly can’t be on all of them. Here’s my advice:
Focus on the biggies
You can’t get away from at least having a presence on Facebook and Twitter. You might not like it, but it’s a reality. With a presence on these two networks, odds are you’ll be able to connect with 80-90% of your target market.
Find out where your clientele hangs out
While most people have a Facebook and Twitter account, you should endeavour to find out if there’s also a large portion of your target market that spends their time on another social channel.
If you find that 40-50% or more of your target are all active on another channel, you should be there, too. A few to consider are Pinterest and Instagram. These have been growing over the past few years and, especially if you have a visual-based business, they’re relatively easy to keep updated with minimal effort.
Which brings me to my next point…
Be where it makes sense!
If you constantly take many pictures of your work, it makes sense for you to have an Instagram presence. But YouTube? Maybe not so much.
While you should keep an eye out on where your target market hangs out, don’t have a presence on any platform unless you have a purpose for being there. If you don’t have any images you can share, stay off the photography sites like Flickr. If you don’t have any video content, you don’t belong on YouTube.
LinkedIn is a tricky one. It can be a good place to interact with other businesses, or to get job offers, but it’s not really the place to chat with your target market 1-on-1.
What should I post? How often?
This question has been around ever since businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon.
There are no golden rules. You should experiment on what works best for you. However, here are a couple of best practices that I’ve found work well:
Keep it relevant, change it up, post often
Try not to post for the sake of posting. Whatever you post – on any channel – should be something that will be considered useful to your followers. This could be a status update from your business, images of a job well done, a poll for your clients, sharing an interesting article or image from another source, etc. The key is to stay on topic (a makeup artist suddenly sharing an article about their favorite horror novel is just weird… and you’d be surprised how often things like this happen), and also to post a variety of content to avoid becoming stale.
In terms of the frequency of posts, you want to be present without being annoying. This varies depending on the channel. As a minimum, try to post to sites like Facebook and Instagram every day or two. Twitter should be once a day or more, while other sites like LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube can be once every week or two.
If you post to a channel less than once a month… you probably shouldn’t be there.
Monitor your brand mentions, and respond quickly!
Now that you’re on social media, you’ll be able to keep tabs on what others are saying about you. Social isn’t about talking. A lot of it is about listening, too.
You should perform regular searches for your brand name, and see if any comments require your attention. Also monitor posts to your page by other people, as well as personal messages. These should be answered quickly: at least within 24 hours, excluding weekends.
How to respond
Think of social media as customer service that everyone can see. Whenever you respond to a post about your services, keep in mind that how you respond is seen by other potential clients. So even if there is a post from an irate customer – and especially if that customer is wrong or worse, derogatory or abusive – you need to remain calm and respond professionally.
Never, ever, get into an argument with someone over social media. Never tell people off, or respond in any way other than courteous and respectful. If you keep your cool, odds are other users will come to your defense.
What about my personal profiles?
Odds are you’ll have a personal profile on at least a few of the sites where you now have your business account. There’s nothing wrong with that. But be mindful that most users will be able to link your personal profile as the person who owns or runs that business.
With that in mind, be careful about what is visible on your personal account. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself on your personal account, but consider adopting the highest security and privacy settings available so that users who aren’t your friends won’t see the less-than-professional content.
Basically, make sure your personal brand doesn’t clash with your business. You can check out our article on personal branding here.
The key takeaways
I know we covered a lot in this article. You may be a little overwhelmed, and that’s okay. To sum up, here’s what you need to take away:
- Be present on social. Figure out the few sites that will give you the best exposure for the least amount of effort. Odds are these are Facebook and Twitter.
- Post stuff that matters to your followers. Tie it back to your business.
- Don’t be boring, and don’t be annoying. Post frequently enough to be heard, but don’t overdo it.
- Treat comments like ticking time bombs. Be professional, friendly and courteous. Never engage in a social media war with a commenter on social.
- Limit what others can see on your personal profiles.
This should be enough information to get you started on a good note. But you’ll of course have to experiment to see what works best for your target audience. Don’t be afraid to take chances and think outside the box!
If you found this article helpful, you’ll want to check out our business archives for more useful tips and tricks!
The interior decorating & design industry is one of the fastest-changing ones out there. As a professional, it’s your job to stay on top of the most current industry standards and trends. After all, your clients come to you for your expertise and you certainly don’t want them to know more about your industry than you do!
So how can you make sure to stay on top of what’s going on?
