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July 23, 2015 9:56 am

Infographic: Color Cheat Sheet

Color theory can be a difficult thing to grasp at first. You have to know the proper terminology, (which may go against what you’ve been saying your whole life – who knew “tint,” “tone,” and “shade” were all so different), understand how colors are classified and the effects they have, and let alone memorize all the types of color schemes you need to be aware of!

So save, bookmark, or use this Color Cheat Sheet infographic on your own site, to refer back to when you need a little refresher on color theory.

Color theory infographic

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Terminology

You may have gone your whole life saying that something was a shade of blue, when really the use of “tint” would have been more appropriate. There is different terminology you should use based on how the color was mixed. Here’s the low down on color terminology:

A hue is a pure color. What’s a pure color, you ask? A pure color is simply a color without any white or black added to it. The term “hue” can also be used to describe colors that are derived from other pure colors. A tint is produced when you add white to a color, while a shade is produced when you add black. A tone is produced by adding gray, or its complement, to “tone it down.”

Color Psychology

Different colors have different effects on people. One may make you feel more relaxed, while another stimulates your senses. Here’s a quick overview of how different color groups make us feel:

Active colors (like red, orange, and yellow):

    • Mood: Stimulating
    • Common Feelings Generated: Energetic, enhanced appetite, fun
  • Passive colors (like green, blue, and purple):

    • Mood: Relaxing
    • Common Feelings Generated: Serenity, cool, concentration, dreaminess
  • Neutral colors (like drown, beige, and gray):

    • Mood: Comforting
    • Common Feelings Generated: Order, formality, soothing
  • Color Schemes

    When dreaming up a color scheme for a particular room in the home, you’ll want to make use of the color wheel. The color wheel is specifically designed to show the different relationships between the colors, letting you know which ones can live harmoniously with one another and will be visually appealing to the eye. As a design professional, this is especially important to achieve harmony in your designs.

    Here are the color schemes that you should know:

    Complementary: Two colors that are directly opposite the other and have the same intensity.
    Tip: For practical use in the home, it’s better to use one color as the dominant hue and use the other as an accent in smaller doses.

    Double Complementary: Two sets of complementary colors that are close together on the wheel.

    Split Complementary: Uses a single color plus both colors on either side of its complementary color.
    Tip: This is a good alternative to lessen the intensity of a complementary color scheme.

    Triad: A group of three colors that are of equal distance from one another on the color wheel.
    Tip: Use tints and tones to lessen the intensity.

    Tetrad: A group of four colors that are of equal distance from one another.
    Proceed with caution: Choose your colors carefully to find a good way to balance all four colors.

    Adjacent/Analogous: Two or three colors next to eachother on the color wheel.
    Tip: Use one color as the dominant hue, and use the others as accents.

    Monochromatic: The combination of different tints, shades, and tones using only one hue.

    And there you have it, the basics of some color theory! Remember to put the infographic to good use and refer to it when you need a little color theory 101.

    Interested in learning more about color theory and other important design elements? Check out our courses at QC Design School!

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    When it comes to using social media for business, there are many things you should consider and be aware of. Your social media sites are a way for people to find you, engage with you, and to get to know your brand. Projecting a professional image is key, especially in a public forum where everyone can see exactly what you’re posting and how you respond to certain situations. Good or bad, this can drastically affect whether or not a potential client who follows you wants to give you their business. Check out our do’s and don’ts when using social media for business in order to get the most out of it and avoid getting into any hot water.

    Do: Be prompt and courteous

    If you’re using social media for your business, be aware that clients and potential clients will use this as a means to communicate with you. This may be a post to your Facebook timeline, a comment on your Instagram photo, or a reply to a tweet on Twitter. Whatever the case, you should reply in a timely manner and be polite! Your social media business page is visible to the public, and if you’ve written a poor response to someone, everyone can see it. By replying quickly and professionally, you’re giving your followers a taste of the quality of service you provide.

    Tips for replying:

    • Say “hi” first
    • Thank them for reaching out
    • Be polite but not overly formal
    • Stay friendly and upbeat (use emojis and exclamations!)
    • Provide relevant links to your website when applicable (like pricing information, samples of your work, contact info page, etc.)
  • Woman using social media for business

    For Twitter in particular, because you are limited to only 140 characters, you probably won’t be able to follow all of these tips. Provide as much information as you can, use shortened links, and don’t be afraid to respond in multiple tweets if you need to.

    Don’t: Get into heated debates

    When browsing the social media world and engaging with other users through your business account, try your very best not to get into heated debates. Everyone has an opinion, and you should be confident in yours but understanding to those that differ. If someone tries to spark a debate with you, remember to respond with dignity and grace (should you decide to respond at all). I like to follow the motto of “kill them with kindness.” Even if it’s not on your own business page, your followers are sometimes notified of your activity and you don’t want them to see you in a pointless debate with someone you don’t even know. This reflects poorly on your business and followers will be hesitant to work with you.

    On the other hand, you might have someone causing trouble on your own social media page. Before you do anything, like “hiding” their post/comment, blocking the user all together, or responding back, you should investigate. Are they simply being an “internet troll” (someone who starts fights over the internet for their own personal amusement), are they just being plain rude or offensive, or are their negative posts justified? After you’ve investigated, decide whether or not it merits a block or a direct response from you. But don’t go on a blocking spree! If someone gives you a bad review, however, you should address it professionally instead of blocking it from the public. Learn more about dealing with bad reviews here.

    Do: Post original content

    Social media is one of the best ways to get your original content out there. When you post a blog article to your website, share it on all of your social media sites so that your followers can check it out and then share it with their friends as well. When posting your own content, this shows your followers that you’re the authority on the subject and their go-to guru when they have questions or need to hire a professional for the job! Want to learn more about blog writing? Check this out.

