Home stagers come from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. After teaching and coaching thousands of stagers since 2002, I’ve noticed that I can often spot who will be successful fairly early on in their home staging careers.
Now, “successful” is a subjective term and all of us must come to our own personal definitions based on our business and lifestyle goals, not what we “think” we should want based on comparisons of others.
That’s a subject I’ll tackle elsewhere.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll define “successful home stagers” as those who are:
- Making money from their decorating/staging talents
- Respected by others in the home staging industry
- Receiving media attention for their home staging business.
That last item might seem contentious, but I believe it’s a good barometer of whether an individual is perceived as a home staging expert (which to me is a measure of “success”).
Plus, if you’re getting media attention, you’re more likely to be making money (because way more people know about you and potential clients see this as an endorsement of your expertise).
Here are the 5 traits I look for that tell me fairly early on whether a new home stager will be successful in their home staging business:
1. Home stagers are endlessly curious.
Successful home stagers realize that they will always be learning as their home staging business grows and develops. They ask thoughtful questions and consider themselves lifelong learners of: decorating, real estate, business, marketing, Internet, etc.
In fact, it’s this very aspect of always learning new things that is part of what excites them about being their own boss.
2. Successful home stagers are resourceful.
There’s a great quote by Tony Robbins (I think) that says something like: “It’s not the resources you have but how resourceful you are.”
Running your own home staging business requires you to get out of any “helpless” mindset you may have. If you’re used to saying “I can’t” and giving up in the face of a challenge— instead of asking “How can I?” and looking for solutions— you won’t get far.
A great example of this (that I see way too often) is the new home stager who says:
“I can’t build a home staging portfolio until I have a client.”
By using their G0d-given decorating talent and being resourceful, they could think:
“I need a solid home staging portfolio to attract clients, so I’m going to look for ways to rearrange and decorate rooms in my own home or those of my friends and family so I have enough photos to get started. And since these photos are so important, I’m going to learn what I can about how to take effective home staging photos!”
I was so frustrated by how many aspiring home stagers told me they couldn’t get a portfolio because they didn’t have clients, and they couldn’t get clients because they didn’t have a portfolio, that I wrote an article on how any new home stager can create their own home staging portfolio in a weekend.
3. They approach home staging as a professional business.
Successful home stagers don’t build their websites by copying content and photos from others. Instead, they take the time to learn about home staging so they can talk about it intelligently in their own words, and they use their own creativity and ingenuity to build their own portfolio rather than using a fake portfolio.
Being professional also includes treating clients, suppliers, associates and others with honesty and integrity. Failing to do this will damage your reputation and will never lead to long term success.
Related to this, I can’t tell you how many home staging projects I’ve had where the potential client said, “You’re the first home stager who called me back!” Returning your phone calls should seem like a basic thing, yet it’s amazing how many people fail to do this.
If you’ve been worrying that there are already too many home stagers in your area to start your business, keep this in mind. If you checked them out you might find many of them won’t really be competition after all.
Lastly, professional home stagers don’t work for free (except in unusual circumstances like supporting a worthy cause). In fact, the word “professional” means you are getting paid for your work, otherwise you’re a hobbyist or “amateur.”
4. Successful home stagers know that sustained effort will bring rewards.
Sadly, some people think as soon as they decide to call themselves stagers, home sellers and real estate agents will be phoning them every day with new projects. Or they give it a year and give up as soon as their sales slow down (ignoring the fact that there is seasonality in home staging).
You need consistent marketing effort to build awareness for your business, interest in what you do, and the desire to hire you.
Plus, not everyone needs a home stager today, they may be moving next year! So every bit of marketing you do now is influencing not only sales today, but sales in the future. Clearly the longer you’re in your home staging business, the more you benefit from the cumulative effect of all those people getting to know you over time, telling their friends about you, and eventually moving themselves!
5. Home stagers understand that home staging is an image business.
I have yet to meet a home stager that’s been in business more than a year with a tacky clip-art logo, unprofessional home staging business card, ugly website and weak home staging portfolio. If you believe these things don’t matter, or that no one will notice, you are only kidding yourself.
It’s impossible to believe in home staging unless you believe that “you only have one chance to make a good impression,” and that how something looks matters. Otherwise, there would be no point in decorating a home to sell!
Similarly, your potential clients will be judging you by the image they have of your business. If you’re not committed to investing in your own business, why would they take a chance and trust you with their own single largest investment?
If you’re telling yourself that you can’t create the right image for your home staging business, or that you’ll do it once you’re making money, please refer back to all the other points above!
I’ve written a FREE report “Can a regular person like me become a successful home stager,” which profiles 10 home stagers. I know you’ll find it inspiring if you haven’t read it before.
What traits would you add to this list?
Whether you’re new to home staging, or you’ve been at it for awhile, I’d love to hear what traits you’d add to this list or whether you disagree with any of these. Please share your comments below!
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
An internationally recognized home staging expert, Debra created the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with 10,000 students in the U.S., Canada and 20 other countries. She is the author of 5 guides including the Staging Diva Ultimate Portfolio Guide: Winning Clients With The Perfect Home Staging Portfolio.