Read, Watch & Listen
The Internet isn’t just there for you to advertise your services. It also contains a horde of information that can be valuable for your business. So set aside 30-45 minutes every day to scour the Internet for the latest and greatest!
Follow influential industry leaders on social media
There have to be a few people out there whom you truly admire for their design and decorating work, right? Taking the time to follow these people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram means they’ll become a source of content curation for you. If you have similar interest to these industry leaders, they’ll recommend articles to read and videos to watch that will keep you well informed!
That goes for YouTube, too!
Those industry leaders we spoke of… they probably have YouTube channels. Subscribe to them and watch some of their videos. They can teach you something new or at least give you a few fresh ideas you can use to “wow” your clients!
Read (or at least skim) the most popular design & decorating blogs
Go ahead and Google “Top Decorating Blogs” and add a few from those top 10 lists to your daily repertoire. Sure you don’t have the time to read every single article posted every day (unless that’s your full time job), but skimming their headlines at least once a week will yield a few articles that are worth your time. Make it a habit to at least read a few of these articles every week.
Subscribe to popular design & decorating newsletters
Some manufacturers, vendors and suppliers are more well-known than others, and strive to keep their brands relevant in new industry trends. As such, they’ll often send out weekly or monthly newsletters that talk about the latest and greatest for their brands. Sign up for these email lists and you’ll quickly find the few emails that are worth your time!
Jack of all trades = master of none
While you should have a general idea of what’s going on in the industry, you can’t be an expert in every topic… so don’t even try. Instead, pick and choose which trends your brand will be known for, and focus on those. If a client comes to you looking for a trend that isn’t in your wheelhouse, you should be ready to refer them to another professional who can provide that expertise.
Ask your audience
If you’re doing your business justice, you have a social media presence. Why not poll your audience and find out what trends they’re most excited about for the upcoming season? If you find out what your target market is excited about, you can endeavour to become more of an expert on that particular topic.
Find a gap in the local market
As a savvy business owner, you should know what’s going on locally. Keep tabs on your competition and what trends they’re focusing on. If there’s a particular trend no one else is doing, make sure you gain some knowledge on that subject! This isn’t a golden rule… and you should always make sure to do what’s best for your brand… but this tactic can help set you apart from the competition and increase your market share.
Start your own trends
If you truly want to excel in the industry, you should endeavor to become a trendsetter yourself. Don’t be afraid to generate a bit of buzz and excitement over some of the work you’re currently doing. Set up your own social media accounts, blog and YouTube channel to talk about YOUR best practices and trends. This will not only set you apart from your competition, but will also impress your potential clients!
Just do it!
You might think it’s impossible to spend the better part of an hour each day just doing research, but it’s a good habit to get into… and it’s NOT a waste of time! Staying informed can mean the difference between getting new clients and being left out in the cold.
Tell us! What are YOUR go-to sources for keeping up with the industry? Let us know in a comment!
Think about how many websites you come across in a day. Of those websites, think about how quickly you have passed on a website because of its poor design. A website can make or break you professionally. For many, it is a first (and sometimes last) impression.
This is why you want to make sure that your website is showcasing your abilities/services/etc. to the max with clean and consistent design. Not sure how to accomplish this? You’ve come to the right place. I’m going to go over the dos and don’ts of a good website. This should set you on the right track for having the perfect professional website to attract – and keep – clients.
Research design trends
This will help your website stay modern and fresh! Design trends are always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on industry changes.
Explore other websites
Looking at other websites, whether they are part of the same industry or not, is a great way to get an idea of how you want your website to look and feel. Just be sure you’re not directly copying someone’s website. There are also many sites that compile photos of other websites that have gorgeous design – see the “resources” section at the bottom of this post for more info.
While you’re exploring other websites, make notes! Write down what you like about other websites so when you get down to creating your own you can pick and choose your favourite aspects of other websites and build them into your own.
Stick to the basics
We aren’t in 1999 anymore. Neon-colored text on a flashing background just doesn’t work anymore on the web. If you look at the most popular websites out there today you’ll likely find most have quite a lot in common:
- Black text on a white background
- A simple, one or two-column layout
- A navigation bar at the top of the page, and a footer at the bottom
- Limited use of scrolling banners
- A clear use of headers, sub headers, and body text
- Images aligned with the text where it makes sense
The bottom line: Don’t try to reinvent the internet and please don’t try to be clever. Neon letters, pointer streamers and dancing cats have had their day. They don’t need to make an appearance on your site.