    Person sharing content online

    Don’t: Steal images

    When working in a creative field like makeup artistry, event planning, or home decor, it’s almost impossible to log on to your social media sites without seeing a stunning eyeshadow application, an exquisite centerpiece, or a perfect kitchen design that you want to share with your followers. But you should never save an image you find on social media and pass it off as your own – that’s a no-brainer! But what a lot of people don’t know, is that you could still get into a lot of trouble for using other people’s images without their consent, even if you don’t try to claim it as yours. That’s why you should always use the share/retweet/regram functions available if you want your followers to see something you loved, unless you have received explicit permission to use the photo from it’s original owner. Using the designated sharing functions is a perfectly acceptable way to pass something on to your followers.

    Note: Be careful when asking someone permission to use their images. Even if they say “yes”, they themselves may very well have stolen the image from elsewhere… and you can be held liable for using stolen pictures.

    Do: Stay relevant

    Remember to post things that are relevant to your brand. If you’re a makeup artist sharing blog posts about your favorite restaurants downtown, that might not be something your followers will appreciate! If you’ve branded your site as a source for makeup inspiration, then that’s what your followers are expecting from you and will most likely engage with.

    You can, however, post things that are in the same ball park of your particular industry, but may not be 100% on-brand. For example, if you’re an event planner, you might share a cool video of cake-decorating, or as a professional organizer, you may share an article about the best natural cleaning products for the home!

    Do: Find a voice

    One of the first things you should decide when starting your social media business pages, is what sort of voice and personality you want to project. This will ultimately depend on who your audience is. Are they more mature individuals you would appreciate a more formal tone? Or are they younger, dare I say “hip,” people who would engage more with a funny or informal tone? Regardless of the tone you decide to take on, you should be attentive to grammar and avoid using too much slang.

    Don’t: Get too personal

    Save the more personal things for your own social media accounts. One of the worst things you can do on your business sites is rant about something totally unrelated to your following base. This projects a negative image of yourself and your followers will question your professionalism. If you’ve decided to take on a relatable, more casual voice on your social media pages, you can definitely get away with posting more personal content, like a funny picture of your cat or a family photo at Christmas time.

    woman taking a selfie for social media

    The selfie: While some of your followers may not appreciate a daily picture of your face, there are times when it can actually be totally appropriate. Remember to keep it relevant to your brand and industry. For example, as a makeup artist, you may want to post cool looks you’ve created on yourself or just show off your makeup for the day. Selfies can give a personal touch and allow your audience to relate to you better! But there’s a time and a place, and you don’t want to over do it.

    Do: Research best-practices

    As you’re well aware, social media is a great way to connect with your potential and past clients and will help grow your business. Because it is such an important tool, you want to ensure you’re using it correctly and getting the most you possibly can out of all your efforts. Perhaps there’s a particular image size that gets more views than another, or maybe there’s a time of day when it’s best to post something. Whatever the case, you should be aware of it and use that to strategize your posts. Consider subscribing yourself to a blog, do a few Google searches once in a while to ensure you’re still on track, and read more articles about social media like this one.

    In the social media world, there’s a lot to know and most of it will come with practice, trial, error, and eventually, success. Play around with the “do’s” mentioned above, but don’t ignore the “don’ts!” Find your voice, keep educating yourself on the best practices, and stay positive, upbeat, and respectful.

    What’s your #1 biggest no-no when using social media for business? Leave a comment below!

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    July 16, 2015 7:46 am

    How to Choose a School of Feng Shui

    Choosing a school of Feng Shui can seem to be a daunting task. With so many options and such a wide variety of routes to take, it can be overwhelming to try and settle on a specific school. How are you supposed to know which one is best for your career? Which one is most in demand? And most importantly, which one will you enjoy and be interested in? Some schools are thousands of years old while others are relatively new. It is always important to do your research before making any solid decision however below is a quick resource that might make your decision a little bit easier.

    Gold coins for school of feng shui

    To begin, let’s examine one of the oldest forms of Feng Shui – Classical or Traditional Feng Shui Design

    Classical Feng Shui

    Classical Feng Shui originated from ancient China and dates back thousands of years. It was used in a variety of different ways in the ancient cities for temples, palaces, and even gravesites! Individuals use the energy of the natural world to create the best possible flow in the desired area. Within Classical Feng Shui there is two different schools.

    1. The Form School (Landscape School) – This school is the more widely practice method of Feng Shui. The Form School focuses primarily on analysing the natural world such as trees, rivers, mountains, and more! It can also be applied to a more urban setting as well, focusing on arranging and placing objects to achieve an optimal balance of Ch’i flow in homes and offices. It does not use the direction of the compass and tries to balance the natural world around us.
    2. The Compass School – This is exactly as the name suggests. It uses tools such as the Lou Pan or Feng Shui compass as well as various calculations when applying these techniques to any home or space. For more information check out the “Love to Know” page on different types of Chinese Feng Shui

    Feng Shui compass

    Modern Feng Shui

    The next type of Feng Shui is the modern style of Feng Shui Design. Modern Feng Shui is based off of modern housing styles and business layouts. The idea is to arrange furniture in an area to maximize the flow of the space. Again the Modern Feng Shui Design is broken down into different schools.

    1. The Life Aspirations School of Feng Shui – This is the idea that each of life’s aspiration for example family & health, wealth, marriage (etc.), has a colour, element, and direction associated with it.
    2. The Pyramid School of Feng Shui – This is a contemporary version of the ancient Chinese Feng Shui and incorporates different elements for how an individual experiences the natural environment. Elements such as biology, psychology, anthropology and more. The individual is at the center of the entire process and you need to customize it to them making it very personal. Feel free to do more research by checking out “Healing Environments” blog page!

