Do you imagine yourself scrimping, saving and starving during your first and second year in business as a home stager?
It’s true that you may have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle when you set out to be your own boss.
When I started my home staging business in 2002, I was living in a very expensive city (as a single mom). Plus, I had just come from a career where I was making more than $100,000 per year.
In other words, I had pretty high needs and expectations for what my home stager income would be!
I knew I had to be realistic though, especially in my first year.
I didn’t expect to replace my $100,000 a year income immediately as a home stager (though some of my Staging Diva Grads have done that in year one because they have my business model to follow).
Initially, I didn’t spend money on things that could be put off, or avoided entirely. For example, I quit my book club because I didn’t want to spend the $20 for each book, plus the $20 bottle of wine I was expected to bring to each meeting, plus the cost of a babysitter!
I didn’t make impulse purchases at Costco and we rarely went to restaurants during that first year. Starbucks was also out of the question. After all, I have a coffee maker at home 🙂
I also figured out how to run a home staging business without needing any of my own furniture or accessories. This made it almost a zero cost business to start!
My Home Stager Income
In that first year (2002/2003), I made about $40,000 as a home stager.
Since that was about the same as the median household income in the US, and I was earning that in my first year of a new business on my own, it was pretty good.
Plus, I had no overhead or employees. I was literally running my business from my laptop on the dining room table 🙂
I also wasn’t working “full time.” My daughter was only 7 and I walked her to and from school each day. I didn’t work when she was home because of illness or school holidays, and I took the summer months off.
There were many days when I had no client appointments giving me time to keep up with everything needed around the house, cooking, etc. And I had time to go to the gym several times a week.
While $40,000 in my first year was a great start, it could have been way higher.
It took me a good 18 months to totally figure out how to properly charge for my home staging services.
And just as long to discover what marketing strategies worked the best (even though I have an MBA in Marketing). These are things I teach my students in the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, so they can earn more than I did in my first year.
Check out this FREE Tip Sheet on how much home stagers make!
Given that the average minimum wage in the US is about $7/hour, most people who earn $20 an hour figure they’re doing pretty well. But you can earn five times that as a home stager when you know how to set things up properly!
If you’re used to making about $20 an hour, you’ll probably make as much in a single day of home staging as you currently earn working full time for an entire week (likely doing something less enjoyable).
If you’ll be leaving a full time job where you make $50 an hour (or $100,000 a year), it may take awhile to get back to that annual income level. On the plus side, you won’t have all of the typical costs of being an employee in that salary range.
After all, you won’t have to worry about many expenses including:
- Buying lunch everyday
- Dry cleaning
- Gas to and from work and parking
- Maintaining an expensive wardrobe
- Hiring a nanny, gardener, house cleaner, dog walker etc. because you’re too busy working full time to do any of these things yourself
- Takeout dinners because you’re too tired at the end of a full day at your job
- Expensive morning coffees
If you’re wondering if becoming a home stager will mean major lifestyle changes, it depends on your current financial situation. It also depends whether you’re the only breadwinner in your household (as I was).
There’s more to “lifestyle” than how much money you earn, of course.
Many people earn less, but are way happier because they have a more balanced lifestyle being their own boss.
Many find, like I do, that their actual cost of living goes down as a home stager because they don’t have to buy all the things that are required of a high-paying career when you’re working for someone else.
Investing in learning the proper set up and pricing of your home staging services, how to get clients coming to you for help, how to get paid right away, how to be a successful home stager without your own inventory, etc. will help you make way more money, way sooner!
It’s silly to think that without knowing these things you’ll make as much as you could knowing them. That’s why my home staging courses are such a short cut to your success and maximizing your home stager income.
You don’t have to waste time trying to figure out everything on your own. And you won’t make the mistake of charging too little when you have my Staging Diva pricing strategy to follow.
You’ll find lots of financial advice in the free downloadable report Ask Staging Diva: Will Home Staging Work in My Area?
You’ll learn the real costs of getting started in home staging and how to keep that to a minimum, and how to figure out whether there will be enough home staging clients in your area.