Avoid using Flash
You’ve found some inspiration by doing research and browsing other websites and you’re ready to start putting your site together. When doing so, don’t create a Flash website! There are a few reasons for this. For one, having a flash website drastically impacts search engine optimization (SEO) in a negative way. Search engine bots that crawl the web for data from websites can’t index Flash pages properly, so your search engine rankings end up being drastically lower (meaning you won’t appear in the first page of Google, for example!)
Also, users who don’t have the latest Flash Player installed on their computers will see nothing but a blank screen or worse, an error message, when they try and visit your page. Finally, Flash based pages are difficult to optimize for mobile viewing, which means that anyone trying to view your page on a mobile device won’t have a great user experience.
Don’t have music that plays automatically
There’s nothing more annoying than browsing the web, perhaps listening to your favourite tunes at the same time, and having conflicting music play automatically from a website you’ve landed on. For many users, this is an instant turn-off. Just don’t do it!
Consider the user’s experience
When you’re designing your website, or after it’s done, make sure you take some time to consider the user’s experience. A user experience is about how someone interacts with your website: how it looks, its functionality, and its language. Consider asking yourself: Is my website clean and clear? Does my user immediately know what my website is about, what I’m offering? Does it flow nicely? Is it easy to figure out where to go next? You want to make sure when the user lands on your website they know exactly what to do.
Now let’s face it. It’s almost impossible to critique your own work with an objective eye. Therefore, you might want to consider asking friends and family to go through your website to get some feedback on their experience. Make sure you find people who aren’t going to sugar-coat the feedback – get their honest opinion and don’t take it personally.
Don’t use photos you don’t have the right to
Yes, this means you, copier and paster. Don’t copy and paste images from search engines like Google onto your website. This includes stock photos for which you have not paid for. Many images are tied to licensing use, and you could potentially get yourself into legal trouble using photos without the consent of the original source.
Don’t use stock photos to give an idea of what your product/services might look like
Stock photos can be deceiving to clients. You want to make sure that the photos you are using are photos of your work. For example, you don’t want to be using a stock photo of 3 tiered cake in your portfolio if you didn’t make it yourself. Use high-quality original images of your own work to showcase exactly what you’re capable of!
Along the same point, you want to make sure that the photos you’re using as background images or icons are relevant to the product or service that you’re selling. You might love cats, but if you’re running a website for your services as a makeup artist, cats don’t really belong there.
Be careful with fonts
Try to stick to 3 or 4 fonts – MAX! Contrasting fonts is a great way to get a nice website, but when you’re using more than 3 different types and the font theme also doesn’t match – it can leave your website looking unprofessional and thrown together.
Contrasting fonts should still be balanced and theme-appropriate. For example, don’t mix spooky fonts with floral-y fonts. And on that note, if your website is not a Halloween shop, don’t use spooky fonts. Period.
It takes time to find the perfect fonts for your website. Try out as many as possible until you find something that feels right. Don’t limit yourself to the fonts that came with your computer, there are hundreds of websites that have free fonts for you to download and use. Just be sure to check the licensing requirements before you use them, you want to make sure they are free to use commercially.
Use color palettes
Using color palettes is a great way to design a website that looks balanced. You don’t want to use too many colors, and you don’t want to use colors that don’t complement one another. Now’s a great time to get acquainted with a color wheel!
Don’t be afraid to inject personality into your website. This can be done through your images and through your copy’s tone and manner. It’s important for clients to get a feel for who you are, and having a cold formal tone is not always the best idea. Go back to your brand description and values. Make sure these are represented in your website’s look and feel.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are countless resources out there that can help you with your website. If the thought of creating a website terrifies you, fret not! If you’ve got a bit of a budget, there are tons of amazing web designers who will work with you to give you a website that speaks to you. There are also plenty of websites that help you easily build a beautiful website. Some are free, and some are not.
Check out our business archives for more information on how you boost your business!
Have you ever tried on the latest style to find that it just doesn’t suit you? Dressing for your body type can have quite the impact on your appearance. Following these fashion rules can help you put your best face/body forward. BUT don’t get us wrong: if it makes you happy, wear it!
There are 5 different body types:
First, find your body type:
- Large midsection where most of the weight is carried and slim legs.
- Celeb example: Drew Barrymore, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Zeta Jones
- Small waist with wider hips and shoulders. Hips and shoulder width generally mirror each other.
- Celeb example: Dita von Teese, Kim Kardashian, Salma Hayek
- Your shoulders are the narrowest aspect of your body, followed by a wider waist and wider hips. Most of the weight is carried on the hips.