    Bagua Map for Black Hat School of Feng Shui

    Black Hat Feng Shui

    Black Sect Tantric Buddhism School (BTB or Black Hat) – This is a relatively new school of Feng Shui from the 1980s. This has many elements of the classical Feng Shui with a new modern spin. Instead of using a compass, the use of the Bagua map is relied heavily upon in this school of Feng Shui. It focuses on the energy that you can control around you. Buddhist principles are also featured throughout this contemporary version of Feng Shui. It is a way to provide a high level of balance and Ch’i into a space without any costly commitments or impractical suggestions. About Home online has a great description and other related articles regarding Feng Shui!

    Choosing a School of Feng Shui

    A very important aspect to keep in mind is whether you want to work with a compass tool or not. Understanding how the compass tools work is important when deciding which school you would like to focus on. It is important to understand what type of clientele you hope to have as well before making a firm decision. When working with homes, a compass may be difficult because you cannot simply change the direction of a home if it does not work with the Ch’i or energy. However, if you build outdoor spaces, a compass may be extremely useful and handy. Check out the “Ms. Feng Shui” blog for more details.

    Understanding exactly how you want to take your Feng Shui career and what you want to specialize in are very important to consider when deciding on a school of Feng Shui. Many institutions that provide Feng Shui courses often mix many different schools and styles in their teachings to give students a wide range of knowledge. Feng Shui design is an exciting field to get into and understanding exactly what you’re hoping to learn should be the first step before choosing a school!

    QC Design School offers a Feng Shui Design course that teaches the principals of the Form School with some elements of Black Hat. If you’re interested in learning how to apply Feng Shui practices in residential homes and corporate offices, check out our course here!

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    Drawing up a professional floorplan can be an intimidating task. Let’s face it, it’s a difficult thing to get the hang of! But learning how to draw a floorplan by hand is essential to understanding all the elements that go into a professional floorplan and how scale really works. Once you’ve mastered the drawing aspect, you can take that knowledge to properly use a floorplanning software (which will save you time and energy when you’re a working interior decorator, home stager, professional organizer, or feng shui specialist). You have to learn how to walk before you can run, right? So today we’re sharing our top tips for drawing a professional level floorplan to master this important skill.

    1. Sketch the room

    How to draw a floorplan sketch

    The very first thing you want to do before even taking measurements of the room is to sketch it. This does not have to be accurate in scale and you don’t need to use a ruler. Simply draw the same shape of the room on a piece of paper from bird’s eye view. Make note of any doors, windows, or other significant architectural features you’ll represent in your professional floorplan.

    Once you’ve completed sketching the space, measure and record the necessary dimensions of each element of the room. Be sure to measure the entire length of the walls, doors, windows, closets, fireplaces, etc. Where there is a door or window, you must also measure the distance of the separated wall areas.

    2. Study your architect ruler

    Before you begin to draw your professional floorplan, you should carefully study your architect ruler. This will be your best friend throughout the process, so get to know it! You’ll mostly be using either ¼” scale or ½” scale when drawing a floorplan, which are both represented on your ruler.

    Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that each notch on your ruler represents 1 foot in real life, so study your ruler carefully while thinking about this concept to really get your mind accustomed to this fact. If you need a little more help with understanding scale, read How to Calculate Scale.

    Architect ruler

    3. Use your architect ruler

    This one’s a no-brainer. You should always use your architect ruler because it will make your life so much easier! Now that you’ve studied it and have accepted the fact that 1 foot in real life will be represented by either ¼ or ½ of an inch, you’re ready to unleash its power.

    I hope at this stage that you’ve noticed the tiny notches before the 0. These are used to draw a line that is, for example, not perfectly 4 feet, but maybe 4 feet and 5 inches (4′-5″). So instead of dragging your pencil from 0 to 4 feet, start at 4 feet and keep your pencil going past 0, until you reach 5 inches. Like this:

    how to draw a floorplan

    4. Use a pencil

    There’s just simply no excuse to not use a pencil when drawing a floorplan because we even give you one in your course materials! You receive everything you need to draw a professional floorplan, right down to a pencil.

    Once you’ve drawn your floorplan with a pencil, take your black art pen (also in your floorplanning kit) and go over all of your lines.

    5. Don’t rely on graph paper

    While using graph paper is absolutely fine for practicing and getting familiar with scale, professional floorplans should never be presented on graph paper. If you rely entirely on the grid to help you draw plans and don’t use your architect ruler, it will be next to impossible to draw a professional floorplan on grid-free paper.

    6. Draw wall thickness

    How to draw a floorplan wall

    Wall thickness is an important part of your professional floorplan and should be represented differently based on whether it is an interior or exterior wall. So, what’s the difference you ask?

    An exterior wall is a wall that is on the outside of the house (if you were to hypothetically take down the wall, you’d be staring at the great outdoors!). An interior wall, on the other hand, is a wall inside the house that if you were to take down, would open up into another room.

    Exterior walls are generally 8 to 10 inches thick while interior walls are about 5 inches thick. These should be represented on your floorplan accordingly. When drawing wall thickness on your floorplan, measure away from the room. If you add wall thickness to the inside of your lines, you’ll throw off your dimensions.

    Be sure to color in your wall thickness, using your black art pen.

    7. Depict door swing

    When drawing a floorplan, many people forget the door swing. It’s important to know which way the door opens so that when it comes time to space planning, you know where to leave room for the door to swing open. Door swing should be depicted as such:

    How to draw a floorplan door

    8. Use the furniture template

    Another handy tool you’ll receive with your floorplanning kit is a ¼” furniture template. This little guy will make your life much easier as you’ll be able to easily trace furniture – like a stencil! Remember those from your kindergarten days? Of course, this stencil is a little more complicated, but a life-saver nonetheless.

