It disturbs me to hear of professional home stagers working for free.
However, most of the aspiring stagers I speak with believe they have to do their first projects for free to rack up experience.
As leader in the home staging industry, I’ve written many articles on this topic, trying to find the best way to spread the word that this is NOT the way to start or grow your home staging business.
I strongly object to working for free and show you how to avoid it in the Staging Diva training program, but this question keeps coming up.
Home stagers offering to do home staging jobs for free are the ones who will always struggle to get business.
Here’s why! Much of this comes down to perception.
If you’re giving away your services for free, how good can you be?
Imagine a new hair salon opens up in your city. You’re walking down the street and see a sandwich board offering “Free Haircuts”.
The owner of the salon is standing outside and approaches you, saying she’s new at this and would like to give you a free cut and color for practice.
Are you eager to be her guinea pig in a situation? Would the salon owner seem professional or credible?
Now imagine this scenario.
The same salon has opened up and you walk by. There’s no sandwich board offering free haircuts and the owner is nowhere in sight, but there is a lineup of people standing out front.
You look at the sign and realize you’ve heard of this posh new salon. You read an article about it in the paper and heard a co-worker raving about it after getting a fabulous new haircut there.
All of a sudden, you’re standing in the lineup waiting to see what the buzz is about (pardon the pun).
It must be great because everyone’s talking about it, right?
That salon owner is still new at this – she’s still fresh out of “hair school”.
But you get a completely different first impression! Instead of wanting to run away from the “practice” hair cut, you’re willing to pay whatever she’s charging.
What this means for professional home stagers
I know you’re worried you won’t get any clients without having staged homes before. We’ve all been there— me and every one of the thousands of home stagers I’ve helped worldwide.
There are many ways to promote your services and going around offering to provide home staging for free is not one of them.
I can’t fault you for trying because many home stagers before you have worked for free and people will continue to do so. Even after hearing my strong objections to the practice.
In the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, I teach you how to do the home staging equivalent of that posh hair salon opening.
You’ll learn how to look like a professional home stager from Day 1 and make your services irresistible to home sellers and their real estate agents.
I teach you how to burst onto the scene. Get featured for free in newspapers and magazines, get people talking about your company, and more.
Even though you’re a new home stager, all of a sudden your name will be everywhere and people will be talking about you.
When you can create a buzz about your home staging and redesign business, you will be miles ahead of your competitors.
This will allow you to make yourself one of the pricier professional home stagers in your town because everyone’s seeking you out.
Trusting that you really know what you’re doing (even if you still feel new and suffer from “stage fright.”)
I hope this analogy I’ve shared about a new hair salon helps you see the effect of two different approaches to launching a new business.
If you’re stuck in the “working for free” rut, look into the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to learn how to market your business the right way and get clients flocking to you for your expertise with cash in hand!
It’s an investment in learning how to make a profit from your very first project!
Patricia Ebrahimi says
What we do for our clients is SO important to THEIR bottom line. If we simply keep in mind how much more they stand to make on the sale of THEIR home, it makes it easier to see how much our services are worth to them. But, we must have that perception first. And, Debra, you are so right. Perception IS everything.
Donna Dazzo says
Debra, you have always said that one way to go out of business real fast is to do free estimates. I have ignored this advice but lately I have made some “mistakes” when doing this. In the past my vacant staging estimates always involved a newly constructed house or a newly renovated or constructed apartment. I will continue to give free estimates if they are within a half hour travel time, however, what I have learned is that with vacant houses or apartments that are NOT new, there are many things that need to be corrected before I stage with furniture and accessories. Recently, as I walked around the empty home during my free vacant staging estimate, I have been dispensing free advice as to what needed to be done with the home such as painting, updating lighting fixtures, refinishing floors, etc. – the kind of advice I get paid for in a home staging consultation. Of the last three times I did this, one homeowner hired another stager, the second did hire me to stage the apartment,and the third is undecided about whether to even put the home on the market. So what I have decided to do going forward is that in every instance where a free vacant staging estimate involves a house or apartment that is NOT new, I will tell the homeowner in advance that if they want me to dispense any advice while I’m at the vacant staging estimate about what needs to be done prior to the staging, that I will charge a nominal fee (about half of my normal staging consult fee). This way I am at least compensated for my advice. And if they don’t want to pay me to offer advice, I also have to learn to control the urge to say something while walking around.
peggy wilcox says
what is that old song by Janis Joplin? “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ if it’s FREE!!!!!”
Tina Haessler says
I have found myself in similar situations as Donna where it’s an older vacant home, but as I’m scoping the property for quoting purposes I realize I’ve been ‘giving away’ advice. I’ve found that so many stagers are quoting vacants for free that I need to do so just to have the opportunity to bid on jobs. It’s so competitive in Toronto that I was recently invited to bid on a project with 6 other staging companies. The lowest bidder won (and it wasn’t me) but as Debra says, I’d rather work fewer jobs for more money than many jobs for less.