- Celeb example: Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Shakira, Rihanna, Kate Winslet
- The width of your shoulders, chest, waist, and hips mirror each other, and your weight is evenly distributed.
- Celeb example: Venus Williams, Sienna Miller, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow
- Wide shoulders, smaller midsection, narrow hips.
- Celeb example: Demi Moore, Teri Hatcher, Dolly Parton, Naomi Campbell
So now that you know your body type, how do you showcase it best?
With this body type you will want to showcase your legs and bust line while defining your waist. Depending on your bust size, you’ll want to either define your waist right below the bust line, or the narrowest part of your waist. Avoid clothing that will cut your legs off in the middle such as: mid calf dresses (unless you plan on wearing sky high pumps) or capri pants. Aim for items that end mid knee or just above the knee. Show off those legs girl! Keep your midsection free from any busy patterns, tightness, or embellishments if you’re trying to camouflage that area.
This body type is quite well balanced, so you’ll want to stick with that silhouette by keeping the waist well defined. Extra embellishments are not needed in the bust or waist area as this will add to much visual weight, so try to keep it simple.
Because of a pear’s accentuated hips, you will want to add width and volume to the bust and/or shoulder area to keep things balance. Avoid adding weight to the midsection with heavy pieces that are not tailored into the waist, as you will want to maintain your waistline. To avoid over accentuating the bottom, keep heavy fabrics and busy prints to the upper half and keep it simple around your hips and bottom.
This silhouette is one you’ll often see on the runway, which is great for focus being placed on the garment. This is not-so-good in the real world, because you want to be the one wearing the garments, not the garments wearing you! For this body type, you’ll want to add some shape to the bust and hips. You can do this by wearing pieces that are curvy that come in at the waist to avoid a boxy look.
Because of the strawberry’s broad shoulders, you’ll want to balance shoulders with hips. Keep it simple up top and avoid accentuating the shoulder area and focus on accentuating your waist and hips with heavier curvy pieces for the lower half. If you are petite, avoid pant or dress lengths that will cut you off mid-calf. You’ll want to maintain a long silhouette with tapered waist to offset the shoulders.
QC’s Fashion Styling Course outlines even more about dressing for your body type. Check it out here!
In this post, we catch up with Design School graduate Jacqueline Curtis and get the skinny on what it’s like to be an interior decorator.
What exactly does an interior decorator do?
There’s a lot going on in the media with a job like this, and it changes so much over the years with trends, styles, responsibilities, etc. An interior decorator is not just the person that puts the room together anymore. You’re in charge of space planning, lighting planning, and plumbing planning. You are a project manager and you’re going to be ordering from and working with many vendors and clients. There is a huge element of customer service and networking to the job, for sure.
What does it take to be an interior decorator? Any particular skill sets or education?
You really have to have to have an undying passion for interior decorating. When you have a passion for something, it is easy to take it to the next level. Things like training your eye to focus on design, studying the skill of movement and how people relate to space are vitally important for this career. It’s easy to walk into a room and dictate to someone how you think it should be done, but you need to get to know your clients on a personal level before you know what’s really best for them. Observing how people interact with the space is a great way to get a feel for how a room should be. It is important to practice ongoing training for your eye and it never really stops! Once you take a course, you must constantly educate yourself, always aiming to learn.
What are some career paths an interior decorator could take?
I finished design school and decided to work in a big box store for a year. I learned a lot of different trade skills from there! By talking and relating to customers, you are testing customer service skills and at the same time, picking up knowledge from plumbers, electricians and other trades people. It gives you some appreciation and respect for what else is going on in the room.
Working in a paint store is a great way to hone your colour skills. Working in a textile and decor store can offer a huge range of experience in the field. Once you have that kind of knowledge, you can develop your skills further. It is great to test yourself in this way with a secure environment. You also have to learn how to tell someone they are wrong.
What is the average salary of an interior decorator (if known?)
You know, that’s something that is really based on experience and it depends on the service you are providing. Your pay will be different if you are doing a large job or a small job, for example. If you are a published designer, you will be making more money as this sets the precedent for you.
What are the regular duties of an interior decorator?
Regularly it is about colour, accents and harmonizing; everyone wants their house or space to flow. You have to know what is and isn’t working in a room and how to make things work when they aren’t. You need to be able to transform a space! Organization in this industry is huge, so it is important that you are organized. Also, remember that customer service is a very important aspect of the job.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get started in the field?