    9. Remember your north arrow and scale notation

    Two important, and often forgotten, details to your professional floorplan is the north arrow and scale notation. Without them your “professional” floorplan is just simply a rough copy floorplan.

    How to draw floorplan notations

    A north arrow demonstrates the orientation of the room you’re drawing and the scale notation states the scale the floorplan was drawn in. There are a few different ways you can depict a north arrow and your scale notation, but here’s an example of the easiest way:

    If you take these tips into consideration when practicing how to draw a floorplan, you’ll be a pro in no time!

    We’d love to know! What are YOUR top tips for drawing a floorplan? Leave a comment below.

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    June 22, 2015 7:00 am

    Dealing with Business Seasonality

    Many industries function according to client demand. During times of the year when many people want the service, businesses and freelance workers experience a busy season and generate lots of revenue. At other points when clients don’t need the service as often, business slows down. For example, event planners might experience seasonality because people don’t get married in the winter as commonly as they do in the spring and summer.

    For professionals who are new to the industry, managing the ebbs and flows of business seasonality can be a challenge. How can you prepare for the difference in income and workload that specializing in a seasonal industry involves? What strategies can help you survive the off season or save you from becoming overwhelmed in the busy season? Consider the following tips for achieving balance as a seasonal professional.

    Plan ahead

    If you specialize in an industry where many of your fellow professionals work freelance, then your industry is probably seasonal. Event planners, makeup artists, and interior decorators, for example, all depend on the level of client demand to determine how often they accept contracts. If you know that your flow of business slows down or picks up at a particular point in the year, you can make the season easier on yourself by preparing in advance. Makeup artists can get ready for the busy prom season by replenishing their supplies of essential products and replacing old brushes before the contracts start coming in. They can account for the possibility of reduced income in between busy periods by saving a portion of each payment they receive to support themselves during the off season.

    Replenishing for seasonality in business

    Planning ahead can help you manage the stress of either workload, letting you concentrate on providing quality services regardless of how often or how little you’re working. Your ability to anticipate your needs as a seasonal professional will improve with experience.

    Strategize with your staff

    Many employers in seasonal industries hire staff and let them go according to the level of client demand. Experienced wedding planners might hire assistants in the spring to make sure they have enough people to provide quality service throughout the summer when more clients get married. The assistants’ contracts will end in the autumn when business slows down and less work is available. As long as employees are aware that their contract is seasonal, this strategy can be beneficial for both parties. Experienced planners get the extra help they need when they’re busy, but they save money on payroll when client demand decreases for the year. Assistants, on the other hand, gain relevant work experience during parts of the year that challenge them and pay well. They might use the rest of the year to seek more training or pursue their own business goals.

    Attending Conference during seasonality in business

    Use your time effectively

    Your off season is the perfect time to invest in professional development and advancing your skills. Are there courses you’ve been hoping to take or industry conferences you’d like to attend? Have you been waiting for a time to renovate and improve your workspace or complete an independent project? Makeup artists might use their off season to take a special effects course, while hair stylists might take the opportunity to compete in a prestigious hair show. As long as you’ve saved enough money to support yourself throughout the season while you work towards your goal, investing time in things that will benefit your professional career can be a smart move in the off season. Professionals who make this choice, however, should also use their busy season effectively. Without overwhelming yourself, make sure to take complete advantage of the increased workflow while you can to balance out the time you took off for professional development.

    Consider alternative sources of income

    Some professionals like to keep busy. Seeking alternative revenue streams during your off season can protect you from financial hardship towards the end. Some people choose to offer different services related to their expertise, while others seek alternative employment all together. For example, a makeup artist might take their downtime from freelance work to sell cosmetics at a retail counter, increasing their knowledge of current products and teaching basic techniques to clients who come in for advice. An event planner living in a small town where their services aren’t needed for a solid portion of the year, however, might switch gears and work as a freelance writer for publications related to their personal interests. Whichever course you choose, make sure that you use your time well. Taking vacation time during your off season can be useful as well, but make sure you can afford it before you pass up alternative employment.

    Taking up writing during seasonality in business

    Stay in touch

    Just because you won’t see your regular clients for a portion of the year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact them at all. Of course, you don’t want to be overwhelming, or you might discourage them from doing business with you in the future. A simple greeting card wishing them Happy Holidays in December or a polite reminder email that your services are available throughout the summer can build customer loyalty.

    Budget well

    Regardless of how you use your off season, be smart about budgeting. Saving a portion of your income prepares you to handle unforeseen expenses when work is slow. It also gives you extra funds to quickly solve emergencies that take place in the middle of the busy season when you don’t have time to reallocate your primary funds. Effective budgeting saves seasonal professionals from stress all year round.

    Learn more!

    The courses at QC Career School teach students how to effectively manage their time as seasonal professionals. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the ebbs and flows of client demand to your advantage, take a look at which course might be the best for you!

    What are your preferred methods for dealing with seasonality in business? Leave a comment below to let us know!

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    June 18, 2015 7:00 am

    What Exactly IS Home Staging?

    Home staging is an exciting career with a lot of amazing opportunities. With the industry constantly growing, home stagers are in demand. The more difficult the housing market becomes, the more you see people turning to a home stager to help them get ahead and quickly sell their home. As a home stager, you will be relied on to bring out the most amazing features of the property and hopefully catch the eye of many potential buyers.

    Staged living room

    What is Home Staging?