Home stagers, how has your lifestyle changed now that you’re working for yourself?
Please share by leaving a comment below.
I’ll state this once more … how I wish I’d found your course first, rather the one I excelled in! You have become my guru. I appreciate your website: it offers educated, experienced information that encourages & motivates the “fear of leaving the nest” stager.
I do ask for your courses for Christmas! I’m a firm believer in continuing education! Success breeds success …
My question is for those of us who tring to start their business: if one has (a) $100 or (b) $200 to spend for start up, where/why/how would you spend this amount?
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Sherry, thanks for your comments about all the help I’ve given you! It’s an honor to be your “guru”!
As for not finding my course first… It sounds from your comment that you’ve got a lot of gaps in your knowledge of how to grow your business and make money in staging.
If you are sitting in a leaking boat and putting all your energy into scooping out the water with an empty peanut butter jar, you will still sink until you put your energy into fixing the leak.
My concern is that you may not have learned how to properly price for your services (which means you are potentially losing money you could be making with every client). This is a topic I cover in detail in Course 2.
You may also not have learned how to market your staging services. There are tons of zero cost ways to do that covered in course 4 of the Staging Diva Program.
Since you’ve seen how much quality information I share for free, and you’re struggling with what to do with $200 to increase your business, I frankly have to suggest you invest in Course 2, “The Business of Home Staging: What you need to start and how to grow“, so you can start making the money you should be making with your very next client.
Then after you’ve completed your next project, you’ll have more than enough to take Course 4 “Staging Diva Sales & Marketing Secrets to Boost Your Home Staging Business” and learn the many ways there are to market your business, which will bring in lots more clients — each one paying you what you are really worth (because you’ll have already learned the right pricing strategy)!
Each of these courses is only $249 and considering they will help you make a living for the rest of your life, that’s a pretty small sum.
I hope my bold suggestion doesn’t sound arrogant or harsh and I really value you as a reader. But to be honest, if you don’t have the right foundation for your business, pouring $200 or even $1000 into your start up won’t do you much good if your business isn’t properly built for success.
That’s why the whole philosophy of Staging Diva Training is about how to turn your decorating talent into a profitable home staging business, anything else is window dressing.
Had I written either comment, both statements would have been arrogant. :>) The suggestions you’ve offered are “right on the money”! You ARE the successful expert. Debra, I’m old enough to know better, & you’re better! Your suggested courses are exactly what I must learn that other courses did not offer. [I hate hindsight.] My compliments (and comments) are sincere. You’re good.
Lack of cash forces me to remain “ignorent”, rather properly learning the business. As soon as I have any cash, I’ll order both courses. Which first? [Do you take IOU’s? :>)] Thanks for the excellent advice.
By the way … there’s nothing wrong with singing one’s own praises. If you don’t believe you’re the best, or your courses worthwhile, who will? Bravo!
I have “a finished eye”. Once upon a time, I was a highly successful licensed real estate agent. Long before staging was valued, I “staged” my listings, & they sold! I’m passionate about this business … I love this field!
Amy Bly says
I am gathering that stagers can charge far more money in certain areas of North America — particularly Canada and the West Coast of the U.S. — than here on the East Coast. Debra, do you believe this to be true? I corresponded today with a stager from Ontario who says she makes $6500 to $7500 doing stagings for homeowners, and $1,000 to $1,500 doing just consulting for a real estate agent. In my area, I’ve been told by agents that $500-$750 is “too high” for staging for their clients! And this is an area where many homes sell in the low millions.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
No Amy I don’t believe you can generalize that you can charge more on the west coast than the east. Certainly different markets will have different price ranges, and they have a lot to do with the selling prices of the homes.
Generally speaking, you need to ignore what agents tell you about pricing of home staging services. On the left sidebar of this blog, scroll down to find the search box. Type in “real estate agents” and hit “search”. You’ll find a ton of articles I’ve written about real estate agents that will shed light on this. I also encourage you to listen to course 2 “The Business of Home Staging” very carefully. There is a lot of information there on the psychology of pricing for home staging in addition to how to determine your own rates.
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