If something in your gut says that this is something you would like to do, go with it! Never second-guess yourself! Even in a client situation, if you are presenting an option and the person can’t decide, urge them to go with the one they like. If you have a passion about something in the industry, investigate it, look into it, get to know that community and make sure you love it.
A happy person will have that reflected in their work and then your clients will be happy as well!
Click the button below to kick-start your interior decorating career into overdrive!
Jacqueline grew up on the West Coast and has a foundation in Fine Arts and Sculpture and Design. She’s also a graduate of QC Design School! Check out her website to see what she’s up to now.
If I ask you to think of several of your favourite brands, what springs to mind? Your favourite cereal brands? Favourite chocolate bars? Favourite clothing brands? There are so many different labels, and they each have a unique take on a product. So why do certain names stick out in your mind?
It’s because they have done a great job of “branding” themselves: situating themselves in your mind as the superior product to fulfill your needs. These brands have worked hard to create brand awareness, a buzz about their specific brand or label. In some cases, brand names have even taken over the name of the product itself! (Band-aids and Kleenex spring to mind).
Even in your own career, personal branding plays a huge part in your successes (and, consequently, your failures). Having a “personal brand” is a great way to assure quality and make people remember you. Just like when I say “your favourite shoes” and one brand in particular springs to mind, you want to have the same effect on your customers and your target market. There are many ways you can ensure a positive and successful personal brand:
Manage your online reputation
This is a pretty big one in terms of attracting potential customers. If someone runs a Google search on you or your business, you want positive things to come up. You don’t want incriminating photos all over the page or a stupid message you wrote to soil your online reputation. The main message in all of this is to THINK BEFORE YOU POST!
There are several ways you can go about managing your online reputation:
- Conduct a quick search on yourself and your brand to see what comes up. This is a great way to know what people are going to see when they Google you or your brand’s name.
- Delete old profiles. You don’t need a profile on an “I love teenage things” website if you’re 28 and haven’t used it since the 12th grade. In most cases, if you’ve forgotten the password, you can contact the site’s admin and have your profile deleted.
- Change your privacy settings. Make sure that all your social profiles are set to “private” so that only people you approve can see what you’re posting. This way, you can monitor what is posted on your personal versus your professional profile.
- Be careful who you are friends with or following! If your business promotes equality but you are following a group that doesn’t promote equal rights, it doesn’t exactly send the best message to potential clients.
Consider how you make others feel
What can you or your brand offer to others that nobody else can? Focus on one strength to attribute to your personal brand. You want to be the person that is known for doing one thing really, really, really well as opposed to being able to do many things in an average way. You want to stand out! What are people going to notice about you and your brand?
Know your product or service and sell it well
Whatever you’re selling, know and sell it well. How would you feel if you went to the doctor’s and he Googled your symptoms to find out what might be causing it. My bet is that you wouldn’t feel very confident in his abilities. You need to know your service inside and out and you need to be able to answer questions immediately and without hesitation to instill confidence in your clients. Remember that you’re the expert (that’s why you’re selling your service)! There are many ways you can exercise your authority on matters in your industry:
- Blog about it. Take the time to start a blog on your website and regularly write about industry news, tidbits that people might find interesting, and occasionally about what your business up to. This sets you up as a relatable, knowledgeable, and credible source.
- Subscribe to different industry news sources. You want to be the one advising clients on the latest industry trends, not the other way around.
- Constantly learn. Your education doesn’t stop when you leave school!
Ensure consistency across all platforms
If you’ve branded yourself as “Martha Baxter, Interior Decorator”, that’s the name you should be using across all platforms. Don’t shorten it to “MB, Int. Dec.” unless that’s the brand name you want. Pick something and stick with it. This goes for all platforms where your brand is present:
- Social media, like Facebook and Twitter
- On the phone when you or someone else is taking calls
- Printed advertising
- Other marketing efforts such as e-newsletters
- With vendors: don’t say the order is for Martha Baxter, say the full brand name
Let the experts take care of it
Many people, when they first start out, make the mistake of trying to do it all themselves. If you’re opening a business in event planning, your specialization is event planning. It isn’t graphic design or book balancing. While these can mean extra costs at the outset, it is often better to set things up well in the first place than have to re-do them later, which often costs more time and money. If you’re aiming at creating your own website and balancing your own books, get expert advice before you start!
You want to present the best version of you that you can. You want your brand to be known for positive influences rather than negative ones and to stand out for the exceptional service that you provide. Keeping your reputation online in mind, you want to craft a brand that instills confidence in your clients and your audience!
Check out our career training page for more advice on boosting your business!