    Staging a home for sale is an incredibly important element of the real estate process. To stage a home properly, the homeowner needs to be willing to depersonalize, declutter, and create a space with universal appeal. Each room will be set-up in a way that allows potential buyers to visualize their own design ideas and how they would like to make the space their own. During the staging process, you will work with homeowners to remove many of their personal mementos, move unneeded items into storage, and fix up anything that could distract or deter a potential buyer. A well-staged home is a very essential part in not only selling the house, but receiving the full potential value of the property. A lot of home buyers make quick decisions about a home based off first impressions and curb appeal, which is why it’s so important to create a space that many people can envision themselves in!

    Benefits of Home Staging:

    Home stagers have an incredibly rewarding career. Research done by the National Association of Realtors shows that staged properties sell much faster and receive more than the asking price compared to properties that have not been staged. Clearly, a staged home gives clients the competitive edge they need to sell in a hard housing market. Staging a home is a relatively inexpensive cost – many individuals work with the items they already have – and makes a big difference in the long run when it comes to the sale.

    What a Home Stager Does:

    As a home stager, it will be your job to go into a client’s home and design it in a way that will make it more appealing for sale. You’ll be creating a living space that presents the home in the most appealing way for potential buyers by highlighting the best features of the property, both inside and out, and drawing attention to elements of the home that will increase interest from those who come to see it. In addition to being able to apply depersonalizing and decluttering techniques, home stagers need to understand how to accessorize and redesign rooms. Stagers need to be familiar with real estate basics, design principals, and how to market and promote their services. It is important that they are able to look at the house from a potential buyer’s view and understand exactly what needs to be done to sell the house quickly, and at the highest market value.

    Woman becoming a home stager

    Home Stagers vs Interior Decorators

    While home stagers possess many of the same skills as interior decorators, they are also different in a variety of ways. Interior decorators are hired by clients to design a home to fit the clients preferred style and taste. They are utilizing floorplans, presentation boards, working with a strict budget, and creating a space that fits exactly what the client envisioned for their home. On the other hand, home stagers need to go into a home and redesign it so that it appeals to a wide variety of people. They too, need to understand floorplans, color theory, room styles, and many of the same interior decorating requirements. However, they are using these techniques in an entirely different way. Having this background knowledge for home stagers is essential because it gives clients the confidence that the stager they hired is able to do the job exactly how it needs to be done.

    Starting a Home Staging Business

    There are definitely some key points you should think about before starting your own Home Staging business.

    1. Build a portfolio. The great thing is, most home staging courses teach you how to build your own portfolio. You want your portfolio to demonstrate your best work and highlight all your strengths. A portfolio is extremely important in showcasing your skills and attracting potential clients.
    2. Get in contact with realtors in your area. Building relationships with realtors and agencies is very important when starting out in the home staging business. They can refer clients to you and even take you on as their own preferred stager. Get in touch and show them your portfolio. You want to market yourself to them and encourage them to send new clients your way!
    3. Make a budget for everything. Set up a home office and do your research on what you’re going to need in order to start. Do you want a large inventory to work with or can you manage with a small one? What local vendors provide the cheapest furniture rentals? What is the most appropriate rate to start? You always want to make sure you’re getting the most for your dollar. Having a clear budget will help you navigate through all the information and give you the best advantage to start out on the right foot.
    4. Research! Research! Research! Find out who your competitors are, what opportunities are available in your area, what the housing market is like – the list goes on! Being knowledgeable about every aspect of the industry will definitely give you a step ahead.
    5. Market and Promote. Social media is a great way to get your name out there. For example, Facebook is often used by businesses to promote their services to a large demographic of people. You can also talk to friends and family about your new business and think of clever ways to promote your skills as a home stager. Proper marketing and promotion will go a long way in the industry.

    Modern staged kitchen

    Important things to note about having your own inventory

    There are pros and cons to having your own inventory. Many stagers choose not to have their own inventory because of the cost associated with it. As the inventory grows, you will need a storage unit or a warehouse. Purchasing the pieces for inventory may take a while depending on your budget, and you will need to establish a system for maintaining and counting your inventory on a regular basis. However, having your own inventory will definitely help you create the exact idea you envision for each home.

    Renting pieces can help you avoid the need for storage or a warehouse but you’ll want to keep in mind that rental companies can often be very pricey. If you are continuously using a rental company, you may find you are exceeding your budget. The great news is that you can use a mix of both having your inventory and working with rental companies to keep costs low and get the most out of your budget!

    Interested in becoming a home stager? Check out QC’s Home Staging & Redesign course for everything you need to get started in this exciting field!

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    You’ve heard the term “interior designer” used over and over again. In the media, in popular culture – everywhere! But are people really using it correctly? Probably not.

    Many people believe that “interior designer” and “interior decorator” are interchangeable terms, when in reality, they are very different professions. While using the incorrect term can be harmless for the average person, if you’re in this line of work or considering getting into it, you’ll need to know the difference. Using the wrong title professionally could be life or death! OK, not actually. But it could have some serious repercussions!

    Today we’ll explore exactly what is interior decorating and how it differs from interior design, to help you identify which career path you really want to take. Let’s begin.

    Interior decorator talking with clients

    Interior Decorating

    What is it?

    Well, it’s exactly that; decorating the interior of a building or room. An interior decorator furnishes and accessorizes a space to capture the personality and personal style of their clients (the owner of the space). Interior decorators will work closely with their clients throughout the decorating process to ensure the plans coincide with the clients’ tastes and preferences. An interior decorator will consult on and execute the selection and placement of furniture, color, lighting, textiles, accessories, etc.

    Who does interior decorating?

    Anyone with a strong passion for it and an eye for detail! Interior decorating is an unregulated field so there are no licensing requirements. If you wanted to start an interior decorating business tomorrow, you could do it! Although entering this industry with no formal training is not recommended or encouraged by anyone, you can still do it if determined to do so. If interior decorating is what you want to do, then you should look into formal education and a professional interior decorating certification. This will look fantastic to potential clients or future employers!

    Who might hire an interior decorator?

    Anyone who wants their space to say something about their personality and style, and at the same time being functional, but who may not have the time, skills, or creativity to execute the decor to their liking. While many, if not most, decorators focus their attention on homes, there are many other spaces that could use their services. If you’re thinking about getting into interior decorating, you should also consider servicing clients with the following spaces:

    Interior decorator vs Interior designer at work

    • Office
    • Conference room
    • Fitness studio
    • Spa
    • Hotel room
    • Hotel lobby
    • Restaurant
    • Bar, lounge, or club
    • Banquet hall
    • Art gallery
  • These are just to name a few. There are many other spaces that could use an interior decorator, so make sure you’re open to the unique opportunities you may be presented with!

    Interior Design

    What does an interior designer do?

    An interior designer is someone who has studied the behavior of people and uses this understanding to create functional and beautiful spaces. Interior designers normally work on a building project from the very beginning and may work alongside an architect. They will deal mostly with the architectural features and take into consideration the “behind the scenes” elements of a building like electrical, plumbing, cooling and heating, (etc.) when making plans to enhance the function of a room.

    Who does interior design?

    Interior design is a highly regulated field. If it sounds like the right fit for you, then you’ll need to attend a college or university program (normally 3 to 4 years), accompanied by an apprenticeship. You’ll also need to pass a licensing exam to work legally in your area and to call yourself an “interior designer.” Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is! So make sure that interior design is actually want to you want to do before spending a lot of time (and money!) on the required education.

    An interior designer should have an eye for detail, be computer-savvy (you’ll be working with complicated design programs), and have a passion for it! Interior designers can also act as an interior decorator, as they’ll also be well-versed in furniture design and function, spatial planning, color psychology, and more.

    Interior designer vs interior decorator using complicated software

    Who might hire an interior designer?

    • An architectural firm
    • Contractors
    • Construction companies (commercial and residential)
    • Clients who want to make structural changes to their home (for example, removing a wall, adding windows, moving around plumbing)
    • Etc.
  • So don’t be fooled by what people say in movies or on TV, because many people don’t know the difference. Even online sources, who are otherwise very reputable, can get it wrong. Now you should have a better understanding of what makes an interior decorator different from an interior designer, and which field you actually want to go into. You may have been saying interior design is your passion, when really the job description of an interior decorator is what appeals to you most!

    If you’re ready to take the next step with your dreams of becoming an interior decorator, check out our interior decorating course here at QC Design School!


    June 1, 2015 7:00 am

    Should you Quit your Day Job?

    How busy freelance professionals are depends on how many clients want your services. Most industries like this experience ‘waves’ in business. For example, wedding planners are often much busier in May or June than they are in the dead of winter because most people prefer spring or summer weddings. Similarly, makeup artists often get more new clients during prom and graduation season than other times of year.

    During slow periods, some professionals find scheduled jobs to make money between contracts. Many brand new freelance professionals also keep day jobs to support themselves while they build their client base. Working a day job while you get to know your local industry and promote your brand can be a very smart choice, but what if your freelance business really starts to pick up? Here are some questions you should ask yourself to judge whether it’s time to quite your day job!

    1. Do you have a plan?

    This might seem like a basic question. Why would you leave a stable job without knowing your next step? You’d be surprised how often excited entrepreneurs jump the gun! You should have a timeline and a list of goals planned out before you quit your day job. Do you know where you want your business to be in two months, six months, or a year? Do you know which steps you’ll need to take to get there? Don’t give your day job up for nothing. Put a plan in place and stick to it!

    Woman making a plan for starting a new career

    2. Can you make it happen quickly?

    Even if you’re very careful with your savings account before you quit your day job, time is of the essence once you leave. The quicker you put your business plan into action, the smoother your transition from traditional work hours to just freelance work will be. Wasting time will also waste money and motivation. Remember that going back to your old day job might not be an option if you miss other opportunities.

    3. What does your industry look like?

    Research what kind of presence your trade has in your local area, or the area you plan to work in. Is the wedding planning business booming where you live because the area is trendy for young couples? Is work slow for makeup artists in your hometown because the population is mostly elderly couples working on their farms? Get to know what kind of demand exists for your service before you quit your day job.

    4. Who is your competition and how are they doing?

    Take a look at how other professionals in your industry are doing. Are they thriving? If so, analyze whether they’re successful because the market is good, or because they have a monopoly on the local area that could prevent you from succeeding. Are your competitors struggling for contracts? Think about whether their troubles are caused by poor strategies on their part or a lull in the market that could negatively affect you too. The success or failure of your competitors can be a good indicator of whether you’re safe to quit your day job.

    Competitors arm wrestling

    5. What will your business launch look like?

    If you’re letting your job go, you should already know how your new business will make a great first impression on your local market. It isn’t in your best interest to give up your steady stream of income in favor of sneaking into your new industry without letting anyone know you’re there!

    6. Where will you operate your business from?

    Before you quit your day job, you should know where the home base of your business will be. Have you set up an office that clients can visit? Will you work from home? The more organized you are about the ‘home base’ of your new business, the safer you are giving up your day job in favor of working independently.

    7. Who are your clients?

    Knowing who your clients are is absolutely necessary for starting a new business. You shouldn’t think about quitting your day job until you know what kind of people might be interested in your services, where to find them, and how to get their attention. Quitting your job before you know who your new clients are risks prolonging your time without income.

    8. How will you market yourself?

    Giving up your day job to work independently should be a long term investment. If you can, you should be marketing your services, image, and brand before you’ve even quit. The more effectively you market to your new client base, the less of a lag in income you’ll experience between quitting your day job and beginning your freelance work. Your marketing strategy should already be well planned by the time you hand in your two weeks’ notice.

    9. Who are your mentors?

    Do you have a support system in place, both personally and professionally, for when you quit your day job? Have you networked with mentors in your new industry or more experienced professionals who might help you? Throwing yourself into a new area of freelance work without networking can be nerve wracking. Find someone who is willing to give you advice in case your new business venture gets off to a bumpy start. Having that support might help you stress less about quitting your day job, so you can concentrate on the task at hand.

    Support system for starting a new career

    10. What’s your back up plan?

    You should never plan for failure. Being defeatist about your new business won’t help you grow as a freelance professional. Even so, you should have an idea of how you’ll handle it if things don’t go your way. Do you have emergency money put away that you’ll depend on between jobs if your client base doesn’t pick up? Do you have a standing offer from your day job to resume your position if your business plan doesn’t work within a year? Remain positive, but stay in touch with reality as well. Prepare yourself for the fact that back up plans can be very useful for people who take the leap and quit their day job.

    Quitting your day job to do what you’re passionate about takes courage and commitment. You shouldn’t be afraid of the idea, but you should prepare carefully. Ask yourself each of the questions above and really assess whether your freelance business is ready for the responsibility of being your only income. If you’d like to learn more about smart freelance business practices in your area of expertise, check out the courses here at QC Career School!

    Do you know something who’s thinking of starting a new career and leaving their day job behind? Share these helpful tips with your friends using the icons below!

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    May 28, 2015 7:00 am

    Organization Tips for Small Spaces

    Keeping a small space organized is not always an easy task. As time goes on clutter tends to pile up but thankfully there are ways you can save yourself from getting buried in it! The great news is, you don’t have to be a professional organizer to climb your way out of the clutter. Here are some quick and easy tips you can use to reduce clutter and organize your small space.

    Bedroom:

    Professional organizing in the bedroom

    Let’s start with the bedroom since it’s the room most prone to clutter. Bedrooms are typically kept private and we tend to fill them with personal decorations and statements that define who we are. It’s also the place where we shove away our clothes, accessories, and endless amounts of items we value as important. Looking at an unorganized bedroom can be incredibly discouraging, but not to worry! There are ways to turn a disaster-zone bedroom into an organized, beautiful sanctuary!

    Baskets

    Baskets are great for the bedroom. You can buy inexpensive, fancy, and decorative baskets in a variety of colors and materials to help store away extra clothes, blankets, and whatever else needs a new home. Baskets can be stored in the closet, on top of one another against the bedroom wall or even tucked away under the bed!

    Drawers

    You can put old or discarded dresser drawers under your bed to help store clothes and other items. You can simply slide them in and out or even put small wheels on them to help them move more freely. If your bed is too low for drawers, you can buy inexpensive risers to lift your bed to a better height and make it easier for you to slide away the clutter.

    Rolling Rack

    Some small bedrooms are not equipped with a closet. Thankfully, rolling racks for hanging clothes are an amazing feature that will help you organize your wardrobe without taking up too much space. Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive curtain rod and install it in your bedroom. Whatever you decide, having a place to hang your clothes will definitely help keep the clutter off the floor!

    Living Room:

    Professional organizing in living room

    We all love our living rooms. It’s the room where we can throw our feet up after a long day or entertain guests on a Friday night. You want it to match your style while appearing organized and presentable. This doesn’t need to be a daunting task. You can quickly clean up the clutter with some fun projects that will help turn your living room into the organized space you’ve always wanted.

    Floating Shelves

    Shelves are a great way to save space in a living room. You can add pictures, decorations, and so much more without adding to the clutter of your space. They take no time to install and are an awesome option when looking to save space and organize your area.

    Mirrors

    Mirrors have the wonderful effect of making the room appear larger. They reflect light and disperse it around the room to give the appearance it is larger than it really is. Mirrors are not only a beautiful and decorative touch but they definitely increase the design element of a small space.

    Book Cases

    Book cases are not only for books. You can use the shelved areas to store extra clutter. You can add a beautiful basket to put in items that you’re struggling to find a place for. You can also use them as shelving by mixing books with decorative elements like statues or small framed artwork.

    Bathroom:

    Professional organizing in bathroom

    We all want a clean bathroom. There’s nothing worse than trying to get ready in the morning and being overwhelmed by clutter and mess. Small bathrooms can be difficult to maintain and organize, especially if you’re sharing the space. Luckily, there are ways to avoid the clutter and that add to the design element of your bathroom.

    Magnet board

    Magnet boards are a really fun way to store your extra items. You can hang this up on your wall and use it to store things such as makeup, beauty products, etc. You can find magnets at the local dollar store and attach them with glue to your items. Then simply stick your items on your board and watch the clutter disappear.

    Mason Jars

    Mason jars are a fun way to store items that can normally take up a lot of space. Since mason jars are small, you can install a short shelf and line the mason jars on it. You can also line them along your counter if you have space, or under your sink. Mason jars are great for storing items such as cotton balls, cue-tips, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and the list goes on and on.

    Hooks

    Hooks are essential in a bathroom. You can find them in a variety of stores and they take no time to install. The wonderful thing is, hooks come in all different sizes and styles. You can pick a hook that will help both with clutter and add style to the bathroom! Many people install the hooks on their walls, the inside of cupboard doors and behind the bathroom door.

    Kitchen:

    Professional organizing for small kitchen

    Finally, the kitchen. It is almost impossible to enjoy cooking a meal when you’re constantly tripping over clutter. The easiest way to enjoy cooking and to motivate yourself to do it more is to organize the space to make it easier to use!

    Ceiling Rack

    You can hang your pots and pans from the ceiling to free up limited cabinet or counter space. This keeps them out of the way and opens up the space for you to store other items. For anyone who’s handy, check out these great DIY ceiling racks from Bob Vila’s blog to give you some cool ideas on how to make your own!

    Use a peg board

    Peg boards are a great way to store extra kitchen necessities. From spatulas to small pots, you can hang them from the peg board. Keeping them off your counter and out of your drawers frees up that space for other things!

    Use recycled items to hold cutlery

    In my tiny apartment, I didn’t have the drawer space to store away all my forks and knives. So instead of letting them pile up, I cleaned out some old cans, painted them to my liking and used them to store my cutlery away on the counter. It was a fun project for the afternoon, let me infuse my personality into the space and added to the design element of my kitchen. Using recyclable items can be a great way to cut down on waste as well!

    Baskets and Magnets

    You can put magnets on baskets and stick them to the side of your fridge. You can use this to store spices, and other small food items that may be causing clutter around the kitchen. Putting them on the side of the fridge will keep it out of sight but still easy to reach.

    Clutter doesn’t need to be scary or frustrating. See it as an opportunity to get creative! Organizing clutter can be quick and simple, and really help open up your house or apartment.

    Wants to share these de-cluttering tips for small spaces with your friends or family? Use the icons below!

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    Marketing is used to let potential customers know who you are and what you offer. As a small business owner, your marketing budget will be fairly limited. Not to mention the amount of time you have to spend on your marketing tactics!

    Digital Marketing Strategy

    Today, we’re going to explore how you can get the most out of your marketing efforts on a limited budget with limited time commitment.

    In today’s world, 95% of clients will find you on the Internet. While some small businesses still spend time and money on different “old school” marketing techniques like ads in newspapers or banners outside their shops, a good digital marketing strategy will trump any of those techniques while saving you a ton of cash.

    With that in mind, we’re going to focus exclusively at digital marketing today.

    #1 – Your Website

    While not technically a marketing task, your website design will create a first impression of your business in your clients’ eyes. So before you spend time and money into getting people to your website, you’d better make sure users will have a pleasant experience when they get there!

    You can learn more in a previous article: “Building your Website: What you Need to Know”

    #2 – Search Engine Optimization

    What are some of the top words people will use to find services such as yours?

    For a design business, likely they’ll go to Google and type in something along the lines of…

    • “Home Staging services”
    • “Interior Decorator in [your city]”
    • “Best Professional Organizers in town”
    • Etc.
  • These are your business’s top keywords. You want to make sure when people search for those terms, your business shows up on the Google search result’s first page!

    In this short blog article, we won’t cover specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. But rest assured, if you take 30 minutes here and there to research and implement keyword research, web page optimization, and link building, it’ll pay off in spades!

    Online research for small business marketing tactics

    #3 – Paid Search

    When you enter a Google search for most products or services, you’ll see at least three results at the top of the page that are marked as “ads” (and there may be many more on the right-hand side of the page, too!)

    Those ads are what’s called Pay-per-Click (or PPC) ads. As the name implies, businesses pay Google when a user clicks on that Ad and goes to their website.

    Though it can be fairly costly depending on your line of business, I encourage you to at least research the basics of PPC ads, and make an informed decision as to whether or not they might be beneficial for your business.

    At the very least, you might want to consider paying for clicks on searches for your brand. Or, if you don’t, make sure your competitors don’t show up on those search terms!

    #4 – Blogging

    Having a blog on your website will allow you to embark on Content Marketing. With more and more consumers turning a blind eye to traditional forms of advertising, you need to offer them content that is useful in order to get their attention.

    With content marketing, you develop content (in this case, blog articles, videos, etc.) that would not normally be found on your website, but are useful to your target customer.

    If you make a point to writing about something you know and love (I hope you’re knowledgeable and passionate about your business!), then blogging shouldn’t take more than about an hour a week.

    For more information on blogging, check out this article: “How to Write a Blog”

    #5 – Social Media

    Once you have good content on your blog, you need a way for potential customers to find it! Enter your social media accounts.

    While there are hundreds of different Social Media channels out there, odds are the majority of your potential customers are present on three or four networks, and that’s where your business needs to be.

    You don’t need to spend hours a week on social media to be successful, but you do need a regular presence, because clients will also use these channels to speak to you, ask you questions and (possibly) lodge complaints. Therefore, you need to be present to converse with these clients.

    With a bit of practice, social media shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes a day, at the most.

    Need more information on social media? Check out this article: “Social Media for Beginners”

    Social Media for small business marketing

    #6 – Email Marketing

    Email marketing can be an effective way of communicating directly with people who want to hear from you. When done right.

    For this type of small business, you’ll want to send out one newsletter every month or two, but no less than that. Including list maintenance and setup, we’re talking maybe two hours of work for email sent.

    However, many small businesses make critical mistakes when they start emailing because they don’t take the time to learn how to do it properly. Before sending out a single email, be sure to read this: “An 8-rule Guide to Email Marketing”

    #7 – Measure Everything!

    Before starting any marketing endeavor, ask yourself this question: “How will I know if it’s successful or not?”

    Be sure you set up whatever tracking you need to find out whether your efforts are paying out, or if you’re just pouring money down the wrong avenue!

    Since we’re talking about digital marketing only, a great place to start is to set up your website analytics. These will help you identify your visitors: who they are, where they come from, and what they do on your website.

    Learn more here: “A Guide to Website Analytics”

    When you combine all the items listed in this article, we’re talking maybe a total of 2-3 hours a week spent on digital marketing efforts. Think about it: is a new customer worth an hour of work? How about two new customers? Or five or six? Or twenty or thirty? When you get comfortable with your marketing, you can expect to see those returns.

    But for now, do yourself a favor and research each of the items above properly. In order for your small business marketing to work, it needs to be done right!

    Have you started marketing your small business? What have you learned from your efforts? Let us know in a comment!

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